Choosing Joy.

This week in the advent calendar, we are focused on Joy. This time last year, I wrote a blog about the death of Ian’s mom who died on the third Sunday of Advent (which just so happened to also be the week of Joy last year). Joy was hard to find at that time, as Christmas crept closer and our arms were heavy from carrying an unimaginable grief. Much has changed. Charlotte is older and growing, the grief from the death of Ian’s mom is still present although it feels less heavy, and Covid has made progressions in terms of vaccinations and less restrictions – to name a few things. However, I find myself still searching for joy this week with somewhat of a heavy heart.

This time of year can be really difficult for so many reasons. Many folks in our community are feeling the sadness that comes with being estranged from family. We are having a memorial today to remember all of our friends that died during the Pandemic. Covid still lingers, although it is always changing. There are hard conversations to be had. There are many reasons that this time of year can feel so dark, even though Christmas songs ring out loudly and lights blare from trees and homes.

On Sunday, Erinn spoke about Joy. She talked about how joy is not just an emotion to feel or not to feel. It can be. But in terms of Advent, Joy is knowing that God is near. Jesus is coming. These times are literally quite dark (does anyone else feel overwhelmed knowing the sun sets at 4:30?). But we can experience Joy in knowing that Jesus is coming soon and He is bringing the light. That change in perspective does not change circumstance in things that are heavy. But for me, it was enough to provide a new mindset and some hope. There is heaviness, and that is okay. There is also Joy in knowing our Saviour is coming and that He knows what it is like to be vulnerable.

Knowing this, I can choose joy. Our friend Dan wrote a song that we often sing at The Dale. It goes, “Choosing joy — to You I run
Choosing joy — for what’s to come
Choosing joy — this I do
Just because I love You”

Sometimes I really need to choose joy, the emotion. I can see it in my daughter when she visits The Dale like she did this past Sunday and hugged every single person outside. I can feel it when we finally have a space to come together to grieve our friends in a collective way, whatever that looks like for each person. I can sense it when my team gathers on a Monday to check in and pray together. I can feel it in the love I have for Ian that we have worked so hard for over this past year. There are so many things.

I know this time is chalked with loud happy music, bright lights, gifts and a sense of urgency. I know what it’s like to find excitement in that and for it to also feel unreal and fake when your hands and heart feel grief, much like mine did last year at this time. And I know, for me, that it helps to know the true meaning of Joy in this season, that Jesus is near. We only have to wait a little longer.

Peace to you as we wait.

Charlotte at The Dale after our service!

I am a community worker at The Dale. To do this work means I must fundraise my entire salary. Please consider joining my support team! If you sign up to be a financial supporter or increase your donation in the month of December, you will be entered for the chance to win a painting done by me! Feel free to email me at for more information!

Just Another Day at The Dale.

We have an expression amongst our staff team at The Dale that we’ve turned into a hashtag, “Just Another Day at The Dale.” It often comes out when we are doing odd things or redundant things or things that would be hard to explain to anyone else. It is when we find ourselves in one of these times and laugh together that I find myself blessed by the odd jobs we sometimes take on in our work with community.

A couple of weeks ago we received a call from a community member. She had broken a button on one of the couple of pants she owns. This woman has had many of her belongings for years and years. She repairs rather than buying new for many reasons, and so was hoping that we could fix the button on her pants. Joanna said she would give it a go, and she not only fixed them but she did such a great job that our friend brought another pair to us with the same issue. We were given a little gift for our repairing skills (which was unnecessary but so sweet) and the satisfaction of helping a friend. #justanotherdayatthedale

Jo fixing our friend’s pants!

A couple of years ago, our friend Chevy who has now passed away, was in the hospital for an extended time. At the time she had maaaany a number of pets including multiple cats and a feisty little dog, Jacob. We offered to pet sit for her in an effort to convince her to remain in the hospital and ended up in an almost daily rotation with some other community members in order to feed her beloved pets for months on end. #justanotherdayatthedale

There are so many instances where these odd jobs come up… I have handfuls coming into my head. So many times where we shake our heads and chuckle at the odd thing we are doing, the moving around taking place, the situations we find ourselves in, the love we share with our friends, and silly situations. But while some of these instances are silly (ie: moving frozen meat from one place to the next over and over), there are many more that are just our life.

Accompanying someone to get ID, bringing cleaning supplies to someone’s place and a helping hand, laying hands on a friend’s leg to pray over them in hospital, sharing a meal, reading scripture, playing guitar in the park, moving items from storage… even fixing a button on a friend’s pants. These aren’t simply just tasks to be done to fill our week. They are moments of vulnerability and trust happening. They are acts of love. They are teaching moments and confidence boosters. They are giving and receiving. They are community work.

I am so glad to be in community at The Dale. I am so glad for silly jobs and #justanotherdayatthedale moments. And for serious, life giving, community building, kingdom work that draws us closer together with each other. For as many hands as I lay on my friends to pray, I have been prayed for abundantly in return. That is a beautiful gift I will always cherish.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries in Parkdale! In order to do this work I must fundraise my entire salary. Please consider joining my support team by emailing me at If you join my support team in the month of December, you will be entered to win a painting done by me!