Oh friends! I cannot tell you how much sharing this blog space with others means to me. I am amazed, blessed, and grateful. Today, Tami Deedrick shares part of her Legacy story, and get ready because you just might leave her words changed. When I met Tami’s family, she wasn’t born yet. I was a “bus kid” and her parents were some of the first people I met in my new church. I was 15 and am now 55 – someone in this family has blessed me all these years. That’s faithfulness. Thank you, Tami for sharing your heart with us.
Words From God by Tami Deedrick
Two Christmases ago, my brother shared that he was in the habit of selecting a word of the year—one concept to focus on and frame his year—and how his word that year had changed him. I was intrigued. I’m a word girl. How had I never thought of this or known he was doing it? I quickly stole the idea. But I had no idea how God was going to use it.
I prayed over that word for 2012 and considered some options but nothing felt right. I wanted a significant word—something meaty with a lot of depth. But God kept whispering to me that HE wanted my word to be joy—through a song, a message at church, a conversation. But I kept dismissing joy. It seemed…lightweight, insignificant, a warm fuzzy. But when God finally shouted at me, I accepted joy was my word.
From the first days, I trained myself to look for joy in my life. I kept a joy journal* that I updated every night about what brought me joy that day. Some days I wrote down several things; some days I had to stretch to record one. But the exercise itself was life changing. I distinctly remember one January morning I found myself extremely annoyed at something followed by the immediate thought, “how can I find the joy in this?” I couldn’t come up with anything joyful about the situation but settled on the fact that I was at least searching for joy in it. Seeking joy became my new way of life and it’s amazing how much joy you find when you seek it. From perfect sunrises to unexpected visits from friends, from a find at an antique shop to a meaningful conversation, every joy made its way into my “joynal.”
Then on Valentine’s Day, my family found out that my dad had pancreatic cancer and we began the unbelievably short yet seemingly interminable last six weeks of his life. I basically moved home to Rochester during that time, as did my sister from Chicago. Together, with Mom and my two brothers who lived in town, we started caring for Dad while we all tried to hold down our full-time jobs and lives. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world.
But it was during those difficult weeks and the year of grieving afterward that I really understood why God had insisted that my word be joy. Joy is not that feel of ecstatic excitement about something magnificent. It’s not deluding yourself that the sad and difficult events happening around you don’t matter or can’t get you down. It’s not ignoring sadness or focusing on silver linings. It’s certainly not a lightweight, warm fuzzy.
Instead, it’s a deep abiding contentment knowing that God is sovereign and good all the time. It’s resting in the incredible knowledge that He loves me and cares about every detail of my life (Psalm 37:23-24). It’s knowing that whatever comes that day He will never leave my side and, in fact, that He’ll sprinkle some bits of joy all over it.
I once heard from a preacher this definition of joy and peace:
“Joy is peace dancing; peace is joy resting.”
What a beautiful and perfect sentiment! During the year, sometimes my peace was dancing and sometimes my joy was resting, but all the time my God was active and loving and giving and good.
Without a focus on joy, a continual seeking after God’s gifts to me, I don’t think I would have survived 2012, or perhaps I would have just survived as a diminished broken person. Instead, I was stronger, closer to God and more aware of how He’s working every day. Joy was a meaty, deep, significant word—a life-changing word. I would have never thought the year that I lost the most important man in my life could be joyful but it was the most joyful of my life. I’m so grateful that God continues to invite me into a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him.
P.S. God chose my word for 2013 too. It’s less and, man, did He hit me with the lessons from day 1. What I thought less was going to me is not what God wanted to teach me. But that’s an ongoing story for another day.
*My joynal was inspired by Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts” but modified to focus on joy.