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Choose Joy
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By Helena Smrcek

Over the years I have developed a survival strategy. As soon as the glitter of Christmas finds it’s spot back in our basement, I drag up our suitcases and pack for a getaway. Unfortunately, one week in the sun puts only a slight dent in the winter drab, and the older I get, the harder the seemingly endless days of winter are.

So, when one of our neighbours invited me to an annual meeting of her horticultural society I jumped at the opportunity. That is, I upped my daily dose of Advil, and gingerly walked to my car, trying to ignore the yet another bad back episode.

Greeted by vivid potted plants, and a room full of gardeners, my spirit perked up. The first speaker shared her vast knowledge of soil. My heart swelled. During the coffee break I loaded my plate with home baked goodies, and reminiscent about our long-ago church get togethers. Then I chatted up everyone at my table and silently thanked God for pulling me out of my despair. These were kindred souls.

Finding my neighbour just before lunch wasn’t an easy task, but we did connect and had a great talk. She was kind enough not to ask about my sock-knitting project she helped me to start in early January but mentioned that she had a special daylily that I need to see later in the year.

The rest of the afternoon was hallmarked by perennial advice and raised bed presentation. As I listened, I suddenly found myself unwinding. The accumulated stress of the dreaded winter, combined with the absurdities of current news, the worries about our business, retirement, kids’ future, the cold weather pains and aches, and the simple daily stresses, collectively drained me.

I needed to get better. As retail therapy has been hailed as an instant cure for the blues, I purchased a hand-crafted bird house, and a giant hydrangea, before I left the event. On the way home, I realized I must get my joy back, find the lost creative spark, and reclaim the missing positive outlook on life. Enough of this defeatist attitude.

It took another week, a few visits to my chiropractor, and a good chat with a friend, but I took out my Easter decorations, and finally made it to church. Standing next to my daughter, who continually keeps conquering the stereotypes of the lost millennials, we sang the new, and the old; then listened to the pastor walk us thru the history of The Book.

I realized God protected His Word through time, kings and regimes, disasters and plagues, through wars and revolutions, so that we can read the Bible during these turbulent times of the 21st century. His Word is filled with timeless truth, eternal principals and ever-lasting blessings. Gratitude and quiet joy filled my heart. He is on His throne, His eyes upon us, only a prayer away. Therefore, I choose joy, regardless of the newsfeed, the rain, and my dog-chewed gardening gloves.