Mayhem Monday: Choose Joy!

Life is full of choices.

Coffee or tea?

Black socks or blue socks?

Toll roads or back roads?

But, it’s the the stuff we don’t get to choose that causes problems: circumstances

Sometimes they are the result of our choices and sometimes they’re handed to us without our consent. Nonetheless, we still have a choice. We can choose our response. How we respond to circumstances will make all the difference in whether we wallow in misery or live a fulfilled and prosperous life.

It’s hard, though. Circumstances can knock the wind out of you–just ask anyone who’s suffered a loss–the loss of a loved one, loss of an opportunity, loss of physical or mental wholeness–circumstances can make you feel as though there is no such thing as choice. Stuff happens and we are the victim of it–helpless, hopeless and without agency.

Yet, it is in those moments of our greatest defeat that we must resist the urge to lay down. We must choose joy.

The one thing that makes us human is the power that God gave us in the very beginning. It is the only power that still remains. Although we lost our ability to commune with Him face to face, lost immortality and lost access to paradise–the one thing that we retained was the power to choose! And it is this power that can lead us back to everything that we lost. We can choose:

  • to focus on what’s left. What remains?
  • to look at what we can do, rather than what we can’t
  • to look at what we have, rather than what we don’t

And by doing so, we will find joy, which is different from happiness. Happiness is a temporary feeling, a fleeting emotion. Joy is an acceptance of circumstances and a choice to be content anyway. We must resist the urge to give up, as tempting as it is.

Even if our choices are reduced, diminished or shifted, they are never absent because the choices that we seek are not out there, but in here–inside of us. The crucial question is: What is it that I need to do to change my perspective on these circumstances? That is what will make all the difference.

I can speak on this topic because I am personally challenged by some tough choices and circumstances, and it’s difficult to know the right way to go. Although the cloud of failure is ever looming overhead and uncertainty swirls all around, I must decide which way to go.

My daughter, the artist, decided to paint this cover photo for me, and in the wisdom of a child she has captured beautifully this moment, this point where I must decide. Of course, one small problem with her rendering is that it assumes “my way” will take me in the opposite direction of “God’s way,” which, I hope is not the case. But whatever my decision, I know I must choose wisely and I must choose joy. I would advise you to do the same.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Happy Monday!



Everywhere I looked today I saw rejection.

Every hello was preface to “good-bye,”

Every smile, a scheme in disguise.

Every frown was meant for me.

Every possible could not be.

Every eye, hollow

Every friend, shallow

Every brow, furrowed

Every hand, burrowed

in a pocket.

Backs turned,

“bread” burned,


Because life can be hard to swallow.


Cover photo credit:


The Hurricane!

Recently a high school English class read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 in which he compares his love to a Summer’s Day. Then the teacher asked the students to do likewise–that is, choose someone to write a description about using an analogy.  This high school student chose to write about her sister and I think she did a pretty good job, so I’ve decided to share her piece with you here. Enjoy!

Have you ever been in or experienced a really bad storm? Such as a tornado or hurricane? Tsunami maybe? They’re pretty destructive right? Blowing things away, tearing up stuff, throwing things across the room–just making everything look messy. They’re destructive and can be very harmful. Well, I have a storm that lives in my house. Yes–just down the hallway to the left. She’s 11 years old, loves the color pink and coincidently hates any idea of a storm. She’s my sister,  or as my family likes to call her, “The Hurricane.”

My 11-year-old sister claims she’s princess Rapunzel and she’s an aspiring baker. Even though I hate to admit it, she is a great person with a cool personality, but when it comes to staying organized, she is not your average princess. Her room is always messy with stuff all over the floor. In the kitchen, she finishes dinner and leaves her plate.  You would think she would take special care of someone else’s room when she brings all her stuff in for a visit, but I’m usually tripping over her stuff that she left in MY room because she didn’t pick it up. Honestly. If you leave her in a room by herself with everything she loves, I guarantee that room will look like hurricane Urma came in! She pretty much does everything a hurricane does and I, unfortunately, have to live with it.

Not only is she physically a hurricane, she’s also emotionally a hurricane. Her moods can switch before you can snap your fingers. The slightest thing can make her upset, so be careful– fair warning! She also can be very fiesty.  She’ll lash out at you in a way that is scary, but hilarious at the same time. Just like she destroys our house with her stuff all over the place, she can destroy you with her actions and words. Don’t underestimate her!

Cover Photo credit:

For more student writing check out: Flash fiction: Life’s a Challenge–Face It!