Did you know that you could choose to be happy? After surviving several personal trials and tribulations, author Melanie Thomas-Price discovered that her happiness is tied to her free will to live a life of joy. She experienced a devastating car accident in 1994 that would change the course of her life forever; then, within a few months, another devastating car accident changed her life again. She was lost and unsure how to rebuild her life. As she searched for a way through this difficult time, she found the thing she needed the most was a sincere relationship with Jesus. You Can Choose to Be Happy chronicles her journey from the darkness into the light-and true happiness.
For some it takes great effort to cultivate joy and happiness. Thomas-Price talks about how she found the courage to choose happiness in the wake of so much sadness. She encourages everyone to look at life's circumstances and to change them by accepting the Word of God. You Can Choose to Be Happy includes short passages to read and meditate upon. Then, a place to reflect in writing is provided to encourage you to record your thoughts. This journal is designed to help you train yourself to reframe your mindset. By altering your habits, you can transform your outcomes and live a happy life.
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You Can Choose to Be HappyTrain Yourself to Reframe your Mindset
By Melanie Thomas-Price
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Melanie Thomas-Price
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Hand of God: A Lamb Is Hurt
The family was headed north on US 13 between Laurel and Seaford, Delaware. There was small talk of what tomorrow would bring—and then a sudden explosion of metal colliding as an eastbound vehicle slammed into the Thomases' car and changed their world forever. Bodies in the northbound family car were flung about like ragdolls. The force tore the left side of the car apart; the open wound was wide enough to tear the door off. The forces of motion and gravity brought the wreckage to a stop, and a dazed mother looked into the back to take her five-year-old daughter to safety. Shock, fear, and astonishment are the words closest to describing her feelings at that time, but they are far too weak in the world of written or spoken words to represent the state of mind that was present in this young mother's moment of awesome terror.
"My baby!" she cried as she hunted the embankment and field for her gift from God. Every mother's worst nightmare unfolded as she raced to look under the car. Her baby's twisted and crushed body was trapped under tons of metal, motionless and silent with her little foot up against her face.
As I rapidly crossed the highway, I saw a woman being walked about, crying as if her heart had been ripped out, arms outstretched, mind and soul in bitter, deep anguish and grief.
She was crying, "My baby must be dead! My baby, my baby!" As I noticed the lost looks of those who had gathered, I asked if anyone else was hurt, knowing that there was. Sad, blank stares were my answer. Finally one man told me about the child under the car. Beneath the vehicle, I spotted the girl. At arm's reach, I touched her temple, but I felt no pulse. Her neck was only accessible to a single finger. As I gently touched her soft ebony eyelid, I shined a powerful flashlight into her eye. The lack of pupil contraction signaled that the body was in eternal rest.
Trooper Smith ran toward me and nearly dove under the frame as she assessed the futile situation. Her statements of anguish and the look on her face reflected not only the human qualities of a professional in the line of duty, but the unspoken reflection of pain and frustration of helplessness. I couldn't help thinking that this was a deeper sorrow because the trooper was also a mother of a young child.
The rescue units were still minutes away. An angry young man was pacing about, shaking and saying, "They didn't stop. They didn't stop." Friends and family were arriving; suddenly the face of the accident scene changed. A huddle was formed. A spiritual woman of God started an emotional, powerful prayer. Hearts opened, and heads bowed; we prayed. Calm fell as angels gathered and the Lord was praised and called upon. The Spirit was felt like a blue fog; its presence was heavenly.
I went back under the car so that the child would not be alone. I couldn't help but notice a glow about her. I rechecked her vital signs, but the results were the same. However, she was abnormally warm.
I heard sirens in the distance. God's love cradled the child as she slept in His arms. With hearts and minds and tears and prayers, angels and people watched as the rescue teams flew into action to lift the car and transport the frail, broken body to Seaford's Nanticoke Hospital.
Within an hour, the emergency room waiting area was filled with family and friends, saints and angels. Suddenly a woman of many years ran into the hospital. The look of terror on her face told me she must be a grandmother or possibly a great-grandmother. She was feeling the pain and anguish of the tragedy. Minutes later, a tall, strong man came in—the baby's father. His heart broke upon hearing the devastating news. He tried to cope but the emotional trauma was just too much.
The Lord is her Shepherd; His rod and staff are over her. He knows every sparrow that falls, and that day a special sparrow had fallen.
Within an hour, word came that the child had lived! Praise be to God! Thank you, Jesus.
A little lamb was saved by the Hand of God. —Unknown Motorist
Your Testimony Can Change Lives
God is amazing! The Bible says, "Heaven is my throne and earth is my foot stool" (Acts 7:49). Is your mind big enough to imagine that? I can! Ain't no problem too large or too small for my God!
"Take the Sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith and quench His every fiery dart" (Eph. 6:16-17). The Bible gives instructions regarding to how to win the fight of our lives: "By the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony."
To be frank, this is probably the most doleful testimony I ever had to retell. The thought of reliving that dark day chills my bones. Children should never go before their parents. The events that took place that day seem just as fresh as yesterday in my mind. I have to admit that in the weeks leading up to the accident, I started having troublesome dreams of being without my daughter and her father, which seemed strange to me. I found it unusual that none of my dreams included them.
February 7, 1994, changed my life forever. I had been working shift work, and I happened to be on the overnight shift. I considered myself blessed because I didn't have to worry much about childcare; I was fortunate enough to have my mother and my daughter's father's mother as babysitters while I worked.
On that particular day, I came home at approximately 8:30 a.m., as usual. I went directly to bed because I was exhausted. My mother had my five-year-old daughter while I slept. When I got up, I went to pick up Da-Niece. After leaving my parents' house with my daughter, I went home because I knew that my brother wanted to go to Maryland to file his income taxes. I had agreed to accompany him. If I could go back in time and change that one decision, I would.
The drive to Maryland was no different than usual. I remember my brother looking at my daughter and commenting on how cute she was. Once we got to our destination, we were in and out with no issues. Our ride home seemed peaceful; Da-Niece fell asleep. She always slept during lengthy rides. We got to Laurel, going north on Route 13 approximately ten miles from our home, when a vehicle came through the median. I was in the passenger seat; Da-Niece was asleep in the back. The vehicle coming through the median did not stop and hit my brother's Cadillac in a fashion that spun the car out of control. When the car was spinning, it didn't seem as if the collision had done much damage. When the vehicle finally stopped, we found ourselves in the middle of a field. The first thing that I did was look for Da-Niece. I turned around and scanned the backseat, but I couldn't find Da-Niece. I freaked out. "Where is my baby?"
As I write this, my body tenses up as if I am reliving the worst day of my life, and it hurts. I jumped out of the car and immediately started searching the field and praying. At some point during my search, my brother said the one thing that I did not want to hear. He said that she was pinned under the car. We tried to move the car, but it would not budge. I was out of my mind with fear and worry. I was sure that Satan was pleased when I realized that we were not making any leeway. I wasn't wasting any more time. I ran across the highway to use the telephone of someone—anyone—in the nearby trailers.
I got to the first trailer and knocked on the door as hard as I could. I don't remember who came to the door, but I was on a mission to get help for my baby. I called 911 and they said that they would be sending someone out. Back in the early nineties, Public Enemy had a song out called "911 Is a Joke." On that day, I got a clear understanding of what they were trying to convey. It seemed as if it took emergency services forever to get to the scene of the accident. In all fairness, it probably didn't take them as long as it seemed. Maybe because I was so anxious and concerned for Da-Niece and I knew that every moment counted, it seemed like an eternity before they arrived. In the interim, I ran back across the street to Da-Niece. I noticed that some friends had noticed that we had been in an accident and had come to the scene.
My classmates Jackie and Theresa Johnson grew up in the church, and they knew how to lift up the name of Jesus. The sisters began to pray, sing, and magnify the Lord—you would have thought that they were having church. Some other concerned motorists also stopped to help. To this day, I don't remember many of the details because my mind was in and out; the situation didn't seem real. It felt as if I were having an out-of-body experience, because I couldn't get myself together. Was I having a dreadful dream but still awake? I was dazed and in total disbelief, wondering what in the world had happened. I had had my daughter happy, safe, and sound asleep one minute—and the next minute was mayhem.
When my daughter was released from under the car, we were all transported to the emergency room. In that ambulance to the emergency room, my brother and I were so fearful for Da-Niece's life. We did not know if she was still alive; that was the longest six miles ever. We didn't say very much, but the look in our eyes said more than words could ever express. I could not comprehend what had just happened so I just sat in total disbelief. What would I tell her father and her grandparents? This news would tear them apart. I needed a miracle. Jesus, I need you now!
At the hospital, we were all put in different rooms for evaluations. I couldn't keep still; I had to know what was happening with my child. My aches and pains were secondary to her condition. I was so numb that I couldn't feel any pain or aches. When the doctors finally came into my room, the only thing that I wanted to hear was the prognosis for Da-Niece. The doctors told me that it didn't look good for her and they were making arrangements to transport her to a better facility in New Castle, Delaware.
Shortly after the conversation with the physicians, my family and I left the hospital to prepare to leave for New Castle. It was a 1.5-hour trip. It was the worst ice storm that I had ever witnessed and the roads were treacherous. As we drove down the slick roads of Route 13, we noticed icicles forming on tree branches. Nothing was going to stop us from making this trip. We couldn't get to Wilmington fast enough; it was a gloomy drive.
After arriving at the second hospital, it didn't take the physicians long to convey that the prognosis was poor. They said that she had been without oxygen for so long that even if she did live she would be severely brain damaged. They really didn't think that she would live through the night. Da-Niece's father and I prayed and cried together. I felt so bad for him; he loved his daughter so much. Darnell was in total shock; he didn't cry often, but this was overwhelming and had pushed him to his limit. He was crushed. Prayer and faith were all we had to hang on to.
For the first few days, my daughter was slowly transforming. She looked different. Her face was swollen, her bones were broken, her eyes were closed, and she was not responsive. The change was so painful to witness. As I look back, I remember bargaining with God. If He would heal her, I would do whatever I needed to do to be a better Christian. Days became weeks, weeks turned into months. Our lives had changed—and would never be the same again.
At some point in her stay in the hospital, I got a visit from a family from an area near my hometown. A middle-aged gentleman, his wife, and his children came to my hotel room. I looked at them closely because they didn't look familiar. The man came over to me and introduced himself. He had been at the scene of the accident and wanted to share some of the things that he had seen.
I was totally shocked because I didn't recollect seeing him. He told me that he had written an article for a Christian magazine and he wanted me to read it and give him permission to submit it. He told me about Jackie and Teresa and began to share information about the angels that were present. He seemed so sincere and concerned. Wow, this man and his family drove approximately three hours to see my daughter and me—two people that he really didn't know.
This incident had really affected him. I took the article and told him that I would get back to him after reading it. I didn't read the article for a few days. The title of it was "A Lamb is Hurt." After reading his words, I immediately started crying hysterically. I am crying now as I am typing; it's too vivid and real in my mind.
Oh my God, this stranger was really at the scene of the accident. This stranger has captured the whole incident in written form. I had to put the article away. It was too real, emotional, raw, and honest. Was I prepared to read something like this? I didn't pick the article up for at least two weeks. It was so painful I had to read a little at a time. It took me a month to complete the two-page article. Whenever I read the article, I wept. The Bible says, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:12).
I Just Can't Believe It. This Is Unreal!
Approximately six months after the accident, we were transferred from Christiana Hospital to A.I. DuPont Hospital. Da-Niece was still not doing well, but her vitals had become fairly stable. One day I received a phone call from my father telling me to come home immediately because he needed to talk to me about something that had transpired. I thought, He knows that I can't leave the hospital. Can't this wait?
I said, "Daddy, I am too busy with Da-Niece, and I really don't want to leave her."
To say the least, my dad is an assertive man, and he insisted that I come home. I packed and told my cousin that I would be back. My grandmother and I had been staying with my cousin Wardell and his wife. I noticed that everyone was looking at me so sadly, and my cousin's wife's eyes were red from crying. I asked her if she was okay and she said, "Yes."
I had a weird feeling come over me. As I walked toward the door, I noticed that everyone in the house was staring at me with despair—as if they knew something that I didn't. I jumped in my car and headed for Seaford. As I was driving, I pondered what was going on. Why was my dad so insistent upon me coming home to talk? After all, he wasn't a big talker. This was strange. As I crossed the bridge, I began to get a funny feeling about what my father wanted to discuss. My mom and I spoke frequently, and she wouldn't keep anything from me.
I began to get an uneasy feeling about what I was going to hear. I didn't like the feeling. When I finally got to Seaford, I went directly to my house. I checked my messages; to my surprise, I had over fifty messages. Some said that they were worried about me; others said that they were sorry to hear the news. My daughter's grandmother on her father's side said that I needed to call her immediately. She called me several times. Mom-mom Lores and I spoke a lot, but something was different about this conversation. My intuition told me that something had happened to Da-Niece's father. Da-Niece's father and I had been in a relationship for nine years. I was seventeen when I started dating him, and we had dated off and on until I was twenty-five. I hadn't confirmed this feeling, but I knew that whatever had happened involved him.
Excerpted from You Can Choose to Be Happy by Melanie Thomas-Price Copyright © 2011 by Melanie Thomas-Price. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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