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Podcast & Blog Post: Finding Joy in the Valley

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

Note: I have a podcast episode that corresponds to this blog post. Click here to listen to

I was in elementary school when a series of tragedies happened in my grandma’s life. As you might expect any child to do, I was watching her response to her circumstances, looking to her for my perspective on the pain she was going through. Because I was watching her response, her actions were not just shaping her future, but they were also shaping mine.

My Grandma, who we grandkids called "Mimi,” became the champion of joy. She had been through a lot of things that would leave most people bitter, skeptical, and broken, but she had prayed for joy and prayed to forget the toxic details of the past. Often, she would point out to us that God answered both of those prayers – she wanted us to know that it wasn’t her own strength of character that brought her joy, it was the strength of her God.

There was a simple little plaque that hung in her simple little house, and I would read that plaque each time I visited because the words on the picture represented well her life. As a child, those words gave me the perspective I needed to process the reality of her trauma.

Decades later, shortly after Meme passed away, my mom called me and asked if there was anything of Meme’s that I wanted (Mom and her brother were clearing out Meme’s belongings from that simple little house that held so many memories for all of us). I could have asked for one of her diamond rings or her car or her china, but I asked for one thing – that plaque. It represented a strength that I had sought to possess all of my life.

The old plastic plaque that hung in my grandma's humble little home

I want to share with you the words that carried me, and no doubt carried my grandmother all of those years. As you read them, remember that little eyes are watching your responses to life. Your perspective will influence not only your future but also the futures of those young people that God has planted in your life. Respond well, not out of your own strength, but relying on the strength that only God can give. 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant.” You might not be a perfect mom or a perfect grandmother (none of us are because “perfection” is not possible in this life), but with God’s help, you can be competent to minister the gospel to the little people in your path. Pray for joy and choose to shine no matter the circumstances.

“God said…

Don’t look to the bigness of your need

Look to the bigness of your God!

Your circumstances are hindrances to seeing MY ABILITIES…

If you keep your eyes on your circumstances, the devil will use your circumstances to defeat you and accuse the Word of God… the written and the Living Word.


Is in keeping your eyes on the bigness

Of your God and His ability


To take you STEP by STEP by STEP

Not all at once…

But step…

By step and …

Each step will be a Miracle!”

by Morris Cerullo, World Evangelism

I’m writing this post two days after Christmas. At our house we’ve got a big pile of boxes to recycle and I’ve thrown out the remains of the cookies and cakes that a week ago seemed so delicious looking. I threw them away to make room for some salads to bring our bodies back to health. We’re getting back to normal. As you start a new year, I wonder if there are any lousy life perspectives that you may need to throw out as well, in order to make room for joy. Paul writes that we are a living letter of the gospel. You are a living letter of the gospel to the family that God has put in your life. I’ve shared with you one of the most influential parts of my childhood in hopes that you will recognize the impact that your life is on your children and grandchildren, even in the midst of the normal, or in the midst of great problems as well…

Note: My two grandmothers were my two greatest heroes – the two people I most wanted to be like and some of the most influential people in my life. This post was about Mimi, but I’ve also written about my Grandma Melton (read it here:

Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM, is a mom to seven plus three in-law kids and two grandchildren. If you would like more from Val, you can follow her blog and podcast or find her books and other resources at Here's the direct link to her podcast.

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