Gazing Upward



Last Friday, I was feeling a little blue. I wasn’t sure why. I think I was simply exhausted. The littles had had their first day of school, first ballet class, and first soccer practice. Caroline had a couple of doctor’s appointments. Scott was (and is) working long days to prepare for an upcoming trial. I finally realized that if I don’t want my wheat allergy to continue progressing toward full-blown Celiac Disease, I’m going to have to suck it up, say goodbye to some of my fave foods, and go gluten-free. And let’s face it, I hadn’t spent good quality time with the Lord. It wasn’t a horrible week. In fact, it had been pretty good. But I was dead tired.

Enough about my own issues. My day was not unlike the days many of you often endure. We’re living through a challenging season. As high as our calling is as servants, wives, and mothers, it’s still difficult at the end of the day to smile and consider our job well done. Sometimes, it seems that we’re never done.

So back to last Friday. All three kids were at school. After working out, I thought I’d check out the new used bookstore in town called “2nd and Charles.” And to my great delight, I found these:

Two novels by Steinbeck, one of which I’m currently reading but could not find a good hardcover copy! (Sidenote: East of Eden is fabulous! And I’m only 7 chapters in.)

One of my pleasures in life is reading. I read everything from mysteries and current bestsellers to biographies and Christian devotionals. But my favorite genre is classic literature, and preferably 19th century lit by British authors. I know…I sound pretty snobby. Or nerdy. Or both.
But I digress. Back again to Friday when I discovered this treasure. This is the cover of The Grapes of Wrath, this particular edition published in 1967. I am convinced they had this book shrinkwrapped in plastic because it has no discoloration or foxing on the pages.

Isn’t the dusk jacket beautiful? And this is the what the hardcover looks like…just like my mom’s copy! My mom has shelves and shelves of books that I have read or hope to soon read. And her copies are just beautiful. So I developed a habit of scouting out rare, old, or eye-pleasing copies of the books that I adore.

I also found this copy of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Beautiful illustrations fill the pages.
After the I left the bookstore, I wondered if my sudden joy was sinful. You know what I mean…. material possessions filling me with giddiness when really I should be relying on Christ as the source of my joy and vitality. But the Lord spoke to my heart with a reassurance that many things in this world He provides for our happiness. After all, He gifted the writers with their creativity and eloquence. He blessed the musicians with their talents and melodies. He created the coffee bean from the beginning of time with the knowledge that a savory cup of coffee could comfort and rejuvenate just as He desires. Perhaps He literally meant it when He inspired the verse, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” At 6 am in the morning, a sip of coffee makes me believe it. 🙂
I recalled the passage in Lamentations 3 about His mercies being new every morning. And I wondered if just maybe God presents some of his mercies in the form of “happies” that uplift our spirit and energize us enough to take the next step forward. As long as we understand that He alone is our bread of life, we can partake of the minor joys of life with gratitude and delight.
For me, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a glowing sunset, a sparkling glass of wine, an antique novel, an enticing read, a yellow tulip … all these things are little “happies” that can lighten my day within seconds. This book, which I uncovered in a London antiquarian bookstore years ago, intrigues me with its history and personalization.

Leo V. Quimby…Belfast…Christmas 1881, From Sister Annie.

This is the oldest book I own. And sometimes I’ll open the cover and stare in wonder at the the calligraphic writing, just pondering the personality of the being whose hands one beheld this literary work. What was his home like? A modest cabin or a glorious castle? How large was Leo’s family? Was Annie a true familial relation or a devoted nun? Or a forbidden love to the receiver of this holiday present? Isn’t it fun to imagine?

Sometimes I lose myself in the magic of the object. And I am thankful that the Lord created such gifts. Because they’re a temporary diversion from the arduous task before us. A glorious and noble task, but one that demands attention, commitment, energy, love, prayer, and sacrifice. And aren’t you glad that God has such forethought, such innovation, such LOVE that He would create and inspire daily joys that can deliver a smile to our weary faces? I certainly am. So I do not feel at all guilty for bouncing out of the bookstore with my newfound literary treasures. Their beauty and literary flair gave me the umph to continue persevering. It was then that I realized my need to increase my awareness of everyday surprises and beauties that God may be orchestrating just for us. For our pleasure. For our enjoyment. For our inspiration. And sometimes, on those frustrating, hair-raising, or simply blue days…for our sanity. God is good…all the time.

What are the little happies that make you smile?


  • Comment by Cindy — September 14, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    I agree the pumpkin spice lotte this time of year makes me a little giddy. Fall in general makes me happy.

  • Comment by Stephanie — September 14, 2011 @ 3:05 am

    a caramel latte, freshly painted toenails, chex mix, and a new magazine…happy!

  • Comment by Kim — September 14, 2011 @ 3:38 am

    peanut butter with chocolate is a definite happie for me. but now i am ready to find a used book store. what treasures.

  • Comment by iBall Mobiles — September 14, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • Comment by Mary — September 14, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    Right now, hearing that my NVC letter is dropped off at the Consulate would make me VERY happy. But that isn't going to happen… so, perhaps that pumpkin spice latte will do the trick.

  • Comment by Ashley — September 14, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    I have been a distant reader for sometime now. I have loved following your journey and I especially love your honesty and realness. Thank you.

    Books make me smile too.

    Blessings, Ashley

  • Comment by Amy — September 14, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

    I teach British literature to high schoolers, mostly because I LOVE Brit lit myself!! My favorite genre? British mysteries–from the Golden Age. Love, love, love!!

  • Comment by Amy Parker — September 15, 2011 @ 3:16 am

    I must admit I am gleeful over a new cookbook. I love to curl up on the couch and flip through one for an hour.

  • Comment by Ericka B. Jackson — September 16, 2011 @ 6:26 am

    Oh friend – I LOVE this post! I just found myself some new little “happies” (a precious little ceramic owl and a gorgeous hardback copy of Jane Austen's Emma!) and was feeling a little guilty myself. Thanks for reminding me that God delights in blessing His children and He loves to see us smile!

    AND thanks for the tip on that bookstore! I have loved the idea of collecting “antique” books for a while but haven't yet had time to start my collection. I can't wait to check out that store!

    When life slows down a little for you (yeah right- like that ever happens with kids, HA!) and when I get unpacked and semi-settled in (praying it happens soon) we will have to grab coffee. I'd love to catch up with you now that we're in B'ham! 🙂

  • Comment by Ericka B. Jackson — September 16, 2011 @ 6:27 am

    ps – speaking of Fall, have you seen this recipe? I can't wait to try it!

  • Comment by Kelley Brown — September 19, 2011 @ 1:04 am

    Ericka, thanks for the link to that recipe! Yum!

    And Amy…love that you teach British Lit! Do you have any recommendations to share??? 🙂

    Mary..hope you get the notice of the NVC letter drop off tomorrow if it hasn't already happened.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment