Joy Personified

The images below are new, but some of the words are from an old Easter post from two years ago. That’s the thing about Truth. It’s always timely. Children grow and change. Babies become toddlers. Toddlers turn into preschoolers.

 Your first and second baby girls grow tall and lean, and you see beautiful glimpses of the lovely ladies they’re turning into. These are sweet girls who point out where Easter eggs are hidden to each other and make your younger brother laugh, “I was never that nice during our Easter egg hunts.”

Scrawny babies with chicken legs that are welcomed into the world after weeks of anxious bed rest turn into happy pudge balls. And my-oh-my how that baby face reminds you of your husband. Those eyes belong to him.

But Truth and God – these remain constant.

This was an emotional Easter. I hadn’t broken down in a long time and in the safety and security of my family, I cracked and a wellspring of  tears flowed freely. I felt silly at first. Guilty, too. Then I felt better.

Easter is always bittersweet for me if I’m honest. Reading my old post revealed I’d broken down on Holy Saturday and cried to my mama. She comforted me saying, “All will be fine.” Just like St. Julian of Norwich. “All will be well.” And it was. And it will be.

It’s just the luck of the draw, but my husband frequently has to work over Easter weekend, and I miss him. But I’m also missing something on a deeper level. People join the Church this time of year. I know of several wives whose husbands were welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass. I am overwhelmed with joy for them, but I’m selfishly sad, too. My own faith journey is solitary. Everyone’s journey is solitary, but I don’t have a spouse walking anywhere close to me, and I thought I would when I got married nearly a decade ago. My heart aches because of this. Yet, I remind myself that nothing is impossible with God. This marriage of mine is a great blessing; it is a part of His plan to teach a stubborn control freak child of His (um, me) to trust. So trust I will.

I was tired when I arrived home last night. Two out of the four kids fell asleep on the way home from my parents’. I was able to transport them to beds without waking them. My big girl helped me unload the van. I nursed a very tired baby boy to sleep.

I tidied up around the house, wishing to make it feel homey and uncluttered for when that husband  of mine (whom I really was missing) returned home from work late that night.

Then I decided to peruse the photos I’d snapped throughout the day. I hadn’t pulled out my real camera in a long time since I can capture quick shots with my phone, but this weekend I wanted to get some better closeups of the kids.  I don’t have a superb eye for photography, but I was fairly happy with the results of my weekend clicking.

As I looked through the photos, the theme that came to mind was joy. Pure joy. Joy personified in my children’s smiles and happiness. That joy replaced any feelings of guilt or bittersweetness and made me grateful.

Childhood, especially when there’s chocolate buried in baskets and Easter egg hunts, is a sermon on what it means to find joy. Big, silly dogs who are always licking your baby because they think he’s their puppy help to make you joyful, too.

No, my Lent wasn’t all that great. But with Easter Sunday, we get our own Groundhog Day, a glorious do-over, a fresh start, a chance to be made anew and to walk more closely with Jesus. And isn’t our God generous? We get 40 days of preparation and penance, but we get 50 days of feasting.

The Easter season is not an ordinary time, so be extraordinary.

As I mentioned during my morning radio interview this morning with Relevant Radio, let your kids jump in those spring mud puddles. What’s a little extra dirt? Pick flowers. Read books together in your backyard. Have a picnic. Throw a blanket on the floor if it’s raining. Enjoy your children instead if just managing them.

And remember this (these are the words from an older post):

We are an Easter people.

Hope abounds. It is not a hope based on a superficial optimism that is blind to the reality of suffering in the world. Rather, it is a deep trust in God and His love for us. This is not a season for despair or worry. Easter calls us to embrace the freedom from fear, and to hold onto the life, the peace, and the joy that Jesus died to give all of us.

We are an Easter people. With the hope of Easter so close to me, it’s easy to believe. But then I return to my life. I face my trials. I see the news headlines. And I’m tempted to give in to anger or doubt or even despair.

My heart has its ups and downs. My world is frequently a wobbly one, and it’s a challenge to find my balance. My faith isn’t as steady as I’d like it to be; yet, this Easter season is a good reminder that some things never change. The only one who can rob us from the joy that comes with being a Christian is ourselves. We are sure to lose much in life – jobs, loved ones, financial security, freedoms, good health, confidence in our future happiness and in the path of our life. Then there is God. He remains. He does not shift with the wind or with our woes. He is forever. Love is forever.  No one can take that away from us. I need to bury my doubt and let God and love live.

My kids are triumphant, glad to be able to proclaim, “Alleluia!” again.

That’s what Jesus gave us on that first Easter: A reason to say, “Alleluia!” again, a reason to hope, and joy that is ours for the taking even when life is downright hard.

This is what my children give me, too. A reason to hope. And joy. Lots of it.

Happy Easter!!!

*Stay tuned for an Easter giveaway!


Enter the Conversation...

10 Responses to “Joy Personified”
  1. Thank you for this post. This has been an especially difficult Lent and I am really finding it hard to to find joy in Easter or my 19 month old…. or pretty much anything. This post is a great reminder that I need to make a little more effort in finding that joy.

  2. Oh Kate – this post was sent by God. Aside from the feelings of a mixed marriage (though, even though my husband is Catholic, I don’t always feel that sense of spiritual unity either, and the solitary feelings – while we are never alone in the Body of Christ – can seem to blink in annoying and blinding neon lights) the rest about a hard Lent, the reclaiming of joy in every situation, and the reminder we ARE an Easter people was what this tired mommy and friend and follower needed to read.

    I love you! HAPPY EASTER!!!

  3. Diapeepees says:

    What pretty pics of the kids…really beautiful ones…I look your babies and think of mine, and how lucky we are to have these times in our lives. We’re so fortunate to have our faith to help us see them even more clearly and appreciate them and love them so fully.

  4. Kris says:

    Have faith, my friend. God is working on Dave’s heart – you wait and see. A friend’s husband came into the Church this Saturday after many years. Their “late in life” baby is having his First Communion this year, so that gave him the extra nudge he needed. Love your beautiful family pictures!! Thomas is getting so big. Any plans to head down this way sometime soon? Miss you.

  5. lena says:

    Deo gratias! Continued prayers for you and your husband. May He give you the graces to remain rooted in joy and peace.

  6. MamabearJD says:

    I’m sad for the moms and the kids where there is no pause and recognition of this joy! My husband converted five years ago, which I am so thankful for, but he and I are still in very different places spiritually. That’s hard for me in that I withhold thoughts that are meaningful to me because he wouldn’t understand. I worry sometimes that I’ve gone and gotten too Jesus for him. :) So I understand in a way.
    We keep praying. And reading your great posts.

  7. Jennifer says:

    The post brings smile in my face. I love the baby, the innocent smile is perfect.

  8. Hugs to you, Kate, and Easter joy. And much, much hope! :)

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