and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night.
There are days you can't buy a smile. And then there are days where a smile awaits you around every corner. Little delights, happy surprises, unexpected beauty, bits of grace
Today is, of course, one such day, which is exactly why I am blogging about the things that are making me smile.
The first is the fall color.
Yes, it comes every year, but it never ceases to make me catch my breath at the height of the season as I drive by tree after tree in delicious shades of burgundy, mustard, gold, caramel and fiery red.
As if the brilliant colors weren't enough, I pulled into my favorite grocery store and found large, sweet blueberries for $1.78 a box . . . in South Carolina . . . in November!!
I ate an entire container while doing my grocery shopping, giving the cashier quite a shock as she scanned a clear, empty box among my groceries. And gave me odd looks.
Things were definitely getting more cheerful by the minute.
The mailbox offered up a yummy taste of the upcoming holiday.
As is my custom, I will probably not use one recipe or put into place one decorating idea from this magazine. But I will read it from cover to cover and somehow it will seem to me that I have invited "Martha" to my home to help me with the holidays and I will, therefore, be quite fabulous at all holiday endeavors.
To top off my trip home, as I pulled into the driveway and looked down the yards and yards of khaki-coated fence boards, I could see that a neighbor's flower, discontent to stay in her own small yard, had squeezed through the boards and was blooming with all her heart in my own backyard, bringing yet one more smile for the day.
Small gifts to savor. Good gifts.
Pieces of joy. Bits of grace.
As a child, I always had a fantasy. I wanted to know what it would feel like to chew an entire pack of gum. I loved gum, and I couldn't imagine the joy of having your whole mouth stuffed with it.
And I'm not talking about a little Doublemint 5-piece pack. No. One of the big 15-piece packs. At the time I believe I was about 5th grade, and the most I ever managed to stuff in was 3 pieces. I could never bear to waste a whole pack of gum in one massive chewing.
I have now lived my dream.
This morning, 1 1/2 hours before school, Youngest Son came to me, looking pale and drawn. It seems he had forgotten to do his science experiment for the week. Science is his difficult class. He did not need a "zero." The science experiment entailed weighing a package of unwrapped gum, chewing it for 10 minutes and then reweighing, and figuring weight differences, ratios of gum to fillers, and percentage of ingestible gum portions.
At this point you are of course thinking, "Ha, give the child the gum and have him quickly perform the science experiment."
And at this point, you would be wrong. Because what you don't know is that Youngest Son is now in braces and has had the worst problem with his wires coming out.
A quick survey of all available children showed that not one person was willing to chew an entire pack of gum at 7:30 in the morning to help out a sibling who had not done his homework.
You know who that left. Me. And my childhood fantasy.
I'll hasten to add that the experiment required the chewing of 2 entire packs of gum (one pack at a time), one sugared and one non. And then the teacher slyly added that any child who did a third pack would receive a PRIZE!
I ran to the store. I grabbed 2 packs of gum . . . one sugared, one non. And then, unable to help myself, I grabbed a 3rd. You know . . . the word "prize."
Let me just say that childhood fantasies leave a lot to be desired. Can you even imagine chewing, with cheeks distended, an entire pack of gum for 10 minutes? Can you imagine gulping mouthful after mouthful of sticky, sweet, chemical-enhanced saliva. I'm sorry. I had to say it.
I chewed for a solid 30 minutes . . . 3 packs of gum . . . 15 sticks in each pack . . . 10 minutes each . . . Juicy Fruit, Orbit Bubblemint, Trident Wild Strawberry and Tangy Citrus. I have seldom felt so ill.
Amazingly, we found out that when weighed after chewing, gum loses almost exactly 1/2 of it's original weight. That means I actually ingested a full pack and a half of gum.
Youngest Son skittered out the door . . . apologetic, thankful, happy. And I sat down at the table to apologize to my digestive system and to eat frozen blueberries and Greek yogurt and try to forget the last 30 minutes.
And to grieve the loss of a childhood fantasy.
Do you have any of those? Joy stealers, I mean. For me, it's feeling the displeasure of others.
I can be singing in my heart, noticing the blue of the sky and the puff of the clouds, looking to the bright side of life. And then . . . someone expresses their displeasure with me. Maybe it's earned . . . maybe it's not.
And my joy is stolen away. I can feel it leave. I can feel it leave me flat. And then, if I'm not careful, I can feel its absence begin to draw me down . . . down . . . down. Negative thoughts, hopeless feelings.
I bet you have your joy stealers too.
I found myself in this mode yesterday. Flat . . . and then . . . beginning . . . to go down.
And then I remembered:
God is not displeased with me.
There's nothing I can do to mess up with Him. Because His Son already lived perfectly before His Father and He's given that gift to me.
When I look in His face, I don't find disappointment, or frustration or disgust. I find, instead, acceptance, and love and enjoyment. Because Jesus has already paid for anything I've done that's disappointing or frustrating or even, perish the thought, disgusting.
And it came back. Joy, I mean.
I could feel it buoy back up inside of me. No one could steal that joy.
Because my joy doesn't depend on any person or any person's approval.
And so, when I found this little snippet later, "In him my heart rejoices!" I could lift my hands in the air in glad agreement.
No one can steal my joy. I have a source that can't be pillaged.