Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Yesterday's post about happy things got me to thinking.

I spend quite a bit of time trying to control my life.  Planning things out to the smallest detail.  Making a back-up plan in case the first plan doesn't work out.

Take packing for a trip, for example.

I start by making a list, planning what I'm going to wear each day, down to the jewelry.  A few days before we leave, I quit wearing those items so I can be sure they are washed and ready to be packed.  The day before the trip, I put everything in the suitcase.  Then I add my make-up, toothbrush and that kind of stuff as I finish using them the morning of my departure.  Finally, I stand over my suitcase and ask myself questions like:  What if if rains?  What if a cold front blows in?  What if those cute shoes hurt my feet?  Then I begin throwing in items like a raincoat, a cardigan and scarf, an extra pair of comfortable shoes.

No matter what circumstance presents itself while I'm traveling, I want to be prepared.

I might have a tiny control issue.

When someone asks, "Do you have a kleenex?" or "Do you have a breath mint?" or "Do you have a band-aid?", I get great joy out of being the lady who can answer with a resounding, "Yes! I've got that right here in my purse!"

Hey - don't mock me.  We just agreed that it's the little things in life that make us happy, right?  And if we were ever stuck on a deserted island, you would want me there, I assure you - if only for my purse!

But here's the point I'm trying to make:  Sometimes, the new, the unexpected, the unplanned events are the very things that bring us the most joy.

Think about some of those items on your own Happy Things in Life list.

Aren't many of them unexpected surprises?

For example, say someone in our church family brings homemade cookies to us.  Well, I wasn't planning to eat cookies today but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be now!

Or has this ever happened to you?  You find a cute t-shirt and it's on sale.  So you go to buy it and the salesclerk tells you it's an additional 20% off!  I wasn't planning to spend 20% less but I'm certainly not going to turn it down!  

Now, I'm not saying that planning ahead is a bad thing.  Or that having a daily routine is something to be frowned upon.  Or that being prepared isn't a worthy goal.  I mean, it's nice to be able to give someone a breath mint when they are in desperate need of one, right??

But so many times, we try to control our lives when, in reality, the unexpected is the very thing that brings us the joy we are seeking.

An occasional disruption in our daily routine can make the actual routine all the sweeter when we come back to it.  Think summer break here.  Or a friend asking you out for lunch when you were planning to stay home all day and do laundry.

I'll be the first one to admit that not all surprises are good ones.  I totally understand that no one plans to lock their keys in their car.  Or to get a speeding ticket.  Or to have a child with special needs.

But I do think that unpleasant surprises make us look for and appreciate the good ones all the more.

And in the case of an unexpected special needs diagnosis, I can honestly say this:  The challenges that Lily faces make me so much more appreciative of her accomplishments.  When that child does something, it's a big dad-gum deal!  And it doesn't pass by unnoticed or unrecognized.

We take nothing for granted around here.  And special needs child or not, neither should you.

So make a plan for your day and start working on it.  Make a list of things to do and start crossing tasks off as you complete them.

But don't miss those unexpected blessings around you.  Be willing to be surprised.  And get carried away by joy.

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