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As a writer and speaker, words are Kristianne’s art. A deliberate stringing of words becomes one of the highest forms of human expression when it gives a voice to the heart. Compassion That Compels and Compassion Bags started with a letter, a sweater and Kristianne’s two sisters-in-law and sister’s, cancer diagnosis.




“Joy Comes in Unexpected Places”

By: Nancy Backues

Two days before Christmas, I sat hooked to an IV-drip for my sixth round of chemotherapy. The week before, I’d been in my son’s hospital room as he fought against a respiratory virus and asthma attack that left his 6-year-old body depleted of oxygen. My prayer had been that his lungs were strong enough to bring him home with us.

To say that month…that year…had been different would have been an understatement. But as I sat in the infusion recliner, I realized…I am joyful. Not because of my circumstances or surroundings, but because of a not-so-easy lesson I had recently learned.

I love everything about Christmas…the carols, the cookies, the crazy shopping excursions, and the chaos. As a matter of fact, I embrace the chaos. I get entirely stressed out with lists and plans and commitments, and I love. every. single. exhausting. moment. But I knew having treatment the week after Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas required me to scale back that year. There wouldn’t be any big baking extravaganza, crazed holiday shopping sprees, or frantic Christmas party planning. It had to be simple. I really struggled with the idea of being content with less. Less time, less energy, and in my mindless fun, all led to less joy.

In the midst of my struggle with simplifying my holiday season, our pastor preached a sermon on joy. In it he made the following statement:

Joy is not dependent on what happens to us, or around us. It is a result of what has happened in us.

I’m not sure what he said right after that, because I was stuck on that statement with a truth I couldn’t ignore. That hope I’d been clinging to through six rounds of chemo…somehow I had forgotten it in the midst of my holiday pity party.

If God is good (and He is)…

If He loves me (and He does, and you, too)…

If He has a plan for me (which He does, and for you, too)…

And, if He is big enough (which He absolutely is)…

Then I can have joy. Not because of my situation. In fact, I can have joy in spite of my circumstances. My joy is not based on what happens to me or around me…it’s a result of what God has done in me because joy exceeds emotion and sentiment. It is a supernatural result of a supernatural grace.

It changed my perspective and I started to find joy in the small things. The fact that my son’s hospital visit came on my “good week” when I was well and able to be with my boy. Or that having treatment the week of Christmas has forced me to back down from my normally-chaotic holiday schedule. And slowing down allowed me to find the joy again in Christmas. After all, isn’t that how joy came that very first Christmas? In the smallest of packages…to the unlikeliest of people…in the most unexpected place…on the most ordinary of days?

No one noticed the young couple who wandered into town or gave a second thought to that manger outside of town where the couple bedded down for the night. Until…the heavens split wide open with an announcement to a group of rugged shepherds on their night watch:

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

That GREAT joy came in the smallest form: a baby born to an unlikely couple on an ordinary day in the most unexpected place. You may need a little joy to rescue you from the craze of the Season or a lot of joy to outshine the heaviness overshadowing your life this moment. I pray you find this Good News because GREAT JOY has come to Earth. In Him, and only in Him, can our joy be complete.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
(1 John 1:3-5, The Message)

Nancy Backues is the Community Content Manager for Compassion That Compels. She is an author, speaker, wife, mother, and two-time cancer overcomer. She was given a grim prognosis in 2013 when the soft-tissue sarcoma she battled in 2010 metastasized to three different areas. A 16-month battle followed, including chemo, surgery, alternative therapies, and lots of prayer. She now lives CANCER-FREE in Missouri where she relies on God’s grace and good coffee to live out authentic faith in the midst of a mostly messy life. Read her story on her blog, There Is Grace, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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