Joy

Choosing Joy Isn’t Always Easy!


                I came across this quote the other day and decided it fits where I am right now.  
“YOU don’t choose your life; it chooses you. There’s no point asking why life has reserved certain joys or griefs, you just accept them and carry on.” – Paulo Coelho

                Let’s just be real here.  Choosing joy is hard work.  It can be both mentally and physically exhausting.  Making the decision to not let life’s circumstances weigh you down and keep you from moving forward is tiring; and I don’t always succeed at it either. 
                Being a mom is tough.  Being a wife is tough.  And living with someone with brain cancer is really rough.  There is no other way to describe it.  You have your good days and your bad and some days have elements of both.  I spend my days living by a calendar of appointments, supplements, medications, and meal planning.  In a way, this has been good for me, as I’ve always loved structure and schedules.  I love knowing there is a plan in place that helps me determine what to expect next.  
                But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hard when things don’t go as planned.  When seizures sneak in, and you have to remind someone how to eat, drink, and swallow; it can be hard to choose joy.  For the first decade of our marriage, Benjamin was the person I received my strength and encouragement from.  Having our roles reversed has been humbling and saddening to say the least.  When the person who has provided you with strength for so long needs your help to get dressed, and walk, and stand back up when they fall down, it can be hard to smile and keep on choosing joy. Sometimes, it takes every waking breath in you to keep smiling and pushing on. 
At the same time, I believe that God laid that on my heart for my theme for this year, not just because last year was a hard year, but because He knew that this year had the potential to be so much harder.  He took me at what I thought was my worst and showed me how to turn my situations around and choose joy.  Little did I know when I started this journey that it was going to get so much harder, and that choosing joy was going to be a struggle most days.  Yet in true God fashion, he knew what I was going to need and prepared me for it before I even knew I needed it.  God knew I was going to need joy to be a habit before the intensity of these storms hit and He knew I was going to need others to help hold me accountable for it. 
Do you remember that old adage about turning lemons into lemonade?  That’s something that I am learning to do on a daily basis… When things go wrong, as they often do, I take a look at the situation and I smile and try to turn it into something good…
Here are some examples for you:
*I had my kids all set up to play in the driveway with sidewalk chalk while I mowed the other day, but the lawnmower wouldn’t start.  I grabbed some chalk and bubbles and jumped right into playing.  They wouldn’t remember that I let them play in the driveway while I mowed, but they will never forget that I played with them! 

*Another seizure?  This is a hard one, but I smile and remind the kids, it’s been 10 days since the last one and that is a new record for the past two months!  We pray it through, take silly face pictures while daddy recovers and remember to smile and talk about God’s blessings!
Take that seizures!
                 *The Tahoe needed repair again this week, but praise God the big kids can be in booster seats so we all can fit in the truck until we get it done… being able to leave the house makes everyone around here choose joy ;-).
                *I can’t drag 5 people to the store every time I run out of something so I have started planning better, and using up things in the pantry that might never get used!  Every time I look at my grocery budget it makes me smile these days, as I’m not buying all the little extras (And seriously, KROGERCLICKLIST literally helps me choose joy every week)
                *The hardest challenge is every time we get a negative report from a doctor. I am trying to see the light in this as well, as God is using every day of this journey to bring us closer to him and to grow each of us as individuals.  Then I hear of others in the same situation who aren’t even faring as well as Ben has through this whole ordeal, and my heart hurts for them and I remember to be thankful for every little moment.
It doesn’t always work, and some days I need lots of reminders (because life is HARD, ya’ll!).  I lose my mind on my kids, and I can’t even process all that is going on around me some days.  I’m trying to remember to turn on my favorite playlist so the kids and I can dance and sing together.  Who can choose to be sad when you are dancing and singing worship music with preschoolers (it’s impossible, seriously). Plus, they know most of the words and who can be sad when a bunch of 3 & 5 year olds are mixing up words on your favorite songs, right?
                If you are one of those “lucky” few who gets to see me at my worst (i.e. when I just can’t choose joy anymore), thank you for your encouragement, support and understanding. The few minute escapes to grab dinner, go for a run, and when you take the time to listen, have made all the difference to me.  I don’t have it all together yet.  God is still working on me, and I’m praying that one day I will be something worthy of all of your sweet words!  
                “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

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