Happiness is…

by Andrea Cooley

HappinessWhat makes you happy? It may seem like an arbitrary question, and the answer might change from day to day. As I thought about the things that make me happy, I realized that most of them are little. I don’t need to spend a lot of money or do something extraordinary to be happy. I also realized happiness and thankfulness go hand in hand.

A friend of mine was feeling bogged down by all the negativity that we see in the news and on social media. She challenged friends to focus on all the blessings, or happy things in their lives, and make a list of them. She created the 100 Happy Things project to catalog them. She posted my list last week, but I also wanted to it here.

I love reading what makes other people happy! It makes me want to start another list, because there are so many things I didn’t include on this one like Iowa, coupons, coloring, and the perfect ballpoint pen.

I worked on this for a couple weeks during the boys’ naps. It was such a great way to unwind and remember all the little (and big) things God has blessed me with. Moments I want to remember, especially on the hard days. Times when I can’t help but smile, just thinking about them.

So here’s my list. It’s seasonal and reflective of the season I’m in (notice all the baby-related things!). This is an exercise I hope to repeat at least once a year. I’m sure some things will always make the list (ahem, coffee!) but I’m sure others will fade into the background.

1. Pumpkin-spice donuts 2. crunching in leaves 3. baby noises 4. the miracle of birth 5. peppermint mocha creamer 6. snail mail 7. phone dates with long-distance friends 8. blowing bubbles 9. flip flop weather 10. new fall TV 11. game nights 12. crockpot dinners 13. leftovers 14. a stack of library books 15. stovetop popcorn 16. worship in a barn 17. facetime with family 18. backyard zinnias 19. Jack Johnson 20. homegrown tomatoes and BLTs

21. date nights 22. guacamole 23. sweet smelling candles 24. sleeping babies 25. stroller walks 26. sleeping with the windows open 27. star gazing 28. parades 29. Bible studies with friends 30. girl time 31. garage sales 32. birthday cake 33. reading books with my boys 34. rainbows 35. thunderstorms 36. dark chocolate 37. family naps 38. driving with the windows rolled down 39. country music 40. clean sheets

41. babysitters 42. online shopping 43. family videos 44. heated seats 45. slippers 46. pajama pants 47. my Kindle Paperwhite 48. slobbery toddler kisses 49. Christmas music 50. fireflies 51. sunsets 52. beach vacation 53. candle light 54. lattes 55. crispy bacon 56. the golden hour 57. holding friend’s babies 58. succulents 59. playing in the garden 60. holding hands with my hubby

61. decorating 62. trips to target 63. pretty fabric 64. cupcakes 65. sipping coffee from a pretty mug 66. new magazines 67. play dates 68. getting a massage 69. red wine 70. pigtails 71. family hugs 72. bike rides 73. the feeling after a good run 74. TiVo 75. grilled cheese and tomato soup 76. laughing with my sister 77. painting my fingernails 78. fireworks 79. floating in the ocean 80. story time at the library

81. losing track of time while reading a good book 82. cozy slippers 83. sleeping under a heavy down comforter 84. neighbors 85. going out for breakfast 86. little free libraries 87. spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen 88. being crafty 89. painting 90. tulips 91. tropical sno cones 92. getting my hair cut 93. kids’ birthdays 94. stationary stores 95. Starbucks 96. playing piano 97. the stillness of falling snow 98. writing 99. listening to NPR 100. SheReadsTruth

What’s on your list? I’d love to know!

You can send your list to Becky at 100happythingsproject@gmail.com, if you want to be part of the happiness project.

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emersonphoto by Carrie Krupke

I put him to bed, the same as we do every night. Him clutching his sippy cup of water and a stuffed animal and sucking on his pacifier. We read two books, sing Jesus Loves Me, and say a prayer. My first-born boy, rests his shaggy blonde head on my shoulder and wraps his arm around my neck. His legs dangle down past my waste. He’s not so little anymore. I hold him close, breath in his little boy scent, a mixture of grass and the pasta sauce from dinner and hold him a moment longer. Soon he will be too big to hold, but him will always be my baby, right?

ikea mala easel birthdayI was feeling sentimental because the next day was his birthday. Adam and I put away his toys and set up his gift. An easel, complete with chalk, dry erase markers, and a roll of drawing paper. We couldn’t wait to see his reaction when he wakes up. We laughed and predicted what he would do when he saw it. We’d been talking to him about his birthday, that he was a big boy, turning 2, but he doesn’t really know what it is. Of course the helium balloons will be the star of the show until they loose their float.

birthday boyHe had no idea what he would wake up to and we were so excited to surprise him and bless him with a good gift. As parents we love nothing more than loving on our boys, and sometimes this means giving them gifts.

I couldn’t help but reflect that this is how God is with me, his child. His beloved. He loves to lavish me with good gifts. From beautiful days with blue skies and warm breezes, to a loving husband, kind friends, and laughter.

Even more than I love my boys and want good things for them, God loves me and wants more than anything to bless me. That doesn’t always mean life will be easy, or that I will understand his plan.

But it does mean that I can trust him. Fully. Completely. Without hesitation. Knowing that no matter what, he will catch me when I fall. He is always right beside me. And he has big plans for me. Things I can’t even imagine or hope for.

Just like Emerson had no idea he would get an easel that he could draw on and play with to his heart’s content, I don’t always know what God’s plan is for me. But I can trust that it is good.

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