Choosing Joy

Throughout your life things will happen that are simply out of your control. During those times you can either feel sorry for yourself or you can search for the good in that situation. How can you turn the death of a family member or friend into a positive? You just got fired from your job. What are you going to do? I had the privilege to hear the amazing story of Penny and her son Nate. To start it off I want to share a quote with everyone by Chuck Swindoll:

“…We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

I love that quote and if it is put in to action you will recover from those tough moments in your life and move on to do bigger and better things because of them.

Penny’s son Nate was born on March 7th, 2012 at 32 weeks and weighed 3 lbs 6oz and was 15.5 inches long. A baby born that early is susceptible to many complications and Penny was aware that the next minutes, hours, and days ahead were going to be long ones. Nate was admitted to the NICU unit in the Greenville Memorial Hospital where he was to remain while he fought to grow stronger. He was diagnosed with Chylothorax which causes fluid to build up in the pleural cavity located in the lungs. It is a rare disease and a fix-all treatment has yet to be discovered. With tubes all over his body to help him breathe, give him nutrients, and extract fluid from his lungs; Nate was fighting for his life. Everyday Penny would be in the NICU doing whatever she could to show her son love. Holding him and talking to him; as many of us know there is something about your mother’s voice that calms you down. Penny’s daughter was right by Nate’s side as well and would often read her brother a story before she went to bed. On April 4th, 2012 Penny had to say goodbye to her son Nate. She had spent almost an entire month by his side and now the battle had to end.

When Penny was telling her story the thing that really struck me was the attitude she decided to take after something this devastating had happened in her life. Instead of continuing to mourn and hiding in a shell she decided to celebrate Nate’s life. She decided to celebrate the precious moments she and her daughter spent by Nate’s side. She chose joy when she very easily could have chosen sadness. It is now February 2014 and Nate’s story is still affecting people’s lives and being used to save countless others through the March of Dimes foundation. Joy was not Penny’s immediate reaction. There was a lot of sadness during this tough time and there is still some sadness to this day. But Penny is not asking for anyone to feel sorry for her. Her faith remained strong and she knows that Nate’s time here on earth was for a purpose. Her faith led her to a place where she could use her situation and her platform to reach out and lift up other people. She didn’t try to hide what had happened and keep all of her emotions and feelings inside. She stepped up when God was calling her and she is showing His love to others in a way that only she can. Her situation, although very unfortunate, has allowed her to connect with people she would not have been able to connect with before…all because she chose joy and celebration. Just think about the impact her reaction is having on her daughter. Her daughter is watching her every move and the way she responded to this situation will help impact the direction of her daughter’s life…I have no doubt about that. When you choose to let a bad situation dictate the rest of your life in a negative manner you are not only affecting yourself, but everyone else around you. Tough situations are opportunities for forgiveness, opportunities for growth, and opportunities for you to show others what it is like to have faith in something that is greater than this life here on earth.

Hearing Penny’s story was inspiring and I think within her story we all can relate to a time in our life where we had a choice to make; joy or sadness?

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