small pieces of joy

pieces of joy in each day


Today’s small thing: making a plan for lent

Hey, it’s Ash Wednesday…boo!

That’s kind of how I felt today as lent creeped up on me and knocked me out of bed.

The problem I have with lent is that it is perceived as a horrible time of self-sacrifice and denial. A time of not eating your beloved steak and instead eating a basket of fish and chips (it’s rough). A time of feeling bad about yourself waiting for the banquet of Easter. A time of guilt and sadness.

Lent is so much more than that. It’s a time of reflection. A time of change. A time, set apart each year, to identify what is going on in your life and actually take steps to move in a positive direction. A time to work on yourself and your relationship with God.

It is too too easy to spend life not knowing what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how others around you are affected. I have the curse of ALWAYS thinking about those things yet never doing anything about them.

That is why I love Lent. Not because I like to remind myself of what I do wrong, but because I can remind myself of what I CAN do RIGHT. And then take active steps to change. To return to the path I want to walk, and to bring God along with me.

So today I spent some time making a list of the things in my life I want to change. Anything I want to change. From keeping my house clean, to daily prayer, to drinking 64oz of water a day kind of things. Then I decided which ONE I wanted to focus on this lent and made a daily plan to work on that.

I’ve decided I want to work on keeping my house clean. I’ve mentioned it before but I’m determined to make the sacrifices I need to make to create a stress-free home, during this time of action. I think I’m going to make myself get up at the same time each morning (talk about a LOFTY goal) and throughout the day focus on my daily cleaning plan. I made a plan similar to this before, but it failed miserably. Here is my new plan.


My hope is that as I complete one of the tasks I will check it off and feel a sense of accomplishment. Who knows, this could fail just like the last one. But I’m trying, and that is the point, right?

I’m also going to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to pray each day, in addition to my alarm that reminds me to do some kind of workout during nap time. Oh the many alarms I will be answering in the near future…

It may seem silly to focus on this, when lent is a time to bring yourself back to God. But for me, right now, taking care of my home and my sanity are ways I can order my life back to God. I can make room for Him by making this change. Instead of worrying about my messy house all the time, I can maybe sit for a few minutes and talk to Him.

I just wanted to share these things because I love hearing what people are doing to better their lives and relieve stress (read–tell me what you’re doing!). I hope others feel the same. Remember, Lent is not a terrible horrible time. It’s an opportunity for greatness.

What is your plan?



I’ve learned many things since losing Dad and Grandpa. Some of them I’ve blogged about already but one I’ve been hesitant to share. Not because I don’t think it is an important lesson, but because it is so personal and revealing. Plus it might give me more accountability, which of course is a scary thing!

Being faced with mortality has done a lot to me physically, mentally, spiritually, all the ‘ally’ words, really. In some ways it has been close to depressing, but in other ways it has been a good motivator.

If I only live to be 54 like Dad, what kind of life do I want to live? Was I living that life before Dad got sick? What can I do to make sure I live the life I want?

There are so many things that are not in my control. I’ve been spending a lot of time worrying about those things, with nothing to show for it.


The phrase “worrying is like praying for something you don’t want” has entered my thoughts many times, but the worrying is still hard to shake.

Here is the important thing.

There are so many things that are in my control. Taking this as my mantra for the past few months, life has been a little easier, and a little brighter.

Part of taking control for me has been identifying the things that cause me stress and then finding ways to eradicate the problem. The other part is telling myself the extra work will be worth it! Here are a few things that have been stressful for me, and how I’ve slowly taken control.

1. I’m frustrated that I don’t have a big house with all the nice things.  A bigger house is not in the cards right now (sigh) so I had to identify ways to make the place feel bigger because we’re quickly outgrowing our two bedroom apartment. It is really difficult to stop the house envy, especially when most people my age own their own homes. I can’t change that, however, so I have to change what I have. We have done some rearranging and donating and trashing, so hopefully in the next few months the place will feel bigger, and maybe look nicer with some new furniture, curtains, and artwork.

2. I gained a lot of weight after having a baby and living a life of stress for two years. Most women aim to lose all their baby weight right after pregnancy. Well, a month after having George, Dad got sick, and for the next year I was back and forth to KC as well as trying to be a new mom, and of course eating my emotions. Not the best weight management conditions. So to take control of this I started seeing a wellness coach and nutritionist. So far so good—after drinking more water and eating more veggies I’m more than 5 pounds lighter and closer to my goal of being healthier. It is so nice to have a few people encouraging me to take these small steps to feeling better about myself.

3. I can’t keep my house clean. This has been a life long issue, just ask my former roommates. But when I’m already stressed and I live in a messy place, it makes it hard to ever feel relaxed and happy. The idea of keeping every room in my house spotless is daunting. So, I started small and I just aim to have the kitchen clean each night. Dishes done and counters wiped. That’s it. And that’s really all I’ve been able to do, but it is a tiny success. I’ll take it.

Those are a few of the many things I want to take control of, but my wellness coach says three goals is just enough to start. So there I start on my quest to take control.

What are some things you can take control of today?

P.S. Here are a few books I’ve been reading lately: The Blue Zones:9 Lessons for Living Longer and Thirsting for Prayer

And here is a website for setting your personal goals for this year The Best Year Yet

1 Comment »


Today’s small thing: inspiring words about happiness

It has been hard to be happy lately. And even harder to write on this blog, especially since my goal is to be positive! But today I was inspired to be happy. Not because it is easy, but because I can choose it.

“Happiness is choosing to love what you have.”

I’ve been upset about what has happened to my family recently. And that is completely valid. Losing two family members within 5 months of each other from a horrible monster called brain cancer is infuriating. And incredibly sad.

I just don’t want or need that to consume my life.

So on Kathie Lee and Hoda (of all shows, really) a lady named Regina Brett was on talking about her new book. I did some research and found her post from 8 years ago about 50 life lessons. And they really struck a chord with me today. I might need to post these all over my house as reminders. I felt compelled to share this because some of you might need some inspiration too. 

Here is the original post.

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift..


So today I’m going to choose to be happy. Even if it only lasts for a little while, I know where to find it again.