I can count on one hand the books I have read from cover to cover. Reading has never been my strength, my pastime or my gift. Give me a book on tape, the outline, the 1st two chapters and I’m good to go. Never could I make it through a good story because I always jumped to the last chapter…I find joy in knowing it all turns out ok…or it doesn’t. In short, I have the attention span of a gnat. (I wonder if a gnat really does have a vast attention span, like in the world of tiny, annoying, bugs are they considered one of the best at focusing, the great thinkers, or philosophers of their kind?) Huh…food for thought, but you get my point. It’s ironic that the girl that doesn’t read could write.
 
 
 
Joy is a cool thing. I used to think of Joy a little like a person…sweet, kind, lovely, smiling, maybe a darling small woman that brings a covered dish over or covered muffins (more people should bring over covered muffins in a basket…it just looks so inviting). Today, joy is something different to me. In my 47 years of life I believe I have experienced more joy than most ever will…because I have experienced more pain than most will. They often go hand in hand. Finding joy through it is what makes it all worthwhile, it’s the journey, and we never know what ours will be from one day to the next.
 
The details of my journey are not what my book is about, finding the joy through it is. I have experienced more pain than I care to have experienced. I have lost a precious daughter, Madison. I have been raped, the perpetrator caught, and it went to a full jury trial. I have been through a divorce. I have battled stage 3, triple negative, breast cancer. Alcohol addiction and more have touched my family. I have survived a female teenager (yes this is a thing). I cared for my mother after a brain aneurysm burst and nearly took her life. Most recently, and the catalyst for this book, I lost my beautiful sister, Kim, unexpectedly to breast cancer. My heart has been broken so many times in so many tiny pieces I was certain it would never be healed. I was sure the sun would never shine again and that I would never get out of bed…but God is a God of good and time is a precious gift of healing. When we chose to find the joy, it’s always there.
 
 
 
This won’t be a book about making sure you are happy all the time, it’s a book about realizing that in all of life’s hardships, there will be joy around it. Maybe not at the moment, but they will come when you look for them. Joy is often sprinkled in the most unlikely places. We are not created to live a life in sadness, anger, depression, blaming, not forgiving, being negative…in fact I’m pretty sure that when we have these hardships, we are meant to use them. To learn from, to grow from, to bless others…it’s how we make the world go round!
 
 
Our stories, the good and the bad, make us who we are. They give us character. They allow us to identify and empathize with others. To connect, to have connections on big levels and little levels.
 
I don’t believe that any of us were born to sit back in silence and just exist. We were created to make a difference, sometimes that difference is in our own homes, and sometimes it’s bigger. Some days it’s just smiling at another person (you should go out and do this…with joy, just smile at people and say hi…it’s kinda fun when it freaks people out.) I don’t have all the answers, in fact, I rarely have them, but I know, that I know, that I know…we are created for more. Designed to leave a footprint in the hearts and minds of others. When we put out joy to the world, we get joy. What you put out, you get back – bah da bing, bah da boom.
 
This isn’t a play by play of how to be joyful when you hurt; it’s a book of hope. Hurting is hurting. That feeling of not being able to stop crying, then the feeling of having cried so much there isn’t another tear in you. Furious anger at the world, or the thoughts that this can’t be happening, this isn’t real…knowing that you will never be able to recover or come out of where you are. Life is most certainly over…but then, when you look for it, when you chose to start trying to climb out the dark hole (and yes, I believe it is a CHOICE)…there it is. Like little pieces of breadcrumbs leading you out of a dark tunnel that you slowly follow…pieces of joy.
 
I have found my joy in the craziest of places, and it will be an honor to share them with you.