1. My son’s laugh. Timothy’s laugh is the most delicious combination of giggle and belly laughter. It is physically impossible not to smile when I hear it coming from another room. The sound, especially when it is near my ear, is a mood altering drug.
2. My husband’s touch. The first time he met my closest friends, we were out to dinner at a favorite restaurant. I wore a sleeveless black blouse and fidgeted nervously throughout the meal. At one point, he leaned over and lightly kissed my bare shoulder. That simple, gentle touch was felt straight through to my fingertips . I love when he takes my hand; when he absently caresses my back as he’s passing by; when our feet rest against each other as we fall asleep. Matt’s touch is full of reassurance and tenderness in the ordinary moments of our lives.
3. My daughter’s smile. From four weeks old, Annabelle has specialized in open-mouthed, pure-joy smiles. I have considered printing every single photo I have of her top notch smile (there are many) for a photo album that could cure any sad day. The fact that I am often on the receiving end of her smile is one of the deepest resources of happiness I could possess.
4. My stepson’s hugs. Nethanial has the warmest of hearts but he’s also nearly a teenager, which means sometimes the hug is a from the side, one arm around the shoulder, quick release version. That’s ok, because those only increase the value of the other version he’s capable of offering. From the time I first bonded with him six years ago, he has demonstrated great skill in the field of hugging. Arms wrapped tightly, his smooth cheek pressed against me and his thick, messy hair tickling my chin. It’s a treat every single time.
5. A novel that makes me doubt I am any good at writing. That sounds negative, and the experience has the potential of negativity, but in actuality it is a great thing. Reading a sentence so well crafted that I can’t imagine writing one of its equal, or finishing a paragraph with the sensation of seeing that moment of the story with my own two eyes – it fills me with satisfying excitement and the driving ache to write more.
6. Finding a new favorite. I’m of the mind that we need not limit ourselves to a very few select “favorites.” A favorite gives pleasure. It’s uplifting and encouraging. So discovering a new favorite is such a blessing! Favorite hiking trail, favorite lighthouse, favorite coffee shop (requirement: best chai tea in town), favorite song, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite episode of your favorite show, favorite prayer, favorite hairstyle, favorite shoes, favorite scripture verse, favorite sound, favorite photo. They are a bouquet of gratitude; a collection of guarantees that there are things to enjoy in my life.
7. My characters. I don’t know if I will ever have my books published. I don’t know how many people will read them or whether or not they’ll be glad they read them. What I do know is I have created people I love. I care about them. I’m interested in them. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and where they will take me next. I discover more about them and myself the more time we spend together.
9. Lake Michigan. My roots run through the woods of the Upper Peninsula to Lake Michigan. The lake touches home – both my first home and my current one – and it touches adventures away from home. I close my eyes and listen to it. I feel its waves slapping my feet. In its calm moments I see serenity poured out to the horizon and beyond. I snap picture after picture. Sunrises, sunsets, swims, boats, beaches, hikes, lighthouses, dunes… They are all splendid on Lake Michigan.
10. The Eucharist. I could say so much but Jesus said it all. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).