Tag Archives: joy

The Color of Joy

Fourteen years ago, I spent a semester in Oaxaca, Mexico. It was a rich time of learning, exploration, and growth. But holy buckets, was I homesick! I missed my family, my friends, my comfortable routine. And as October rolled around, I missed fall color.

fall joy.jpg

The beauty down the block.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I opened a big envelope from my friend K and a pile of fall leaves spilled out. I can still see them: vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, a simple gift that brought me a surge of comfort and joy.

Back at home in the Midwest, I get that surge of joy every time I see those colors on a tree. Every. Single. Time. Truly: the tree next to our driveway, the trees we can see through our living room windows, the glorious reds and yellows down the block, the views on Highway 60 coming into Mankato. I get a jolt of happiness every time I look at them. The delight of fall color just never gets old.

Now: if only we could say the same about raking.


Honestly, the photo alone makes me pretty happy, too.

Where is your surge of joy today?

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Filed under Thankful Hearts

Better Together

Look what popped up in my The Eye of Facebook Sees All (Pro Tip: “On This Day”) today:


Caption from 2013: “She’s really good at giving him his pacifier.”

Caption from 2016: “My babies! They were so little! And now they’re so big! They are so beautiful! I need to give them the biggest hugs tonight!”


I knew that I wanted to have a second child for my own selfish reasons. (Including, but not limited to, getting people to stop asking, “When are you going to have another one?”) I knew I would love reading and singing and talking and playing with our new baby. I knew I would love watching him learn and grow. I knew he would bring more joy, more wonder, more crazy into our lives.

I did not know– Continue reading

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Filed under All in the Family

Home Away from Home

train time

Train ride! 

We had a wonderful road trip to Illinois this weekend. The fun included: a visit to the La Crosse children’s museum; an old-fashioned ice cream parlor; a KOA cabin with bunkbeds, a jumping pad, and a pool; a commuter train ride, lunch, and library exploration with family; a dinner date with friends one night; a sprinkler and pool play date the next morning; and sweet Phip’s first birthday party. Truly, it was a wonderful getaway.

It was just as wonderful to arrive home last night. “We’re finally in the right town!” Zoe said as we pulled into Saint James. “Go to Daddy!” Leo said. And we were, and we did, and it was very good.

I always like to hear what the stand out moments are for my kids after a trip. Here is Zoe’s: Continue reading

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Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Zoe

Birthday Road Trip

Leave it to Zoe to get right to the point when describing this (long) weekend’s adventure:

“We’re going to a birthday party, but it’s really far away.”

It’s true! Sister Claire’s Phip (Pro Tip: That’s Philip to some) is turning one, and Zoe and Leo and I are heading to the party. (It’s Mike’s turn to stay home and work / relax / eat mall pretzels.) Along the way, we’ll spend the afternoon in La Crosse and the night in a “deluxe” campground cabin. We’ll eat a lot of snacks and those of us not driving will watch a lot of movies. Continue reading


Filed under All in the Family

Balloon Drops for President

I’ve been too busy Poppinsing (Pro Tip: of course it’s a word!) this week to catch much of the Democratic National Convention. Luckily, I have the internet to keep me up to date on the most important moments of the week.

For example, the balloon drop.

Seriously, friends, click on that link right now for all the Clinton balloon drop GIFs and memes you never knew you needed. They are truly delightful.

The photos are pretty great, too. For example: Continue reading

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Filed under Marvelous Miscellany

Revolving Joy

When my best friend Sarah (or, as she is known in this house, Baby Jakey’s Mama), took Baby Jakey on a family trip to Poland, his favorite part was . . . the playground.  He was just a wee one, so you can’t really blame him.  Kids like what they like.

Zoe’s favorite part of our recent Chicago trip–besides throwing the petals for Aunt Claire’s wedding, of course–was probably the revolving door at her grandparents’ building (close second: the cab ride to the rehearsal):

My country baby doesn’t see many revolving doors in her daily life.  She had a ball going round and round, first with Mike, then by herself, then with me and Mike.  It was a delight to watch her concentration and her joy in the accomplishment.

My friend Lyle (hey, Lyle!) asked me on Monday night, “What has Zoe taught you lately?”  I came up empty at the time, but here’s what I learned from watching Zoe go round and round:

Take joy where you find it, and don’t worry what the doorman thinks.

And, oh yes, there’s video:

Where are you finding joy today?


Filed under Preschool Theology, Your Moment of Zoe

Summer Interlude

She ditched the butterfly wings before the Kiddie Parade even started but kept the tutu on all day long.

While the jazz band played good and loud, the people milled around, and the sun beat down, we found a shady spot on the grass and sat down with our Thelma’s Frozen Lemonade.  We passed it back and forth, savoring each sweet, tart, frosty sip.  We grinned at each other.  In all that noise, we felt quiet.

She lay back on the grass with a thoughtful, pleased expression on her face.  What thoughts does a three-year-old think on a summer morning like this?


Filed under Your Moment of Zoe

Sweet Dreams, and Health, and Quiet Breathing

image via majic.com

So, I got “freshly pressed” yesterday.  This means that, for a day or two, one of my posts was featured on the wordpress.com homepage, and got about three thousand more views than it would have otherwise.  Seriously: three thousand.  That is a lot.

I was surprised to find out how much this meant to me: the thrill of seeing my post highlighted and the fun of reading all the lovely, chatty comments and receiving all the “likes” on the post.  It was a very Sally Field kind of experience.  Thanks, Whoever You Are at WordPress, for liking me.

Of course, my freshly pressed status is fleeting.  Already, my little post has crept nearly to the last spot on the page; by tomorrow it will probably be out of the limelight entirely.  And while my heart will go on, this brush with WordPress glory made me think about how many of life’s other little  joys and moments of beauty are also fleeting.  Yes, friends, deep thoughts were thunk in Litchfield this week.  

Here are some of the things of beauty that are giving me fleeting joy these days: our charming and delicious gingerbread house, which grows less beautiful with each piece of candy we enjoy; our Christmas tree, which even though it is artificial will not, alas, remain lit and haphazardly decorated in our living room forever; the crisp, clean, fresh winter air that is tinged with just the barest hint of snow.

And also: the first lines of Endymion, a poem by Keats, who is possibly my favorite Romantic poet besides Coleridge and Shelley (like the Gospel writers, each Romantic poet is my favorite as I read him, except for Wordsworth, who is the Cranky Matt in this scenario).  In fact, the first two lines have been running through my head for the past few days, improperly linked up with Shakespeare’s “but thy eternal summer shall not fade.”

Shakespeare is not a bad poet, either, but let’s take a moment to savor the quiet bower Keats’ Endymion has kept for us:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Iambic pentameter.  Heroic couplets.  Yes, please.

Read a little more of the poem here, or pick up a real, paper copy from your library or book store (or, if you simply must, your e-reader of choice).  For me, there’s something about Keats that made me go hunting for my copy of his Complete Poems so I could read the poem on paper.  I think he would have wanted it that way.

How about you?  What fleeting joys and things of beauty are you treasuring this week?

The Sleep of Endymion


Filed under Thankful Hearts

A Simple Gift

Yesterday we celebrated Zoe’s second baptismal birthday!  Since I had churchy plans in the evening, we had a breakfast celebration this year, which of course meant: donuts.  Because as we all know, when Jesus made the disciples breakfast on the beach after his resurrection, that is what he served.

Jesus would go for the powdered sugar donut holes, no question.

We lit Zoe’s baptismal candle, and then we got out Dan Erlander’s wonderful little book Let the Children Come, and used the “brief form” of baptism remembrance in the home.  Here’s how you do it:

Light the candle.  (In fact, the “honored one” lights the candle.  Next year, Zoe.)

Say to the honored one, “Zoe, on this day in 2009 you were washed in the waters of baptism.  Because of this event you never need to doubt that you are a  beautiful and precious child of God.”

Pray this prayer: “God of mercy, we give you thanks for the promise you made to Zoe on this day.  Renew in Zoe the gift of the Holy Spirit that she will trust in you and you alone through all of life.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Pray the family table prayer.  Tell stories about the honored one and the baptism day.

And then, the part I didn’t notice until I was reading it yesterday morning: “A simple gift may be given.”  Can you believe I missed a gift-giving opportunity?  It is a little shocking.

But I’m pretty sure Zoe didn’t miss a thing.  She had two kinds of donuts (“orange donuts” and “donut balls”).  She had milk and drink (what some people might call “water”).  She had prayers and stories for her and about her.  She had the dancing flame of her baptismal candle, which we all blew out together with much pomp and circumstance.  And she had the joy of shouting, “Yeah, I’m baptized!”

I think Martin Luther would be proud.  And he would have enjoyed the donuts, too.

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Filed under Your Moment of Zoe

New Every Day

So, baptizing babies is pretty awesome.

Baptizing your own baby is especially awesome. I totally recommend it.

It is apparently that time of year at Beckville: two this month and one next month, which is a baptism bonanza for a little country church.  What’s great about baptizing is: it never gets old.  I think I could do one every week and never get tired of it (although I might see about having quarterly “baptismal festivals” like my worship professors adorably suggested in seminary).

When my father, speaking with a pair of Parisians in, as you might guess, Paris, tried to explain why he loved being a journalist (or, as I believe we both prefer, “newspaper man”), he came up with this John Lux Classic: “The News is New Every Day.”  That is the kind of magic that happens when you have been assured that the young couple with whom you are dining speaks excellent English, but in fact their English is “technically correct, but not idiomatic . . . .  And in trying to convey the excitement of working at a newspaper, he expressed it in the simplest words possible: The news is new every day. They appeared mystified!”  (Pro Tip: When you can’t remember the exact details of a classic family story, email your mother and quote her directly.)

Well, that’s what baptism (and baptizing) feels like–new every day.  I will never get tired of saying, “you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”  I will never get tired of pouring that storied water and tracing that saving cross on the forehead of a brand new child of God.

And I will never, ever get tired of the “victory lap”: the time when I walk very slowly with the newly baptized down one side of the aisle and up the other, making sure all her new brothers and sisters in Christ get a good look.  The joy in those faces, especially the oldest ones–who have seen many more victory laps than I will ever make–is beautiful and brand new every time.

Raise your hand if you recognize this window.

A Bible verse (or three) to top it off: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”–Lamentations 3:22-24, brought to mind by my friend Lynn’s lovely blog.

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Filed under Ministry Matters, Thankful Hearts