05/01/2013 05:58 pm ET Updated Jul 01, 2013

Heartache. Loss. Chaos. Challenge. Change.

From the Boston Marathon bombings, to the tragedy in West, TX, to the unrest and uncertainty with China, and so on, our world over the past few weeks has been downright scary.

As you and I mourn for and love on those who've lost loved ones or been affected, we have a choice before us. How will we respond? How will we move forward? How will we "deal with" challenge and chaos in our own lives?

The answers to those questions step into a space of personal choice and personal management. So, how will YOU and I move forward?

Will we be sucked up by the negative energy? Or will we find the courage to be resilient? To reframe the experience to help us become stronger, more determined and more focused.

If we seek examples of people who have done this with great impact and success, we need not look far. In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of people who have done just that. Overcome. And in that overcoming, they created positive impact and change.

Gabby Giffords is a wonderful example of a woman who faced tremendous change, chaos and, ultimately, deep life challenges. Yet she found her voice in the midst of what could have become life changes that silenced her contributions to the world. Could have silenced her... but didn't. She didn't. She pressed on. And so must we.

I'm sure we all have stories of life challenges. Those "end of the rope" moments where we simply could not see a way out. And yet, here we are. You and I. Standing here today...

My mind goes back to 1987 when my husband and I (and our 13-month-old daughter) loaded up a truck with all of our worldly possessions and moved from Mobile, AL, to Los Angeles, CA... and... less than three hours into the trip the truck caught on fire. I know, right?!

When we finally arrived in L.A., the friendly-family environment that we were promised wasn't so friendly. We had to find a hotel knowing that we had very little cash and it needed to last. The second morning there, we found a hotel. And on our third morning one of the largest earthquakes to-date struck L.A. and the surrounding areas.

Two weeks later, the Writer's Guild went on strike and my husband was out of work. I was just a sales rep at the time and not able to support the entire family. We were beginning to wonder if the move was a good idea after all.

But we leaned into our family. And we woke up each day and put one foot in front of the other and kept on going.

I'm not comparing my family's story with the devastating experiences of those who lost their lives, limbs and family members in Boston or West, TX. Nor am I comparing my experience to the horrific ones of Gabby Giffords.

What I am saying is that life will (and does!) throw you curve balls from time to time. And what we choose to do with them will determine the trajectory of the rest of our lives. And our children's lives. And on and on.

My husband and I made the decision to stick it out and -- through faith and help from others -- we made it through the change, challenge and chaos.

So let's decide today that no matter what happens, we will survive. We will respond -- rather than react.

We will do what the Boston marathon runner did when he saw a distraught female marathon runner crying...

He'd finished the race about 30 minutes before the bombings. He and his wife and daughter were working their way back to their hotel. And that's when they saw her... about a half-mile from the finish. Sitting on the curb crying. The bombs had exploded. She was overcome. That is when this man did something really special... he reassured her and then he took off his marathon medal and gave it to her.

In the midst of his own chaos, his own challenge and change, he found the courage to make a difference for someone else. He made a different choice in the way he processed what was happening around him and (like Gabby Giffords) he made a tremendous difference to someone else.

Do me a favor...

Think about all that is happening around you. Perhaps your company is going through a reorganization. Or perhaps your health or finances aren't where you want them to be. Perhaps it's all of the above or something else entirely.

Whatever it is, the question remains, will you react or will you respond? Will you make it all about you or all about those you lead -- those you serve?

The choice is yours.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.