what is joy when the world hiccups?

December 13, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 28 Comments

What is joy, when the world screams out?

Joy isn’t found in the aisles of a store while I stock up on gifts and sale items. It isn’t found in the wrinkled sheets of nap time, a lit candle, the warm cup of coffee under my palms. It isn’t a movie night and bag of popcorn, nor is it in Season 2 of Call the Midwife.

I have experienced such deep joy in the crook of brokenness. When I swoop Florence up into my arms, and nuzzle my nose into her neck, when I feel the heavy weight of her limp body, and see her chiclet teeth exposed in a smile, this is the spark of joy.

This is the spark, but not the flame.

I used to struggle with seeing joy, for I was blinded by grief and caught in the haze of black sorrow. I felt the weight of death, her diagnosis. She’s too young, my heart yelped, she’s too young to be wounded, too tender and innocent. And yet her babyhood was full, it was rich. Looking back, it was truly bliss. Once I shook off the yoke, I threw off the weight of her diagnosis too.

I threw it off, some said with a rush of naivety, but I felt that was right for me.

And then she was intubated and nearly died. She hasn’t taken anything by mouth since. Suddenly, the diagnosis reared it’s ugly head and corralled me into the way of fear.

She has lost the use of her arms, up to her elbow, she has never had strength from the waist down. Her strongest muscles remain in her wrists, her grasp, and her stomach.

I began to chant, “I’m not afraid of death, I’m not afraid of the sting.”

Her last admission to the hospital helped me realize that I have come a long way, only by God’s grace, for He freely douses me in it. I wasn’t nauseous, I could eat and function, I slept well. I fought off the suggestion that she may not recover.

We said with straight faces: if she doesn’t get better, we will not give her a tracheotomy, we will transfer to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice for end of life care. If she gets worse and you need to intubate, we agree, that is an option. If you extubate and she doesn’t do well, we may or may not intubate again.

We thanked the doctor, held hands tight over the green hospital blanket. We didn’t cry. We looked at each other, she will get better, we said.

We thrust her life, our sanity, our aching hearts into the Father’s capable hands and we waited.

She recovered, rather quickly. We went home with a daily puffer for her lungs, just another piece of plastic that helps her.

She is still my Florence, blooming away inside, ready to burst forth. She makes the snort of a pig when she sees snouts and pink curly tails. She laughs like the Count from Sesame Street, and “woof woofs” like a dog. She makes me so proud.

She makes me cheer so loud, I’m practically screaming, when she does pretty much anything at all.

What is joy, when the world hiccups and we are thrown off course?

Joy is not a feeling, a fleeting thought. Joy is steady and hums throughout the long days of drizzle and hospital stays.

Joy is,

realizing I only have two hands, and the weight of the world doesn’t fit.

Joy is,

letting go, weights dropping like lead.

Joy is,

recognizing the wounds I carry will change the world, if I let Him cake me in His balm, if I let Him heal.

Joy is making a home here, and if we fall, taking down as many strongholds as we can grasp.

Joy is,

the rush of holding onto hope, rope burns and all.

28 Comments

  • Reply Ruth February 5, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    Your heart is one that I know for certain God delights in.

    Thank you for your raw openness and costly vulnerability. You have allowed God to bring beauty out of your ashes. It is a gift, how you share. And so glorifying to Jesus. Your Beauty is evident in how you write, but you write to show Jesus, and you do….so clearly.

  • Reply Amy R. Hunt December 24, 2013 at 2:30 AM

    Sweet, beautiful-heart, Michaela. I see God through you. It isn’t your effort or trying to be like Him, it’s His allowing heartache and sorrow and for you to be gripping tight, feeling like you’re barely holding on to Him like a climber with her hand on the crevices of the rock. It’s the way He’s worked through you (and continues to work through you) in this way:

    “Joy is,

    realizing I only have two hands, and the weight of the world doesn’t fit.

    Joy is,

    letting go, weights dropping like lead.

    Joy is,

    recognizing the wounds I carry will change the world, if I let Him cake me in His balm, if I let Him heal.”

    I see Him. His beauty. And the beauty He’s made and making through you. And this, you’ll agree, is no small thing. In fact, it’s the most glorious thing and what purposes all the muck and the guck of our pain.

    (I’m so glad to have crossed paths with you this morning. You have no idea.)

    Cheers for the surrender. And cheers for this most beautiful worship scrawled here in your words of surrender and how He leads you (and me and all of us) to this place.

    • Reply Michaela. December 24, 2013 at 8:28 AM

      Oh dear Amy, thank you. It was such a privilege to read your words. Thank you so much for sharing with me.
      Bless you. xoxo

  • Reply Rebekah Richardson December 17, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Michaela, this was so beautiful. Thankyou, for your honesty, vulnerability and raw-ness. The world needs more people like you.

    • Reply Michaela. December 17, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Rebekah, I am so glad you stopped by. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Tara Brittany December 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    So many tears. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  • Reply Beverley Nash December 14, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    I’m always amazed! All I can say is The Lord is your strength!!!!

  • Reply Bo Stern (@Bostern) December 14, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Michaela, this is so beautiful. I’m thankful to Adriel for connecting us – I think we’re laboring in different corners of the same field. This week in particular, I’m feeling the rope burns of hoping hard, but Jesus keeps coming and coming in all the ways a True Love does. Today, He came through your words – seeing Him show up strong for you, reminds me He will do no less for me. Thank you for sharing. .

    Bo

    P.S. Florence is…breathtaking.

    • Reply Michaela. December 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Hi Bo, I’m so glad Adriel connected us too! I keep checking back to read more about Steve’s ‘coming soon’ story…:)
      I’m so honoured that this little last minute post about joy has touched the hard places in hearts, in your heart. Not long after posting it I felt the wallop of fear and disappointment hit me in the tender place, but I’ve learned that’s to be expected after posts like this.
      Thanks for connecting. I look forward to the journey ahead.
      xo

  • Reply Jolie December 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    The Joy candle tomorrow is pink traditionally and I’m really going with it this year. Pink and balloons from a new pump-up-balloon maker we were given…When kids get smiling and proud of themselves I feel a great joy. I’m looking forward to that tomorrow with our church kids. Joy is also feeling incredibly relieved in what otherwise would be considered great hardships…thats a supernatural kind of thing, right? Thanks for sharing again, I’m filled with a thankful-content-hopeful-loving JOY when I read your life & think on Florence.
    Now the God of HOPE fill you MIchaela with all JOY & peace!
    Jolie

    • Reply Michaela. December 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Oh Jolie. I love reading what you write. Sounds like a wonderful day for the kids and the church. xo

  • Reply Ashley December 14, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    this is pretty much the only blog or website that always makes me cry. just speechless.
    Ashley

    • Reply Michaela. December 14, 2013 at 9:41 AM

      That’s so sweet Ashley. Thank you for honouring my blog with your time!

  • Reply Megan December 14, 2013 at 5:03 AM

    Thank you of sharing this. You inspire me. Your strength. Your beauty. Your words. All are truly incredible. I have read so much and looked at so many photos of Florence now, I feel like she is family. Please know that all of you are so often in my prayers and thoughts. x

    • Reply Michaela. December 14, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      Megan, I am so glad you know us well and thank you for sharing, caring, loving. It’s very special to me! xo

  • Reply themommyhoodmemos December 13, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Love. So much love. Xo

  • Reply Kerri December 13, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Wow. Such incredible bravery – such vulnerability. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so moved by your faith and your words.

    • Reply Michaela. December 13, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Kerri, thank you for these much needed words. Some days I don’t feel very brave!

  • Reply life-times-two December 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Such love … could anything portray the Father’s love for humanity more than the unconditional devotion, and the true essence of joy I see in this photo. This family is beyond amazing. Have a wonderful Christmas! Praying for you on this journey xxx

    • Reply Michaela. December 13, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Ooh so kind! Thank you.

  • Reply Tina Francis (@teenbug) December 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Oh Michaela. Eshet Chayil! Your joy is infectious. And might I add, inspiring!

    So many tears of joy…

    Can’t wait to meet your baby girl!

    • Reply Michaela. December 13, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Tina lovely, thank you. I love your heart.

  • Reply Sylvia December 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I LOVE the picture too. Whenever I read your blog posts Michaela I am reminded of what is real and valuable in life. And I treasure those things even more. You are such an inspiration to me. Bless you and your lovely family this Christmas.

    • Reply Michaela. December 13, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Ooh Sylvia, that is so special. Thank you for your words.

  • Reply Tina Francis (@teenbug) December 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    I haven’t even read the post yet. Just completely smitten by the picture!

  • Reply Hayley December 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    I love this entry.

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