Hello Beautiful People,
Well a new post has been a long time coming, I really wish I didn’t have to take the Blog down temporarily and stop sharing the insights that have been put on the path illuminated in front of me. I very much look forward to posting about “The Best 5 Days of My Life” and publicly sharing the incredible story of what happened to me in early February that caused the little hitch in my giddy-up! Until that time I’d like to begin continuing to share some amazing stories, insights and principles that I believe can add immense value to your life if you are willing to give them a try.
Let us begin today’s lesson; “The Secret to Happiness” by focusing for a second on one simple word: GRATITUDE. Wikipedia defines Gratitude as thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation or a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. I believe that if you have the ability to read these words, you have one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive and something to be incredibly grateful for. If you woke up this morning, opened your eyes, sat up in bed and stood up and stretched you did several things that many people of the world would give anything to be able to do and you should be grateful. If you have a heart beating in your chest, and lungs breathing in air….YOU ARE ALIVE and you have been given the greatest gift of all….LIFE….now that is something to be grateful for.
Now everybody and everyone teaches about starting with Gratitude, this is nothing new and I’ll be the first to admit that. Here’s the part of this lesson that I hope you find unique and helpful. How do you stay grateful despite all circumstance? Especially when we consider those circumstances to be “bad”, “negative” or even “hopeless”? Well I’d like to share with you some very personal stories of a couple of very good friends of mine Cody and Ciara Ashby, in hopes of helping to teach you what I believe is the “Secret to Happiness”…..
My life growing up seemed to be surrounded by death and no hope. My earliest childhood memory was one nobody should ever have to live out. I was five years old my mom was working two jobs to support our family as my dad could not work because of a trucking accident crushing almost every single bone in his back which ended up leading to 7 surgeries in less than 2 years. My mom was at her second job waiting tables and it was a Friday night my dad had made his every Friday night dinner of beanie weenies with macaroni and cheese for my brother who was in high school at the time. After dinner my brother and I were in my bedroom playing Candy-land when the phone rang about nine o’clock and it sounded like our dad was laughing so we ran into the living asking, “dad what’s so funny?” I remember him sitting as we ran in with tears in his eyes telling us our brother had just been killed in a train accident. That was the first time I had ever seen my hero crying. The next thing I remember was my mom pulling in the driveway with my dad screaming punching holes in the wooden fence and people trying to control him. I don’t remember much about the funeral itself though. With my mom having to work two jobs to support us our relationship really was not there and I was pretty much raised by my dad who I still day look up to and strive to be like.
As I got older I felt like I was truly a black angel of death by the time I was about 23 I had been to close to 24 funerals. I had buried all of my grandparents, an aunt, an uncle and several other very close family friends. The one loss that truly affected more than any other probably even over losing my brother because of how young I was and not understanding what happened and what losing him meant, was the sudden loss of my best friend and childhood sweetheart Delilah. She was killed when she was only 17 and going into our senior year in high school. She was on a street-bike that was going 130 mph when they hit a Jeep head on causing the driver of the motorcycle to be cut into four pieces and Delilah to be catapulted over 70 yards landing under a barbwire fence having broke almost every bone in her body. I will never forget the news when I found out she was gone I was working at Just For Feet when a friend of ours walked up to me saying he needed to talk to me with that look in his eyes of fear as to how I would react knowing that she was gone. He pulled me into the back and said, “Cody, Delilah died last night.” I then said Kyle that’s not funny why would you say something like that almost in a rage as if it was a cruel joke. He started crying and I realized this was not a prank. I ran outside and the only thing I could think about was calling my parents who loved Delilah so much. Not to mention my dad had just gotten out of the hospital after just having a major heart-attack that almost took his life also. In one month alone I almost lost two of the closest people in my life. One thing I remember my mom telling me growing up was never forget to say, “I love you” cause you never know if you will get another chance. About one month prior to Delilah’s accident I saw her at some street races and didn’t even say, “hi” because my girlfriend at the time was a very jealous person and I wanted to avoid a fight. Even though no words were spoken we made eye contact and we both smiled in our own way saying hi. I will never forgive myself for not even saying hi to one of my closest friends ever. I went straight to Delilah’s parents house where her dad was standing outside unable to say anything but Penny’s inside ( Delilah’s mother) As she came around the corner she dropped to her knees saying, “oh Cody I’m so glad you know.” Her parents asked me later on to be a Paul Bearer in her funeral it was an honor as I was the only non family member at her side. That funeral seemed to be the longest few hours of my life. I remember as we closed the door on the hearse I broke down knowing that piece of my life was over. At this point in my life I questioned God and if he even existed I would almost go as far as calling myself an atheist saying who’s God would put me through this. At this point in my life I was a lost soul with no direction.
6 years later I had another event that would change my life forever I was working at a server at Applebee’s when on a Friday night the most beautiful amazing girl came into eat. Even better yet she was at my table; there was 6 of them total 3 guys and 3 girls I assumed they were all couples but I didn’t care. She was different and the worst that could happen was she could tell me this is my boyfriend. I spent the next hour deciding what to do, should I let her leave and never know or take a chance at rejection. I decided I couldn’t live with a “what if” in my life. Good news though that he was not her boyfriend and we ended up being married 3 years later.
Life seemed like it was going as planned we had a beautiful son named Gunner who was born in 2011 I had a good job in real estate working for one of the top builders in the city. Then in July of 2012 our lives took another unexpected turn for the worse the housing market was slowing down I was not making money in real estate and at times didn’t really even know where our next meal was coming from. I was sitting in my car talking to Ciara on the phone just crying saying I’m so tired of living like this and it seems like praying does nothing so why bother. Ciara became really upset and started crying and screaming Cody at least we have our health. The very next morning Ciara and I were at a memorial service I was holding Gunner in my left arm with Ciara also to my left service had just started when I heard this awful sound thinking it was Gunner pulling her hair I was ready to smack his hand only to look over and see Ciara the love of my life purple, eyes rolled back into her head moaning and shaking uncontrollably. Never having seen anything like this I was scared and was not sure what was happening was I watching my wife die right in front of me. As she was in the middle of her grand mal seizure people started praying when someone said she’s not breathing I was so close to screaming “there is no God stop there is nothing you can do!” When I said to myself “okay God prove you’re real, prove yourself.” No more than one second after saying that they said she’s breathing again. What a relief God had just answered a prayer. The biggest blessing was had we not been at the funeral service Ciara would have been home alone with our 10 month old son alone. God works in mysterious ways sometimes. After Ciara was rushed to the hospital they thought the seizure was caused because of medication reaction. At this point we thought okay that was a freak accident and would never happen again. Wow how we were so wrong. In September Ciara had just dropped Gunner off at her parents house to run some errands when as she pulled out of their driveway and started to accelerate she started having another seizure causing her to crash into a block wall causing damage to the car. Ciara’s mom called me screaming me saying Ciara just had another seizure I thought here we go again how could this be happening. Come January Ciara had 4 more seizures with no explanation as to what was causing them. They had run every test imaginable with no answers leaving us with over $100,000 in medical bills with no means to pay them. Real estate was still slow and then things seemed to be getting better after checking our mail I received a check of $2,400 from a previous job that had been in a class action lawsuit for several years to be honest I didn’t even remember the suit. We got the check and the banker in my wife was so scared it was a scam and in truth so was I. Turned out to be a good check could our money problems be over? Nope God had bigger plans for that money a few days later I saw post on Facebook where a friend of mine posted something that made me sick. One of his Facebook friends from high school just lost their 4 day old son because of medical complications. I told Ciara about the situation and our money issue seemed to be so small compared to a couple who just lost their first and only child. I prayed and prayed knowing that we needed to do something for this family. I just asked God what can I do and he placed on my heart to give them $1,500 I thought I must be losing my mind how could God knowing my own struggles of losing our house having already lost one car, and now he wants me to give away $1,500 I was terrified to tell Ciara afraid she would tell me I’ve lost my mind. I kept saying God there is no way I can give this much money to a person I have never even met when I could barely put food on my own table. I remember God saying Cody when are you gonna learn to trust me and know that I will provide for you if you follow my wishes. I took the biggest leap of faith ever and gave $1,500 cash to a complete stranger.
Then real estate turned around for the better I was selling more than any other agent for our company I was able to tithe for the first time in my life weekly and it be the full 10%. I thought alright life is turning around money is starting to roll in maybe we can start to get back on our feet and life would work out. At this point I had about $40k in commissions coming and a $10k bonus for performance coming my way or so I thought. It was a Sunday Ciara had been sick all night Saturday and couldn’t watch Gunner and with her not being able to be alone in general I had to take her to her parents and then drop Gunner off with my mom who wouldn’t get out of church until noon. I was supposed to be to work at noon so I ended up arriving about 40 minutes late to work.The ironic thing is the reason I got caught was because I saw one of the owners driving and I knew I was in trouble. I ended up selling a home which would have been number 17 of 24 for my $10k performance bonus. At the end of the day as I was locking up the owner was waiting for me with a single piece of paper that made me wanting to vomit. It was termination papers. So here I am now without a job, a sick wife with no answers as to what’s wrong and an almost 2-year-old son. What was I gonna do? I guess God had other plans for me and my family. I was scared to call Ciara afraid she would stress our and end up having another seizure. I called a mentor of mine just bawling my eyes out saying I was so scared what was I gonna do I had tons of bills and again no money. I promised my mentor I would pull over and just pray out loud and ask for guidance and thank him for another test in my life which I thought was a joke. How could I thank God for testing me by me losing my job and losing a ton of money. I kept my promise though. When I finally told Ciara she of course broke down in anger and fear also. Yet she assured me that God would provide for us. I began to believe her and give all my worries back to God. The next day I went to the office about to beg for my job back and they again said I still was without a job. I made 2 phone calls that morning and had a job offer by the end of the day. I was asked am I happy about my new job and yes I was yet I still felt let down and numb to the fact that the company I was so loyal to and thought I was considered a family member and to just leave me high and dry. At the end of the day I could have bad mouthed them and say what horrible people they are and I hope they don’t make any money. But what good would that do it would not get me my job back nor get me the commissions I had coming so I decided to just lick my wounds and move on with my life.
Even going through this emotional roller coaster of crazy events that God has given me, in some way I have never been closer to God in my entire life. Recently talking with a mentor of mine he told me “if he brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it”, which is truly what I believe. As I have become so much closer to God over the last year even though I have never had my faith tested so much, I have just learned to smile and realize that the enemy has just been trying to ruin my relationship with God which I will not allow. I heard a song one day that hit right on the head and the chorus was “there is a blessing on the other side.” So even in my darkest days when I feel there is no hope I know this is all in God’s plan and it will all work itself out and there are much brighter days ahead of me.
Earlier on in my life I was forced to grow up at a young age. Unfortunately I had a parent that had a substance abuse problem. Luckily I had supportive Grandparents who tried to keep me as sheltered as possible, but all along I knew what was going on. My Grandmother was my hero and my ultimate role model. They started taking me to church when I was first-born, so I grew up with a strong christian background which really taught me to have faith and trust in God. I was always told by my grandparents that if I prayed and had faith that God would take care of me, all I needed was faith the size of a mustard seed. I have always been a pretty positive person because I knew that I could always count on Gods plan for my life.
I’ll go ahead and fast forward my life to about 7 years ago. My mother was admitted to the hospital for an overdose which was not the first time that this had happened. The doctors prognosis was that she did not have long to live and that her body was just beginning to shut down. I remember being in the hospital by her bed every second just praying and believing that God was going to heal her and completely heal my mom of her addiction. Miraculously my mom started to gain consciousness. The doctors were blown away that my mother was still alive let alone gaining consciousness. This was just an example of the trials that I had to endure in my life. My mother was healed and from that day till current my mother has been clean and sober.
My life was beginning to turn around. I had been praying for a man to come into my life for a long time. I was 19 years old and had 2 boyfriends who were both negative in my life. When I totally just said to myself, “I’m not gonna even worry about it anymore”, God put Cody who is now my husband in my life. This totally changed my life, his family took me in right away and we were engaged at only 6 months of seeing each other. We had a fairly long engagement of 2 years. Before I knew it the wedding was getting closer and closer. My Nana which was my mothers mom had fallen ill and the night of my bachelorette party had taken a turn for the worse. My Nana unfortunately lost her battle with numerous illnesses and passed away 8 days before my wedding. Here we were getting the final arrangements for the wedding while also having to plan a funeral. Her funeral took place 3 days before my wedding. This was devastating to my whole family. Even though our wedding was beautiful we were still mourning the loss of my Nana. I had so many emotions going on all at once. I had cried so many tears that I could not even shed a tear of happiness at my own wedding and it was the happiest moments I’ve ever had.
One year later we were having a huge private business reception at our house with one of the top executives from California. This was his first trip to Albuquerque so needless to say this was huge for us. My Granny and Grandpa who I mentioned earlier in my story were at our house to support us in our business adventure. They were pretty much the only family that backed us 100% with our business. That night was the last night I saw my Granny, 2 days after our business reception we were at a hotel for an ACN training when we got a call that would change our lives forever. My grandpa said granny was sick and we needed to get to the hospital. We immediately rushed down to the hospital when we saw my grandpa he had said granny was having some vision problems so he took her to the emergency room nobody thought it would be so serious. By the time we got to the hospital she had went into a coma. The doctors showed us a scan of her head and her brain was bleeding and had covered almost every inch of it. The doctors told us it was just a matter of time before she passed, I was at the hospital everyday and sometime even stayed the night as I didn’t want to leave her side. I could not believe she was just at my house and looked so good then just gone it made no sense. This was a huge test of my faith, why would God take my rock, my best friend , and my role model? I began to doubt God luckily we had so many people whose love and support surrounded us and it brought light into a dark situation. Even us knowing that she was in a better place we still were left wondering why.
Almost exactly one year later I became pregnant with our son Gunner. Gunner was born on September 4th, 2011 he had some difficulty breathing and was taken into the NICU for a week so they could monitor his breathing and trying to get his glucose levels to stabilize. After that week of being in the NICU we finally got to take our son home it was such a surreal feeling.
When Gunner was just six months old I had a grand mal seizure this was out of nowhere I had never had any health problems in my life. After a few more seizures one where I was driving I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. I felt like my freedom was taken away I could no longer drive or even be alone with my son in case something were to happen. I could not describe how inadequate I felt. I saw numerous doctors about why I was having seizures and there were no answers which became frustrating. Finally I ended up at a pain doctor because I was in excruciating pain all the time and no feeling in my feet at times. After all this time we started getting answers as to some of my health problems first I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and then later was told I had an auto immune disease called Shogrens. Shogrens attacks your saliva glands and over a long enough time frame will increase your risk of cancer and in some cases cause you to go blind. Even though these were hard things to take in I was at least finally getting answers. I continue to struggle every day wondering why God why. Luckily I have my husband who is so supportive and reassuring that everything will be okay even with all his support I still found myself very depressed.
Everyday I continue to pray that God will give me strength and heal my body of all of this sickness. Some people might say there is no way one person could do such a thing and I would tell them he has done it before numerous times for numerous people so I continue to pray. At the end of the day I know God has his plan for my life and it’s up to me to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Well folks I hope that you have gotten the powerful messages in their stories and I also hope that reading of some of the incredible hardships this amazing couple has gone through will help you put your situation in perspective. How easily we can find ourselves griping and complaining over such petty and meaningless stuff when there are people in the world with problems such greater than our own. Weren’t you inspired by Cody’s story of giving money to help a complete stranger despite his own families challenges? Cody and Ciara Ashby are two of the most incredible people I have ever had the good fortune to meet in my life. I have known them for years and up until recently I had no idea of the trials and tribulations they had been going through in their life. When you meet them they radiate joy and happiness and you can see what great loving people they are.
I ask that you help me in praying for Cody and Ciara and their family. Pray that they find the answers to their questions of why they have been through all they have been through, and that their health is restored in full radiance and vitality and that their life is blessed with abundance in every way.
Trust in God and have faith that all things happen for a reason. Realize that it is always the darkest just before the dawn. Always focus on what you have not on what you don’t have. We can always find something to be grateful for. Most importantly learn to PRAISE GOD IN ALL THINGS. If you are still alive, you are alive for a reason and a purpose. Instead of asking God “Why is this happening to me?”, try asking God “What are you preparing me for and what should I be learning from this?” Remember that if God led you to it, he will lead you through it.
So to wrap up this post, I would like to share an original piece of poetry I wrote to help further express what I believe is the Secret to Happiness – Being Grateful and Thankful in all things and all circumstances of your life, especially when they are things we tend to label as “bad” and do not understand.
IN ALL THINGS – By Jason Herrington
God fill me with your power, God fill me with your Grace.
I feel heavens light shining, right Down upon my face.
I’m going to keep reaching higher, shouting the loudest praise.
Being grateful for your mercy, and amazed by the beauty of your days.
I love everything about you, I love the highs and the lows.
I’m so thankful for your voice inside my heart, That always tells me which way to go.
Your love is as endless as the ocean, It is so deep and so wide.
You’ve lit a fire within me, And it burns from deep inside.
I will always love you, and I will praise you for all things,
Even things I don’t understand, and all the pain they bring.
I will do this for a reason, I will sing it With this song.
It’s because you are leading me into a life eternally long.
I know the challenges you put me through, they serve me in some way.
They prepare me for a bigger task, and lead to a brighter day.
Until you will allow me, to share in the endless beauty of your light,
I will just enjoy the ride and I will fight the fight.
I will destroy the fears and doubts, I will serve and I will not rest
Because I know you can’t have a testimony, until you’ve had a test.
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