We’ve been given the gift of a mother who, quietly and by example, has taught us to face challenges with hope, courage, and joy. Joy isn’t necessarily happiness, though often the two go hand in hand. Its more of an inner strength, perspective, and trust. Its a condition of the heart that is quick to be thankful and quick to forgive. Not to say that you do not have tears, or suffering, or anger, or overwhelming thoughts of hopelessness, but, rather, to say that you do not stay there. As our family faces this most current struggle with our mom’s cancer, we have once again been reminded that there is a crossroad and a choice.

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In my journey to understand my own pains, I’ve come to understand joy more and more….so I wrote a little thing.  It applies to any struggle in life.

Judy’s Joy

Joy is the good you choose to see…when the bad is most evident.

Its choosing to be thankful…when the wrongs are ever present.

Its knowing something can be gained…from a difficult circumstance.

An opportunity for hope…when hope is given a chance.

As the flames of pain surround you…there’s a cleansing taking place.

A fire refining the soul…revealing an amazing grace.

Its not what you had planned. You plead it to go away.

“This is not my story. Not my story.” Over and over you say.

Blame and anger beg to take root, but a greater gift awaits

For the one who stands with courage…looking for His face.

Its a search for the road less traveled. A search to listen and to find

God agreeing and gently saying, “No. This is not your story. Its mine.”

When I try to make sense of the heartaches in life, I just can’t. A life lost too soon, cancer, disease, betrayal, infertility, poverty, abandonment, disaster, abuse….All of these and more squeeze questions from our inner most soul. The how’s and the why’s consume our minds, but what about the could’s and the will’s?

Could this be a trial we are facing that will form us into someone we would not have been otherwise? Will we let it break us to a point where we are stripped of a pride that hinders us from trusting in a bigger story? Will we fight the change or will we allow ourselves to be molded and formed, for the better, by the hands of life? Could the fires we survive, the fires meant to destroy us, actually be the exact picture of redemption someone else later looks to for encouragement in their own, similar battle?

With pain, comes choice. Let it embitter you or let it embetter you.

[embetter (verb) to make better]

Grieve your loss. Yes.

Then, search wholeheartedly for your gain.

Here’s to a “beauty from ashes” story. No matter what you are facing. Its there somewhere waiting to be found.



A forever reminder of the truth that while we may not get to choose the things that happen to us in life, we do get to choose how we will respond to them. A tribute, stenciled in her handwriting, to the person who continues to choose joy….our mom.

We would love to hear from you….what are you choosing?