It is my honor to welcome Mary Carver, co-author of Choose Joy to my little blog home today! Mary is the third author in this month’s author series. Each featured author has a new-ish book on the market. What a blessing to include Mary! She is making a life of finding joy in the midst of sorrow. She has chosen to see it day after day. May our hearts be encouraged to abide in the same peace today as we learn from her joyful strength.
My daughter got a palate expander in her mouth this week. She’s been dreading this orthodontic procedure for weeks – ever since we put the appointment on the calendar, honestly. She even went so far as to tell me that she DID NOT LIKE Palm Sunday this year. Because she had to get her “retainer” the day after it.
Day after day, she’s counted down the remaining time before her appointment with the orthodontist, telling me every single time how nervous she is and how scared she is and how much she doesn’t want this thing in her mouth.
I was as patient and understanding as I could be, but finally I broke down and gave her a talk about living in the moment and being grateful for each day’s gifts and FOR THE LOVE, not letting fear of tomorrow steal her joy today.
It made me think of how often I do the same thing – and how much I still have to learn about joy and hope despite a scary future from my friend Sara.
Sara Frankl was a friend and fellow blogger who suffered from an autoimmune disease and several complications. As I worked on the book that tells Sara’s story and shares her message of hope and joy, I was amazed and moved to read about how she refused to give in to the fear of an uncertain future – not an easy task for someone facing declining health and years confined to her home. But she did it and she inspires me to stay hopeful and keep finding joy every day.
I invite you to read an excerpt of our book today, where Sara shares a bit of her journey to hope and joy.
In the summer of 2009, Sara left her home for the last time. Her parents took her to a doctor’s appointment and they quickly realized that exposure to the outdoors was more than her body could bear. The following weeks would prove this true with immense pain and difficulty breathing, and Sara faced the reality that she would not be able to leave her home again.
The direction my life is heading is simply not pretty. And talking about what that means for me, if I look at life realistically, means a lot of loss. For me to process that I have to give myself a chance to sit for a moment and look at that reality. To acknowledge it, to mourn it, to let it go. That’s hard for people to listen to because their first instinct is to tell me I shouldn’t look at the future, I can’t give up hope, I can’t let myself go there. But I have to go there. It exists and pretending it doesn’t isn’t going to make it go away.
Trust me when I tell you I have hope. If some miracle happens to me tomorrow I am going to embrace it with every fiber of my being. But I also have to equally embrace the not-so-fun stuff. If this is my life, if this is where I am at, then this is where God is at, too. And if I’m wasting all my time and energy trying to pretend the future doesn’t look like it does, then I’m wasting God’s time as well. I know that I need to face what life is looking like now so I can accept it, hand it to Him, and find joy in the midst of it. It would be nice to go around it, but the only way is through it.
I am completely and totally, from here on out, confined to my home.
No open doors or windows, no sitting on the patio or letting Riley go for a walk. No friends’ homes, no movies, no church, no outings. I won’t ever again sit by a bonfire to watch a sunset. I won’t smell the fresh dew on the grass in the early mornings when the air is crisp and the lake is smooth as glass. No weddings or funerals or graduations or school plays. More than all of those things put together, I think of my nieces and nephews – the lives they have ahead of them – and my heart aches as I become a supporting player watching from a distance.
What I’m going through now, because I left my home for a few hours, is something my body just can’t do again. I was expecting the level of pain from the extra movement and short ride in the car, but the issue with my lungs and entire body reacting to everything and anything it was exposed to was far more than I imagined. And the problems with the resulting medications have simply added to the intensity of it all.
So, life has difficult times. That still doesn’t mean they are bad times; it just means we have to deal with what is in front of us when it’s in front of us.
For now, I’m adapting to this challenge. I’m taking my moments that require rest, taking my moments that require me to challenge myself and push, taking my moments of sorting through the realities and taking my moments of joy in the middle of it all. I really am dealing with this okay and my goal in life hasn’t changed: I’m simply going to fulfill God’s plan by living the best life I can with what I am given.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com. Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com. Mary is the co-author of a new book called, Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts. Released by the Hachette Book Group in 2016, CHOOSE JOY is a must-have for those searching for meaning and beauty in a world full of tragedy. Sara’s words breathe with vitality and life, and her stories will inspire smiles, tears, and the desire to choose joy. To learn more about CHOOSE JOY, visit TheChooseJoyBook.com.