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Choose joy. Be a beacon of light.

I had a hard weekend. I let darkness creep into my mind, and instead of my sweeping it aside like my normally happy-go-lucky self does, I let it settle in and stay. I was sensitive and took my friends and family's busy-ness personally as not caring about my situation…which is ridiculous and deep down I knew the Devil was trying to convince me of terrible thoughts. I cried a lot. I wallowed in self-pity. It was just not good. Then I prayed.

I woke up Monday morning and decided to choose JOY. I decided to truly BE present for my girls. The chilly fall air and my girls brought a smile to my face and lifted a weight from my heart. Jesus answered my prayers, He drew me out of the darkness and showed me the beauty all around me that I should be grateful for.

Then Wednesday night I read a story about a young, beautiful, inspiring mom who had passed away from breast cancer last year. I was stunned. I clicked on her name to find more information… I saw her precious profile picture of her and her young son… maybe 12-18 months old. I was rocked. I saw how she spent her birthday one year ago enduring chemo treatment…and now she is gone? My brain couldn’t comprehend. How? Why? What happened? And her profile picture of her holding her darling son was imprinted in my mind. Then tears. I could not catch my breath. I grabbed Evan’s arms and pulled them around me and proceeded to cry and cry and cry. I closed my eyes and could not get the picture out of my head. I couldn’t shake the idea of any mother leaving their babies far too soon. Why would this EVER happen? I couldn’t understand it. I cried myself to sleep.

I woke up this morning still raw from such a shock to the heart. I knew I had to shake the darkness, I had to CHOOSE JOY. I got my hot cup of coffee, my girlies and slowly my heart started to warm up and the weight started to lift. The realization came that I am not afraid of my time ending on this earth. I know it is a fallen world and with free will came terrible situations. I know that God is not the result for mothers leaving their babies too soon. That is the result of the fallen, broken world. Regardless, that does not take away my ultimate overshadowing fear of leaving my babies too soon. Leaving my husband too soon. I am not ready. I AM NOT READY. I know that when I go I will enter the pearly gates of Heaven and enjoy the paradise that I cannot even fathom here. But it is not time for that yet. I know that precious woman's story is not my story. We all have our own story to live. And in her honor I need to live mine and live mine right.

I texted Evan that I want to cherish every single day we have, that I want to do all the things we have wanted to do in the

past but said no because of whatever limitation would arise. I want to LIVE and love BIG. I am creating our life’s to do list…big, small, local, worldly, etc. The list is being made and we WILL start crossing those off.

Then I started thinking of what I want to pass on to my daughters. What life lessons. What tidbits. So, I mentally started creating a list:

- When you wake up in the morning thank Jesus for His love and mercy…before your feet hit the floor.

- Enjoy the little things… mommy LOVES a steaming cup of hot coffee and sitting on the porch wrapped up in a blanket to enjoy it.

- Welcome the new day, it is a clean slate. Jesus’s love is renewed every day, there is nothing you can do to make Him stop loving you. Nothing.

- The way you live your life might be the only scriptures people read. Live lovingly and humbly.

- Travel. Whether it is to the next town for a farmer’s market or to see the Northern Lights and whales. Travel. Mommy’s favorite thing to do is to travel.

- When you travel enjoy the local sips and eats. Mommy loves supporting local businesses, they are comprised of moms and dads who work very hard for their families. Try the local coffee, eat the fruit grown in the state (Michigan cherries are divine…Maine blueberries are delectable) …mommy and daddy love looking up the local foods of wherever we visit and going there.

- Get outside. Wherever you are…beauty is everywhere. Go breathe in the air and enjoy what the Lord has made.

- Your sister is your best friend. No one in this world will ever truly understand you better than her. God blessed our family with the two of you… mommy always wants you girlies to be best friends. Don’t let anything, or anyone to keep you apart.

- Stuff is not important. Experiences and how you live your life is important. Enjoy a simple life. Live big and love big.

- Spread Jesus’ love to all you know. You may lose a friend, but think of what they could GAIN if they chose to become a believer.

- Do not worry. Jesus asks us to not worry. Trust in the Lord, have faith and choose happiness.

- Do not let anyone steal your joy. If anyone makes you feel less, politely remove yourself. You are created in His image and deserve goodness.

- Live your purpose. Life is FULL of amazing opportunity. Do not let hard work, fear, anyone or anything keep you from your purpose. Have a big dream? GO for it darlings.

- Mommy and daddy love you both SO much. If we are not available…there are so many people who love you dearly...Yaya, Papa, Gigi, DiDi, Nene, Uncle Chase, Aunt Heather, Uncle Matt, Julie, Neicey, Mrs. Rachel, Mr. Adam...the list goes on...Halen- Enna is your Godmother she will be your safe place. Henley, seek out Aunt Dana, she is your Godmother…she will be your safe haven.

- Give back. Share your gif

ts. It is important to volunteer, donate and be a part of the community.

Halen and Henley…Life is full of wonder. Life is also full of darkness. Choose joy, seek peace, find the light. Be a beacon of light for others. When darkness tries to take over get on your knees and pray.

“God is LIGHT and in Him there is NO darkness.” – 1 John 1:5

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