The Secret to Joy in Good Times and Bad

I’m about to tell you a great thing: The secret to joy in good times and bad!


God and U.S. Army ranger pace beads. I know you military types are ready for this. Even if that’s not your thing, stay with me.

What are these mystery military beads?

A counting tool for survival. The simplest version is a cord with a knot in the middle and at each end. There might be ten beads on one side and five on the other.

The beads move so you can count your paces. Move one of the ten beads for every pace. After you’ve walked ten paces, move one of the five beads. Repeat for a count of 50 paces.

With a map and a compass, the beads will tell you how far you’ve traveled and thus where you are on the map.

Now let’s do a fun survival exercise.

If you knew you’d be stranded on a deserted island with what you’re presently wearing, tell me the three items you’d take. Your answer reflects who you are at your core. I know mine does.

I’ve been asked this over the years and again at a meeting last week. The men all said a fishing pole, lighter, and water purification tablets. Practical. They were prepared for the long haul.

But I don’t like seafood. I’m also not a great planner. So, I answered a bit differently.

My three?

First yours. What would you take?

Email me: [email protected]. Just one “t” in Mathews. I‘ll be sorely disappointed if I don’t hear from you today.

My first two: a Bible and a well-stocked picnic basket. I heard the snickering in the back — but I’m not finished.

My third item?

A well-charged satellite phone. I’m calling the U.S. Navy, God bless them!

While they dispatch a carrier just for me, I have my survival beads. No, that’s not a fourth item. Remember, you’re stranded with what you’re wearing. My beads happen to be on me!

RedVex Ranger Pace Counter Bead Bracelet.”  Less than ten dollars on Amazon, and your money goes to a company owned by a disabled veteran. He also has the strips of pacer beads. More macho, I get that. And he’ll customize the number of beads you want.

Mine is made of a parachute cord with nine beads on one side, four on the other, and a knot in the center. A clasp at each end secures it to my wrist.

I know I haven’t a map or compass — I’m staying put. Why then do I need U.S. Army ranger pace beads?

It’s a spiritual tool!

I’ll show you how I use mine, but you can use them however you like.

During seminary, I studied in an exchange program at a monastery. The monks prayed seven times a day, bells ringing out, calling them to the cathedral.

I use my phone. I set the alarm function to call me to prayer, using gentle music. Believe me, there’s good reason not to use bells — I’m not a monk,  my days can get hectic, and bells are jarring.

The quiet music alerts me gently. I might go through three alarms before I can take a break. Sometimes a lot more. My music comes on every waking hour.

The bracelet tells me where I am — how many times I have taken a moment for God.

What do I do with Him? I sing. Maybe a verse, maybe a hymn. Need I remind you why?

“Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth … Come before Him with joyful singing…” Psalm 100:4

You can add whatever you want. Tuck a daily Bible verse in your wallet or your shoe. Say a prayer. I also drink water. If not, I can go the whole day and forget.

But remember — it’s every hour. One minute should be the plan. I’ve tried to do more and that gets overwhelming.

Why not just a devotional time in the morning or evening? I do that, too, but taking a minute every hour will change you. It will strengthen you on the worst of days. I call them “The Rejoicings.”

So there you have it. The secret to joy in good times and bad: God and U.S. Army ranger pace beads. I hope they bring you the happiness they’ve brought me. Order yours here and know that you are giving back to a disabled U.S. veteran.

The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist. Contact her at [email protected].

Copyright © 2020 R.A. Mathews. All rights reserved.

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