The Pursuit of HappYness

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The Pursuit of HappYness


I's spelled Happ I ness... I should know. I was once the 7th best speller in Collin County, Texas. I dreamed of some day being a National Spelling Bee winner. That never happened, but I did win over the entire middle school body 7th and 8th grades two years in a row. I also won a poetry contest...and did well in an essay contest.

All the while, our home life was difficult. Little funds...abusive father...terrible self-esteem..orphanage homes...foster homes..... small income...

But..I had a dream....

My dream...the one thing I had, that kept me sane..through life in an orphanage home...(I remember it like it was yesterday).. inspite of a father, who, instead of protecting us little girls, was our worst enemy, was that I had a Heavenly Father who loved me....and I knew I could do WELL...very well..IF I set my mind to it. And I did! I knew I could 'rise above my circumstances' with God's help..

This is what the movie, Pursuit of Happyness' is all about.

By the grace of God, at the tender age of seven years old, I BELIEVED...
  • that there was a God
  • that I was a sinner (how well I knew that at age seven--I won't fill you in on the details)
  • that Jesus loved me (this I know)
  • that right was right and wrong was wrong.
  • that his WORD was true regardless of my feelings 

God, in his infinite grace, and foreknowledge, chose to rescue me...
 He chose to fill me with FAITH.. when I had  no earthly reason to believe in Him.
  • He gifted me with many talents and a strong desire to achieve.
  • He bestowed on me a love for others and a tender heart for those who were wounded.
  • He saved me by his unremitting and unconditional love and the sacrifice of HIS life for mine.
  • He gave me the courage to stand up to those in authority if they asked me to compromise and tell them WHO I was in Christ and WHAT I believed.
  • And He gave me a wonderful step-mother to be my permanent cheerleader in the 'race of life.  
  • (And a dear grandmother and relatives who have always loved us and whose hearts have been filled with compassion for us and our plight.)

At the age of seven??   Can you even begin to imagine that a child of seven must be able to do all of that? This was who I was. Alone..yet not alone.  Jesus was so near me..and I knew that..without a doubt!

The power of God's grace and love is beyond comprehension. My life is a testimony of that fact.  He gave all of that to me.  I witnessed to Catholic nuns at the age of seven...and defended my protestant faith in a Catholic orphanage home.

Are Catholic nuns bad? Hardly....  I'm not the judge, nor do I wish to be..of any one of traditional biblical faith. I believe God's word...100% and do my feeble best to obey it in everything.  That is my faith. Pure..and simple. But from my childish perspective, I was called to defend my faith (denomination-ally speaking) so I did.

So why do I mention a movie entitled  the Pursuit of Happyness?  It is a movie, in which Will Smith portrays a single father who wants to do things differently.  He wants to make sure his son grows up knowing his father, unlike Will..who met his father at the age of 28.And he doesn't just want to survive. He wants to pursue the 'American Dream'. He was always 'gifted' or smart..from an early age, and he knows that, given the chance, he could succeed..and do something better than just bare survival. He too...'had a dream'.

The first time I watched it, I must say I cried..all the way through. Never had I watched a movie (based on a true story)..that so related to my own.   Being 'poor' has been a way of life through most of my growing up years. But I wanted my future to be different..and I knew I had the 'wherewithal' to change my destiny.

First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. Proverbs 30:8  NLT 2007

Funny, looking more closely at our marriage,  Dear Hubby's family was NOT poor...and there was quite a gap between his life experience and mine. I had to learn to 'think rich'.  Don't by the cheapest your pennies and buy quality. Invest in the future.  Such a foreign concept!

But what I taught Tim was ~ forget the label..jump on the clearance rack...use the thrift shops.--they are your best friend when striving to make ends meet.. Life is more important than appearances or brand label.

Both of our families treasured 'experiences' over status.

What we ended up with was quality of a relatively low cost without being spendthrifts.  We've had the most wonderful 24 years I can imagine any couple having, in many ways. Every day I thank God that we had less than we really needed to make ends meet. It taught us to cry out to God for what we needed... to EXPECT answers to prayer...and to treasure things of REAL value..rather than things that wouldn't last.

We had so very little money. When we first married, I literally COUNTED the slices of meat in a packet of lunch meat to make sure it lasted the whole week for Tim's lunches at college.  We measured a can of spinach (three servings per can) and never wasted one serving.

We bagged up our bag of chips into tiny baggies to make sure we only ate one serving per meal. And we were so happy!  Tim graduated with flying colors. I was so proud of him that day. :o) And he knew it was as much MY accomplishment as HIS. We were in this thing TOGETHER.

  All of this, so I could stay at home and raise our first child (actually MY first child--I was five months pregnant when I met Tim)  ...rather than both of us work.  Tim wanted me to stay at home and invest my talents, heart, and energy into loving and raising our son (whom he adopted seven days after 'our' first son's birth--Thank you Grandma Brune for the money for adoption fees!).

Why? Because for us at least..relationship was more important...than money..or clothes..or shoes. We cared about Matthew's soul more than our personal comfort.

The movie, "Pursuit of Happyness" with Will Smith as the star, is the absolutely most perfect movie about "Man against Economics' that I have ever seen.  Want to see a Father's perfect love for his son? Want to see a Father who anguishes over the disappointments of life and yet keeps going?  Want to see a poor man strive for the 'American Dream' against all odds and win while treasuring the lives of those he loves? 

This is MY movie.

And I wonder how many other men and women can relate?  We don't look at the world through the average person's glasses.  We don't take lunch money, and a new dress for granted- because for us..they are hard earned privileges--Miracles..really.

One of the reasons that Jeff Yeager interviewed our family for his book, "The Ultimate Cheapskate Next Door" was because we had chosen quality of life over money.


Is there anything wrong with luxury, ease, and a steady paycheck? Hardly...  But you can't trade it for the character building element of having to live without...or to live within a budget...or to learn to value things that have no monetary value.  We wanted to LIVE and money would truly and honestly... only get in the way.

Of course, as Reptevia said, "If money is the world's curse...Please strike me Dead Lord,...and may I never recover!"  In no way am I down playing the liberating blessing of plenty of income.  How I'd love to be able to say that of our home! But the Lord has seen fit to give us 'enough' rather than more than enough. So be it. We are content.

But as the bible says...
The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, 
and he adds no trouble to it.NIV(©1984)

Perhaps, one day, like Will, we will hit it big..and won't have to 'pinch' for money. But like so many of you, right now...we have to work hard and be very creative to 'make ends meet'.

In many ways, that is what Comin' Home is all about...choosing quality of LIFE over appearances..even though it means less ease or income.  Like Jeff Yeager..we've decided to take  a different path

Have you ever want to 'chuck it all' and pursue some dream regardless of the financial sacrifices?  What is more important to you than money?  Have you ever seen the 'Pursuit of Happyness?" What did you think?


Kerrie said...

WOW! This is a very powerful post Donna! Brought back a lot of memories to me, too. Being poor taught me a lot growing up and I was determined, too. Some of my dreams I realized, but richness wasn't one of them. So we, too, do with what we have--we have the Lord! Blessings and hugs, Kerrie

Donna said...

Kerrie, I'm glad you liked this. Funny..for years people really could do well pretty easily. But with the economy the way it has been the last few years, I think people are rediscovering that their are better goals than just the pursuit of money. It's not a goal in itself..but more of a means to an end.

I was pretty sure you would understand this idea. You are so crafty and you value relationships. I can tell that on your blogs. :o)


Needled Mom said...

I will have to recommend this movie to my DIL who grew up in a life very similar to yours. It is always heartwarming to read such success stories.

Caroline said...

Donna, thank you so much for sharing so much of you with us. There is such a gap between hubby and I too - he was raised fairly wealthy in a good home, mine - not so much. So much difference of how we view things, family life, how to raise children ... Though I never had to live in an orphanage ...

I'm wondering where you lived in Collin County. WE lived there six years (right up on the edge in Van Alstyne) and I taught school in anna. LAter I taught at Collin County CC.

Unknown said...

I loved that movie too Donna, for similar reasons.

Something I wrestle with now, that God has blessed us with plenty, is how do I instill in my children, the values that I was blessed with through my childhood of poverty? Any ideas?

You know us, we aren't overly indulgent, but we do so much for my kids that I never even knew existed growing up....I didn't even know to want such things, lol.

GlorV1 said...

Hi Donna. Great post and so much about life. I haven't seen the movie, but now I want to . Is it a new movie? Can it be rented or is it on DVD. Wait, wait and wait. You don't have to answer that, I'll go look it up. Tee hee. I'm so happy for you and all your years of happiness with your husband and children, because that is really what it's all about. We musn't dwell in the past, as it makes life harder. Glad you have overcome. ::hugs::

Donna said...

Tee-hee's on Netflix and I'm sure at Blockbuster. I actually rented from Redbox for $1.00. :o)

Christi..great idea for another post! Although I may have to ask readers for ideas considering that, as of yet, it's not a problem I've had to deal with. I do have a lot of ideas though.

Very often, in financial books, you will read about wealthy people who were very careful about giving their children money. They basically restricted their 'children's budget'...and tied work to the reward. If you, as a family with plenty of income, decide ahead of time what should be spent on each area of life, then you too can tell your children. Sorry..but the toy budget envelope is empty. Nothing else until next month..unless you want to work for it. Just the first thought off the top of my head. Rachelle and I talked about this on the way to Tres Dias once. Actually..I better stop because I have a lot to say..and will say it--NEXT week. LoL! (I have a friend (actually 2) who did it the wrong way--with pretty devastating consequences. Maids to pick up after the kids..bailing out kids..yep.. I think this is a great topic.

Caroline..I know..It's almost a culture gap worse than nationality issues. I'll be talking about this for Tuesday Tea. Thanks for the comment.

Needled Mom, I'm glad this might help. :o)


Debby said...

I haven't seen that movie but I will now.
Such words from the heart. So true and It really makes one think of what is important. I know so many people right now that have had to change their lives just to make it. I know, we did a few years back. You really do understand when you go through this. Thanks for a great post.

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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