I just finished reading Candace Payne’s book, Laugh it Up: Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy. If you aren’t familiar with this new author, you may have heard of her Facebook video post that went viral where Candace shared her new birthday gift to herself – a “talking” Chewbacca mask. Meant just to be viewed by her family and Facebook friends, Candace’s sheer delight and joyful laughter was contagious and the video was shared and shared again, bringing laughter and joy to millions of people, becoming Facebook’s top video.
Now known to people the world over as “Chewbacca Mom,” Candace shares her life story in her book – the back story on how she has learned to overcome many of life’s difficulties with joy. I found it highly inspirational and encouraging.
Candace’s story is raw and personal – no masks. She shares about her girlhood and the poverty and homelessness that was part of her growing up. But, it was in those earliest days Candace also discovered hope and joy as she allowed herself to see the simple blessings in each day. In those early days, she personified joy as a friend who called to her to imagine and play. It was joy that beckoned her to check out the toy section on her birthday after experiencing some disappointment and frustration while trying on clothes and not finding what she wanted.
In her adult years, the Lord, and his gift of joy helped to free Candace from struggling with comparison, feelings of rejection, trauma and postpartum depression. In her down-to-earth style of writing, there is no pretense. Even with the instant fame following her video, she remains an authentic, humble, sweet woman whose desire is to help others experience God’s gift to us all of joy. (Hebrews 12:2)
Candace has had her critics – especially some on Facebook who (for who knows what reason) bashed her with vitriol after she shared another video – her rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.” But, there’s a clear understanding of how Candace discovers joy even in painful situations. When asked by the media to respond to the criticism, she shared… “You can either have water in your bucket, or you can have gasoline in your bucket, and I choose to have water.” – Judi Brandow, Communication Specialist