Friday, March 13, 2009

I Choose to Be Happy by Missy Jenkins and William Croyle

I Choose to Be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor's Triumph Over Tragedy by Missy Jenkins and William Croyle

December 1, 1997 started out just like any other day for 15-year old Missy Jenkins, but a mere couple of hours later it took a serious turn for the worse. Gathered with 7 other friends and school mates for a morning pre-school prayer session, Missy was gunned down. Not just Missy, but several other students fell that morning as well. Sadly, as it seems to happen in most cases, some suffered a worse fate than others. The bullet that struck Missy hit in such a way that it caused her to become immediately paralyzed from the chest down. Yet, today we call Missy lucky and blessed. How could someone compare her outcome on this tragic day to a blessing? Because when put in perspective that's exactly what it was. Three of the victims that were shot in the lobby of Heath High School that morning did not survive.

Today, more than 11 years later, Missy has become more than just a survivor. Despite the complete and total life changing events brought about that December morning by 14-year old student, Michael Carneal, Missy is stronger than ever and has a tale of hope to share with any who will listen. That's not to say the road she took between then and now was easy, quite the contrary. It is though the shooting and that road to recovery that has made Missy the incredible speaker, counselor, sister, daughter, friend, wife, and mother she is today. Sure her life could have been easier and far less painful; yet, in retrospect, she has no doubt that God's hand has been on her life since day one. We all have a different path to follow, this particular path just happened to be the one Missy believes God had destined for her. As she goes on to suggest, God works in mysterious ways, and though we don't always understand why certain things happen, God is always in control and has a plan.

Reading Missy's firsthand account of the Paducah, KY shooting (The second in a sickening sweep of such across our nation in the years that were to follow.) and her recovery thereafter was not as much heart breaking as it was inspirational and amazing. Most people having been in Missy's shoes would have crumbled under the pressure of what they'd been through and what was yet to come. However, Missy used the tragic experience as a stepping block to not only better herself, but to strive to help others along the way.

So many times during the rehabilitation & recovery process, Missy could have given up. Being reminded daily, by her condition, of what all was taken from her that fateful morning, Missy could have become bitter and hateful. Yet, she's anything but. Today, Missy is a strong, intelligent, inspirational icon. Someone who has so closely encountered death, but lived to tell about it. Someone who suffered an unimaginable loss, but who lived to come out stronger because of it. Someone who never let her faith in God or mankind falter even though she had every right and reason to.

I Choose to Be Happy is an awe inspiring read that showcases how a single solitary action can change the course of history. Yet how something that seems to be a devestating loss can actually be turned for good if you're willing to accept the unchangeable, live without regrets, forgive, and never loose faith in God. Missy shows her true colors through this memoir, and those colors are as brilliant as the most magnificent rainbow.

Looking back on Missy's ordeal and everything she had to go through to get to today, I'm not sure I could say with all honesty that I could do it were I in her position. The strength and tenacity that Missy has had to develope and embody is truly unbelievable. Seeing everything that Missy has gone through to get where she is today is nothing short of moving. You can't help but feel utterly blessed just by reading a little bit about this trying journey that Missy has endured and used for good.

It was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to read this book. My thanks go out to the author and publicist who gave me this honor. Thank you.

And to Missy, should you read this, you truly are an amazing woman. I have the utmost respect for you, for having overcome all that you have, and for coming out on top. Even with the tragedy you had to endure, God has truly blessed you. I have no doubt He has used you in many great ways already and that He will continue to do so throughout your life time.

~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC

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