Who Doesn’t Want More Joy and Energy?

In a flurry of pastel crepe paper, the pinata shattered and candy rained down on the four children. From the sidelines, we watched as they eagerly reached in to pick up glittering wrapped chocolates. New to pinatas, my four year old happily snatched an M&M’s packet and then came to me to open it.

“Hey, you can pick up more candy, if you want,” I suggested, handing him a plastic baggie. Intent on his mini bag of M&M’s though, he was satisfied, and simply wanted to eat them. I gathered some candy pieces for him to enjoy later with his siblings, but his actions had captured my attention.

Credit to Nature Mapping

On the walk home from our friend’s house, I pushed his green stroller through wet streets, and pointed out bird calls to him. “That’s a red-winged blackbird,” I said, as I squatted down to point out the bird in the branches above. Vivid crimson and yellow flashed on the wings of a black bird.

Credit to Mother-Daughter Press

A screeching blue jay swooped overhead. “That’s a blue jay. They warn other birds that people are near,” I taught Daniel. We followed the jay’s flight with our eyes, and I described the white tummy, blue head and jacket, and black painted eyes of the vibrant Midwest blue jay. Pausing under a tree, we craned our heads up to see the bird that swayed in the crisp breeze on branches high.

It takes time to see these birds, and to train our eyes to watch for them. I am a novice at bird-watching but six or seven birds catch my attention, and I listen for their calls, or stop to watch their splashes of color in our trees.

Walking home from the pinata party this afternoon, I thought I was the one training Daniel’s eyes to stop, see, and savor. As he quietly munched M&M’s, hunched over in the green stroller, though, I realized that he was teaching me. Grabbing a bag of M&M’s, he turned away from the pile of candy, and was satisfied, stopping to savor what he had.

I’m training my eyes. It’s been a year and a half journey to stop, see, and savor God’s gifts. These joy lists, these gratitude journals, this process of counting His gifts, bring joy and perspective. Statistics show that counting gifts, one by one, brings greater happiness, greater energy and attentiveness, greater joy, greater emotional health, closer relationships and happiness in life, and who doesn’t need that?! They rekindle in me a love for my God, and a love for my husband and family.

 (Thanks to Ann Voskamp at a Holy Experience for her statistics above. Check out her post here on “15 Happy Ways to Teach Kids to be Grateful.”)

I link with Ann today to count gifts.. 

-preschool hugs and bird watching
-seeing beauty and new variety in the hues of brown along the highway
-the joy of meeting new women at Moms-Next this morning, in my session on Talking to Our Kids and Teens about Sex and Sexuality, and the joy of sharing together.
-being able to speak with women, and it feeling like worship between me and my God
-pinata lessons from my four year old

Have you seen these older posts?
Conspiring Teens Plot Joy (Want their Secret?) 
Five Seconds Away from Joy, Better Health and Peace of Mind

Pick up pen or keyboard, friend, and join me. Who doesn’t need more joy and energy?

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  1. Unknown on April 9, 2013 at 1:03 am

    All good things to be thankful for!! Love this! I got to speak to a youth group about Intimacy recently and the way you described it is EXACTLY what it is like… like worship. Good connection!

  2. Jennifer Dougan on April 9, 2013 at 1:32 am


    It's fun, isn't it? So humbling, yet so exciting to be able to share some of God's heart on issues. Keep speaking! It feels like worship for me, when my heart is right, and it's all directed at him.

    How is your week going so far?


  3. Debbie on April 9, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Jennifer- Thanks for stopping by my blog today! The "Last Frontier" is the state of Alaska! 🙂 I have been counting gifts for several years right now and it has made all the difference in the world!!

  4. LOLITA on April 10, 2013 at 1:13 am

    Yes, who doesn't indeed?

    When you name your blessings one by one, you can't help but your chest bursts with gratefulness and it transports to our physical.

    Thanks for those counts and I am so touched by youngest being content to savor what was at hand. He's growing to be a cool guy.

    I am closer to Davao than Manila to Davao. But if I go either way from where I am, it is about the same flight time.

    I live in the central part of the Philippines calle Cebu.

  5. Pam on April 10, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Love the analogies you drew… and that picture of the blue jay is so gorgeous! I love the color against the snow. I grew up around jays but they never looked so pretty (very screechy!) Thanks for sharing this moment with your son…

  6. Cheryl Barker on April 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    You know I've become a novice bird watcher in the past couple of years, too, and you are so right — it does take time to train our eyes and ears. But it's so worth it when we take time for the joys God has set before us, isn't it?

  7. Jayne on April 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    We do have so much to be thankful for including the lessons we learn from our children.

  8. AmyAlves on April 12, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Beautiful Jennifer. I love discovering how God can teach us His love and thankfulness through well, just about anything. From little people to birds in trees. 🙂 ~ Blessings out girl, Amy

  9. Alecia Simersky on April 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    So much to be learned from the simple things in life 🙂

  10. cabinart on April 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Random responses in list form:
    1. The redwing blackbird in central Calif. has a nice song and a red spot without any yellow.
    2. The blue jays around here (scrub jays) are screechy, but we don't mind because they have warned us of rattlesnakes.
    3. On birthdays or Christmas, I've seen children happy with one gift, happy to play with the box it came in. The adults around are anxious for the child to move on, open more, appreciate MY gift to you, while the child is simply content.
    4. Good for you for thinking ahead and gathering more for Daniel and also for letting him be content with one bag of M&Ms!!

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