Tethered to His Mast: Part One: So This is JOY!

“There is faith that in the midst of the setbacks, God is setting up everything for the comeback of your joy.” – Ann Voskamp

It was early afternoon when I pulled the weathered journal I had been keeping since 2005 out of my suitcase. I sat on the couch to journal about the night before. Sophie came over, eager, entreating to know what I held in my hand. I began to share my journey with this beautiful leather bound journal. As I turned the pages I showed her the different things I had written: prayers to God, letters I couldn’t send, things I hadn’t shared with anyone else. She was fascinated. Sophie is a gifted writer. She weaves magic into her storytelling. She has already developed a cadence that is all hers. I cannot wait to see what she does with her writing in the future. It was a gift to share my journal with her. It was a gift to take pen to parchment. This was something I had not done in quite some time.

I have just brewed a pot of Indian Shores Coffee in my stovetop percolator. Pouring a delicious cupful, adding stevia and cinnamon, felt right for this journey of pealing back the pages of my journal to peek inside.

I like titling things. One of my favorite parts about a bookstore is reading titles and the interpretation of those titles in the cover art. So, a title was important for this blog series. I have often used the phrase, “Tethered to His Mast” in other writings. It is a line in an Andrew Peterson song that resonated with me. This first entry was difficult to title.

I remember stepping out of a shower. I had washed away sand and salt from sun burned skin. A few more freckles were sure to pop across my pink-pale arms (I absolutely LOVE my freckles). I was singing “So This is Love” from the Disney version of Cinderella. You all know how much I love anything to do with the Cinderella story. In the end I remembered the above quote by Ann Voskamp and chose to marry the two resonating loves together.

So this is joy…

Early mornings with Steven are one of the best gifts a girl can ask for. He comes in Thursday morning, my first full morning of the trip, and snuggles right next to me. He asks for my phone and plays it for a brief moment. Then, I hear his belly rumble. I cannot resist getting up with him. I fix him a banana and we watch lightning cut through night sky as rumbles of thunder mix with crashing waves – brilliant cascading music. The light dispels darkness and we shed our blanket to walk out on the back deck. He has cereal, I an Einstein Bagel. As we step out onto the back deck Steven squeals, “Wissa…look…it’s a rainbow! OH…MY…GOSH!” He is visibly shaking with utter joy and delight as he speaks these last words. I am taken in with him, praising God for this unmissed moment. I could have missed it. I could have felt compelled to stay in bed. I could have admonished him for coming into my room early. But, I didn’t do any of these things. I got up and went on an adventure with a little boy that showed me shear and utter JOY!

Here are the words I journaled Friday morning, after a joyous parody of child shenanigans:

There is a melody, a soft strong undercurrent, a mystical cadence, in waves breaking to shore. The sun is expansive - mirroring on tides blue. I knew this journey would not render much sleep. These joyous sacred moments are hard to fully measure. There is truly nothing more precious sacred than a small frame snuggling close in wee hours of morning. They seek out love, finding it sure, they relax - sleep transfigures bubbled energy to serenity. Is that not how we are as His children? After all the running, resisting, yelling, and hiding we seek Him out in still of night, snuggle close, and fall asleep, serene, next to Loves sure frame.

I am all emotion right now! It is very likely lack of sleep!

One of the joys of vacation is about a mile walk to the Indian Shores Coffee House. Did I mention it’s vacation, so I am trying a different flavored coffee a day – because I can! I had promised Rachael I would come right back, so I did not linger long. Just long enough to eat a muffin and savor these words from Ann Voskamp:

“What insanity compels me to shrivel up when there is joy’s water to be had here? In this wilderness, I keep circling back to this: I’m blind to joy’s well every time I really don’t want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it. Don’t I really want joy? Don’t I really want the fullest life? For all my yearning for joy, longing for joy, begging for joy – is the bald truth that I prefer the empty dark?

(On a side note, I just took my first sip of Indian Shores Coffee after writing that last paragraph, and I am there, sun-kissed, freckled, manic curls, hazel eyes – blessed!)

Let me share with you about the night that brought on these thoughts of joy:

Steven comes and crawls into bed with me at 1:00am and immediately falls asleep taking up my whole half of the bed. After a failed attempt of sleeping in the living room I, with Amy’s help, move him to the end of the air mattress.

At around 2:30am Rachael wakes up screaming. I think she felt Steven at the end of her bed and didn’t know what it was. I re-adjust her, hold her tight, kissing that sweet forehead, and she settles back to sleep.

4:00am both Rachael and Steven crawl back into my bed. We are packed like sardines with Sophie in the bed, but cozy. We begin to doze back to slumber when Haley’s alarm on her iTouch goes off like a bomb at 5:30am. It scares everyone, including Haley, half to death. The only one still sound asleep, can you guess, that’s right…Sophie. At this point children are re-arranged on the blow-up mattress, drinks are passed out, and Wild Kratts (I just love this show) is turned on. We begin to settle again.

And all this is JOY! All these moments of giggles and frustrations, silliness and snuggles….this is beautiful preserving water from the well! And life truly is well!

I didn’t come expecting sleep on this vacation. I came expecting this. I am tearing up just thinking about it.


I don’t get to spend time with Wyatt much anymore. In fact, this is the one little being that I missed having close moments with on the trip. He is such a big boy these days. The morning after all of these shenanigans he and I got a brief moment on the back deck. Others soon joined us in community, but the brief moment of talking about his boat and life was life preserving for me. A conversation with Wyatt always leads to something deeper. He cannot help himself. He is an old soul in young frame. It was a bubbling over moment for me. A moment, that as I type it, tears are slipping from my eyes.
So, what is the point of these words on illumined screen? I talked with a young husband whose wife is very sick at the Hope Lodge yesterday. They let me read a card her aunt had sent her. It was a belly laugh sort of card. He said, “You know Melissa, as serious as it is, we have to laugh about it. It is our goal every day to find humor and laughter in our situation.”

Joy does not derive from circumstances. It comes with how you see these circumstances. When I was young and naive about what my life would look like, I thought joy would be found when I obtained certain things. Joy does not work that way at all. It is the one reason why I was meant to sing the song, “Where Joy and Sorrow Meet” by Avalon. Joy often meets with sorrow. It is the bittersweet cup that is tender, lovely, and heartbreaking. It produces the richest of joys. It pulls the veil and places us into the very heartbeat of God.

So, consider it all joy! ALL JOY! ALL…IS…WELL!

 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16: 14 & 15

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.- 1 Chronicles 16:27

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. – Psalm 5:11

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1: 2-4


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