This is one of my very favorite pictures of Hannah. It was taken at my in-law's house in El Dorado one Easter. I just love the sweetness of it...the simple joy of blowing bubbles in the sunshine on a beautiful spring day.
Today marked two years since Hannah stepped into the arms of Jesus. Two years that feel like two hundred. Could it possibly be only two years since I last held her in my arms?
How does one commemorate the two year anniversary of the most difficult day of your life? Over the last couple of years, we've come up with some new Christmas traditions and birthday traditions that have given us a measure of comfort...but somehow, we've not been able to establish any "death anniversary" traditions.
We did have a really neat diversion today, though. A month or two ago, I mentioned in a post that a Magnet Cove High School student was making a documentary about Hannah as part of a class project. She came out to our house, set up cameras from three different angles, and interviewed us...asking some really emotion-provoking questions. We provided her with an assortment of pictures and home videos for her to include as she chose. At the time, I thought she was just doing it for her multi-media class...I didn't realize that this documentary was going to be a part of the Tri-Lakes Youth Film Festival, and shown at the Ritz Theater in Malvern. And wouldn't you know it...that film festival was scheduled for this weekend, and that movie was shown at 3:00 today. (It will also be shown at 2:30 tomorrow.) Of course, we went to see it, and it was wonderful. I was thankful that the theater was dark, and there were several other videos by Magnet Cove students that we sat through before they turned the lights back on, so I had time to pull myself together. I was glad we had the opportunity to do that today.
Something else that helped get us through this day was the outpouring of love and support we've received over the last few days in the form of cards, emails, and Facebook postings. I've been overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out to us in love...And it's made a difference. It truly does lighten the burden when there are so many people to share it with you. The three of us thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.
So what does the title "1,000 Things" have to do with this post? Well, you know how I've shared with you many times that "Joy" has become our theme over the past year or so? Even to the point that we've created a Joy Wall in Hannah's room? And how sometimes I have to admit that I'm just not really feelin' that joy?
A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling down my news feed on Facebook and something caught my eye. A friend had posted a link to an article entitled, "How to Find the Holy Grail of Joy." Of course, I had to click on it. The link took me to the article, which was written by Ann Voskamp and published on the Huffington Post. Here are some excerpts:
"I think the fall in Eden was ultimately a failure to give thanks. It's strange how we'd rather live tripping and stumbling than murmur that one word. Augustine claimed that 'without exception...all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy.' The wild crusade of my life has been just this--this straining after elusive joy while the virus of bitterness, of ungratefulness, keeps destroying.
I wasn't feeling particularly in need of a cure when I took up a friend's silly dare to write down a thousand things that made me happy. I knew she was just goading me, a way to prove that I had plenty of things to enjoy. So I grabbed a notebook. And began scribbling down whatever made me smile. Morning shadows across old floors. Jam piled high on toast. The cry of a blue jay high in the spruce.
It didn't seem I was fixing anything in the beginning. But each day I kept at it. It was easy and it made me happy, so I kept going.
Every day I'd number another five, another ten, and the game became a hunt to see if I could find a bit of God's glory in my days. Washing dishes, at the stove stirring soup, I'd see the afternoon light spark on the rim of a pot and it'd spark me. I'd wipe my hands on my apron and reach for the pen. Although the world is ugly, it is beautiful.
I was waking up. Something in me started to stir. I realized how numbed and jaded I'd become. And I couldn't stop scratching it down -- blessings, graces -- God in the moment. Why hadn't I realized that joy was right in the middle of life, unlocked in the moments? Where did I think it should be? After all, it's only moments that make up a life. And if the riddle of life isn't unlocked in the moments, where is it found? Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life is made up of the minute parts, and if the infinitesimals are missed, the whole is missed too. Maybe I was starting to find what I couldn't miss.
Because what if the holy grail of joy isn't somewhere else but in the small things, in the moments? Maybe the secret was just this: To keep seeking God where we doubt He is.
It's only when we wake to how blessed we are, when we take life as grace and give thanks for it, that we become the bread to be given to a starving world. This is our great weapon in the war."
Hmmmm...When I read that article, I was instantly intrigued. A list of 1,000 things that bring me joy? I could do that. But could I really? 1,000 things is a lot of things...a rather mind-boggling number when you really think about it. I mean, it might take a whole year to make a list of 1,000 things!
And that's when it hit me. Yes, it probably would take a whole year to make a list of 1,000 things that bring me joy. And what if I were to start my list on February 26, 2011, with the goal of finishing it on February 26, 2012? How might that change the way I live this third year of my life without Hannah's physical presence?
And so begins my Joy Odyssey. And as I wrap up this post, I see by the clock in the corner of my computer screen that February 26, 2011, has already ended. But, that's okay, I started my list before the midnight hour. I plan to keep you updated about how the list is coming along, and I'm looking forward to sharing with you some of the joys I discover along the way. And I hope that some of you might decide to join me on this year-long Joy Odyssey, and that you'll share some of your joys with me. For after all, my goal in doing this is not simply to identify what makes me happy (really, how self-centered would that be?), but instead to keep me focused on the ultimate Joy-Giver, and to yield to Him the gratitude that He so richly deserves.
Oh, those first few items on my list?
1,000 Things That Bring Me Joy
1. The knowledge that I will be reunited with Hannah in Heaven some day.
2. The love and concern of family and friends that was shown so freely to our family today.
3. The warmth of Bethany's hugs.
More to come...!