Thursday, February 28, 2013

Looking for Happiness and Finding Joy


I’m making pancakes way too early on a Saturday morning and I’m tripping over Legos on my floor. 

My niece and nephew spent the night. I haven’t even had my first cup of coffee yet and I’m dropping chocolate chips into pancake batter, hoping I don't set off the smoke detector like I usually do. 

If I were married, I’m sure this scenario would be a common occurrence. 

But not in my single-town-house-hold. 

I like things neat and tidy. It took all of my self-control to step over the Legos and go to bed without cleaning them up. 

Wearing his coonskin cap and bathrobe, my nephew says something that makes me think I burned the pancake. 

“Did you say your pancake is too hard?” I ask, thinking I’ll have to fluff up the batter and turn down the heat. 

“No,” he says. “I said it’s a heart. The pancake looks like a heart.” 

He stares at the pancake a minute and sings a little song he made up about breaking hearts as he takes a bite.

I think about how I could be busy with so many other things. 

Like if I were married. 

Or had my own kids to take care of. 

And I’m glad I’m not busy with those other things. 

Because then I’d miss this. 

The sleepovers. The chocolate chip pancakes. The silly songs. 

What if this is the life I was meant to live? 

What if there were no wrong turns, no missed paths, no detours? 

What if the so-called lost opportunities in my life are really not missing at all, but are what leads me to find the joy in my hours, days and years? 

What if I can see how God is using the chapters of my life to show me that I have a story that only I can tell? 

To realize that it's not about trying so hard for things to go the way I want them to so I can be happy, but to persevere through the hard things to experience growth in my relationship with God.


I have some vintage girl figurines that were made in Japan, probably sometime in the early to mid-1900s. 

One is a girl skier, another is playfully wearing a pleated yellow dress and hat as if she’s off to a party, one is all business as she stands seriously with her dog on a leash and a purse under arm. 

One of the figurines is actually a pincushion, with her red gingham dress still intact. 

But they all remind me of the pieces that adorn a life – family and home, recreation and sports, professions and work, and fun and friends. 

All the pieces of life that are supposed to make you happy. 

And without them, you're not supposed to be happy.


But if I spend too much time or energy wondering if I'm happy, then I miss the joy. 

Being happy is a feeling that comes and goes. 

I can be happy one minute and unhappy the next. 

I'm realizing that God's purpose for me isn't for me to be happy. 

He wants me to be joyful. 

In whatever circumstances I find myself in. 

Single or married. A life full of activities or empty days ahead. He beckons to me to step out to where the risks are. 

Far away from happy and comfortable and safe. 

To find joy in what I’m doing. 

Especially when I'm tripping over a mess of Legos on the floor and flipping chocolate chip pancakes that somehow look like hearts before I’ve even had my coffee.


15 comments:

  1. I so agree with your post! Sometimes it takes all my might to walk over the "legos" in my house too. But when you do walk over them, something magically happens to that you might have otherwise missed. While in your post the legos are real, they could represent all the things in our life we just need to walk over instead of worry about. Always easier said then done, but worth striving for everyday! Thanks so much for your inspirational postings.

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    1. Bree,
      I love this! Walking over our "Legos" - -whatever they may be -- instead of worrying about them! You are an encouragement to me! :)

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  2. Beautiful photos Valerie, and some wonderful thoughts. Your photos have beautiful subjects, but the things behind them are so intriguing as well. The old books and photographs add such mystery and depth. You are becoming quite the photographer, and who better than someone who has so much beauty in her life!

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    1. Brittany,
      Without you and your twin Brittany :) I wouldn't know a lens cap from a hubcap! You have no idea how much JOY you have brought to my life!

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  3. How wonderful to be able to build your own memories, but think of the great memories your niece and nephew will have of their special moments with you down thru the years! I think sometimes we feel happiness and contentment are based on what others feel happiness should be in our lives. You're right - being joyful lends itself to our own happiness. Great article!

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    1. Love that - -being joyful lends itself to our own happiness! How true! Thanks for sharing . . .

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    2. He's so cute!! If memory serves me......I think he has his mother's eyes!

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  4. That boy is so cute! Especially with a milk mustache!

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    1. He certainly is! Could this comment be from his mother (aka my sister)???

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  5. The titles of your articles are so clever and very catchy!

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    1. Titles are tough . . . I struggle with thinking of them!!

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  6. Beautiful post. Maybe I'm similar to you in that my life hasn't gone the way I would have liked, but God's there with us at every stage, and is giving me joy in the middle of it just like He did you that morning with your nephew, who sounds so sweet. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you Sarah! So many seem to focus on the happy, overlooking the joy but I'm finding that the two are very different! I'm glad you stopped by -- and yes, my nephew is amazingly sweet! :)

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  7. "What if this is the life I was meant to live? What if there were no wrong turns, no missed paths, no detours? What if the so-called lost opportunities in my life are really not missing at all, but are what leads me to find the joy in my hours, days and years? What if I can see how God is using the chapters of my life to show me that I have a story that only I can tell? To realize that it's not about trying so hard for things to go the way I want them to so I can be happy, but to persevere through the hard things to experience growth in my relationship with God."

    I love this! I'm just starting to come to these conclusions myself.

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    1. Mim,
      Thank you for your kind words! The more of God I press into in my life, the more of him I want to know! Thanks for being here!

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