Be Happy (A True Story)
By Davy Jones
Around twenty years ago, I was living in Seattle and going through hard times. I could not find satisfying work and I found this especially difficult as I had a lot of experience and a Master’s degree.
To my shame, I was driving a school bus to make ends meet and living with friends. I had lost my apartment. I had been through five interviews with a company and one day between bus runs they called to say I did not get the job. I went to the bus barn like a zombie of disappointment.
Later that afternoon, while doing my rounds through a quiet suburban neighborhood I had an inner wave – like a primal scream – arise from deep inside me and I thought “Why has my life become so hard?” “Give me a sign, I asked… a physical sign – not some inner voice type of thing.”
Immediately after this internal scream, I pulled the bus over to drop off a little girl and as she passed she handed me an earring saying I should keep it in case somebody claimed it. The earring was stamped metal, painted black and said ‘BE HAPPY’.
At first, I got angry – yeah, yeah, I thought. Then it hit me. I had been putting all of my energies into what was wrong with my life rather than what was right! I decided then and there to make a list of 50 things I was grateful for.
At first, it was hard, then it got easier. One day I decided to up it to 75. That night there was a phone call for me at my friend’s house from a lady who was a manager at a large hospital. About a year earlier I had submitted a syllabus to a community college to teach a course on stress management. (Yup, you heard me. 😉 She asked me if I would do a one-day seminar for 200 hospital workers. I said yes and got the job.
My day with the hospital workers went very well. I got a standing ovation and many more days of work. To this day I KNOW that it was because I changed my attitude to gratitude.
Incidentally, the day after I found the earring the girl asked me if anyone had claimed it. I told her no and she said: “I guess it was meant for you then.”
I spent the next year conducting training workshops all around the Seattle area and then decided to risk everything and go back to Scotland where I had lived previously.
I closed my one-man business, bought a plane ticket and got a six-month visa from immigration. One month later I met my wonderful English wife and best friend of 15 years now. We live in a small beautiful cottage, two miles from a paved road in the highlands of Scotland.
‘THE ONLY ATTITUDE IS GRATITUDE’ has been my motto for years now and yes, it completely changed my life.
Meditation: in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
Saving for A Special Occasion
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
“This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.
“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”
I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.
I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what my sister would’ve done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing – I’ll never know.
It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with – “someday”. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write – one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.
I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special.
Every day, every minute, every breath truly is… a gift from God.
May God litter your life with blessings!
“You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching, and love like it’s never going to hurt.”
“People say true friends must always hold hands, but true friends don’t need to hold hands because they know the other hand will always be there.”
Meditation: Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth. – Proverbs 27:1
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
The Smell of God
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.
That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency caesarean to deliver the couple’s new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing.
At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs. “I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.”
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk; she would never talk; she would probably be blind; she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation; and on and on.
“No! No!” was all Diana could say. She and David with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.
Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread. Diana slipped in and out of drugged sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would live and live to be a healthy, happy young girl. But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter’s chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable.
“David walked in and said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements,” Diana remembers, “I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn’t listen, I couldn’t listen.
I said, “No, that is not going to happen. No way! I don’t care what the doctors say. Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!”
As if willed to live by Diana’s determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure but as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw”, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort – so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultra-violet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.
At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later – though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero – Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.
Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no signs, whatsoever, of any mental or physical impairments. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more but that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ballpark where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practising. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent.
Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, “Do you smell that?” Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”
Danae closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”
Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet, it smells like rain.”
Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children.
Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.
During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
Meditation: “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 18:10
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
Glimpses Through Life’s Windows
“The Changed Cross” is a poem that tells of a weary woman who taught that the cross she must bear surely was heavier than those of other people, so she wished she could choose another person’s instead.
When she went to sleep, she dreamed she was taken to a place where there were many different crosses from which to choose. There were various shapes and sizes, but the most beautiful one was covered with jewels and gold. “This I could wear with comfort,” she said. So she picked it up, but her weak body staggered beneath its weight. The jewels and gold were beautiful, yet they were much too heavy for her to carry.
The next cross she noticed was quite lovely, with beautiful flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely this was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were large thorns that pierced and tore her skin.
Finally, she came to a plain cross without jewels or any carvings and with only a few words of love inscribed on it. When she picked it up, it proved to be better than all the rest, and the easiest to carry. And as she looked at it, she noticed it was bathed in a radiance that fell from heaven. Then she recognized it as her own old cross. She had found it once again, and it was the best of all, and the lightest for her.
You see, God knows best what cross we need to bear, and we never know how heavy someone else’s cross may be. We envy someone who is rich, with a cross of gold adorned with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it is. We looked at someone whose life seems so easy and who carries a cross covered with flowers. Yet if we could actually test all the crosses we think are lighter than ours, we would never find one better suited for us than our own.
Meditation: Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
You will succeed in Jesus Name!
There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup. They said, “May we see that? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.” As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke, “You don’t understand,” it said, “I haven’t always been a teacup.”
“There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Let me alone,’ but he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’
“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ’Stop it! I’m getting dizzy!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’
“Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips, as he shook his head, ‘Not yet!’
“Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There that’s better,’ I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible; I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’
“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded, I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet!’
“Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.’ And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’
“‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I knew it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.
“‘I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any colour in your life. And if I hadn’t put you back in the second oven, you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held.
“‘Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began you.'”
Meditation: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!” – Jeremiah 18:6
You will succeed in Jesus Name!