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!


  1. wonderful surprise notes from friends in the mail!

  2. You, and your sister, and brother, and your dad. Heat in my house and watching squirrels playing in the yard. Peppermint candy ice cream and a good book to read. Today I am thankful for these things and many more.

  3. encouraging blog posts! :)