When I think about my life, I think about how blessed I am. I think about my amazing husband, my sweet little boy, my extended families, my friends, my career – and I can’t help but be overwhelmed by how truly great my life is. It wasn’t always like that. The first couple years after Carter’s diagnosis all I felt was sad, cheated, envious. It wasn’t fair that this was his life and it wasn’t fair that this was my life. But then God spoke truth to my heart. He reminded me that life wasn’t meant to be easy, He never promised that. That my hope, and eventually joy, comes from Him.

Whenever I think about joy, sometimes I confuse it with happiness. Happiness is situational. Happiness is dependent on your circumstances. Carter’s sleeping great. Things are easy at work. No issues with finances. But joy – joy is something deeper, something more. It’s a settled state of contentment, hope and confidence – in God. You can choose joy even when you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the day because you’ve only gotten 2 hours of sleep. You can choose joy even when things aren’t going well at work and you’re not sure how you’re going to make ends meet.

I think a lot about choices in the way I raise my son. I have had other parents say how they can’t do something or go somewhere because they are afraid of how others perceive them as parents or their child when they behave in an unconventional way. My husband and I made the choice a long time ago to continue to do the things we liked to do as a couple with our son and give him the opportunity to experience the world without our restrictions. Does he always have a great time? No. Does he always behave appropriately? No. Do I get looks from others? Yep. But guess what? I don’t care. I learned a long time ago that if someone I don’t know wants to make a judgement about me or my life from a brief encounter, then that’s on them. I don’t pay attention to it, nor do I care. I just remember that I am doing what’s best for my son and best for my family. I don’t need anyone else’s approval, but God’s.

Carter’s school had a roller skating party this past Tuesday. Carter has never been roller skating before. He is not unbalanced but I wasn’t sure what he would think about it. He was unsure at first but I made him try for a couple minutes. Then we took off the skates and just walked around the rink. Then we ran around the rink. He loved it! He loved the lights and the music and watching others race around him. We went back to our table and he was trying to put the skates on again. So we tried again. I am so proud of the way he is always willing to try, always picking himself up and pushing himself. The smile on his face is what I remember when happiness fades. He is the tangible joy that God has given me. He is the reason I choose joy today and everyday.

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