From the time I first met her, having married into Jerry’s family, my sister-in-law Mildred has been an inspiration to me. She is full of joy, energy and enthusiasm. She is an amazing woman whose attitude belies her life’s story and the circumstances with which she has dealt. Her husband, a heavy drinker, died of emphysema when she was in her 40s, I believe, while she still had children at home. She went to work for Wal-Mart and was with them for many years. She is 86 now and is spunky, beautiful and joyful. (Wish I had a picture to show you.) When she was 80 she painted her entire house, and recently when Jerry spoke to her on the phone, she said she had just poured cement steps at her house.

She seems to be perennially happy, she loves God, the church, and her pastor. She brags about him, and tells of baking goodies for him, and of having him and his wife to her house for dinner.

She’s never had many physical possessions–lives in a very modest home in Mansfield, La, and more than one of her children have brought her grief. She’s had sons who have spent time in prison, and girls with severe health problems. For many years, only one of her children served God. But in recent times God has rewarded her faithfulness and her astonishing joyful attitude. Now several of her children and grandchildren serve God, and during the past few years, one of her grandsons has entered the ministry.

She is the personification of the scripture in Isaiah 61: 1-3 (portions)

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”

Today, I salute Mildred Rogers, and others of you, who despite challenging circumstances find a way to catch a fist-full of joy. The world is a better place because of you.

It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, “Aw, them words don’t mean nothin’ at all. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”


My other blog is here.

7 thoughts on “To Catch Joy

  1. Joy is a choice, and I love hearing about people like Mildred who have developed a lifelong habit of choosing joy. I’m sure she is an inspiration to many people. Thanks for sharing the quote by Ben Franklin too. I love it.

  2. Sis Buxton, Wow to think that she is still spunky, I remember Mildred from being in Bro. Herbert Buxton’s home with Linda K, and getting to know her, you are so right she is so full of life, and such an example of a true Christian Lady, and that anything that is thrown at you and to you, we can make it as long as we stay in touch with GOD, and know that He is in control, and allow Him to be in control, I dont know if she remembers me or not. But I have often thought of her and have wondered how she was doing, thank you for sharing about your wonderful sister in law, God Bless, ♥ Cheri Bagato

  3. Good morning, Cheri

    Mildred is an absolutely incredible lady. She is spunky and beautiful, and I love being around her. A few years ago, Jerry and I spent Thanksgiving with her and Cheryl, her daughter who lives at home. For the four of us Mildred cooked a turkey, a ham and a duck…all the trimmings, and six pies. She is an absolute doll.

    She has suffered enough grief to knock down three or four people, but she cries a bit, then smiles, gets up and skips on through her days. I’m so glad she’s been a part of my life. I feel enriched because of her.

  4. Mildred reminds me of the woman in a book I read this summer: _The Prize Winner of Definace Ohio_. Sorry, but I don’t remember her name or the author. It’s a true story about a woman with an alcoholic husband who raises a passel of children by entering (and often winning) contests. The beauty of it is that the mother refuses to allow herself and her children to give in to poverty, sorrow, depression, and/or anger. Because of the mother’s attitude, the children grow up joyfully amid difficult circumstances. Like Mildred, the woman is an inspiration and a reminder to choose and chase joy. You’d like her story.

  5. Rebecca, I love the stories of such people. I’ve lived long enough–as have you–to know that life is definitely not fair. God is fair, but life is not. If we’re wise, though, we gather carefully the pieces of our lives, and fashion them so that God is seen through the fissures and misshapen lines of our stories. You, my dear, are one such person, and I love you for it.

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