12931102_10153954822260801_4474274527460052993_nI took this week to evaluate my progress for the year, look at my goals, my work and my progress.

I quickly became disappointed as I looked at several goals I had missed, several personal setbacks and a few things I felt were failures over the past six months.

However, as I was speaking with a friend about it, they gently reminded me to “stop and smell the roses,” reminding me of where I have come from and how much my life has changed.

After all, it wasn’t too many years ago that I found myself living in a shelter with my children, owning only the pajamas we wore the night I went to the hospital. I was numb. I was shocked. I was hurting. I felt worthless. I felt as though I had failed.

It wasn’t so very long ago that I was afraid to go out in public, afraid to let anyone in, afraid of living. Fear drove my every step. Looking back over my shoulder, terrified of what each night might hold for me.

I didn’t have the luxury of scrolling Pinterest, pinning ideas for DIY projects and pondering when I would own a home instead of renting. I had no home. I had no bedrooms for my babies. The three of us were sleeping in one bed, living in one bedroom, sharing a bathroom with four other families in the same situation.

I did not have to determine what activities to cut, how I could best spend more time with my children. I didn’t have the stress of a busy summer schedule. I didn’t have a bucket list of fun activities to do. I was just attempting to survive.

I wasn’t worried about how trendy my clothes were. I just wanted to be sure that my children had more than that one set of pajamas.

I had no complaints about my menu for the week, or food going bad because I had too much. I was just thankful we had food. Grateful that the shelter provided us sustenance until my injuries healed enough for me to work and earn money.

It seems like yesterday that I was waking up every single night and comforting my young son because of the nightmares he had faced in real life. Rocking my sweet baby girl to sleep and praying that we would make it through another day.

So, when I am tempted to look at my current life and see a failure, when I feel like I haven’t done enough, I haven’t made enough progress, I must remember where I started.

Have I met every goal I set? No.

Am I where I want to be? Definitely not.

But am I closer than yesterday? Yes. Yes, I am.

Because my past does not define me, but it has shaped into the woman I have become.

The things that have happened in my life have given me experiences that I can share with others who are hurting.

The darkness I had to experience gave me a glorious appreciation for the light.

The relationships I have forged in the fire are strong enough to last a lifetime.

I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of progress that I have already made.

Which makes the vision of the future so much sweeter.

Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I can overcome the obstacles I have already faced, I can overcome anything. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Oh, how incredibly true that is.

Life has changed. It may not have been at the speed I thought it should be. It may not have been the way I thought it was going to. I may not have had the fairytale that I envisioned growing up.

But I have grown and changed and gained strength. I have discovered my passions and my desires. I have encountered some of the most amazing people. I have discovered the incredible joy that a relationship with my growing children brings.

And if all of these discoveries have happened in just a few short years, I can only imagine how incredible my life will look in another few.

So to all of you who have been a part of my journey so far, thank you! I am looking forward to continuing this adventure together and seeing the incredible places it takes us.

Today, I am choosing happiness. I am choosing to be grateful. And I am choosing to continue moving forward, no matter how slow it may seem!





About Shannon Joy

I am a single mama with two incredible munchkins. I confuse most people and the deeper you delve into the rabbit hole, the more lost you will become. I play a lot, work a lot, learn a lot, volunteer a lot and tend to do a lot... I love my life. The past few years have been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs. Thankfully, I have made the choice to see challenges as opportunities and it makes me so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I love to write and paint and feel that being creative is my God-given talent. I am so excited to share my life and experiences with you. Although I am a diamond in the rough, I known that I am being chiseled and hewn by experiences and grace and perseverance. I love comments and feedback, so please send a little love when you can. I will always try to respond personally and in a timely fashion.
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