Choosing Joy

This topic has been at the forefront of my mind for quite awhile now because the word 'joy' holds an incredible amount of weight for me. After finding out at 18 weeks pregnant that our daughter Savannah had a fatal condition and wasn't expected to live after birth, this word kept surfacing in my heart. Joy is defined as "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness." I remember wondering, thinking, and even asking myself why at such an awful time was my mind so focused on that word and how was that even possible. As most of you know we ultimately chose Joy for Savannah's middle name and to this day I am still working on what it truly means to 'choose' that daily. While I agree with the definition above, this quote has hit home and is truly how I feel the word should be described. 

Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.
— Wess Stafford

Joy is a decision...

I want to sit here for awhile. While carrying Savannah, and even today as we continue to share parts of our journey, we are asked how we can maintain such a positive outlook and how we made it through that part of our story. I am always quick to say that the Lord carried us through those days. However, lately, I am realizing that while He still carries us it is also a choice that we've chosen to make. A decision that doesn't come naturally most days, but one that I know I will continue to choose. So, what does it look like to choose joy in the face of trials, struggles, or those dark days? 

For me, it is 3 things:
-Choosing to focus on the blessings (even if they are in disguise) 
-Choosing myself. Focusing on taking care of my heart (praying), my body (getting enough sleep and exercise), my mind (writing or doing something to help me relax)
-Choosing to not let outside circumstances, people, or worries impact my day (this is by far the hardest of them all)

I'm sure we've all heard the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"... but have you ever focused on that word 'make'? Life doesn't just give you the lemonade, you have to make it, which requires work and a choice

I know the weight of Savannah's loss is one that I will carry with me forever, however, I am confident in the fact that JOY will always be an equal part of that weight. There is a song by Rend Collective called "Joy of the Lord" and the lyrics exemplify so well what it looks like to make that choice every day... 

"The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing"

There is darkness and life is full of shadows, but we are given a choice of what we want to do in them. I know the struggle and I will never make light of it, but I am so thankful that at the end of the day it's not the circumstances that dictate my joy, it's my choice!


So, do we want to choose to make that lemonade or focus on those lemons?