1. Harmless April Fool’s day jokes.  I’m not a fan of ones that are scary, but when every picture on my school’s website becomes Nicolas Cage’s face, I’m pretty okay with that.
  2. Saying yes when your friends ask you to go places with them.  I am usually the person who just wants to go home because I have so much to do and I need to recharge my people skills.  However, once in a while, I will actually agree to some spontaneous venture and genuinely enjoy myself.
  3. The death of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Wow, that’s a pretty happy-go lucky topic right?  But in all seriousness, the Creator of everything became a piece of creation so that he might take my sins and punishment of death upon himself because he loves me.  If that is not a beautiful sacrifice, I don’t know what is.
  4. A day of rest.  Today, I didn’t have much of anything to get done.  I simply had the opportunity to sit back and relax.  It was wonderful knowing I had a whole day in front of me that I didn’t need to rush around from one thing to another all day and watch all of my time slip away.
  5. Christ’s resurrection.  Okay, so the death part holds the beauty of sacrifice, but it wouldn’t mean anything if He didn’t come back to life.  Death would not have been conquered and we would have no hope.  But the story doesn’t end with the death.  We celebrate Easter because that is when Christ triumphantly burst from the grave.  O death, where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?
  6. Spending low-key time with family.  My family is gigantic.  My dad has six siblings and they are all married and most of them have kids and some of their kid are married and have kids.  And that’s not even counting all of his cousins and the other relatives that sometimes come around.  Whenever we get together, that is a lot of people in one house, so there is usually a flurry of activity everywhere.  We eat, which takes hours with all of us, then we clean up and start prep for the next meal.  Which is really fun, but also exhausting.  Today I spent some time just playing a card game with my family.  It wasn’t everyone, but it was a nice, relatively quiet time where I got to be around them without being constantly in motion.
  7. The weight that lifts when you make a big decision.  I decided where I’m going to college next year.  Finally.  It took  a whole lot of tears and indecision, but finally I decided.  Once I did that, so much stress just lifted out of my life.  I got the first step down and now it is all easier decisions from here.
  8. Watching people take what they are given and make it completely their own.  As I have been directing the play I wrote, I have loved seeing all of the creativity that has come out of it.  My classmates are not shaping into the exact characters I had in my head, but they are taking the lines and putting them with their own sorts of mannerisms and the result is something extremely collaborative and I’m quite pleased with it.
  9. Hearing unexpected happy news.  I learned several things today that I was not at all expecting and all of them came as pleasant surprises.  It’s like God is giving me little parcels to brighten my day and they certainly work!
  10. My sister’s antics.  My sister and I have something of a battle going on.  She hid tiny Zefrons all over my room, so I attached one to a cocktail umbrella and placed it back in hers.  I left valentines hidden all over her room so she littered mine with faces of my favorite tv show characters.  I placed memes in her picture frames all around her room and I was waiting for a while for her to make her next move.  She did so after my parents rearranged some furniture and I freaked out.  She decided that, while I was gone, she would rearrange the furniture in my room.  Fortunately, she didn’t have time, but she somehow managed to extricate the back of my office chair so that it was only a cuushiony little platform on wheels.  This is what I’ll miss when I move away to college, but I suspect we’ll manage to continue it somehow.
  11. Picking flowers from your garden to put in an arrangement.  Yeah, okay, I know that picking flowers makes them die.  But there is something so cheering about pulling in the colorful brightness of outside and setting it around the house.  It’s like you are putting a little bit of sunshine inside of your house and I think that is beautiful.
  12. Going on walks with my family.  We went out to eat tonight for dinner but the restaurant wasn’t too far from home so we just walked.  It was windy and a little chilly and it almost rained on us, but that just made it all the more fun.  It was this beautiful opportunity to bond with some of the people that I love most in the hole wide world.
  13. Having rich conversations with a mentor.  I keep having these realizations that I am about to finish high school and my life will drastically change forever.  One of the wonderful things – or rather, people – in my life is my bible study leader who has become one of my closest mentors in the five years that I have been around her.  I have learned so much from her, both from what she has explicitly said and simply from the way that she lives her life.  Every Monday she graciously opens her house to myself and the other girls in my study and we discuss our lives and Christ.  She is so generous about giving us her time and her efforts to shape us into Godly young women have made a tremendous impact in my life as well as the lives of the other girls.  I love it most when we get really deep into a topic and she really wants us to understand something because she is so passionate about it.  Her eyes light up and she leans forward in her chair and the whole atmosphere around her becomes charged.  She is one of the greatest blessings in my life and I am so glad that God placed her here on this earth and then brought her to me.
  14. Broadening your vocabulary by looking at the vocabulary of the past.  My friend randomly decided our of nowhere today that she wanted to find a new out-of-date slang term to use every day.  She started looking them up and there are some really fun slang terms from the nineteenth century out there.  My new favorite is “chuckaboo” which is from the late 1800s and means close friend.  Is that not the most adorable word you have ever heard?
  15. When trees first start to bud.  I love seeing all of the flowering trees burst into color in the spring.  Then the rest of the trees start sporting little green clusters and soon everything is a riot of color.  It’s like spring is an incredibly anxious child, waiting for the world to wake up from winter and when it does, spring can’t help but jump at the opportunity to be everywhere all at once.
  16. Making something extremely organized.  I am maybe a little too happy when everything looks nice and neat.  It is so relaxing to know that there aren’t random things laying around that I’ll have to deal with later.
  17. Realizing that you love life exactly as it currently is.  Sitting here on a beautiful spring day, I can feel the charged end-of-the-year atmosphere just as acutely as the subtle breeze venturing in the open classroom window.  I can hear the class next door discussing government, the click of the keys as my class types, the boisterous energy of the middle schoolers at break, and the unspoken need to soak in these last few weeks together, the noises blending like a symphony.  I am excited to finish high school, terrified to leave it behind, and somewhere in that tension, I have found a balance.  I am enjoying today.  This moment is alive and bursting with contentment.  As the minutes of my life continue to tick past, I am confident that each one is worth savoring.  Each moment is comprised of a balance between nostalgia, imagination, and wonder.  And the moments when the balance is right where it needs to be are the moments when life is full.
  18. When little kids call you a princess.  Today was prom, which inevitably means beautiful gowns and general dressiness all over the place. My friends and I were among this number of gown-wearing girls and I’m not going to lie I always have a good time when I get to wear an extravagant dress.  What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the reaction I would get from so many kids.  When we went to dinner, no less than half a dozen little kids looked up at me with the most unabashed innocent look of awe.  Several also shyly told me how beautiful I looked or that I looked like a princess.  I don’t know if there is anything that makes me feel more beautiful than that.  I felt like I really was a sort of princess.
  19. Rediscovering the things you love.  Be it family, friends, food, literature, venues, whatever, it is far too easy for us to forget about the things we love or forget why we love them.  But fortunately, it almost makes the realization so much sweeter when we unexpectedly run across the love and enthusiasm that we buried beneath our business, forgetfulness, and apathy.  Our eyes take back that enthusiastic sparkle and we just can’t seem to let the subject drop in conversation.  Our sudden outburst of excitement might not make the most sense to the world, but it is still a beautiful thing to us.
  20. Disagreeing about things.  Sometimes people have different opinions.  Sometimes people are wrong.  Most of the time, those two facts are not exactly appealing topics to discuss.  However, sometimes it is possible to get into a disagreement that does not break a relationship but makes it stronger.  A disagreement forces people to admit that they might be wrong on a certain subject or there might be no right answer at all.  A lively discussion can be just the thing that is necessary to make a new perspective click into place and enhance a person’s understanding of something.  In such a case, disagreements can have good outcomes.
  21. Snuggling with my kitty.  Usually, my cat is rather adverse to human interaction.  The only time she actually likes people is when it is time for her to get food.  I have recently discovered, however, that when I am home alone, she loves to come snuggle with me.  Having a cat on your lap is such a happy feeling.  It is like all is well in the world because this aloof little furball is choosing to love you.  Cherish kitty snuggle times because they are rare and beautiful gems.
  22. Smiling until your face hurts but you just can’t make yourself stop.  Those are good days.  Good days indeed.
  23. Senior “last” milemarkers.  Today I sang for the last time at a district competition for high school choir.  Tomorrow is the last day for band.  Last weekend was the last high school dance I will ever attend as a high schooler.  At the end of every school dance, they play the song Closing Time as the last song.  We all stand in a gigantic circle and sway back and forth as we belt the lyrics at the top of whatever remains of our voices.  At prom, I was bawling bittersweet tears the entire song because that was the last time I’d ever have that experience.  It made me appreciate the moment and the people in it even more.
  24. Saying goodbye.  I know, these are starting to sound pretty repetitive and nostalgic, but bear with me.  There is a beauty about saying goodbye that is impossible to see until you have done it.  I graduate in three weeks, which is absolutely terrifying, but there will be a great deal of farewells to be said when that day comes around.  I said my first one today, but it was of a rather different sort.  For quite some time now, I have been wanting to go to the grave of my friend who died last year.  I definitely wanted to make it out there before the anniversary of his death and I finally did it today.  When I first got there, I couldn’t find his grave anywhere.  I was at the point of giving up and coming back some other time when my mom accidentally found it for me.  I never had actually told him goodbye and this was my chance.  It was such a moment of resolution.  I have honestly been more or less fine for at least six months, but it was still a sense of finality in today.  That finality is a beautiful way to let him go.  It doesn’t mean that I am forgetting about him, just that I am accepting that, while he is a part of my past, he is a part of my past.  That doesn’t make sense, but trust me.  It was a good thing.
  25. Unreliable narrators.  I’m reading The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, which is a novel based on the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (big shocker there).  Something that I never noticed the first time that I read it but have really appreciated this time around is the blatant unreliability of Lizzie as a narrator.  She is telling everything straight from her perspective and there are things that are obvious to the reader but she remains blissfully unaware of them.  It makes the book feel so much more personal and real. Lizzie Bennet is such a relatable character because she acts like any other human with their first impressions and their predjudices (see what I did there?).  And even as the story continues and she changes dramatically as a person and in her understanding of other people, she retains her voice and her unreliability.  Sure, she might trust some people more and others less, but she is still extremely biased based on her opinions.  I love how tangible that makes her seem.  It is a beautiful style of writing/scripting that is so raw and lively.
  26. Sitting on the porch, soaking up the sun.  There’s a reason the word “soak” is used to describe sunlight.  When you are sitting outside and not moving but simply sitting, life takes on this beautiful quality of stillness.  As if that moment is preserved for a little bit in a bubble of contentment.  And there is a reason we use the word “soak” to refer to sunlight.  You can feel it washing across your skin, as each pore seems to fill with it.  Even if being still isn’t generally your thing, there is a magical moment when you finally find the time to just sit.
  27. That warm fuzzy feeling when you feel like you are a part of something amazing.  My original inspiration for writing the Daily Beautiful was Neil Pasricha’s The Book of Awesome.  When I heard his story, about how his life seemed to be crumbling around him, I was sad for him but I didn’t feel I could relate.  However, I thought his idea was amazing and I wanted to be a part of that, well, Awesomeness.  I had no idea when I started this what God was going to do with it.  I didn’t know that it would be something to force me to spot the blessings he left for me on the darkest days.  I didn’t know that it would help me to learn and grow in my faith by constantly thanking Him for all of the beautiful things in my life.  I had no idea that seeing the positive in life could strengthen my resolve and teach me how to comfort others.  Today, Neil Pasricha’s Awesome tidbit of the day was a thank you for everyone who has joined the movement with him.  And while he probably has no idea I exist, I love knowing that we are networked together by our stubborn endeavor to find beauty even in the most unlikely of days.  And if you are here, that means you are a part of this too.  Whether it is the perfect day or the opposite, you are here soldiering happily through life with us too, so welcome to the wonderful life, chuckaboo!
  28. When you burst out laughing for absolutely no reason but you just can’t help yourself.  I am unusually prone to laughter.  I will laugh at every little thing that might be a little bit funny.  Sometimes, it doesn’t even take anything to persuade me to laugh.  It is just such a healthy thing to let loose and enjoy yourself.  I think laughter is one of the most cleansing things a person can do.  If you are feeling overwhelmed and bogged down, laughter is a little breath of fresh air.  It makes your chest just a little lighter and it uncurls your shoulders just a little bit straighter.  Laughter really is the best medicine.
  29. Unexpected visitors.  I have been finding out all week about people who will be attending a play this weekend.  Said play is my child and I am so proud to show it off to all of these lovely people who are coming to see it.
  30. Reading old books.  I am currently reading an original copy of a book that was published in 1910 called Molly Make-believe.  It feels like I am holding a little window to the past between my fingers.  It’s one thing to read a book that was written long before you were born, but it is completely another to read from a copy that was printed that long ago.  I can feel the history seeping through my hands as I read and that is pretty darn snazzy.

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