Hi, I'm Danita Jones; I'm from Madison, Alabama, and I'm here to talk about the story I wrote for Guideposts, where a conversation with my mother led to an awesome understanding about how sometimes it's OK the way life plays certain things out.
The best advice my mom ever gave me actually was through an example. I was in her classroom when I was younger; she was a school teacher. And something had not gone my way. I don't even remember what it was.
I was in high school at the time, and so I drove over to their school, my parents' school where they taught. And I was explaining to her how I couldn't understand how something wasn't coming together like I thought it would, and how this was happening on this side, and something was happening—and I was just ranting, you know, as a teenager would.
And so my mother was sitting there, and she was listening and she kind of sat back. And at one point, she took out this piece of paper and put it on her desk, and it was a dot-to-dot. She was a third-grade teacher, so she probably had like, you know, a lifetime supply of those. And she put it on the desk.
And she said to me, "What is that?" And she wanted to know, you know, "What is the picture of?" And I was, like, "I don't know. The dots are all over the place, and I don't understand what the picture is."
And she said OK, and then she handed me a pencil and she made me do the dot-to-dot in front of her. So I'm doing the dot-to-dot, and finally I complete it. And I think it was a fish.
And then I sat back and she's, like, "OK, what is it a picture of?" I was, like, "Oh, it's a fish." And she was, like, "Exactly.' She said, "This is how God works in our lives." She said, "Sometimes things will seem all over the place." She said, "Something will happen last year and something will happen this year. And there seems to be no order. There seems to be chaos to it."
She said, "But once the dots start connecting, you'll recognize that the things that happened before are completely connected to the things that happen later, so that ultimately the picture that you get is something that God wants you to have." And she said, "So do you know what part of this whole process you are?" And I was just, like, "Oh, we're the picture." She's, like, "No, you're the pencil."
And she said, "We will never really truly understand until we get done while we're connecting those dots. But by the time the end comes, you have this beautiful portrait of something. And you're able to sit back and go, 'Oh my goodness, all of that was worth it. What happened last year or two years ago was worth it by the time you get to the ending picture and what you were able to see.'" And that was the advice I carry with me to this day.
I remember sitting on my mother's chair in the living room and watching my father play with my twins, who at the time were two, and they were having a ball. He was he was throwing them on one side, and they would run at him and tackle him to the ground and he's rolling all over the den floor and he's letting out this huge laugh. And I was sitting, and it was making me chuckle.
And I recognized at that moment—I was just, like, This is why we're here. And then my mother's illustration of the dot-to-dot, it kind of—you know, it's cliché to say it hit you like a ton of bricks. It really did hit me like a ton of bricks. And I was like, Oh, this is what she was talking about. So all of these tiny little failures that I thought we were experiencing as a family was really just these dots connecting to where we were supposed to be.
Had my water not broken early, we wouldn't have been in the city. We wouldn't have been able to spend the last year of her life with her. I wouldn't have been in place to be able to help the way I did with the funeral. I mean, everything just kind of started coming together. And I recognize that it was this giant picture and I was this pencil that was being led from dot to dot to dot. And that is what helped me really, truly cope with her death was understanding that in the grand scheme of things, God understood and knew what needed to happen just for later on in my life when I could cherish the fact that I was able to spend time with her, that she was able to spend time with her grandchildren, that my father was able to get through his grief with the aid of just being a grandpa, and being able to play and laugh and have that joy.
And that is when I was just like, That's it, like, that's exactly what she was talking about. And that definitely just eased all of the stress and the tension, and just made me go, "OK, I get it, God."
The Challenger families did not want the disaster to be the end of the crew’s mission. In August 1988 they unveiled the Challenger Learning Center in Houston—a place where students can climb aboard a child-sized space station and fly a simulated mission.