Sunday, January 22, 2012


hap-py [hap-ee]

1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing;
2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

On Friday morning, I posed a question as my Facebook status: "What makes you happy today?" 
This question rose out of "one of those mornings." We all know what those are, right? For some of us it means we spilled our coffee down the front of our work clothes which means we have to change into a new outfit only to rush out of the house and realize we need to brush snow and ice off of our car. For others, it's that morning when the kids are bickering and they miss the bus so you need to drop them off at school and right when you're pulling into the parking lot one of them says: "I left my backpack at home." For me, it was simply that morning when my hair wouldn't seem to cooperate and every piece of clothing I put on seemed to say: "Nope, that looks terrible on you, too." The only thing that got me was a huge pile of clothes on the bedroom floor waiting to be picked up that night, no time to pack a lunch (thanks, husband, for packing it for me and hiding a little love note under my clementine), running late for work (thanks, Mom, for being my boss), and the anticipation of a two-block walk to work in the -8 degree windchill across ice laden sidewalks. Awesome.

After I finally made it into my car and onto the road to work, all I was feeling was frustration at the fact that I had to redo my makeup because I cried and it ran and thinking: "If anyone speaks to me within the first 5 minutes I'm at work or before I get a cup of coffee, I will probably ring their neck." Then, as I rounded through the S-Curve on 131 downtown Grand Rapids, I looked up into the sky and saw the most beautiful sunrise and right in the middle of my windshield, backed by the pink/purple/yellow/orange/red sky, was the outline of a steeple sitting high atop one of the downtown churches. (Cue the gentle smack across the face, thanks God.)

By the time I pulled my car into the parking lot, God had lovingly changed my attitude and outlook towards myself and my day and left me thankful for his grace that is new every morning despite my sinful nature that also seems to rear its ugly head every morning. Instead of tears and bitterness and inward struggles with my outward appearance, I seemed to hold my head a bit higher as I walked from the parking lot to work. I remember being thankful that I didn't see anyone else during my walk in, because I was singing (yes, out loud) the words to a song from The Story (the story of the Gospel in music) that is meant to portray Jesus singing to his people. The words go something like this
I see your story,
I see my name written on every beautiful page
You see the struggle,
You see the shame
I see the reason I came.
I came for your story,
I came for your wounds,
to show you what Love sees
when Love sees you.
I was reminded that even when the morning starts out feelings like I have nothing to be happy about, no reason to be thankful, nothing to find joy in...there is always something - the fact that Jesus loves me - and that love and knowing that I'm beautiful because I'm in Christ is worth far more than any good hair day or perfect outfit.

But back to the question at hand: "What makes you happy today?" After I made it into work and got my cup of coffee (without ringing any necks), I thought: "If I have mornings like this, other people must have them, too. We should all recognize the things that make us happy and bring us joy today, even if it's the littlest of things." So, I asked. And the answers came pouring in. Some of them were big things, some were small. But it struck me that it was almost as if people are just waiting to recognize the good things in life...but something we get so caught up in the yucky stuff that we need someone to simply say: "Hey, what's good today?" Because when asked, we can all see that God's grace is redeeming us all and we all have things to be thankful for - day in and day out. Here's what people told me made them happy on Friday morning:

A morning bagel and a weekend full of music
An iPhone app that allows a wife to keep track of her firefighter husband on the icky days
4 day weekends (every weekend, all semester) and making desserts to celebrate
A day off work, kids at school, listening to good music and cooking good food
Not studying
Going to JoAnn's Fabric
Reading by the fire
A good group planning meeting for an upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic
All the snow that is falling
A warm couch and episodes of Friday Night Lights
Talking to a good friend and partner in ministry
An extra sugar cookie from a good friend
Date night

Now we could go into all sorts of discussions and debates about happiness vs. joyfulness and which one means more and what the differences are and all sorts of other things. Sure, often times we relate happiness to an in-the-moment feeling and joyfulness to finding peace and contentment no matter the situation. But, when it all comes down to it, these are simply those little things that God, in his grace, puts into our lives to say: "Hey, you're worth it. Even when you don't feel like you're worth it, you are. Remember me and remember my grace when you think about all these little good things."

For me that little thing was a beautiful sunrise that caused a gentle smack in the face to remind me that God does care about me and love me and when he looks at me he sees his beautiful child. That's what made me happy on Friday morning...and every morning. 

Music and lyrics to "When Love Sees You"
(Take the 5 minutes to listen to it. It's worth it, I promise)

Want to join the conversation? What makes YOU happy/thankful/joyful? Leave your answer in the comments!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

puppy surgery.

Well, it's official. Beacon is the last in his family line. Maybe he will end up with nieces and nephews someday; but offspring of his own? Sorry, buddy. He had surgery on Thursday and now he has to spend a week wearing the cone of shame, poor guy.

I dropped him off on Thursday morning and picked him up again Thursday afternoon. I think the vet thought I was a bit crazy when I went to pick him up because of the pathetic whimpering noise I made when I saw him laying in the cage. He just looked so sad. It took me a good while to get him out to the car because his medication still hadn't worn off and he was so out of it! He just stood and stared off into space and wouldn't look at me when I said his name or anything. It was cute in a sad and pathetic sort of way.

And so he spent the rest of the night sleeping and being super cuddly. I liked that part. But boy, did we feel so bad when he threw up three times because of the anesthetic and when we had to make him wear the cone to go to bed and now that we have to give him sedatives to keep him calm during the day so he doesn't run or jump or tear his incision. Thursday he gets his stitches out and that day can not come soon enough.

We did get a nice picture out of the deal though. Normally Mr. B doesn't sit still enough to stay in a picture with us, so we took advantage of him and his groggy state. 

We're a little bit bummed that we got our first major snowfall on the day after his surgery, 1.) because he can't get wet when he's outside and that is not an easy task to make happen when the backyard is covered in snow and 2.) because he loves to play in the snow...and he can't. And even though it's cold and messy to drive in, we can't wait until next weekend when we can take the pup out to play. And you can't tell me that this view of the park down the street isn't beautiful...

But, since we're cooped up inside for the week, Beacon and I have been spending our spare time trying out new cookies recipes and working on some craft projects. (Well, I do the work, he lays around and sleeps.) Just for the record, these chocolate chip cookies are awesome and you should definitely try them. And do like she says: use coarse sea salt. The cookies end up with this crispy edge and every couple of bites there will be a distinct crunchy salty taste. So good. In between eating cookies, I've been going to town with twine and a $0.34 Goodwill wreath. I think I've eaten more cookies than I have worked on the wreath though. 

In other news, we have a new follower on our blog! We'd love it if you would follow us too. All you have to do is click "Join this site" in the top right corner, just under our picture. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

can we be friends?

Today - in between eating, going on a walk, taking a bath, and playing outside - Beacon did some serious thinking:

We just wanted to share our excitement with Jared and Mary, our friends over at Ugly Muffin Library, in the new puppy addition to their family! (I know they are excited because I saw a zillion pictures and videos over break and they have two blog posts up already...all while dealing with the first puppy days and being sick!) 

Anyways, Rob and I love Jared and Mary dearly and are blessed to be able to call them friends. But, I think Mr. B might be jealous because now he keeps asking if he can be friends with Kobuk. Hopefully they can meet some day soon! Road trip, anyone?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

what we love the most.

Rob and I started out the new year on just the right note - in my opinion at least. We I slept in, we were blessed to worship together with our church family, we enjoyed some awesome rolls with lunch, we visited my cousin, her fiance and their beautiful baby girl who are visiting from New Mexico, we made it home before the weather turned too snowy, I watched Criminal Minds, Rob finished a book, and Mr. B ate snow balls.

The best part of the night, though, was reading our "I love you" gifts that we wrote throughout December. In an effort to be intentional about recognizing the things we are most thankful for in one another, we decided to try out a little extra "gift" to celebrate Christmas this year. We were a bit late in opening it, but what's a day or two...or seven?

It's really as simple as this: 
          1. Cut some pieces of paper into strips (we chose red and green in the Christmas spirit);
          2. Label the paper with the dates of the month (we decided on December 1-25 with plans to read them on Christmas morning);
          3. Find a box or jar to hold the papers once you've written on them (see ours pictured above);
          4. Write down one thing you love about your spouse each day (sometimes we fell behind...);
          5. Enjoy reading them together and re-discovering what it is you love most about each other!
          6. After we read them, we sealed them up in an envelope to keep (along with future December notes) so that we can read them again years from now.

After we read each of the 25 "I love..." notes, we both realized that we weren't entirely surprised by what the other wrote down, but there were also some things that we didn't know were loved so much. We also seemed to notice a few themes running throughout the notes (i.e. commonly repeated topics).

What Rob (repeatedly) loves about Stephanie:                   What Stephanie (repeatedly) loves about Rob:
          1. Her creativity                                                                                            1. He loves to give hugs
          2. She loves to give hugs                                                                            2. His patient, listening ear
          3. She makes my lunch in the morning                                                    3. He passionate, servant-heart for everyone he is around (family, clients, etc.)

As we move into a new year, one of our goals is being intentional about letting the people we love and care about know that we love and care about them...and that goes for letting each other know too. These daily notes are one simple way to do just that and it was definitely fun to sit and read them together tonight. It gave us something to look forward to at the end of the month, and was a Christmas present that was genuinely from the heart.

As you move into a new year, what are your goals for showing love to the people you care about?