Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Working for Happiness

Tonight, after the kids were tucked in bed, I went in the kitchen and made homemade zucchini bread while the cats played in the homeschool room. I didn't have to. There's cereal in the pantry I could feed the kids for breakfast, and I could pick up something from the bakery section for the Bible study potluck (or continue showing up empty handed, as has been my modus operandi for the last three months). I didn't have to, and I was tired, and the couch and a book sounded like a great combination.

But I got up.

I grated zucchini. I measured flour and sugar. I whisked and stirred and licked the spatula. The house was quiet and peaceful, and it was one of those moments where I found my soul being fed.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how sometimes when we choose to enrich our lives, it can initially look like we are needlessly complicating them. I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I am pausing to consider some of the choices I make. Kingsolver's book is about her family's journey into the world of slow food, so I've been thinking about food, but I've also been drawing conclusions about how those same principles spill over into other areas of our lives.

For those of you who didn't catch it, I said "cats", as in plural, earlier. This weekend, we expanded our family in the furry, feline department. I know. The first thought is: why would you add to the crazy? But the truth is, it hasn't made things more crazy--as much as we did consider that possibility. Somehow, adding has made things more beautiful.

Our new little cat, Blythe, has made us laugh more than we thought possible (in fact, right now, she's trying to attack the computer and possibly add her own spin to this blog). She's easy entertainment for the kids, who, in turn, are learning gentleness and responsibility. She's even managed to mellow the older pets a little more. What looked, on the surface, like a complication to our already at times chaotic life, has instead been a source of joy.

This post is not about a cat though (or not just about a cat). This post is about us and our pursuit of happiness and beauty.

The last couple of years, our family really backed off in a lot of areas as we tackled some massive family changes. We were, for all intents and purposes, in survival mode (I don't mean that dramatically). And that was okay. Necessary, even. But now, it seems like we're finally coming out on the other side, and we need to be just as purposeful in adding back the things that give life, whether that's homemade bread or good music or outside the home ministry options or little furred friends who need homes.

Even if, at first, we may feel a little tired and just not want to, or others think we are crazy for our choices, or logically it just doesn't make sense... Even if all that is true, wouldn't it be worth finding out?

If there's something that you are wanting to do, something you know will bring you joy, why not put forth a little effort and take the risk? The worst thing that could happen is that you realize that it's not the right choice for you, not right now.

But who knows, we may find those seeming complications leave us with an added measure of peace as we figure out what our little corner of happiness looks like. May we not forget that, like all good things in life, joy does not come without some measure of effort. And the best things in life are worth working for.


  1. I love all the photos of the new kitty. Can't wait to play with her and the babies. But the best photo is the first one of Josh and his progeny hanging out on the couch. So cute. Also, you can feel free to make me some zucchini bread when I'm there too.