Choosing Joy


A couple of years back my dad got diagnosed with cancer. I remember sitting listening to the news and feeling completely helpless. I had recently moved to Oregon and all I wanted to do was hug him and tell him I loved him face to face. My dad was going to have surgery to remove the cancer and our prayer was that it hadn’t metastasized or was worse than we thought. Fortunately they were able to remove all of it and he has been cancer free ever since.

Through this time my dad was so positive. Yes, I’m sure he had his moments and was scared, but outwardly he was positive. I asked him how he was doing during one of our phone conversations and I will never forget his response. He said that he couldn’t change the fact that he was diagnosed with cancer. Being sad, angry or even wishing it wasn’t true wasn’t going to change what was happening to him but he could control how he responded to this diagnosis. He could choose to have a  positive attitude and look to the future instead of thinking his life was over. My dad choose to be positive…he choose joy.

My dad is so wise.

I have thought of my dad’s response often these past 2 months. I cannot change what happened to my girls and a game of “what if” will never bring them back. I can though choose how I respond to my girls being Heaven. I can celebrate them, I can share pictures, I can sit in their rooms and quietly grieve a life too short, I can go to their schools and spend time with their friends, I can sit and look through hundreds of pictures and videos and remember all of the amazing times I shared with them, I can live a life that honors God and I can listen, really listen and go where he leads me. I can choose a joyful life that honors my girls and shares their story, a love-drenched life!

Last night a group (a big group) of Anna and Abigail’s friends and their parents stood outside of my house with candles flickering and sang Christmas carols. We then walked around our neighborhood singing to Old Town while Anna’s little friends held my hands.  There was so much love and joy, I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face. My husband belted out songs as though he was preforming in front of a stadium of people. It made my heart so warm to see him surrounded by this love and to hear his beautiful voice. He was definitely singing to the Heavens.

At one point we were all standing in the alley next to our house figuring out where we were going to go next. This was the same spot I stood in the night of the accident. Over the last 2 months being outside at night has been very difficult for both of us. I’ve avoided the alley and generally made any time outside at night very brief. We are both struggling with images of that night and the triggers are countless…being in the alley I felt would definitely be a trigger.

As I stood there, in the exact spot I stood that night, I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I looked around at all of these people that love us and our girls so much. There was so much Joy! I can say at that moment I felt the images of fire trucks, policemen and my little girl covered with a white sheet vanish. I now have a new image to hold onto that is so beautiful! It’s the image of friends singing, beautiful faces laughing and my two little angels sitting in their tree smiling at their parents having joy.

I am so grateful for God’s Love being poured on us by our community.

I am grateful for a Dad who taught me, through his example, to be positive even when life is tough. We don’t always get to choose what happens to us but we can choose how we respond to it. My girls LOVE their Papa with all their heart and he loves them with all of his.



21 thoughts on “Choosing Joy

  1. I echo all the sentiments above. You are teaching so so many, both far and so close to home. But rereading this tonight I realized that people often don’t know what to say or do when there is such loss. I know I never know what to do. You are teaching us that to.. The power of snowflakes for windows and handholding during carols….. Hugs and peace.


  2. Susan, you have touched so many people that you’ve never even met! My prayers are with you. I can only hope that if I ever face a tragedy in my own family that I will handle it with faith and strength as you have. My sister chooses her friends wisely. God bless.


  3. I admire you Susan. You have chosen the path of forgiveness, joy and faith when it would be so easy to give in to bitterness, hate and despair. But that isn’t you. We all know your path is the correct one. And while I can’t experience it with you, or for you, I want to applaud you, and cheer for you. I feel like part of the crowd cheering a marathon runner. You are doing such a great job! You are going to make it! And I am so excited to find out where God is taking you. For now, keep breathing, keep eating, keep feeding your spirit, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. We love you. The road ahead is lined with your friends and supporters.

    And to those who thought up the caroling party… what a wonderful idea. You brought joy to many people that night, and injected your light into the shadows of the alley. What a gift. Kudos.


  4. What an amazing post! Your outlook and perspective on life and handling situations is admirable. Your strength and perspective are contagious! You have no idea how many lives you are touching and how many lessons you are teaching. Thank you for helping make us better people through your sharing and insights! You are an inspiration! Love you !


  5. Susan, you are such an inspiration to me! What a beautiful tribute to your dad and you are so clearly honoring your girls every day! Thank you for sharing and allowing all of us to be a part of your journey. I love how you are “listening” and I feel and believe that God still has an amazing plan for you. It takes a very special and unique person to follow the path you are on. Love and prayers every day my friend!! Love you!


  6. Susan, you are a beautiful reflection of your dad and your mom. His wisdom has transcended to you and made you wise beyond your years. May your faith continue to help you make new memories because we know the old ones are forever etched in your heart 💗


  7. What a beautiful answer to prayer. You are both so loved and I know so many people pray for peace for you. It is so beautiful to see God using people’s expressions of love, empathy, and kindness to bring you peace. Love you!


  8. What a wonderful thing for all of you. You are thought of so often and your strength and outlook is amazing and a great example for all.


  9. Oh Susan! Your blog posts have me teary eyed daily- but this one- the tears were flowing. You are so amazing- the love of Jesus is just pouring right through you on to others. Your attitude and the way you are intentionally listening and allowing the Lord to lead you daily, is so beautiful. I love you so much, and am daily inspired by you. You are teaching me friend, along with everyone you meet.


  10. Love, pride, hope, sadness, joy , gratitude, acceptance, and faith, is all that I feel at this moment. Can’t wait until our family is together again next week . Thank you Susan, I love you


  11. Your Dad touched the lives of your girls just like he touched yours!How lucky you all are to him guide you on your Life’s journey.
    Maggie Werden


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: