1. Big breakfasts.  I’m usually in a huge hurry in the mornings, so I scarf down a small bowl of cereal and call it good for the morning.  But the days when I have nothing keeping me from a leisurely luxuriously breakfast are the ones I really savor.  It might be a pot of tea, some scrambled eggs, a piece of toast, and a good book on the back patio when the sun is fresh over the horizon.  Maybe it is a pan of warm muffins and fruit, all washed down with a pulpy glass of OJ.  Some mornings, I get really fancy and even make cinnamon rolls or bacon.  It doesn’t really matter what I’m eating, but it is so nice to be able to relax and enjoy the morning.
  2. Discovering God’s love in a whole new light.  We are human, creatures created by our creator; we cannot fully understand his ways because we are not creators.  God loves me in a way that is so completely outside of what my mind can comprehend that when I do catch a glimmer of it, it creates such awe and humbling appreciation that I can’t help but love him back in the only way I know how, however imperfect it may be. Fortunately, despite the fact of my state of humanity, God loves me.  And God loves you.
  3. Bundling up. Friday night football games, Saturday pumpkin patches, raking leaves.  It starts to get a little brisk this time of year, which means it is the best time for wearing a million layers.  You dig through your winter clothes, looking desperately for something that isn’t too warm or too cold.  Once you do find your oversize sweatshirt, mittens, knit hat, and fluffy socks, all you need is a steaming beverage to meet that fresh but chilly air.
  4. Creating a story that goes a completely different direction than you planned for it.  I write a bunch of stories, but sometimes they feel like they’re writing themselves and I’m just their to get the words on paper.  It’s interesting to watch it all unfold.
  5. Heroes.  Happy Birthday Ian!  I can’t believe you would be 18 today.  I’ll always remember you as a kid, but you’ll be the kid with the brightest faith I’ve ever known.  You are undoubtedly my hero and I hope that I will allow God to work in me as much as you did.
  6. Shameless imagination.  As we conform to society’s slow mutilation of our creativity, we lose our ability to create worlds of our own and live contentedly inside of them.  Recovering that ability – even for short periods of time – is a wonderful experience.
  7. Conversation.  Talking to people is a great way to learn about them and yourself.  It’s also super fun, even if you aren’t talking about anything important.  God made humans to communicate with each other and exercising that ability is good for us.
  8. Photographing things.  I love to use an instrument such as a camera (or words, but that’s not photography) to try to capture the heart of something.  It is an art to say exactly what you want to say with something so complex yet intrinsically simple as a picture.  Working on that art is the challenge, but it definitely makes you think and it is super fun.
  9. Writing for no one but yourself.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to write stories to share as well, but sometimes I like to write things down that are meant for me and me alone.  It’s not only therapeutic, but it helps me to build a good friendship with myself.
  10. Smiling.  I don’t think this world would be enjoyable at all if we didn’t know how to smile.  Sometimes, we’ve just got to smile because there is nothing else we can do.
  11. Reading a really good book.  The kind that you can read over and over again because you’ll always get something new out of it.  The kind that you can lose track of time with for hours on end.  The kind you want to share with everyone in the whole world, but you also want it to be your personal book forever.  The kind that keeps you up at night just to finish one more chapter.  The kind that keeps you from going out Friday night because you just can’t put it down.  Yeah, those are fun books.
  12. Soft rain.  I sat outside on my porch today for an hour while the rain drizzled gently down just outside of my shelter.  I was wrapped up in a cozy blanket and alternated between staring at the rain, reading the Bible, and singing hymns.  Yes, I am aware of how odd that sounds, but it was one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had in a long time.  For once, I could just shrug off all of the nitpicky little things that were plaguing me and just listen to the beautiful voice of my creator.
  13. When your friends surprise you by doing really sweet things for you.  Two of my friends showed up at my house during their free period today because I was home sick.  They brought me flowers and coffee and I must say it completely made my day.
  14. Being super tired and loopy when all of your friends are in a similar state.  We manage to have so much fun without the assistance of anything other than the lack of sleep.  People may think we’re strange, but we are having more fun rolling around on the ground.
  15. Creating set for stage productions.  You get to be so creative in attempting to create an entire world in which the story can reside.  Putting the set pieces in place is really when the show starts to come together.
  16. Singing your heart out to God.  There is something inexpressible that music manages to convey; a feeling that is universally understood but impossible to put into words.  I maintain that music is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind.  There is nothing like singing, which literally uses our bodies as an instrument to infuse soul and make music for the lord.  C.S. Lewis mentions in The Screwtape Letters that God’s kingdom is full of music and silence, everything else is simply noise.  I can’t help but thank God every time I sing with emotion because it is truly an investment of everything in me.
  17. Communication.  Have you ever thought about the absurdity of language?  You are looking at a series of shapes arranged in a special way and you understand them to have meaning.  When someone talks to you, they are spouting off a series of sounds, but you can string them together to understand the other person.  You can look at the shapes on this page and speak them out loud because they aren’t nonsensical shapes to you.  If that isn’t extraordinary to you, I’d advise you to try thinking about it again.
  18. Children’s compliments.  I had a little girl tell me that my teeth were beautiful because of my braces.  Another told me that braiding hair was my very special talent.  There’s an innocent authenticity to those compliments.  They mean them almost more as facts than as compliments, which makes them all the sweeter.
  19. Falling asleep in the sun.  Whether it’s a lulling car ride, hammock lines on your cheek, or a post-meal relaxation on the porch, falling asleep in sunlight is immensely peaceful.  It’s no wonder cats love it so much.  It’s almost like the softest, lightest blanket imaginable.
  20. Crunchy leaves.  I can’t help myself.  I’m a child.  Whenever those beautiful autumn leaves swirl across my path, I will deliberately step through them.  There is no more satisfying noise of fall than the crisp crunch of leaves underfoot.  Not to mention it is the more sophisticated way of crashing face first into a massive pile of leaves, which I can’t deny enjoying either.  Go head and indulge your inner child.  I certainly won’t judge you, in fact, I’d probably join in.  God is such an amazing creator that even as the leaves die, they are beautiful and bring smiles to faces and warmth to hearts.
  21. Mail that makes you smile.  Sometimes it’s an unexpected note from a friend, or maybe it’s a really cheesy card from your grandma (complete with a packet of stickers).  Perhaps it’s that package that you ordered and have been awaiting with baited breath.  No matter what it is, it sure beats the daily grind of bills, ads, and college mail.
  22. Waving at strangers.  I’m from the midwest, so the stereotype of people being extremely friendly is pretty pervasive.  If someone is trying to get into traffic and I let them in, I’ll most likely get a smile and a little wave in return.  If I walk past someone on the sidewalk and meet their eye, they’ll probably say hello.  I don’t know the vast majority of the people I see around, but that’s half of the fun.  It’s a little interaction with someone I will probably never see again, but they brighten my day and I hope that I brighten theirs.
  23. People who have a real talent and a true passion for it.  I’m sure you know someone like that.  Not someone who is obnoxious and arrogant, but someone who does something they are good at simply because they love to do it.  They may or may not know how talented they truly are, but they aren’t trying to show off in any case.  Those are the kinds of people that can truly bring a smile to your face just by being in their element.  They draw people to themselves because they have such a deep running passion for what they do and it is quite evident.  They are truly outpouring their souls into their craft and that pure, unadulterated joy is felt by everyone who is touched by the work.
  24. Sentimentality.  This is my last year of high school, which means quite a few lasts.  The great thing is that, though they might be a little sad, they are really just another excuse to bring up great memories and revel in the moment.  I will never forget the people who have shaped my life thus far, and all of the incredible (and painful) experiences that have taught me so much about myself.  However, all of these memories and backstory is only a foundation for whatever God has in store for me in the coming years, months, weeks, and even in simply the next day.
  25. Doing something ridiculous and out of my comfort zone.  A friend and I decided after my final high school football game ever that it would be a god idea to run down on the track surrounding the field and play our clarinet and saxophone respectively as loud and insanely as we could.  That was waaaaaay outside of my comfort zone, but I can’t deny that it was immense fun.  I don’t regret it one bit, and it will make a really great story later on in life.
  26. Good friends and good food.  What a satisfaction those two things are together!  There’s something so contenting about sharing a mouthwatering meal with those nearest and dearest to oneself.  When your belly is happy and you have laughed off the majority of the calories that you ate in the first place, it’s so very easy to have a cheery disposition.  The conversation doesn’t have to be deep or intellectual, though it is always intriguing if it is, and it no one really has to try to start the mirth coming in full force.  And almost always, it is the most contented sleep that comes directly after these times of fellowship.
  27. Reading Jane Austen books for so long that you start to sound like them.  Had you noticed how that seems to be happening lately?  I certainly have, though I can’t say I find any shame in the fact.
  28. Reminders of why you love being alive.  Today marks one year since my classmate initially tried to take his own life.  He had clinical depression and life didn’t look like a livable place for him anymore.  It certainly wasn’t as if he didn’t want to enjoy life, but depression is a disease, not at all a choice.  Reasons like this are the reason that I do this blog.  Spencer was not a terrible person.  To be honest, I can’t say he was my favorite person, but that doesn’t mean that his death didn’t cause me immense pain.  Suicide is an extremely tough event to be left in the wake of, but Spencer felt that pain as part of his daily struggle to survive.  I know a great many people who were staggered by the news, but I know that I have in fact seen each and every one of them smile a bright, genuine smile since that day.  Does that mean that they are okay?  Of course not.  As a friend of mine mentioned, funerals shouldn’t have student sections.  And believe me, it is felt deeper than we knew we could feel that this funeral did have a student section.  An extremely large one.  What it does mean, however, is that God is healing us.  A deep wound takes a long time to heal and even when it does, it leaves a scar.  But healing is a process, not an event.  I remember just days after Koby’s death in May, a trusted mentor, my theology teacher, told me that the funeral would be a really tough day.  Possibly the hardest we’d have to face.  But then it would be Tuesday, and it would be a little less hard.  Then it would be Wednesday, and it would be a little bit easier than Tuesday.  All we can do is carry on, trusting that each day will be a little easier, and remembering that, no matter how wretched a day turns out to be, it was hand-crafted by God.  There is beauty in every day, and that is why we must look for it.  If we let the beauty go unnoticed, it passes by us, sinking us a little further into despair.  No matter who you are, or how awful your life is, I am praying that God may open your eyes to the nuggets of joy that he has generously strewn in your life.  If you need to force yourself to see it, do it anyway.  The longer you do, the easier it is to see the amazing God-given life that you are living and all of the opportunities for joy that he has placed in it.
  29. When someone says your name in a really fun way.  Not mispronouncing it, that is no fun.  I mean the times when people have a fun accent or add a pretty lilt to your name.  It makes you feel distinguished and precious, because someone has taken it upon themselves to assign that simple word a whole new meaning just for them based off of you.  If that doesn’t mean that you are special, I don’t know what does.  I cannot wait for the day when I hear God say my name directly, because I know that he will say it more familiarly and warmly than any person, no matter how treasured, could even attempt.
  30. Laser tag.  I had never played that until today.  It’s pretty fun.  I’m not going to say I wasn’t terrible at it, but I enjoyed feeling like a super cool secret agent or something.
  31. Returning to stories that you love.  Some things are more than just stories, they are places where we see and learn about ourselves in new and beautiful ways.  We see a new world around us based on what we have gleaned from those stories.  They can honestly change our lives.  So that is why I love to come back to them.

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