It’s not uncommon to hear a cackle here, a cackle there, a cackling throughout the day as our free range flock visits the coop to lay an egg. I love to hear them gently announcing the prize for their hard work. Often times, Elvis, our kind-hearted and only free-ranging rooster, will lead a few hens in a chorus of support for the happy egg layer. The egg song is heard often and unobtrusively. Until tonight.

In one of our smaller coops is a very special flock. It’s a coop full of 9 silkies. They are fluffy, they are docile, and they are the teddy bears and lap dogs of chickendom.  They cuddle by day and huddle by night, confined to the safety of their coop and run. These young pullets and cockerels are the highlight of my flock and my friends and family love to gander at these lovely little puff balls. These puffy fluffy little sweethearts often don’t lay until at least a year, according to my research. So they’ve got a ways to go, or so I thought.

Suddenly, in an instant, an absolute ruckus rang across the chicken yard from the cozy coop just out the back door to the free range flock’s house on the other side of the goat pen. I flew to the window to see every chicken in sight had joined in this very egcited egg song. The breeding coops were singing their hearts out, the bantams and the cochins, the speckled sussex and the Easter Eggers, all singing along while the free rangers were crooning at the top of the their beaks. Every chicken near and far rejoicing because 1 small silkie laid an egg.

I could learn a lot from a chicken. Romans 12:15 (NLT) says be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Yeah, on Facebook, it’s easy to show happy and easy to shop weeping, but what about those real days where your friend is giddy over her promotion – the one you didn’t get? Or when my child excitedly built their 457th lego castle that day? Or the friend that is still sighing over the breakup or the loss?

We could learn a lot from a chicken. 

We need to learn to celebrate, even when we don’t feel like it. We need to learn to show empathy, even when our heart isn’t on straight. So we swallow and choke down that pride of ours, and we set aside our broken dreams or our elated hopes and we sing that egg song or we sing that song of mourning. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. It isn’t always easy, but it is always the loving thing to do.

Cackle along, my friends. Cackle along.

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  1. Get some sun!
  2. Take a brisk walk.
  3. Go for the gabfest.
  4. Be kind to someone else.
  5. Make music.
  6. Preferably with children. Especially your own.
  7. Clean out a cabinet.
  8. Donate clothes you don’t need.
  9. Take dog food to an animal shelter.
  10. Read a book.
  11. Meditate on your favorite Bible verse.
  12. Take dog food to an animal shelter.
  13. Sing a song to God.image
  14. Make a list of blessings. All of them. Hang it up.
  15. Offer to clean house, make meals, or babysit for a new mom.
  16. Bring puzzles to a nursing home. Stay long enough to put one together.
  17. Eat chocolate alone.
  18. Eat kale with a friend.
  19. Take slow, deep breaths and let go of all the tension.
  20. Exercise! Even for 5 minutes.
  21. Create a sacred space in your house – a cozy spot for prayer, Bible reading, or whatever.
  22. Craft.
  23. Sail paper airplanes with kids in the neighborhood.
  24. Take flowers to a lonely widow.
  25. Diffuse frankincense essential oil.12718245_10209123865354261_6862987505419495670_n
  26. Sit by the fire and listen to it crackle, breathe in the scent of smoke, and relax.
  27. Plant flowers.
  28. Set up a bird feeder.
  29. Talk to chickens. Or guinea pigs. Or puppy dogs.
  30. Take a nap!
  31. Drive with the windows down.
  32. Have relay races with your kids.
  33. Handwrite a letter to a friend or family member.
  34. Tell knock knock jokes to elementary students.
  35. Create a dance party for your family.
  36. Paint your nails a crazy color.
  37. Tell God all the things you love about Him.
  38. Tell your spouse all the things you love about them.
  39. Tell your children you’re proud of them.
  40. Learn a yoga pose.
  41. Try something new – art, music, archery – no matter how old you are.IMG_0255
  42. Write a love letter to your significant other.
  43. Write a love letter to God.
  44. Write a love letter to yourself, detailing all the great parts that make up you.
  45. Spend some time reading your Bible, and ask God to speak to you.
  46. Drink a great cup of coffee.
  47. Read some awesome blogs (see the blogroll for ideas).
  48. Send a digital gift card to a friend for no reason.
  49. Buy your groceries at a farmer’s market.
  50. Plan a vegetable garden, or at least a vegetable plant.
  51. Write a song, even if you’re not a musician.
  52. Turn your phone off and enjoy the peace and quiet.12274560_10208341969687358_974294269506600596_n
  53. Research a Bible character or story. Ask God to help you apply it to your life.
  54. Take funny selfies and text them to unsuspecting friends.
  55. Throw your kids a tea party with tea sandwiches and tiny cups of juice.
  56. Watch ridiculous facebook or youtube videos.
  57. Try a new recipe.
  58. Start a blog and write about your favorite things.
  59. Hold a mock photo shoot with your children or pets. Order the prints from Snapfish.
  60. Ride a bike.
  61. Forgive someone who has hurt you.
  62. Forgive yourself.
  63. Pray for people you don’t like. Pray for people who do.
  64. Ask Siri to show you how to beat box.IMG_0166
  65. Sit in silence and listen to God.
  66. Sponsor a child from World Vision.
  67. Mow your neighbor’s lawn.
  68. Make a list of things that make you happy. Pick one and do it.
  69. Set a timer and then clean something.
  70. Buy a box of Joe for the teacher’s at your kids’ school.
  71. Make fried bananas.
  72. Ask God to give you joy.
  73. Scroll up and sign up for the newsletter on this blog.
  74. Plan your dream vacation, even if it’s 5 or 10 years down the road.
  75. Start saving for it. Every penny counts.
  76. Buy pizza for a foster family.
  77. Adopt a dog. Or a gold fish.image
  78. Go to a foster care informational meeting and find out how you can help children in care.
  79. Make a list of things that bring you joy. Do at least one a day.
  80. Set up your living room like a movie theater. Eat popcorn and watch a favorite movies.
  81. Find a Bible reading plan at biblegateway.com. Then use it.
  82. Look for God’s hand in nature.
  83. Look for God’s hand in your life.
  84. Do someone else’s chores without them knowing.
  85. Make your kids beds while they are at school.
  86. Sneak little notes into your loved ones’ lunch boxes.
  87. Sell something and use the money to help someone else.10402817_10209321482294561_5875413210361805778_n
  88. Eat a nutritious breakfast – even if it’s dinner time.
  89. Make fresh salsa.
  90. Eat off of the good china.
  91. Daydream.
  92. Plan your garden.
  93. Doodle.
  94. Facetime someone.
  95. Listen to the bird’s sing.
  96. Ask your family questions about their likes and dislikes.
  97. Start a new hobby.
  98. Go outside and gaze at the stars after dark.
  99. Plant a tree.
  100. Share this blog post!

My ‘normal’ state of being is a happy contendedness. How I feel when all is well, life is normal, and I am simply feeling pleasant.  It is where I feel most like myself, with an inner calm and a sense of excitement about what life will bring. It is my happy. It’s usually accompanied by coffee.

Only most people would probably agree, my life is far from normal. My family size is definitely not normal – an almost 20 year marriage and 6 kids (a combination of biological, adopted, and fostered) under the age of 9. My dream  profession, also not normal. My deepest desire and calling is to be a pastor. My lifestyle – not typical – trying to build a miniature farm on a suburban 3 acre lot. My preferred food plan – clean/Paleo with an occasional cupcake – is not for everyone. My love of chickens, and cats, and baby everything. My passion for foster care and special needs. My love of fitness and essential oils. My excessive furniture rearranging. My penchant for dreaming up possiblities. My collection of books, both physical and electronic. And my need for creative expression through music and writing, well, OK, that might be the most normal thing about me. These are all of the things that are a part of who I am, whether they are normal or not. And they are the things that bring me to my happy.image

But sometimes, I simply lose my happy. I’m not talking about clinical depression here. Not grief, not chemical imbalances. Sometimes, I simply cease to be happy. Maybe it’s when I feel stuck and the possiblities for moving forward have been exhausted. Maybe it’s when I’m taking on too much at once, when I allow the mommy guilt to build up and set in. If you have a child, you know all about that mommy/daddy guilt. Maybe it’s the state of my budget (red), or when I feel like I’m not accomplished enough for a person of my age (kind of old), when I’m overtired, or when I think everyone else has it better. There – I said it. Comparison.

Comparison. It kills my joy. It steals my happy. It makes me cease to be me because I’m looking outward, wanting to be someone else. I’m pretty sure that this part is normal because a lovely friend – who happens to share a lot of the things of life that I love -reminded me that research studies have shown that Facebook causes depression. Facebook. A freaking website, where we all – in college dorm style – share our breakfasts, heartbreaks, triumphs, vacation pictures, job changes, children, and dirty laundry. All in the same place. All at the same time. It is a caucaphony of life’s stuff. And then we look to see if each other’s best moments are better than our own. Facebook is fun, but Facebook sometimes steals my happy.

But if facebook steals the happy, did you know that exercise restores it? Somehow, exercise brings out some feel good endorphins, causing us to feel happy. Today, I did Pilates from Daily Burn. And it was tough, not because this intermediate level, 19 minute, core strength workout was so hard, but because I was simultaneously managing 2 toddlers who were climbing, throwing, shouting, hiding, singing, playing, dumping, and crashing all around me while I was trying to get 19 minutes to do something to make myself happy. And in that moment, I didn’t feel very happy. It tested the limits of my inner sanctum, but I did it anyway because I know that even though it was difficult in the moment, over the course of the day that little workout would help me to restore my happy, as well as burn fat, get stronger, and seriously stand up straight like my mother used to say. (Guess what – standing up straight can help you feel more… happy).

Other things that help me restore my happy – sleep! Oh how I need sleep, and I also crave alone time with God (but I am never ever alone), taking pictures of my 31 (yes, 31, you have a problem with 31?) chickens, dreaming about the next step in building my homestead (hoop house, goat house, or just a plain old bird house), rearranging the furniture, playing with my 6 children, and blogging during their nap. At least, I pray-plead daily that they really really take a nap.

So if you’ve lost your happy – (not a depression or grief type of lost your happy), but more of a daily grind got you down kind of lost your happy – consider this. Shut off the phone. Close the computer screen. Grab the kids. Go for a walk. And then move the sofa. It will get you moving forward towards your happy.