Is There Really a Choice?

I’ll be honest, there have been several times where I truly wanted to throat punch someone who said to me that happiness is a choice. I often thought to myself, “how in the world is it as easy as saying that I choose to be happy when I feel so bad?” I have even told myself several times, “just make a decision to be happy!”

Ugh, if only it were that easy!

It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I was going to be happy, the weight of the reality I was facing and the feelings I felt weighed more in comparison to that choice.

I finally realized though, it really is as simple as making a choice. I can wake up each day and entertain all of the feelings I am faced with, all of the thoughts floating around in my head or, I could just tell myself that none of those things matter and it was going to be a good day. Now, I might have to tell myself that very same thing 20 times in that same day but, the attitude I was choosing was much better than the alternative!

Long story short, here is what I tell myself now: “Joni, you either trust God or you don’t.” So yeah, it’s not easy but I am making a conscious decision every day to put my trust in the one who actually has a say in what happens!

One day at a time. Sometimes, one hour or even, one minute at a time.

Wishing time away

This was written by my beautiful (inside & out) 15 year old daughter who has been through way more than any child should have to go through. She has a gift. It spoke to me and where I’m at in this season of life. It was too good not to share. Hopefully it encourages someone else.

Time is precious. I think about this so frequently, practically all the time. I’ve had horribly sad times, and unexplainably happy times. One thing I’ve realized is, no matter what life is like in this very moment, cherish it. I’ve spent too much of my life, sulking in sadness over the most little things you can think of. For example, looks, people you can’t control, things not working out my way. Horrible things happen in life, and it can break a person. I’ve experienced this, but nothing can ruin your life. No matter how hard the situation, you can always try and find happiness again. Find happiness in little things. If the weathers nice, if you reconnect with someone, a good workout, waking up in a good mood, talking to god, anything. Time flies by, and I don’t want to live in regret by being sad. I’m tired of thinking about all of the negatives or having a fear for the future. God is in control of my future, and everyone else’s. Everything has and will happen for a reason, there’s no need to fear anything. The whole message is, be thankful, be blessed, pray. Everything will be okay, no matter what circumstance, be happy. Life is way too short to live in sadness.


Yep, that’s right, I’m sangry. As a widow, there are lots of days that can’t be adequately described. So what do we do?? We just make up words! So yeah, I’m in sangry mode. I’m sad. I’m angry.

Sangry started on Sunday awhile back as I was thinking back to what Sundays used to look like… I woke up beside my best friend. The day revolved around God, family, and church. We were together. The four of us.

I got to thinking about what a big part of our lives church was. It was our history, our present, and our future. We had so many plans. I had so many hopes for the future. I could see how it would play out. We would do it together.

Absolutely everything changed on June 19th, 2012 when he was taken from us.

Where does one go from there?? We went from a family of four to a family of three. I went from being a wife to being a single mother. My kids went from having a father to being fatherless. In an instant.

As difficult as it was to walk back through those doors without him, I kept my kids in church every Sunday that I was able. For me, it felt like going to the funeral again. Every Sunday. I was trying to “do the right thing.” I was trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. Trying is the key word. What was “the right thing” was no longer clear. Normalcy no longer existed in our world. After 8 horribly difficult months, I realized that there was no way I would be able to move forward while being there every week. There was too much history there.

I found the Lord there at the age of 18. I was only visiting; watching my (then) boyfriend play the drums. A year later he asked me to marry him there; from the stage, in front of everyone. That same year we were married there. Shortly after, we had two children and we raised them there. After making it through some very difficult times, we renewed our vows there. And then… His funeral was there. 

I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t be there anymore.  It hurt too much.

I didn’t want to leave but I genuinely felt like I had no choice. I was torturing myself trying to “do the right thing.” It was painful and I felt completely out of place. So, we started going somewhere else. It was still difficult, just not in the same way. Close to a year later I decided it was time to go back. By that time I had felt much further removed than before I left. But now it was more about conquering something. Walking back into something so that I could say that it didn’t get the best of me. And that’s just what I did.

I won’t go into all of the reasons surrounding leaving for good nearly 9 months ago, but I did. I will say that it was extremely hurtful to watch what “should have been” my life, play out in front of me; a different cast while I look on from the outside.  For those of you who don’t know my history, my husband was the Praise & Worship Leader at our church.  When I thought about the future, it entailed him evolving in his ministry while I did the same with mine.  But, we would do it together.

I did some “church hopping” for awhile but never landed anywhere permanently. And now, I rarely go. Don’t worry (to any of you that gasped with **insert reaction/emotion here**) I haven’t gone to the dark side. I’m no more of a sinner than anyone sitting in a pew on Sunday. I’m just a little lost right now. I still love God. I still pray. I’m just trying to find my own way. I’m trying to examine my heart and my hurts and then search for something real.

My post wasn’t meant to be about church. I only intended to use it as an example as it was such a big part of our lives for so many years. The point is that everything changes when you lose someone that was such a huge part of your everyday life. I’m reminded of what I wrote in 2014:

“When you lose someone that was so much a part of you, you lose your identity too. Learning to live again is so difficult. You don’t know your place, where you fit anymore. Everything is different. Nothing will ever be the same.”

Here I am almost 5 1/2 years later and I’m still so lost.  Don’t get me wrong, I have done a lot of work; I have come a long way. But, I realize that there are still so many things I need to work through.  The sadness, most likely, will never go away although I look forward to it lessening.  The anger shouldn’t last if I allow myself to feel and work through it; eventually accepting things as they are.  But for now, I’m sangry and I’m okay with that.