Pure Joy


I’m not sure I know what it means. Nor do I feel I am doing it well. But I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the words, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

I am certain it does NOT mean a plastic smile. Nor does it MERELY mean to gloss over the immediate reality of pain and discomfort to claim that One Day…One day all will be well. This is certainly true and does hold a great deal of hope for us. But the above call, to consider it pure joy, is definitely speaking to the day-to-day experience of it, the ongoing reality of the trial in one’s life, the uncertainty as to whether it will get better, or whether one will have to endure it to the end of one’s days.

In these months post-surgery in early June, I’ve been holding onto that One Day idea. The surgeon and his nurses speak this way: it’s an adjustment period and once you get through that, in a few months, you’ll feel great! I’m going on four months now and I’m not there. In fact, I’ve developed other issues that have my experienced surgeon in a bit of a quandary. First it was a fistula and now ongoing inflammation has developed which is not responding to the antibiotics he has had me on for weeks now. I’ll be going in for testing to see if he can identify what’s going on and prescribe a medicine or other regimen to get rid of whatever is causing the issue. Now I’m thinking this will be more of the same: try this med, see what happens, if it doesn’t work, try another, hope that the side effects are minimal, and if that doesn’t work… Ugh.

I’m now needing the fortitude to find joy, pure joy, in the midst of this trial. I don’t want to “gloss over”. I want to approach each day with an eye toward understanding what these huge words mean…consider it pure joy.


One thing I’m certain of, is that in drawing, I know this joy. Or perhaps to put it more succinctly…it is THROUGH drawing that this joy comes to me. It might be called happiness at times. But not always. One’s happiness is often tied to how a drawing turns out, whether I’m pleased with it or not, whether it is “good” (whatever that means).  There are times, however, when I may not be feeling good about my drawing, or I may not be feeling good period (as I was on Friday morning, drawing the two you see here, with my friend Debbie, up the road at Smith Hollow Farm), and I STILL experience that joy.

So… I draw. And as I draw, something wells up inside me. It may be called peace. It may be tranquility. It may be an assurance that somehow, some way all will not only be well, but it IS well, just at that moment. It matters not how the drawings turn out. Indeed I felt what I produced on that soggy morning was well…a bit soggy. The act of drawing becomes a conduit for joy to break in, no matter what my body may be feeling at the moment or what may come in the future. Drawing, quite literally, draws me into the present moment and ushers in a joy that does not necessarily include a grin on my face.

It also helps to have an encouraging friend, as I did on Friday. Someone who holds out hope that, yes, tomorrow will be different and possibly for the better. Drawing outside causes me to start thinking of all that I DO have: the beautiful outdoors, the cool breeze, the love of my family and the encouragement of friends. Drawing the people, places, and things in my life causes me to see beyond the resident discomfort and pain and allows me a new set of eyes for the grandeur of what’s all around me. If this sounds too pollyanna for you, I do not apologize.

In suffering of any kind, we can choose one of at least two paths. We can either be sour, bitter, beat down, and resentful. Or we can take a deep look at what it might mean to “consider it pure joy”. I’m choosing the latter because I know there is LIFE there, and there is death in the former. I feel the sour, bitter, beat down, and resentful start to bubble up. And I’m battling it with drawing… my pen a sword, my watercolors a shield for the fight for joy.


It’s worth every minute of time facing an empty page in my sketchbook and filling it with what is right in front of me: fences, friends, family, flowers, cows, anything! Through the act of drawing I’m understanding a bit more of what it may mean to consider it all pure joy.

Won’t you join me?

0 thoughts on “Pure Joy

  1. JoAnn Whitley says:

    Hi Jen, I want you to know that I am praying for your recovery, complete recovery and that in the process He will be glorified. I also want you to know that I very much enjoy following you and your lovely painting! I can tell from the colors that you use that you have a spunky, spontaneous spirit..God has been gracious to you! He has given you a talent and a spirit to go with it.
    I just read through the book of Philippians and am reminded that Paul is chained to a prison guard, has no idea if he will be beheaded or set free and yet he is able to encourage other believers and to be joyful! Joy is mentioned 16 times in four little chapters. Rejoice always and the peace of God will guard your heart! May you feel His arms around you today. JoAnn

  2. Heather says:

    You are super talented! Your JOY comes through in your artwork. Love to follow and see what you’ve been working on! Thanks for sharing your talent and bringing much JOY to others! Love how the colors dance off the page…Your work always brightens my day! Many prayers for healing and recovery!

  3. pockettrikeed says:

    Illumination for the soul! “It is well…with my soul”. I weep with joy at the evidence of your obedience to scripture, “be ye being filled with the Holt Spirit”. The Spirit floods in when you take up your pen.”

  4. E J Mordasky says:

    I very much taken with your words as they echo my thoughts as they often are…I JUST asked myself yesterday…if what I did was happiness or joy as you mention…and came to the conclusion that it is for me…bless your heart for putting it all into comforting and empowering words…

  5. catagonia12 says:

    I was just thinking today, “what am I doing this drawing and painting for?” I’m not going to hang it on the wall, very few people will see it, but I really enjoy drawing and putting color down! When I get just the right expressive line down, one that at times really speaks of what I’m drawing, it’s so rewarding! Your work shows the joy of life! that you feel!
    Hope you are better soon!

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful words! And I’m so glad you too know that rewarding feeling from just drawing and making marks on a page. I appreciate all the well wishes! Thank you for visiting!

  6. Suzanne O. says:

    Hello Jennifer,

    Thank you for sharing with us: Your art, your thoughts and your pain.

    I am always looking forward to discovering some new inspiring paintings on your blog. They always tell me that I should not give up my drawing, as I experienced some of the joy and peace drawing can bring and which you describe so well.

    In difficult times, and I can feel that you go through some very rough times right now, it is more important than ever to have such wonderful soothing activities to rely on.

    I most sincerely wish that you may get better very soon and that you’ll continue to share your art and life with us!

    • jenpedwards says:

      Thank you Suzanne, for your sincere wishes and for taking the time to leave a comment here!! I truly appreciate it and all your kind words! I am hopeful I will get some answers and will be able to mend completely. I just hope it is soon! Thank you again for visiting my blog!

  7. freebirdsings says:

    Wow, I was so hoping you’d be feeling better by now. There is no way anyone could say someone who knows what ongoing pain is and yet has hope and finds joy in life is a Pollyana! No way. They might think you are crazy but that’s another thing altogether lol. No, you are choosing the good path. Being bitter doesn’t make you feel any better. It would distance your loved ones from you and I am sure they are worried already. No, choosing joy difficult though it is is a smart thing to do. Your paintings are wonderful! Your story was wonderful. I do not understand the joy concept really myself. I’d hope not to become bitter but it would be so easy to do. Hopefully soon and sooner things will begin to change I pray.

  8. ejmordasky says:

    your words and work are so inspiring to me…your beautiful fence work seems to radiate lots of emotion —and how your work brings joy—I sure relate…bless you heart for bringing the joy you to others.

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