In a few days we will hit the one-year mark of the day we found Shep in the pool and thought we would loose him. To mark the date, we are having ourselves a little party to re-claim that day for good. Might sound like a weird thing to do, but to me it’s necessary. If I didn’t have something fun to look forward to this weekend, something to remind me to celebrate and feel grateful, I might go dark. So we are choosing joy. Which is exactly what my friend Sarah is doing next month to mark the second anniversary of her husband, Joel’s, last day on Earth. This post is about her and her gift for choosing light over dark and finding ways to celebrate life in the midst of great sorrow.
Sarah and I have never met in person but I count her as a friend. She and I connected after we were both initiated into the “Our Child Should Not Have Lived” club in the same year. Sarah has been on a wild ride the last couple years and she writes all about it over at journeyofsarah.com. To make a long story short, before loosing Joel to cancer two years ago, he told her, with 100% certainty; they would have one more child, a girl. And they would name her Ellis. After Joel passed, Sara decided to use their last two remaining embryos from an earlier IVF treatment and was blessed with sweet baby girl Ellis. Just like Joel said it would be. But weeks after Ellis was born she contracted bacterial meningitis. Sarah and I have mutual acquaintances, and Sarah’s petition for prayer was all over my Facebook feed last December. I remember being glued to her updates, agonizing with her, begging for a miracle, clearly the only way Ellis would survive. Doctors took Ellis off her ventilator and a broken Sarah prepared herself to say goodbye to someone she loved, again. But survive Ellis did, in the most incredible way…. you can read about here, if you haven’t already heard that part of Sara’s story. It’s astounding.
Sarah has gotten really good at choosing joy instead of sorrow. In fact, she has created a whole movement out it with her Choose Joy Project, which will take place July 23rd. It’s the perfect way to honor Joel’s life and the type of man he was. The concept is simple. On Thursday, July 23, choose to do a random act of kindness, big or small, in honor of Joel. Buy someone a meal, leave an encouraging note for a friend…you get to decide the “who” and “how.” But that’s not all. Before June ends, email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your Choose Joy cards. (Your email info is confidential and will ONLY be used for the Choose Joy Project.) Include your card (which has a link directing recipients to Sarah’s family story) in your random act of kindness. If you can, email a picture of your random act of kindness to Sarah, or post it on your social media using the hashtag #choosejoyproject. Sarah will be posting all the pictures she receives that day on her blog. Last year Sarah had 80 families participate in the Choose Joy Project. Her goal this year is 100. The message you will be spreading is that hope and faith can shine light and joy into hard things. And let’s face it….if you don’t choose to find joy in the middle of hard, what other options are you left with? Choose joy friends, and pass it on.
Check out Sarah’s Choose Joy Project here.