Browsing Tag

Then Came a Miracle

Happy Day Moment Echoes: 6.14

Never shy away from telling others the story of YOU. We are all important and we all have a story that can touch and inspire and build up and encourage and brighten and comfort and strengthen others.

Recently I had an opportunity to share some of my story when Stephen Terrell interviewed me for his radio program. Sharing what God has done for me. Sharing how I’m blessed.  So now I’m sharing the podcast with you.

You can also read more of the story here.

Then Came a Miracle1

Along the way in the story of me, I’ve been sharing some of my thoughts on my Happy Day Moment Facebook Page. These are the Echoes for June.

  • It’s never a bad idea to be nice to people.
  • It’s time to stop putting unrealistic pressures on ourselves. It’s time to relax, love ourselves, and refuel.
  • Lingering on past regrets robs us of joy and the chance to move forward.
  • Do your best to love and forgive others. We’re all flawed. Look for the good.
  • Live out compassion. Live out kindness, rather than just talking about it.
  • Shift your attitude from “how can I gain” to “how can I give.” Look for ways to help others.
  • Look for strength in others. You gain nothing by criticizing their imperfections.
  • Let us aim to please God’s heart, even though it may not please others.
  • It’s okay to disagree, but for crying out loud, no need to be mean about it.
  • It’s easy to be cynical, it’s brave to be grateful.
  • Do not shrink to less when others criticize you, but keep blooming!
  • Even though your desire is to fix it, to get it done now, waiting may be the wisest plan.
  • If you say you love others, but it never shows up in word and deed, then you’re kidding yourself.
  • Don’t say stuff that would hurt another person. Instead, speak what is good and helpful and gives grace.
  • Gratitude is available always, and it’s clearly a recipe for success.
  • Follow these things: faith, love, patience, humility.
  • When we remember gratitude is the doorway to hope, we can usually find the strength to take one small step that will more us to better and easier times.
  • To live with more peace, you need to forgive people quickly.
  • Life is just better when you’re smiling.
  • Let grace keep reaching out, reaching for others, reaching straight across boundaries and walls and barriers.
  • Don’t change who you are in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. You are worthwhile. You matter.
  • Those challenges? Those interruptions? Learn to receive them with grace.
  • Give love. No matter our health, our problems, our circumstances. We must just try to give.
  • Reading is not wasting time. It’s not being lazy. It’s tending your soul.
  • You’re doing it right when you could cry and complain, but instead you smile and appreciate your life.
  • Equanimity and gratitude allow us to live in joy each and every moment.
  • Good things and hard things usually co-exist. Work at noticing the good and instead of fixating on the bad.
  • We’re all afraid of something, but we don’t have to let fear stop us from moving forward.
  • Don’t let anyone else affect your self-esteem. You have value.
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A Workshop, A Manuscript, A Book

Or Why Attending a Writers Conference Can Help Your Career….

Or How I Became One of the First MWW Success Stories ….

I never pitched an agent. I never wrote a proposal. I never wrote a query. I never mailed the manuscript to the publisher. I never submitted any sample writing, any biography, any synopsis.

I never followed the professional protocols for turning a manuscript into a book.

And yet, one day I received a phone call from an editor at Fleming H. Revell publishers. An editor I had never met. A publishing house I had never submitted to.

“I love the first chapter and the chapter The Date, and we want to publish your manuscript,” he said.*

What? My manuscript? My untitled manuscript?

Not your typical path to publication.

But a pathway made possible because of my trips through Midwest Writers Workshop.

It was 1976 and I was a 20-year-old college student with a desire to write and an idea for a book, an English major at Ball State University. That summer, an (accidental?) bumping into a friend-of-a-friend, a casual conversation about writing, a mention of a writers’ conference (in my very city, at my very university), a leap of faith, a saying “yes” to a new adventure, all led to me sitting in a classroom in Ball State’s Carmichael Hall, listening to author and humorist Tom Mullen talk about writing for the inspirational marketplace.

I had found a mentor.

Life-changing. That’s what Midwest Writers was.

That class, that creative environment, that support and encouragement from faculty and committee and participants was like water and sunlight and nourishment. It made me grow.

I was hooked on the importance of a writers’ conference, the value of Midwest Writers Workshop.  For the next few years, I registered and signed up for classes in nonfiction and poetry. I learned to be a better writer, listening, asking questions, taking notes. I kept growing.

I found writer-friends. And become part of the MWW community.

Then in 1979, the inspirational writing class I attended was taught by Floyd Thatcher, an editor with Word Publishing. He was friendly (just like Tom and all MWW faculty seemed to be!), offered keen advice on tightening my writing, and believed in my story.

Very rough first draft, which went on and on and on for pages before the "story" (action) began.

Very rough first draft, which went on and on and on for pages before the “story” (action) began.

Eventually, after rewrites and rewrites, I summoned enough courage to mail my (unnamed) manuscript to him. When he called and said, “I was moved by your story, but it’s not quite what our company publishes,” I almost dropped the phone. Until I heard his next sentence. “But I hope you don’t mind, I mailed your manuscript to another editor I know.”  Then I did drop the phone.

A few weeks later, Victor Oliver, editor at Fleming H. Revell, called.

I had found an editor.

And I had found a publisher.

And I became not just a writer, but an author.

This path of mine to publication, this walkway was created with stone after stone.  Courage. Registering for the workshop. Courage. Asking for advice. Courage. Revising editing improving. Learning. Courage. Sending out my words. Courage and hope. My story.

Attending MWW was my right first step out of the sometimes secluded life of writing and into a community that was chock full of resources, connections, inspiration. And above all, friendships.

Then Came a Miracle1I could go on and on about the impact Midwest Writers had on me every year that I attended. After my book was published, I became a presenter, then a committee member, and then director. In some capacity, I’ve been part of MWW for 37 of its 40 years.  MWW is part of who I am. And I am grateful.

What will your Midwest Writers story be?

(In the spirit of Literary Citizenship, get the book, read the book, review the book.)

* This call came two weeks before I got married. It was a very good summer!




I’m Jama Kehoe Bigger, a wife, mother, grandmother who’s decided to spread the word about the importance of finding Happy Day Moments each and every day.

What started as a simple essay I was asked to write morphed into a Facebook project and is now a website. The idea of choosing to be grateful, to find a “moment” even in the worst day, that was happy, that was thankful.

My life and how it relates to discovering happy moments? Well, here’s just part of my story………..

I was 13 years old when I dove into a swimming pool and broke my neck, leaving me a diagnosed quadriplegic. The neurosurgeon told my parents that I would never roll over, stand, walk, or use my hands. Since I was from a very athletic family – my father was a football coach at Ball State University – and I was a junior high cheerleader and gymnast, this prognosis of never living a normal, active life was difficult and challenging. Challenging but not impossible. For there were some things I knew for sure, even at that young age – that God was on my side, that He still worked miracles, and that with Him, nothing was impossible. Through faith, lots of prayer and hard work, I didn’t stay in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down.

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photo by: Enokson

Happy Day Moments: The Story

Years ago, one morning just beyond daybreak, I was snug in my bed, blankets tucked under my chin, sleeping the sound, deep, dreamless, sleep that comes upon a mother of two toddlers. When, suddenly, my left eyelid was peeled back from my eyeball. “It’s a happy day!” announced my smiling, cheery, three-year-old son Johnny.

So, that’s how it all began.  From that day on, “It’s a happy day” often replaced the daily “Good morning” salutation in our family.

And that’s how it all started. That “happy day” business.

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