How’s your head lately?

    Maybe your mind is a whirling dervish, bouncing around the room and off the walls, jumping in and out of windows and slamming doors. You’re thinking about–oh, you name it:

    all the stuff you have to do,

    all the stuff that’s on your mind,

    all the stuff that isn’t right in this world,

    all the stuff that isn’t right in your life,

    all the stuff that should be but isn’t,

    that you should have done but didn’t,

    that you did but shouldn’t have,

    that you want but don’t have,

    and most of all ______________________. (Fill in the blank with your own current personal peace-stealer.)

    I don’t claim to have the cure for the Tasmanian devil that’s running rampant all over your head. But sometimes you just want a little taste of “all’s right with the world,” just a taste of some positive in the middle of all the crazy.


    This is your invitation to join me in an Advent adventure that’s practically guaranteed to bring more than a few tidings of comfort and joy.

    I actually got the idea from Jann Malone, a former columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch. A while back, she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, when her husband gave her a special birthday gift: all the materials she needed for a photo journal–and here’s the idea:

    1. Every day, you take a picture of something good that happens in your life.

    And these good things are so simple. In Jann’s words:

    Sometimes the day’s photo op arrives gift wrapped, like the time everyone in my water aerobics class wore shower caps, artfully decorated with daisies, so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable visiting without any hair.

    Other days, it’s more of a challenge. I’ve got shots of the first bacon, lettuce and Hanover tomato sandwich of the season, a bowl of local peaches with vanilla ice cream and a container of blackberries, a gift from a neighbor.

    The challenging days don’t always result in food photos. I have pictures of goldfish swimming among the water lilies in our pond and of the hot pink crape myrtle blooming in our back yard.

    Whatever kind of day they remind me of, my pictures probably won’t win any photo contests, but that’s not the point. The point is to record something good that happens.

    Even on the challenging days.

    Everybody has them. I had a few this summer. As a result, I took a lot of pictures of my cat curled up at the foot of my bed. On the challenging days, she stayed in camera range all day…

    I understand.

    During a challenging day in my own life, I was at a writer’s conference in a very nice hotel. A number of things about this place made me smile, such as the “glass” elevator that went up and down a bazillion floors and a beautiful sculpture behind the front desk. But you know what made my stay over-the-top delightful?

    The bathrooms in the lobby.

    And it wasn’t really the way they were decorated, although they were warm and inviting and cleaner than my living room.

    It was the music.

    I walked into this space expecting a fairly utilitarian atmosphere, and got…Vivaldi. And Mozart. And Pachelbel and Chopin. That music instantly created some mighty awesome ambience.

    I was absolutely transported.

    So, of course, I took a picture to remind me of an exquisite time in a surprising place.

    And even if your taste in music is not quite classical, I am convinced that you, too, would emerge from the bathroom a little more joyful if you were treated to such charming ear candy whilst you conducted your business there. Close your eyes for a minute, click here, and feel the whole mundane experience being elevated to the status of “refreshing event”—just because of one small touch of fun and class.

    Imagine, then, a whole collection of good things like this. (Well, not necessarily toilets, but you know what I mean.) Then brace yourself for the next radical step in the process:

    2. Print out  the pictures and put them in a book or an album.

    Yes, you read that right. Print. Them. Out.

    And yes, I know there are apps for curating photos of “moments” every day.

    But please remember that years from now, long after you’ve upgraded your phone, decided to put your 3000 stored pictures on a zip drive, and thrown the thing in a desk drawer to be ignored for a long, long time…your little album will be there on your night stand, waiting to remind you that there is still goodness, no matter what.

    This is my first Christmas without my mom, and I am finding that grief sneaks up on you and attacks at the most inconvenient times. I’m a little bit afraid that I will lose sight of joy this particular season. That’s why I am definitely starting an album this Sunday.

    You can join me, and try it for a week or a month or a season. And if you feel as though you just can’t  do this now because you’re too sad or too busy or too distracted, I will gently suggest that a photo journal could actually help you navigate your issues with hope and mindfulness and renewed faith in the God who gave you those good things in the first place.

    And you just might discover your own Vivaldi in the bathroom…


    If you’re just joining us, check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…


    Make a Joy Box for Someone You Care About

    Know someone who’s going through a tough time right now or want to celebrate some goodness happening in a friend’s life?

    Get some ideas for making a joy box that will definitely brighten the day--and maybe even the life--of someone you care about. I’ve saved you the headspace of trying to “think up” a special gift of encouragement.

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