About the Author

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of several books, including Growing Slow. She and her husband live on the family farm, raising crops, pigs, and two humans. She’s a fan of dark chocolate, emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way...

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  1. Jennifer,
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this picture of your dad. Though he has endured so much, and I’m sure tears have been shed and hands wrung in worry, you can see the joy and delight and downright funny on his face. I can’t remember the writer’s name, but a writer once said that life is like a painting and painting white upon white doesn’t stand out. We need the darker colors behind the light and the darker the background, the more brilliantly the lighter colors stand out. Joy does seem to stand out when it’s been layered over pain and suffering…..somehow the pain makes the joy sweeter. With multiple surgeries, I became quite adept at using a knee scooter. We’d joke that I could enter the Olympics in knee scootering. I was so adept that I could back myself into the bathroom in a matter of seconds….if only I could back my car into a parking space as quickly lol. Joy born of pain can bring laughter. Thanks for a beautiful peak inside your family’s story….what a testimony. Continuing to pray for you all!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  2. I’m working on cultivating a happiness that is both “real and durable” (I love that: durable happiness!) during a season that has included a series of family deaths. Your father’s picture makes me smile, and his resilience through this devastating time in your own family’s life is a great inspiration.

    • So sorry for all you’ve gone through, Michele. I see you online, in comment boxes here and at my place, and it’s clear that your light is shining brightly despite all that you’ve faced. Cheering you on!

    • Michelle,

      So sorry sweet sister! Praying for His peace & comfort to dwell in you heart & soul! May you find joy in this time of sorrow.

      (((((Hugs)))))

  3. All 4 kids’ socks are in a box labeled ‘one sock project’ which may not get done today – again. Oh well, the kids know where the box is…. and THANK YOU for this post. Manna to a weary Mama’s heart.

    • My “best” pair of socks was, and I say was, because now one has a hole in it– a mixmached pair of one blue and one black sock. I wore them together because they were long enough and didn’t have the cuff at the top that puts a red ring around my legs!

      Now I have to be “normal” and wear matching socks. Oh well, love you and joy to all!

  4. Jennifer, thank you so much for this lovely post and sharing from your heart. I have been dealing with some health issues and feeling down. We were getting in the car after another Dr appt and my husband and I reached with my shaking hand for my car door, I said, “I got this.” He replied, “You,so,don’t got this.” I just started laughing,and then he started. It struck me so funny, either the way he said it or how true the statement was. Either way, I hadn’t laughed in a while and I laughed till there were tears. And once in the car I realized, that I don’t need to have it together, because God “has got this” for me. As for the socks, I think they are in the internet ‘cloud’, because I can’t figure out where that is either

        • I have had this thought in my mind the last little while:
          Everything is gonna be OK, and if its not, it’ll still be OK!! simply because of God’s nature, He’s got this and you. I just need to trust this and Him. To the cinema today with my boys and their friends – I’m feeling happy about that and them, because they’re so excited!
          I’m quite a stickler for putting socks together, I try and make sure I wash all the socks I can see, then when I hang them out I put the right ones next to each other so that when I take them off the line or clothes horse, they are there to out together. Very therapeutic. I’ve not always been like this, ask my Mum! I grew up mostly in my teens with an odd sock draw!!!!

  5. Allllllll of the ❤❤❤ to you and your family!!! My lost socks usually are the ones that missed the washer and are down on the floor in the lint dungeon.

  6. As always, your post was timely and right on target. After a season of illness in our home and deaths in the family as well, your words are a wonderful reminder that life is bumpy and not fair, but God never changes, and His love for us, and the joy that is new every morning are what gets us through life’s challenges. And a sense of humor can be a life saver. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life and encouraging our hearts with smiles and tears .
    Blessings to you, friend. Prayers abound.

  7. As the daughter of a precious Dad who happens to be a double amputee, I can so relate to this message today. We have certainly had our share of ups and downs, but my Dad has always remained optimistic and joyful. I firmly believe that he is a wonderful testimony to others of God’s goodness and faithfulness!!!
    By the way, my sweet Dad turns 89 on February 25. Other than missing both legs, he is in wonderful health.
    Thank you for your sweet message today, it certainly touched my heart.

  8. Thanks Jennifer! Much needed encouragement today to be reminded that not being ok for a time is ok. Remembering God is standing nearby to attend to the need is salve to a weary soul.

  9. Beautifully said! I desperately needed to read your words this morning-especially, “It’s OK to not be OK”. Permission to not be perfect-or even close! What a lovie your dad is and that sunny smile! Wow! Thank you with all my heart for reminding me of all that is important and that God’s got this! Prayers for healing for your family.

  10. Jennifer, I love that picture of your dad for the joy he radiates. I was ok until I read, “Whatever you have, lift it up. Lift it all up! It’s your offering.” *tears* Praise really is a sacrifice sometimes, but He’s so worth it, isn’t He? May your family glimpse some of the ways you’re not able to outgive God as you go through this valley. May He strengthen the love in your hearts and draw you closer to His. Hugs.

  11. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 42. On the SAME DAY, my husband lost his job. Thankfully, he had signed an employment contract which had 12 months remaining. His employer paid him for the next 12 months, and he was able to stay home and take care of me full time during surgeries, chemo and radiation.
    During chemo we took a brief trip to getaway from hospitals and treatments. One morning we were getting dressed, and he turned to me and said, “I need to use your hair dryer.”
    I had no hair.
    I did not pack a hair dryer.
    I stood there looking at him, not sure HOW to respond. Then we both just burst out laughing. We laughed till we cried.
    I understand the socks completely.

    • Briane,

      Praying God can bring more joy & happiness into your life! Thanks for sharing your touching story. Isn’t it just like God to provide for us even in the midst of trials. Who knew the employment contract would mean so much?! God is soo good.

      (((((Hugs)))))

  12. Jennifer ,
    What an amazing family you have !
    I was reading and as I got to the picture of your Dad , I lit up with such happiness and a huge smile !
    How could you be sad when he’s so full of optimism and that heart warming smile .
    I am sorry you and your family are dealing with so much right now and have been but good to see y’all can find the happy and gratitude in it all !

    I , too have had my share of these seasons in the last few years , but my little family continues to keep me optimistic no matter what may come our way ….prayers and crying both are definitely part of it as well !
    Hope that your parents continue to get stronger and you can continue to find the happiness in this all , lost socks and all …

    • It has been so, so hard, Jen, but we’ve been abundantly reminded — again and again — of God’s goodness and presence in the hardest of times. It doesn’t mean this road has been easy. It hasn’t. But it does mean that God doesn’t leave us when we hurt. I need that reassurance.

  13. Jennifer,
    What a blessing to see that delightful photo of your Dad. Thank-you so much for sharing….. I’ve had many moments where I think I’m not up to “it,”or can’t handle “it”, but then thanks be to the Lord, once again He has gotten me through. It’s all so miraculous to me that’s it’s beyond words.Thank-you for reminding us by sharing with us your wonderful family, that He will see us through no matter the situation.
    As for the mystery of the missing socks, I haven’t a clue…. Over the years I have a number of the kid’s that have joined the missing mittens……..
    You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers,
    Blessings to all,
    Penny

  14. Oh I literally laughed out loud reading your Dad’s response to the sock mystery, and the picture is just priceless! Thank you so much for the reminder that we can choose happiness in the midst of whatever hard is going on in our lives. And we think the socks get eaten by the hamper monster.

  15. I have to giggle at the lost socks…being an amputee myself since I was two, I can totally relate! Though I’ve been blessed to have worn an artificial leg for over 50 years and those that know me know that I will always have two matching socks and that barefoot is barefoot on both feet! The Lord has carried me through so many harder seasons of life, not having a leg is just how I’m made, matters of the heart is where he meets me, loves me, forgives me, encourages me…He is always faithful, bringing truth & grace to our darker days, drawing us closer to Him.

  16. Jennifer, I’m sorry for all the struggles your family has had the last few months. ((Hug)) What a sweet testimony of grace your father is. — Sometimes I wonder if joy is actually reserved for hardship? I suppose that’s not quite Biblical, but, I don’t know…it seems like joy is most at home in pain. Isn’t that just like God? So thankful for His presence in times of uncertainty. Prayers for your mom and dad. xoxo

  17. Thank you Jennifer! Your words were balm to my heart! My husband and i lost our home to a fire 1 yr ago and our house is now nearing the completion stage!! It is surreal that we will be moving back in, soon and now the waiting will soon reach its end. It has been a long road but God is so faithful! We have had many crying spells and are learning to trust him in every moment. Has not been easy. So many others going through much worse and continue to keep our situation in perspective. Your dad is sure a shining light! Wish we didnt have to doubt our god ever…but that is our humanness..he always wants our whole heart and trust…praying for you in days ahead and thanking him for your words!! Love ya!

  18. Wow! Jennifer I needed that. I asked God for a sign, and he gave it to me today through you. Taking care of an aged Mom who is hallucinating now due to a bladder infection and I am and hour and a half away from her. Balancing home, work and private life along with this threw me over the edge. And if you have ever been wakened up by a phone call by the police in the middle of the night because your Mom dialed the emergency number, gets you straight out of bed and into panic mode.

    The part about worrying more and praying less hit home. Crying spells and good friends that will listen to you more than your own family helps!!
    Thank you for your words and praying for your family.

  19. So your question gave me pause….”Where have you found happiness?” you ask. And I pause because in order to FIND happiness I have to have my eyes open to see it, my ears listening to hear it, and my heart open to receive it. So today I purpose to open my eyes, open my ears and open my heart to the possibility. Thank you Jennifer. I wrote in my planner today: INTENTIONAL. You’ve given me purpose for that word this week.

  20. Tears of joy flowing here. I loved this post. I actually pray for joy and laughter in the midst of horrible. God has a great sense of humor. Sometimes it comes at my expense. Once I was so angry and needed to have a hard conversation which I did. Then I grabbed the diet coke on the table took a big gulp abd walked out with it. Guess what it wasn’t my soda.

  21. Jennifer,

    This is a fantastic story. Wow! I love all the descriptive words and the storytelling passion you have. I love the picture of your dad. Thank you for this today. I had tears and a smile at the end of this story. Adria

  22. Thank you Jennifer for your compassion and the fact that you have an awesome dad. It was a laugh I needed. My son was murdered 13 years ago and as any mother I think would expect that their remaining daughter would want to have a closer relationship with their mother. Not so in my case. My daughter has totally misowned me due to fact that over 22 years ago I and her dad were strung out on drugs and alcohol. God delivered me in 1996 and I’ve been clean ever since. Her dad and I divorced and he died 6 weeks after my son’s murder. I was there to help my daughter raise my granddaughter all the way. My sons 2 children live out of state and so we don’t see each other much. When God delivered me I asked both my children to forgive me. My son bless his heart said he understood because of the child abuse I went through that I wasn’t well and neither was his dad. My daughter wouldn’t accept the apology. For the last 22 years I’ve spent my life trying to win my daughter’s love and approval. When I was rushed to the hospital and almost died she was upset they called her. I’m now almost 64. I had to retire in 9/17 due to health issues and move from my home of 45 years to a senior building. She won’t visit or call. Sometimes I gave to admit envy and jealousy of people who grew up with good parents. I would have given anything for my mom to tell me she loved me. All I got were beatings, being cut, almost drowned and other things. I tried hard not to bear my children but still messed in other ways. My daughter wants me to give 10,000 as she said she feels that would satisfy what me and her dad spent that should have come to her. Sometimes I struggle to trust God and think He’s mad at me because of my envying people who grew up with love. I pray your mother fully recovers. And by the way the missing socks have been taken by the False Media. You should get a tweet from the president soon

  23. I have often pondered the sock question. Aliens? No. Black hole in the dryer? Must be. The fact you forget your dad’s socks aren’t pairs, just shows you love him and don’t see him disabled and I don’t think he is. I saw the pictures at the hospital. I think he has learned that the joy of the Lord is your strength.

  24. Thank you. I really relate to this post. I’ve been working on an album of my songs that I was originally going to call “laughter and tears”.. because of the presence of both in my life, but then decided to call it Dissonance. It speaks of this place of tension.. when notes clash, but can be really pretty and give you a sense of longing for resolution. I am discovering that it is possible to balance the celebration of the joys while grieving the losses all at the same time. And thank you for saying “it’s ok to not be ok.” My friends and I say that to each other often.
    May the God of comfort continue to give your family grace and even joy during this time.

  25. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your experience, demonstrating that tears and laughter can often be delivered in the same package. Long ago I read a quote about joy needing a backdrop of sorrow in order to display the glory of all its facets. (I wish I could remember the exact wording–so much better than my feeble attempt!) Your family is a display of that kind of joy, Jennifer. The glory is evident!

  26. Jennifer,

    Praying for your family. Life gets hard sometimes as God throws curve balls at us. He is there in the midst of trials guiding us through those dark valleys. Loved the picture of your dad lifting his leg. He shows so much joy & happiness. 🙂 (Hugs) I have been in several valleys over the last 4.2 years. It hasn’t always been easy. God was there giving me the strength to endure. He allowed me to quit a good job & be more available for my aging dad. Now I find myself in yet another valley. My FIL has had a medical problem since September 2017. They recently diagnosed him (almost 90) with stage III bladder cancer. He already has prostate cancer for second time. Both in-laws were in hospital Thanksgiving week. MIL had UTI that was septic. At the same time she needed to have a heart cath. They are both home now. MIL has cold & is doing fair. God has blessed me with a good part-time job. He has allowed me to help them out by cooking meals for them. God is good all the time!

    Blessings 🙂

  27. Miss Jennifer,

    God has blessed my day with this post. In this season of immense change and World Series worthy curve balls all I can do is laugh… when everything seems so, so heavy and larger than I can carry I just have to remember it’s not mine to carry. That the One who is here to help me carry it is so much greater and larger than anything that may be thrown my way. I am such a small dot in the grand scheme of things. And if my Heavenly Father can care for and save everyone and everything across the face of the earth for all time… then I know He’s got me too. Thank you for your inspiring encouragement and for sharing your heart today. I pray your day is blessed.

    This side of Heaven,
    Summer Rae

  28. I adore your dad! Your stories always make me smile and I love how you dad highlights happiness in his life.

    Some of my favorite moments in my dad’s last year was how he loved me so well. He listened like no one else was in the room and truly loved getting to know me.

    My dad had a lady friend for a few weeks when he was in rehab. He was sly about talking about it but when the aide shared he and the lady raced down the hallway I knew the joy he must have felt. He needed that after losing mom.

    Enjoy every minute. Cry your heart out if you need to. Laugh over nothing and smile like there’s no tomorrow!

  29. Jennifer,

    The world is full of lost socks, as my sock drawer is filled with single socks. The world is filled with lost socks and those seeking to find them and reunite them with their lost spouses (I believe that socks mate for life). Is a lost sock really a runaway spouse or a kidnap victim? A difficult question to answer. I believe that the dryer is somehow involved in the kidnapping. As for me, my lone socks are color blind and will randomly pair with any other sock. I especially like the uniting of a red and yellow sock. What an attention getter. (Look! Gran’Pa has mismatched socks again!)

    I have rambled enough. My purpose in composing this missive is to offer my sock drawer’s lonely socks to your father to complete his wardrobe. We share the same surname and the same sense of humor. I do hope and pray for your father to adapt to his new situation quickly.

    I recently broke three vertebrae in my back and had to be glued back together in December. Now I use a cane in the world and a walker at home. (I have named my cane Michael and my walker Johnny.) My wife hopes that I will soon regain my sanity, but I feel totally sane, Don’t We Boys?

    I enjoy your posts and do hope that we are related. We could use some talent in my group. I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and your entire family, especially your Dad, Peg Leg.

  30. Thanks, Jennifer, for your recent posts about all that your family has been going through. I appreciate your stories and hearing a bit of your heart. We’re not in a very happy season ourselves – my dad is about to have a 10 hour surgery on Wednesday, Feb 14 to remove a tumour in his jaw and have his jaw re- created with a bone from his leg. It is a very big surgery and the doctors tell us it will be a very long recovery as he learns to eat and talk again. Oh Lord, take this cup from us. And yet here we are…. So I resonated with some of your recent stories and thank you for your encouragement. I would covet your prayers as well as we walk this journey. It’s another reminder that we live in a broken world; this is not our home…. Oh Lord, help us to trust you….

  31. Precious Jennifer,
    I can’t thank you enough for your encouraging words AND the inspiring photo of your dad.
    With my darling husband in a nursing home with a non-invited invader of dementia within him and the necesspit of giving my beautiful Mini Schnauzer girl to an excellent family, we were sharing at this morning’s Bible study how our wonderful Father cares for each of us so expertly, I started weeping just sharing how perfectly He answered weeks of prayer before she left. He answered every request for her in her new home – even to giving her a “sister” Mini Schnauzer. I had no intention of crying but tears just fIlley my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. When I was blessed reading your wonderful words just now, I thank our Father for His comfort when I was feeling so alone and down. God bless you and your beautiful mum and dad. I will keep you in my prayers xxx
    Louise

  32. You and your dad just made my day, Jennifer! Tears of joy and the biggest smile on my face. May God bless you both “beyond beyond”!

  33. I laughed so hard about you ‘losing’ the socks and your dad’s response. My husband is an amputee also. He lost his leg in 2014 due to a horrible infection. Those days were HARD! Now we’re able to laugh and laugh harder at the looks on people’s faces when I say things like ‘he’s only got one leg to stand on’ and it’s even funnier when my husband jokes about it. I am so glad we have a BIG God who is much bigger than our problems, who gave us resilience and the gift of laughter and capability to be joyful even in the hard moments. Thank you for sharing this. Praying your dad heals and recovers quickly and is able to be fitted for a prosthetic soon.

  34. What a beautiful post! “God is looking upon you, saying with great gusto: “I’m so glad I gave life to someone who truly appreciated the gift.” I think that fits perfectly with the picture of your Dad…what a GREAT big smile! Bless his heart!! (This all brought tears to my eyes.)

    God bless you, Jennifer.

  35. Oh Jennifer……..I needed this. The photo of your precious father and the sock story made me smile. I have aging parents with too many issues to list. My father’s is blind (rare eye disease) and has dementia. So, being completely blind and not remembering at the same time has been challenging. It is heartbreaking at times 🙁 Then out of the blue……..he will say something hilarious and make us all laugh. It was reassuring to read you say “it is ok not to be ok”. Thank you for your encouraging words. Praying for you and your family. ~Lisa~

  36. Jennifer, you never fail to encourage me. Your dad…love that smile. And I love your idea of having that covenant that “It’s okay to not be okay.”

    There have been a few times where, I’m going through something or having a hard day. One of my boys will almost always come and give me a hug and remind me that it’s going to be okay. It’s not their words so m much as the love that motivates them to love me in such an intimate way, if that makes sense.

    I was uplifted by this post. 🙂

  37. This is wonderful. We can’t wait until everything is perfect to find joy, we need to find it now. And maybe it comes after a good cry. Funny how so many things are both happy and sad. Combining these two emotions. Smiles and tears.

  38. Jennifer – I very rarely feel the urge to comment, but this post actually brought tears to my eyes…happy tears! I could feel the loving arms of my Lord holding me close as I read your story. You are so blessed and you shared those blessings with your readers. Thank you for allowing me to be one of those readers…you have blessed me through your story. 🙂

  39. Jennifer, Thank you for making life and faith, love and loss so real. Thank you for allowing God to use you to reach readers all over the world. May He continue to use your writing to touch so many lives. From the warm heart of Africa, from someone who is also going through a season of tremendous loss. Bless you.