1. sunshine! Yay!
2. The house being slowly fixed so that there is not a river running through the lower half of my house every time it rains!
3. The thought of a quiet week ahead.
4. Teaching my first day and finding Kyla remembers some of what she was taught last year, and that she is beginning to see connections and patterns in numbers! Yay! Yay! Happy dances in order! I think this year, I can finally catch her up to grade level, it may be the applied math grade level, but she can do it, I think.
5. Laughing ourselves silly over a mistake in a math book that ended up having a bird flying 700m below the ground instead of 300 m up in the sky. So good to giggle through the first day and show her that others make stupid mistakes too!
6. Back to cooking for six. Being able to cook different foods than just my "group cooking" options.
7. Two friends with seeming miraculous recoveries to long, dragged-out diseases beginning. Totally dancing a happy dance at the thought of both of them being able to walk again one day!!!
Life is good. It has tough things in it, for sure, and some really painful things, but life is good. I'm thankful for good friends, for my large missionary family that is always full of people who are family - even though the constant coming and going out of each other's lives is difficult on the emotions. I think what keeps me going is the firm knowledge that one day all this moving around will end and we will be together again.
But life is good, and it is walking through the difficult and painful things that makes the joys so much more full.
When I have suffered a long and painful medical condition, I can rejoice that much more with my friends in their healing.
When I have struggled with math and been called dumb over it, my eyes can shine so much more over the small victories that Kyla makes.
When I have said goodbye too many times, I can rejoice that much more about the hellos coming.
When I have been passed over in favor of others, I can value even more those who stop to spend time with me.
When my house has been full for so long, I can so much more enjoy the peace of a quiet day.
I think some people think that in order to be happy, you have to just think about happy things or you have to ignore the bad. I think to be truly happy, there are times you have to be truly sad. Fully experience both - the shadows and the light, the pain and the joy. Both are part of life, and life is good - it is worth it despite the pain.
There are times I wonder who I would have been if I hadn't walked through pain... I am not sure I would like that person. Walking through pain has become a constant in my life, something I know is ahead.... when you work with the suffering, you can not expect not to suffer. But I find that the more pain I walk through, interestingly enough, the more joyful a person I become. It surprised me once because when someone was asked to use one word to describe me, several came up with "joyful", even saying that I was one of the more joyful people they met. I laughed and wondered if my wacky sense of humor was being confused with joy.
But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with them. When you walk through the valleys of cold shadows, you delight more in the warmth of the sun when you see it. (Of course, for those of us living in deserts where the sun is our enemy, that illustration does not work.... we might say the opposite, when you live in the burning sun, you rejoice more when you find a scrap of shadow or a breath of wind!)
I used to spend so much of my time trying to block out pain, trying to not feel it. It took a lot of time and a lot of energy. And I was fairly successful, but the casualty in that was that I also blocked out joy. I've learned to open up and feel it, to walk right through it with my eyes open, and to come out the other side, having felt the pain, but also able to feel the joy - sometimes even both simultaneously. Because often in the middle of pain, there is also something that brings joy. Such as:
1. My husband's defense and care of me on my birthday. His understanding and sympathy - what a delight after a few rough years!
2. Kyla's determination, and the chance to write on a kid's heart that she is of value and she is smart - even if she struggles pitifully with one subject. There is delight in writing over the space where it would be written "I AM STUPID" in big letters if no one had been able to step in.
And when I find that joy, my heart dances in total delight. Right there in the middle of pain, there is space to dance for joy. Even if it is just in the sun shining on one of the last warm days of the year!