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Encouraging Others to Choose Joy

Trials and Tragedies

Dawn grew up in a Catholic family. Although they did not go to church often, she loved God but admits she really did not know God. In 1989, at nineteen, she got married and had two daughters. Her life and marriage were shattered in June 1991 when her nine-month-old daughter, Madison, died from a rare bacterial pneumonia. “My husband and I were forever, dramatically, and drastically changed,” shares Dawn. Two months later they separated. Then, just four months later a man broke into her home and raped her. He is now serving a life sentence.  Dawn spent countless hours in therapy trying to overcome the fear that gripped her life. She and her daughter Makenzie raised each other for a while. 
Ten years later, Dawn married Craig and had another daughter, Ellason. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Stage 3, triple-negative breast cancer while Craig was in Bahrain with the Navy. A few years later Craig battled addiction (alcohol), her mother almost died from a brain aneurysm and she lost her little sister, Kim, unexpectedly to breast cancer. Dawn has experienced tremendous pain in life, but she also knows incredible joy. In fact, she refers to herself as a Joyologist which she defines as someone who looks for joy in the most unfriendly, unlikely, inhospitable places.  

Joy = Choice

Dawn says, “Joy is your choice. It’s up to you, and no one else. No one else is responsible for making you happy or fulfilled.” Joy is a one-woman job so stop blaming those around you for why you don’t have joy. It is a decision to exit sadness and step out of darkness. Dawn offers the following suggestions to help you in your journey:

  • If you want to climb out of the darkness, you have to be purposeful about it. Even in the midst of pain choose to lift up others along your journey. 
  • Take a deep breath and smile because God gave you one more breath to live. When Madison died Dawn was devastated. Yet she still had Makenzie to raise who deserved a joyful mother. Dawn forced a smile to disguise her pain and eventually happiness found its way through her pain. Dawn chose to rediscover joy for the sake of her daughter.
  • Joy starts small. Dawn aches for the loss of her sister, but she chooses to lift up her memory in celebration, focusing on her gratitude for the years they had together and the gift Kim was to her. 

Joy in Unexpected Places

“I want you to know that joy can be found inside the tsunami of pain,” reveals Dawn. She believes cancer was a strange, unexpected gift. No, she would not want to have cancer again because it was painful and difficult but it was also during this time that her faith exploded. There was a time Dawn did not believe God could repair what had been destroyed in her marriage because of Craig’s drinking. God did heal them and grew their faith and their love for one another. In her pain she says, “I have found a faith and a relationship with God that guides my life today. Joy and God are one and the same. My joy increased as my faith did; they went hand in hand. When you choose Him, you choose joy.”

Leap of Faith

For the past thirty years, Dawn has been a top producer at every company she’s ever worked for. Most recently, she was the #7 Sales Director in Mary Kay. Then in 2018, she left her lucrative career behind. God told her one night, “Dawn, you are going to write a book.” He told her the chapters to write. “God wanted me to tell my stories and show how I had found joy and laughter through an often-heartbreaking life journey. I was supposed to share it with humor and just be myself.” In addition to her book, Dawn has been a public speaker for more than ten years. When she is not encouraging other women to find joy and humor in even the most difficult of circumstances, she is at home with her family in Florida.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

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