Remembering Joy… by JoAnn
I learned through social media a few days ago that a dear old friend had passed away. Her name was Joyce, but everyone knew her as Joy and that she was. She had made a post on Facebook about nine months ago that she was in hospice care due to her ongoing battle with serious health issues. It was a shock to me as she had not shared her illness until this announcement.
Joy and I were in elementary school together back in the 1960s. She was one of my favorite young friends. She was a beautiful little girl with long brown hair. She was the shortest girl in class and had big blue eyes and porcelain skin. She was truly a little doll and had the personality to match. I remember everyone being friends with Joy. I was no exception. I absolutely adored her!
I was a little shy and lacked self-confidence back then. Joy was pretty, funny, and well-liked by everyone. She came from a large family with older brothers and sisters, and her home life seemed much more interesting than mine. I was in awe of her and wished that I could be like her.
What I remember most about Joy was her talks with me when we were alone. We were in 3rd or 4th grade at the time, and our classroom had its own bathroom. The teacher would send 2 or 3 girls into the bathroom together to wash their hands before lunch. When Joy and I would go in together, she always took the opportunity to catch up with me and talk. She told me things about her home life, family, and other little stories she found amusing. But the talks I remember most were when Joy would witness to me about her Christian faith. She would quote bible verses to me and then explain what they meant. She told me about her older sister getting baptized and was more than happy to explain what that meant when I had questions. I learned that I could ask Joy just about anything, and she could give me the answer I was looking for. We were young girls mind you, but that little girl already had a close relationship with Jesus! One she kept throughout her entire life. Knowing Joy ended up being one of the most important reasons I chose the Christian path for my own life.
I moved away when I was 10, leaving behind all my precious friends at that little Tennessee elementary school. Joy remained in my heart forever, though. I always remembered her and all she had taught me. I still strove to be like her. I often wondered over the years how she grew up. Was she happy? Was she still pretty? When Facebook became a reality, and I jumped on the bandwagon like millions of others, I began searching for old friends from my school days. Of course, Joy was one of them. I was so happy to see that she was still around, still pretty, and still a Christian. She was also a mother and grandmother like myself. She was also divorced and had experienced her share of hard knocks. But she seemed happy and grounded, and that made me happy.
It’s really quite phenomenal to have known someone when they were very young, just in the first stages of their life. Then fast forward 50+ years, and they are now in their last stages. So many years, so many experiences, so many people to love. And I’m sure, so many to say goodbye to on your way out. I’ve thought about that a lot the past few days and how Joy surely had many goodbyes. It’s a see ya later for me, as I plan to see Joy again someday when it’s my turn to make that journey too. Until then, what a blessing you were to my life old friend, and I don’t even think you knew it. When I see you again, we’ll talk as we used to, and I’ll make sure you know.
Rest in peace, my sweet little friend.
Four-Letter Words… by JoAnn
Whenever someone mentions the phrase “four-letter words,” it’s usually assumed they mean profanity. There seems to be a lot more of that in this day and time than ever before in our past. It has infiltrated every area of society and is accepted by our young people as a “cool” way to express themselves. The general population accepts it like never before.
The four-letter words I will talk about are the positive ones. Words that lighten life instead of darkening it. Words like love and hope to start. Stop and think for just a moment about the first one; love. Of all the important meanings in our world’s history, what has love done? What is love capable of doing still? If love is added to any other word, the impact is immeasurable.
Add love to anything you do, and you will find yourself a winner. Add love to work, and you will have success. Adding love to a conversation has the power to quiet loud voices and calm racing hearts. Add love to an argument, and forgiveness will grow. Love can do the impossible. There is no other four-letter word that holds that much power.
Hope is so important to our psyche that we have no reason to go on without it, especially without love. The two go hand in hand to make our lives worth living. Hope gives us the strength to go forward into an unknown future. It gives us wings.
One of the four-letter words most important to me is Pray. Because of my faith as a Christian, praying is as much a part of my daily life as breathing. I believe in it that much. There is indeed power in prayer.
So far, all three of the four-letter words have one thing of great value in common. They are positively powerful when used. There is no denying it. Even the world’s most negative, non-believing individual could not hold up an argument to say otherwise.
The next time you hear someone’s mouth sputtering four-letter words of hate, negativity, or just plain filth, don’t let that garbage get to you. Stop and ask yourself what four-letter words you like most. What are the ones you live by daily? Share them with someone!
The Library… by JoAnn
When I began elementary school back in 1968, I loved everything about it. From riding that big yellow bus early in the morning to all the new kids I met in class. I loved my teachers, my school supplies, and the school lunch. But the thing I loved most of all was when we made our classroom’s weekly trip to the library.
I only had a few children’s books at my home. My mama didn’t drive, and we lived too far from town to walk. So I had not been to the public library. In fact, I don’t believe I had even heard the word library until our teacher explained we would be going to the school’s library once a week. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but she mentioned books. This library was beginning to sound very interesting. I knew I loved the books given to me as Christmas and birthday gifts.
We all lined up like little yellow ducklings and followed our teacher down the school’s hallway to the door that went outside. Once outside, we headed towards this other little red building. It sure looked special. We went up some shaky metal steps and through the door. When I got inside and looked up, I was speechless. All around the room were shelves full of books! Neatly displayed all the way to the ceiling. I was in awe of the sight.
The librarian told us to sit at a table as she explained how we would be using the library, the rules we must respect while in the library, and how we are to take good care of the books. I had trouble paying attention to the librarian as I could not take my eyes off the books! They were everywhere. All colors, sizes, and thicknesses. All I wanted was to touch one. Just one. Hold it in my hands and know what an actual book felt like. These were different from the kid books I had at home. These were special.
Finally, we were told we could get up from our tables and look at the books. We could choose one and take it back to our table to enjoy ourselves quietly. I cannot tell you the title of the book I chose. All I can remember is how I felt holding it in my little hands. The texture of the cloth binding, the feel of the smooth pages inside, and the smell. The wonderful smell of that library book. I fell in love.
I was very disappointed when I learned we could not take the books home until 2nd grade. But I looked forward to every time we got to visit the library. And before I knew it, a school year had passed, and I was in 2nd grade. We could check out one book and take it home for a whole week. In 3rd grade, we could check out two books. In 4th grade, we were allowed to check out as many books as we wanted. By then, we were doing book reports and term papers and needing information only the library could provide. Imagine that, no computers or Google.
One day I came across the poetry section of the library. I was instantly hooked. I took home as many poetry books to read over the weekend as the librarian would allow. I was so excited and did not care how heavy the stack was. I happily toted them home and enjoyed spending my weekend reading all the poems I could.
It’s been a few years since I stepped foot inside a library. Most people download from the internet what they want to read and read directly from their phone or tablet screens. But I still prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. The crisp black ink printed on the soft white paper. Turning each page with love and care. And don’t get me started on a picture book. I would own every coffee table book in print if I could and spend my days looking through the beautiful photographs.
I’m sure more kids today choose technology over actual printed material. They may laugh at my fond memories of days spent in the library. That’s okay. My hope is they have their own wonderful memories.
Time Lost… by JoAnn
Never in a million years did I think I would be “that” person. The one that would let years and years go by without speaking to a loved one that I felt had deceived me and broken my trust, not to mention my heart.
Two people, friends or family, go years with a black spot on their hearts where that loved one used to be, for whatever reason, choosing never to look back and emotionally block that person from their life. I have heard stories all of my life of loved ones becoming estranged due to something that had broken their line of trust so profoundly that their love for one another became hidden. Hidden so deep inside their heart, one or both could not comprehend the idea of forgiveness.
I used to think how sad it was for a family or friendship to be broken in such a way. How could siblings, best friends, parents, and children go years without talking to one another? Without seeing one another? I never thought I could allow such distress into my own life.
Recently, I had to be honest with myself that I had become one of those people.
It all began when I found a photo of someone I used to know well and love online. They looked the same, just older. They looked happy, which in return, made me happy. I was glad to see them and realized I had missed them. I had to admit to myself that I still cared about that person. The things that had caused me to shun them from my life didn’t seem so big anymore. In fact, nothing was big enough to have spent the past fourteen years apart from them. Suddenly I felt ashamed. I had become the person I never thought my soul could be. A person that could not forgive.
I have never wanted to be an unforgiving person. I have received an abundance of forgiveness in my life, and I always want to return it. My faith in Jesus Christ, the ultimate forgiver, has taught me over and over again how forgiveness can heal almost any broken heart. Why had I not allowed it to heal mine until fourteen years later? Why now? So much time has passed. So much time that we can’t get back. I had to be honest with myself again and realize that I had never allowed forgiveness into my heart. I had held so tightly to my stubbornness that forgiveness couldn’t get through. I had no one to blame but me.
I reached out to said loved one from my past, not knowing how they would respond. I was nervous, but I knew in my heart it had to be done. Would they reply, or would I be met with silence? Maybe their stubbornness was stronger than mine. I had to know, for my heart could not rest. Much to my surprise really, I received an immediate reply. We had broken the ice. I now have hope that old wounds can be healed.
I do feel a sense of sadness and deep regret that so many years have been wasted. Years that we missed out on seeing and talking to each other. And for what? Something so minuscule that I struggle even to remember the cause. Too bad it took me so long. I have indeed learned a very valuable lesson from all this.
My hope is if you are estranged from someone you still care about, that you will be encouraged by my story to try to make things right again. It’s never too late for our hearts to find forgiveness.
That’s Not Funny… by JoAnn
March 27, 2023
Guest Missives 2023, Guest WoW, JoAnn
I turned on the television today in hopes of easing my boredom. It wasn’t as though I had nothing to do. There is always housework that needs to be done. But I just wasn’t in the mood. I only watch free television stations, and I am perfectly content with that. I turned to my most watched channel, Me-TV. If you are unfamiliar with it, Me-TV only shows what they call classic television. Old reruns are what I call it. But I enjoy watching the shows I grew up with. They are more family-oriented, and I find they reduce stress by giving lots of clean entertainment and laughs.
Today there were multiple showings of The Three Stooges in a row. I honestly was disappointed. This show has always had an enormous fanbase. Most people would find it weird or downright appalling that I find Moe, Curly, and Larry unfunny. But I have never been a fan of slapstick comedy, and that’s what The Three Stooges is famous for.
I have tried to watch the trio many times and always find myself bored. The act of constantly slapping or hitting each other over the head has never been funny to me. Even as a child, I never liked slapstick comedy. I am the only person I have ever known that finds absolutely nothing funny about it. It boggles my mind why anyone would find falling down or tripping funny.
Today left me asking, is something wrong with me? I consider myself to have a great sense of humor. I love to laugh! I love to make other people laugh. My family finds me funny quite often. I adore sitcoms on television and watch many of them regularly, except for The Three Stooges.
I did try again today. No doubt about it, the men were talented entertainers. They excelled at their craft. The show was done well for that time period, and I enjoyed looking at the vintage props in the background. But did I laugh? Sorry, I can’t say that I did.
I will try again another day when I am bored, and there is nothing on TV but sports, which I don’t watch. Maybe a little chuckle might pass my lips. Don’t count on it, though.