Apparently my boss has been talking about me. To his wife. I know because she told me when we ran into each other in Hobby Lobby and I helped her with a craft project.
He's not sure why I'm so happy all the time.
This made me chuckle because I'm not sure if other people in my life would describe me as happy all the time or not.
I knew this conversation was the perfect opportunity for me to tell my boss' wife all about what God has done for me and how I can have joy even if it doesn't match my circumstances.
Instead of delivering an eloquent speech salted with the Holy Spirit, I clumsily said, "It's God. God is the reason I'm so happy." Insert awkward silence. Then I changed the subject back to what we were originally talking about. I felt like a kid in Sunday school who didn't understand the question but shouted "Jesus!" as if it was surely the answer.
But I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
There's so much I could've said!
Plus I started evaluating myself. How happy am I? How much of my joy do I let leak out to other people? Why is it so easy for me to compartmentalize my life stress so I can always be cheerful at work? Don't other people in my life deserve the same cheerfulness?
Here's what I've come up with.
I think I really am happy. I haven't always been, and I won't always be, but I'm happy in this season of my life.
I treasure my kids. I love them like mothers love their children. But I also savor my babies. Because we've been through the fire and we are mostly on the other side. Still standing. All together.
Imagine someone you loved deeply who has passed away. Now imagine that you got that person back. That is basically the life I am living.
I didn't know if my son was alive or dead. He did not look alive. First responders didn't know if he would be revived. Four hours later, when I finally got to see him, he was on life support with no sign of life within him. Minutes passed like weeks for I-don't-know-how-long. I lost my baby, and then I got him back.
There's has not been one day since that hasn't been affected by that accident. Every. Single. Day. I am aware that Griffin's mere presence is a gift. And I can't help but feel the same way about my other two children. And my husband, for that matter. My husband, who is the winner of the title Best Husband Ever. For realz. It took months to heal from the trauma of what we went through, but we are finally healed enough to bask in the awesomeness of being a whole family.
So every morning my alarm goes off and I grumpily hit snooze until panic tells me that we're all going to be late unless I get up NOW. I sleepily uncrumple myself and head directly to the kitchen for coffee. But I come around the corner and see precious, soft Griffin at the table. He's alone, eating breakfast, reading his book. He's in just underwear and he is the softest thing ever created. His hair is crazy and his cheeks are begging to be kissed. And I am eerily aware of this alternate life path where Griffin didn't receive miraculous healing, and my morning walk to the coffee pot would not include the detour to kiss his sweet face. So I kiss him a few extra times. And maybe just once (twice) more.
Then I have the task of waking Nora, which is roughly like slaying a dragon with my hands tied behind my back and shackles on my feet. But her long, lean body is tucked snugly under her blankets, and only her mass of wild, living hair is visible. When I kiss her warm, smooth cheeks, she wakes just enough to tell me what she wants for breakfast. She often croaks out, "Please and thank you."
As I make Nora's breakfast, Nolan groggily saunters into the kitchen. He makes his own eggs for his breakfast and then he makes and packs his own lunch. He cares if his outfit matches and if his hair looks good. I notice that today he looks 0.1% less like a boy and more like a man than yesterday.
And I know that I get to enjoy them exactly like this for this morning only because tomorrow morning they will be a whole day older and closer to being teens and then adults. I have no idea what it will be like when I can't just kiss their faces whenever I want to. I know how each of their skin smells. I won't always be able to hold them and savor their physical closeness like I do now. So morning time with my kids is one of my favorite things about my life right now.
Things get a little crazy when I am trying to get ice packs in lunches and lunches in back packs and kids in their shoes and coats and oh wait the water bottles and oh we have one minute to get in the car and why am I not wearing any socks?
But then there's this part of my day that fills my heart to overflowing. Once we back out of the driveway and head toward the boys' school, we enter an adventure that we have created together. We mentally catalog the color of every leaf right now. We note the fact that there will be fewer leaves tomorrow. We are searching everywhere for the rare sighting of "Mario." He is an older gentlemen who walks in our neighborhood wearing a red track suit and a red cap with an M on it. We only see him once every few weeks. But when we spot him, it's the most exciting thing that has happened in weeks.
Then we drive by Lonely Lake. We have named it this because of how often it is void of animal life, which prompts me to do this low-toned sing-songy thing where I say "Lonely Lake" in a way that sounds like a foghorn. But then there are days when we see a couple of ducks or a gaggle of geese. That makes us happy, and we cheer because Lonely Lake isn't lonely!
Next is the spot where we can see Wilson School between the trees and we shout, "Oh Mr. Wilson!" We drive by Duck Bottom Pond, where we used to always see ducks diving for something (we make up what they are actually diving for). If we spot a duck on the pond, we yell "Duck bottoms!!" as loudly as possible.
This school year we have the added bonus of watching two houses being built just past Duck Bottom Pond. Each day we look to see what's new as we track the progress. But then we get to the stop sign where we can see the factory stacks pumping out smoke. I ask, "What are they making at the factory today?" Each child takes a turn answering, which usually fills our drive until we reach the school.
Once the boys are dropped off, Nora and I have a tiny bit of girl time. We get one bonus driving adventure. We drive by a ditch that has been filling with water for quite some time. A month or so ago, we noticed one male duck and one female duck floating on the water. We have decided that they are teenage ducks secretly in love and they meet at this oversized puddle each morning. But all last week there was no sign of the duck couple. We assumed the parents discovered their forbidden romance and grounded the teenage ducks. We are holding out hope that they will one day be together again.
By the time I drop off Nora at her school at 8:25, I am bursting at the seams with joy from my children. I can hardly believe that I get to do this Mom thing.
Three days a week, I head immediately to work from Nora's school. My work is about 15 seconds away from the school. I enjoy chatting with patients and love getting to know my coworker. I've been there since September, so I'm finally feeling confident in what I'm doing (about 80% of the time...). I earn just enough money to help pay off the medical bills from Griffin's accident (yuck). I get out of the house and feel useful. I have a reason to do my hair and makeup, and yet I get to wear scrubs to work. And then I leave at lunch time and still have two hours to run errands, do home tasks, etc.
Basically, what I'm saying is...I get to live my dream. I am disgustingly in love with my husband. I have three children who are alive and thriving. I get to work and be home.
All of this ridiculous happiness is juxtaposed against the last two years of hell. I love every 3.5 hour shift of work because I spent a year homebound with Nolan. Instead of driving my son to endless pointless doctor appointments, I am earning money to pay off medical bills. Instead of trying to sit Nolan upright to do school work at our kitchen table, I'm making up adventures on our drive to school. Instead of aching for the son we lost in unexpected tragic accident in our back yard, I'm listening to him learn Chinese and practice piano while his hair is crazy and his clothes don't match.
This season makes me happy because of the season we just came out of. And I know there will be tough seasons ahead. Which is all the more reason to be annoyingly happy about life right now.
And let's not pretend that things are perfect. My kids fight with each other and leave the lights on and toothpaste on the counter and whine about going to each other's events and never go to bed when I want them to. I'm at least 20 pounds overweight, my hair color is wrong, and I have digestive issues every darn day. Our van needs new tires and decides if it wants to start when I tell it to. The dishes are never done and our house is never clean for more than four minutes. And precious Nolan still has his headache 24 hours per day.
But I have the choice of which things to focus on, and right now I can't help but be grateful for the good. You know why? Because of God.
God brought us through all of that insanely hard stuff. God gave me strength when I was all out. He helped Nolan find a way to do life again even though he is still in pain. He literally brought Griffin back to life. He gave Nora the gifts of humor and creativity. He gave me the desire to have children and then fulfilled that desire. He created Jared to be this exceptional man, and then He brought Jared and me together. He blessed us with a home and two cars and food and clothes and the ability to walk and run and play basketball and tumble. My kids are doing great in school, I'm learning a new job, and Jared is still employed after his company has gone through multiple rounds of layoffs.
So every morning I thank God for a full night of sleep (because I didn't always get this). I read a quick devotion and truly aim to put into practice what it says. Today. I want to know God more today and live more for Him today. And I thank Him for my kids as we do our morning routine, and I pray for Him to help my friends and people who are going through difficult stuff. I know that every good thing in my day is a gift from God. Every hard thing in my day is something God chose to include and He has a plan to use it.
So these are the things I wish I could have said when asked why I'm so happy. It's probably a bit much to explain in the aisles of Hobby Lobby, but I had to get it out or I would burst!