Today is the official launch of joythroughjoy, an important day for me as it is the 6th anniversary of when my soul-mate passed away.

The path God has led me down over the past six years to use my pain and to turn into a purpose, sharing my gift of compassion to help others who are grieving and suffering.

My prayer is that you find comfort, support, tools, and tips as you process through your journey to restore joy in your life.

I want to share with you the tribute I wrote and spoke at his funeral.  I was not sure I could get up and say anything because of the tears streaming down my face, the pit in my stomach and the empty feeling of devastation, but I made it through, and it was a step towards healing which I am grateful did.

Dear Mike,

There is no greater Joy than to make a difference in someone’s life. Mike, you made a fundamental difference in the lives of so many. Your gift from God is your heart!  You would lay down your life for others.  You put Jesus first, others second, yourself last (JOY).   Your love for God was inspiring and your faith inspired so many, your love was unconditional and pure. Your love for your family was profound, and your love for me everlasting.

There is so much I could say right now; my grief is almost unbearable. In John 9, God speaks of the man born blind, and a family of little hope. The family was devastated, but Jesus said that the man was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him, and then Jesus took mud like the dust He used to create Adam and spat on it and made new eyes for the man.  God’s grace and power of hope and healing were demonstrated.  Though we may have our eyesight, we will and are experiencing pain, loss of faith, doubt, and undue grief.  Right now, we may even be questioning God’s judgment in allowing us to suffer such loss.  But we have hope, as Mike would say we have to remember that God’s purposes are always intentional.  Jesus healed the blind man, and He will heal our emotional pain.  We have that hope!

In 1 Thessalonians 4, God reminds us that he wants us to know about the Christians who have died – do not be sad, because as Christians, we believe and because of Him God will raise with Jesus those who have died.  Mike pointed out this scripture to me after he passed – only Mike’s body is gone – his soul is in Heaven.

Mike would want us to celebrate today; he would not want us to be sad. He would want us to rejoice in a life well lived and celebrate the life that comes after this one here on earth.  Because of our faith, we have the hope of eternal life.

I am blessed beyond words, and I want to share our story.  Mike and I met and dated in college, we fell in love then, however God knew that we were not ready, and we went separate ways for a several decades.  When we reconnected, we spoke about how we often thought of each other, and how God brought us back together, His timing is perfect.  I remember the first time met again after weeks of emails and talking on the phone. We met at Dave and Buster’s and just laughed, spoke, and I think we both knew at that very moment – it was destiny.  At the time, I was going through a difficult season, and Mike was such a great friend to me, he prayed with me, for me, listened to me, and lent me a shoulder to cry on.  He encouraged me through my fears, and likewise, as he went through the loss of his parents, I know that I gave him the love, comfort, prayers, shoulder to cry on that he needed too.

We had the gift of a short time together, but the memories, those gifts are everlasting and I felt like we had a lifetime together.  We spoke every day, multiple times, sharing scriptures, sharing our day, our highs, our lows. Not a night went by that we did not talk for hours on the phone, discussing our day, planning our future and sharing bible verses.  We gave each other homework in scriptures, to share at night.  We talked of our fears, our dreams, our worries, was talked about everything!  He is my best friend I could and did tell him everything!  Mike helped me be “me,” he loved the scared Joy, the happy Joy and the goofy Joy.  I still have my diary from our college time and would tease Mike with little excerpts.  We simply loved being together.

Mike always told me, you are my joy, I love your heart and I love you for you.

Some of the most challenging things for me will be not having him to pray with every night, not holding his hand as we so effortlessly do, being goofy, and laughing in hysterics as we often did.  I will miss sitting with Mike in at church; I will miss the cards and the words of love, encouragement, and support.  I will miss our challenging nature, bowling every weekend and I will miss reaching scripture and studying Gods word together.  I will miss the long walks and talks, and I will miss his singing, his laugh, his love, and concern for others, and I will miss his gentle kisses.

I grieve for the loss of our future, so close, so dear and so lovely!  But I am grateful for the gifs he gave me and all of us.  Mikes family who I love and who have welcomed me with open arms.  I grieve for my Church family a wonderful gift that Mike gave me. I love you all, and I am grateful for your prayers, but please know I am also praying for you! You all love Mike, and your loss is also devastating, and I am also here for you.

At Reviver this past weekend, Mike and I were so happy!  We were in charge of the final obstacle, the “wall”.  We had a blast; we were a team, we encouraged, supported and cheered people over the wall. As a team, Mike and I wanted people to overcome their fears and know that they had people cheering and supporting them on. As Mike and I shouted “you can do it,” you are almost there,” “we will help you” “I got you” we helped many overcome fears of that 10 foot wall.   So please remember that as we face obstacles of grief and loss, the fear of life without this man Mike, remember He is cheering us on…”You will do it, don’t give up, you can accomplish it, I am here, I will help you overcome. I am right here with you.”

Lastly, I want to share a story with you.  Mike truly loves his family and his parents; he gave up his life for many years to be his parent’s caregiver at the end of their lives.  He missed his parents.  Two weeks ago, after a memorial service for his mother, Mike told me that a gust of wind flew something from the back of his car to his windshield.  It was his mother’s obituary and that truly gave him comfort that he felt his mom was with him, but in hindsight, it seems like God was telling Mike – you will see your beloved Mom soon.

Over the past months Mike and I prayed about our future, his health issues and his job search that God would make clear to us what that future would be. God answered Mike’s prayer on his birthday and set him free. God needed Mike more than we do.  Heaven welcomed a great man that day, and I smile knowing God welcomed Mike into His arms and said, “Well done my good and faithful servant well done.

I miss my soul mate and I love him so much and I for me and all of you who are suffering along with me but I have faith that God will heal our broken hearts and that someday we can learn to reminisce with joy while the grief eases in time.