Kwento Kwentuhan

JOY in the Midst

Liza A Pierce of “A Maui Blog” | Photos courtesy Liza Pierce

Every year for the past seven years I choose a word for the year. This one word serves as an anchor for that particular year. In January 2023, I wrote an article here in the Fil-Am Voice sharing JOY is my one word for 2023.

It is now December, and as the year 2023 comes to an end, I want to share with you some insights I learned about JOY. Throughout this year I learned JOY shines best “in the midst” of various experiences. There are many experiences when we can choose JOY. Let me share three of those experiences in 2023 which I think many of you can relate:

My hubby and I visited Fairmont Kehalaniʻs Christmas Tree. We will re-schedule our 30th Anniversary Dinner celebration soon.

1. JOY in the midst of celebration – This experience of JOY is the most obvious and most loved. It is paired with happiness, it is filled with laughter, love, and sometimes even singing and dancing!

This year, my husband and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Isn’t that wonderful? It truly was a joyful occasion and worth celebrating! On the actual date of our anniversary, we both got sick with the flu, we had to cancel our dinner reservation but it did not deter us from feeling joyful about this milestone in our marriage.

In the midst of finalizing this article about JOY, I was invited to the “First Birthday Celebration” of Cora. I thought, wow, this is another joyful occasion worth celebrating, so of course I attended! Cora is the granddaughter of Alfredo Evangelista, our Assistant Editor here at the Fil-Am Voice. What a blessing it was to celebrate Cora’s first birthday with family and friends. We wore party hats, we sang happy birthday, we prayed and we ate delicious food at Tante’s Island Cuisine. A first birthday is an important milestone and what a JOY it was to celebrate with Cora and her family.

Coraʻs 1st Birthday celebration taken while all of us are praying for blessings for her, and also for the food we are about to partake in celebration of her birthday.

2. JOY in the midst of difficulties – JOY is what gives us strength in the midst of trials and tribulations. It is what makes us strong in the midst of pain and suffering. It is what sustains us when we feel like everything is not working out, when we are tempted to look at the world with doom and gloom, and feel like giving up hope.

How do we manifest JOY in the midst of difficulties? It is by practicing gratitude and looking for glimmers of hope. For example, when the devastating Lahaina Fire happened on August 8, it was truly shocking and heartbreaking. The days, weeks and months that followed were tough, especially for those directly affected by the fire—the victims who were displaced from their homes and have lost everything. In the many interviews that followed, one thing I kept hearing is how families were simply thankful they survived—that their families are alive and safe. Another glimmer is how the community stepped up and generously helped in the victims’ time of need. There is story after story of neighbors helping neighbors. And, every one of those stories serve as glimmers of light for those who are living through very dark times.

Hawak Kamay is one of the many glimmers we saw in this recovery process for Lahaina. We are thankful for all the organizers and volunteers for their service.

3. JOY in the midst of failure – This year I published a Maui Vacation Planner book. I was very excited about this and was looking forward to its success.

I previously published a Maui travel guide book, Maui 2021 and Beyond, and it was a huge success. It was an Amazon Best Seller for its category. By now, (looking at the subtitle of this paragraph) you probably already have guessed this second book I published was a fail. It did not sell well and it did not reach the goals and expectations I had for it. I had a decision to make: either I get discouraged and not publish a book anymore or look at this as a learning experience for the next book I am writing. I chose the latter.

I reminded myself that my word for 2023 is JOY, so I chose to look at this as a learning experience. Recognizing there is JOY in the process of learning, even through trails and errors, enables me to move forward with positive anticipation on this next book project I am working on.

How about you? Has something happened to you this year that may be considered a failure? I encourage you to choose JOY and have that positive mindset that you can overcome. Look at the New Year 2024 with great expectations.

In closing, since this is our Holiday Issue of the Fil-Am Voice, I would like to remind us about this verse: “Joy to the World, the Lord has come”—This is a famous verse in the Bible (Luke 2:10) and in a Christmas carol Joy to the World. This is the ultimate JOY we can experience. The JOY of knowing Jesus personally in our lives. May the JOY of this Christmas season fill your hearts and minds this 2023 and beyond.

Liza Pierce of A Maui Blog is an Interactive Media enthusiast. She started blogging in 2006 and she loves talking story online and spreading aloha around the world. She’s been living on Maui since 1994 and considers Maui her home. A wife, a mother, a friend … and so much more. She loves Jesus; Maui Sunsets Catcher; Crazy About Rainbow; End Alzheimer’s Advocate. Her life is full and exciting here on the island of Maui. Liza is currently the Digital Media Specialist with Hawai‘i Life Real Estate Brokers. She is the author of the book Maui 2021 and Beyond.