Today is our Andy’s 24th birthday. I woke up this morning crying; missing him; feeling my sister’s pain; our entire family’s pain. Smiling, also. Remembering the joy of his birth; and in turn, the subsequent births of Andy’s cousins, Shawn and Sarah, and his sister’s, Courtney and Lindsay and finally the youngest of the group, my baby, Brett.

This last year has been difficult. The last three years, actually. There have been days where seeing and actually feeling some joy has been nearly impossible.

This morning, for example, I was determined to have a fairly normal day; a day where I choose joy. I was slammed with grief the moment I awoke from a relatively sleepless night. I embraced the tears, knowing that fighting the pain would just prolong the inevitable. I turned to my morning social media routine for solace…facebook, email, twitter…distractions all. They did not disappoint.

My sister and I speak frequently of the losses in our lives. We always realize, in the midst of our grief, that all around us there are those suffering more. Ongoing battles with cancer and disease; drug addiction; marital discord; estrangements.

We realize how blessed we truly are. When I learned this week that a friend of Brett’s, a member of his football team, is fighting cancer, I instantly thought, “Andy would never have been able to stand that.” He hated being sick; he was always the worst patient ever and we all would have heard about it nonstop.

We have friends who are estranged from their child. Having gone through a period of this with one of our children, I know the continuous anguish this causes. They have been suffering this loss for years and years. Another family we love has a child addicted to drugs. Other friends who have lost their child to suicide. The suffering around us is overwhelming.

On Good Friday, Russell, Brett and I sat with a small group of our church family and participated in the 2012 Secret Church simulcast. David Platt is incredible. He taught on The Cross and Suffering. When we sat down and I read what the topic was, I laughed out loud. It was perfect. Exactly what I needed…some answers to the questions I have asked of God. I will be downloading the audio from that night when it becomes available…and I highly recommend you do so, also.

I know it has become cliche…in the midst of our suffering, there is always something to be thankful about; some joy to be seen, felt, and embraced. Or we can be consumed by our grief and suffering, 24/7; focused on our pain; ignoring…not caring about the pain of those around us.

I’m choosing the joy. Sometimes it is a daily choice; often it is an hourly choice. But my choice it is.

Love you guys.

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