Connected and Cared For

Joy grew up in a Wisconsin Synod church, but always knew she would not be married or raise a family there.

I wanted to find a church home that was more welcoming and inclusive. Zion was that place.

Joy and Keith have been married since 1996. They live in Big Lake and have two children. Their son, Morgan, is a freshman and daughter, Madison, is a senior. College is on the horizon!  They  also have two English pointers and two cats.

They lived in Delano and visited multiple churches prior to their wedding, and Zion felt right for them.

I knew several people who were members and they had great things to say about the congregation. Taking the new member class and meeting Pastor Ed and Pastor John sealed the deal!

Joy believes God put her husband, Keith, in her life because He knew she would need a strong person to walk her journey with her. Joy was  diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and with bone metastases in 2009.

At first, I was angry and scared and had the “why me” questions. I didn’t understand what this was supposed to teach me. Keith has been my rock as I’ve gone through surgeries and numerous chemo and radiation treatments. I know it hasn’t been easy for him to watch me deal with cancer, but his love and support have made it possible for me to stay strong and positive.

Philippians 4:13 hits home for Joy: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Some days I need His strength more than others, but He hasn’t let me down yet.

As her journey continues with its ups and downs, she has come to realize that God has some lessons for her along the way.

It doesn’t sound reasonable, but many survivors will say that cancer was the best thing that’s happened to them. I understand that now. I’ve met some amazing people because of cancer. I’ve learned to let go of things that I have no control over. I’m a lot stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible. I don’t think I would have realized any of those things if God hadn’t given me a shove in the right direction. Another survivor once said, “God, if this is what it takes to wake me up, then WAKE ME UP!”  I thank God for my wake-up call.

Keith and Joy moved to Big Lake in 1999, and decided to stay at Zion, despite the 25-30 minute drive,  because they felt connected and cared for at Zion. That decision has been affirmed for Joy through the last ten years.

Zion is like family. I feel at home here. Countless people at Zion have asked me how I’m doing, given me hugs, and told me they’re praying for me. Those gestures give me strength and I carry those sentiments in my heart long after I leave worship on Sundays.

Joy has been a volunteer with a variety of Sunday School and office projects at Zion, and enjoys attending the Women’s Retreat and Women’s Brunch each year.

Those are great ways to connect with other women at Zion.

Joy has been part of the volunteer proofreading team at Zion for about three years. The proofreaders receive two early drafts of the newsletter by email each month and send corrections back.

I’m not an English major, but little things bother me. I’m always pointing out mistakes on signs and menus and even in the newspaper. I like to help out and I feel I’m doing my part. I take my time and review the newsletter carefully while I’m proofreading. I feel like I’m paying more attention to all of the stories now. Before I started proofreading, I usually didn’t read the newsletter that thoroughly. I probably missed some good stuff.

During the week, Joy connects to Zion through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter,  and the Table.

Social media is the way most people, especially youth, interact now. It’s important that Zion realizes that and uses technology to stay connected with members and with the community.

Joy usually attends the 8:30 worship service, and finds that social media makes it easier to get to know people who attend the other services.

When Zion posts on Facebook, I pay attention to who comments. There have been times when I knew who the person was, but had no idea that they attended Zion.

Recently, Joy was one of the testers for Zion’s new mobile app.

The Guidebook app is an amazing tool. It’s very easy to use, even for folks who may not consider themselves very tech-savvy. Anything a person (member or guest) might want to know about Zion is right there. I especially like the calendar module. All of the activities and events are laid out in an easy-to-read format so you can see, hour-by-hour, what is happening at Zion on any given day. Another thing I like about Guidebook is the social module, which has all of Zion’s social media connections in one place. I can see what Zion has posted on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. without having to open each of those apps outside of Guidebook. It’s going to be exciting to see how the congregation interacts with this new app. I hope it becomes a popular way for us to connect with one another.

Joy works  part-time  as a workers’ compensation paralegal at Cousineau McGuire, a law firm in St. Louis Park.

 I’ve been fortunate enough to work at home since Madison was born. I only need to go to the office for a couple of hours twice a week. Working from home has been a huge blessing during my cancer journey as I am able to schedule appointments and rest as needed without worrying about how much work I’m missing.

Reading is Joy’s passion, and she volunteers in the media center at Independence Elementary in Big Lake and the Great River Regional Library in Monticello.

I’m awake long after my bedtime because of “just one more chapter.” I love to read aloud and I miss doing that now that the kids are older.

She also likes to do crosswords, take pontoon rides with the family on area lakes, and volunteer at the Big Lake Food Shelf.