3,000! A Milestone

It’s been a while! The line from The Princess Bride — the book, not the movie — keeps running through my mind: “What with one thing and another, three years passed.”

So, it hasn’t been exactly three years since my last blog post, but it has been three months. All the stuff of 2018. Exhausting. I can’t even.

Although posting on my website has been as saggy as my granny batwings, posting a daily Happy Day Moment on my Facebook has been as toned as my friend’s marathon-running bod. I have big feelings about this habit, this commitment to find and write a Happy Day Moment … this focus on living with gratitude.

This Happy Day Moment challenge, which I began on April 1, 2010, has now reached a milestone: #3,000. Yes, that’s 3,000 consecutive days of discovering and recording a “moment” each day that reminded me to be grateful. {Yes, you can applaud/throw confetti/send chocolates and/or vacation packages …. 😊}

I’ve realized throughout these last eight years that gratitude is like most desirable traits and qualities in that it’s not enough to simply decide to be grateful – we must actively practice it to cement its place in our lives.

There are many reasons why gratitude is such a desirable quality, aside from its inherent goodness. Let me assure you, finding a Happy Day Moment, the simple daily act of being grateful, has had a big impact on my health and happiness. It only takes a few minutes a day to choose to recall, to discover a HDM, but it can give me a lasting mood boost that takes me from feeling “okay” to feeling “great” and feeling “blessed.”

What is a Happy Day Moment?

Although I use Facebook to record my Happy Day Moments, you can write them in a notebook or journal if you choose. I’m encouraging you to try it! Begin to catalog a daily blessing, a daily “happy” moment!

Quite simply, it’s become my tool to keep track of the good things in life. No matter how difficult and defeating my day can sometimes feel, there is always a “moment,” something to feel grateful about. We can all be grateful.

While it’s tough to find that “moment,” that “something” to be grateful about during a rough patch, it’s not just another “easy to say, but hard to do” action – it can actually help rescue you during a storm.

Even more than that, regularly finding a “moment” and identifying the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with unexpected heartache and pain.

We all have own challenges and difficult days. Yet, even in my darkest days, my instinct is to feel grateful for the things that I do have and for the things that are going well. I let gratitude be the doorway to hope; once hopeful, I find strength and the will to take one small step that moves me to better and easier times.

It’s God’s way. It’s who we can choose to be. Grateful.

Discovering a Happy Day Moment

Your HDM is a personal endeavor that must be unique to you and your life. I’ve written about some ways that I discover “moments.”

It’s extremely simple to find your own Happy Day Moment: simply write down (or post on your Facebook/social media) the thing you are grateful for on a daily basis. Simply start noting the moment or things you notice and appreciate.

  • Coffee with a friend? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Cubs win!? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Eating popcorn? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Chocolate in the house? Happy Day Moment it!
  • That film with Benedict Cumberbatch? Happy Day Moment it!
  • Spouse killed a ginormous spider? You guessed it – Happy Day Moment it!

It really is that easy.

But try this: Use your senses! Use your heart!

  • Seeing … The sunrise out your window … A quick text from a loved one simply checking in on you … A child’s smile. … An elderly couple holding hands while walking at the mall.
  • Feeling … That morning smooch from your spouse … The warm embrace of a friend … The comfort of slipping into bed with freshly washed sheets.
  • Tasting … The strawberries you had for lunch … Tacos, oh the happy tastebuds rejoice for tacos … Cotton candy and its deliciously sweetness and how the fluffiness in your mouth feels funny. But good funny.
  • Smelling … Bacon frying, as a great man named Homer once said: “mmmmmmmmmmmm, Bacon” … Popcorn, always popcorn … Lilacs blooming in the spring.
  • Hearing … A colleague say, “Great job!” … The sound of rain falling on your window at night, calming and relaxing you … Your playlist with the songs you absolutely need to hear.
  • Knowing … The joy that Jesus loves you each and every day … The peace of having enough food and a roof over your head … That you made it through the day without crying/coughing/sneezing.

Your HDM doesn’t have to be deep. What you are grateful for can be as simple as “family” or “the new book or movie I recently enjoyed” or “this morning’s breakfast.” What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else.

  • Be conscious about your new attitude of gratitude.
  • Don’t wait for the “right time.” It’s fine to write something early in the day!
  • Focus on people rather than things. It’s okay to be thankful for your smartphone or your car, but the joy you receive from relationships should dwarf your fondness for electronics!

Benefits of Happy Day Moment

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can give you a new perspective on what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life. By noting what you are grateful for, you can gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without. HDMs can help you find out and focus on what really matters to you. Keeping a HDM list helps you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware. On days when you’re meh, icky and really bummed, or angry and grumpy at the world {yes, I get that way, too}, you can read through your list of HDMs to readjust your attitude and remember all the blessings in your life.

Identifying a Happy Day Moment can make you more mindful, helping you to become more grounded, making it easier to notice even more things you are grateful for! HDMs can help you feel more balanced and less thrown off by daily stress. You may notice that a lot more small, good things are happening – or maybe you’ll notice the small, good things that were already happening. Your gratitude might act as a beacon to good things and good people, drawing even more positive things to be grateful for to you. It can make you feel accomplished, even if it’s a relatively small accomplishment. We all need a win, no matter how big or small.

In case you’re wondering “What, exactly, will this practice, this habit, do for me?” – read on to learn about the potential benefits of the simple practice of being grateful and finding a Happy Day Moment.

Give this challenge of finding a daily Happy day Moment a chance. The common wisdom is that it takes three weeks to establish a new habit, so aim for at least three weeks of daily HDMs before making any judgments. The only thing you stand to lose if you don’t take to this HDM is a few minutes a day – hardly a huge loss!

Armed with these suggestions and encouragement, hopefully you’ll find it easy to begin and maintain your own habit of finding a HAPPY DAY MOMENT!

{Let me know how you’re doing! … Make a comment!}

Leaving 2017. Heading into 2018.

What a year. A humdinger. Sadness, grief. Losing my father. Emotional hurts. Physical pain. The sting of being forgotten, rejected.

What a year. Joy, happiness. Family love and friendships. Answered prayers. The pleasure of successes, laughter.

Now is the time …

To leave the broken painful irreversible past of 2017 behind;

Now is the time …

To step into the invincible future of 2018.

To forget those things are past;

To press on.

To forget what is behind;

To stretch out for what is ahead.

To forget the former things;

To see God do a new thing!

 

To love more. To love better.

To believe for new opportunities;

To pursue new adventures.

To gush abundant grace.

To pray bigger, love better, encourage more.

To start the year with gratitude.

 

To hope.

Hope… always have hope.

 

Let us hold unswervingly to hope, for God is faithful.

Now may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace… as we enter 2018.

Love, Jama

Why not choose gratitude?

I finally wrote a thing. Finally. Be nice.

You know I’m big on finding a Happy Day Moment each day, living with gratitude, focusing on joy.

You know I have big feelings about finding a HDM.

I post a Happy Day Moment on my personal Facebook page (up to #2831 consecutive ones!) and I post something inspirational/motivational/encouragement on my Happy Day Moment Page because I’m determined to remember the preciousness of life.

Because I’m determined to choose gratitude.

Because even with all the stuff of 2017, even my father’s death, even my struggles to keep trusting and believing when I don’t understand the whys of certain situations … because …

Because … I’m determined to believe this:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” ~ Isaiah 52:7

So, because even “life,” even “stuff,” I’m determined to choose gratitude, to publish “good news of happiness” on Facebook. 😊

It’s true – I’m a positive person by nature. And it’s true if you’re not naturally easy-going or cheery, you may have to work a little harder to discover a HDM. Not everyone is programmed to be Pollyanna or Little Miss Sunshine. Maybe you’re a bit Scrooge-ish or a glass-half-empty person. It’s hard to become that peppy sunny person if it isn’t in your making. Whether your life is disappointing, whether there’s unexpected hardship, whether there’s heartache, it’s hard to get out of a bad mood once it’s taken hold of you. The good news is that you can work at discovering a “happy day moment” even if gloominess is more your disposition. You can work at choosing gratitude. Good things often take time and effort. Bless God, living with gratitude can come when we develop a habit, a discipline, when we choose to see little small happy actions/words/sights that are always there – somewhere – every day.

So, why not choose gratitude?

From my HDM Posts/Twitter throughout 2017

Why not try out these little changes that could change you from negative to cheerful in no time.

  • Tell someone, “You make everything lovely.”
  • Concentrate on what you have, not on what you don’t have.
  • Be the person who decides to go for it.
  • Be kind to unkind people because they need it most.
  • No matter what others say or do, stay committed to being kind.
  • Be quiet while others speak.
  • Let your smile today lift someone’s life.
  • Trust God’s wisdom, even though you want to do it differently.
  • Let gratitude be more that an act; let it be a habit.
  • Practice relentless gratitude.
  • Let go of trying to change the people around you.
  • Let’s choose to speak kindness.

 

  • Do a little thing today to show your loved ones that you care.
  • Let’s banish our angry words and bring out the welcome mat for kindness and mercy.
  • Don’t think of others as problems, but as people to be loved.
  • Stay kind and committed to love, no matter what others do.
  • Don’t look backwards for very long. Keep moving forward.
  • Show your love in meaningful ways.
  • Treat others with kindness no matter how they differ from you.
  • Notice the people around you who seem isolated and engage them.
  • Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. Give a hug today.
  • All that beauty you see in others, tell them about it.

And why not remember these little observations that could change you from powerless to strong in no time.

  • Don’t get caught up in what could’ve or should’ve been.
  • There are times when bitter trials become blessings in disguise.
  • Let’s pull back our judgments and reach out our hands.
  • God is close to all who call on Him.
  • It is well with my soul. (The day my Dad died)
  • Never cling to the notion that something’s not possible.
  • Some of our strength would never be discovered if not for our struggles and trials.
  • Acts of love can thaw a frozen heart.
  • God’s faithful love never ends.
  • Everything starts with a dream.
  • Whatever God calls you to do, He will equip you.
  • You’ll never regret being true to your dreams.
  • God’s love is complete and He’s aware of your circumstances.

 

  • When we put kindness first, good things happen.
  • A peaceful person is not one who’s always in a good place, but one who always has a good attitude in every place.
  • Remember to thank people for their time.
  • Being generous and kind, even in circumstances where it’s hard.
  • We can’t go back and make a new beginning, but we can start over and make a new ending.
  • Don’t let failure go to your heart.
  • Where you can help, help. Where you can give, give.
  • Every week has seven days. Someday is not one of them.

 

  • God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
  • Let’s be patient with others and smile at strangers.
  • Kindness and compassion can heal wounds and restore peace.
  • We always have the ability to be kind.
  • The best stories end with gratitude.
  • Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence.
  • So often we don’t realize what we have. Pause and be grateful.
  • Let gratitude be something that you are. Not just doing, but being.
  • Open your eyes to see the wonderful things of our world.

My God reigns.

This Daughter Loves Her Dad

Four Sundays ago, family members gathered to celebrate my Dad’s 89th birthday. His children, his sister, grandchildren – family sitting around the conference table, with Dad (the amazing Fred Kehoe!) at the head, wearing a big button with “It’s My 89th Birthday!” There was cake and ice cream and birthday cards, which Dad read multiple times. There was laughter and stories and comments about curly hair and facial hair and gray hair. Then after the cake was consumed and most of the red icing wiped from face and hands, Dad said, “Let’s pray. I’ll start and Jama can end (because I was to his right). And if you don’t know what to pray, just say, ‘Lord, bless Fred a ton. Or a ton and a half!'” Then Dad prayed a beautiful prayer asking for the Lord’s touch on all of us. And we all said “Amen!”

[Listen to Dad’s question to Mom at the end of this video. And giggle along with us!]

Three Sundays ago, family members gathered at my Dad’s bedside, loving our Mom and Dad, his health declining with every breath. For days I held my Dad’s hand and stroked his arm, sitting near him, giving him all my love. At one point he was determined to hold my thumb and I told Mom, “I think he’s challenging me to a Thumb War.” We surrounded him and played hymns on YouTube, placing our phones on the pillow near his ear. How Great Thou Art and The Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace and Just a Closer Walk with Thee and Peace in the Valley. And we sang along, doing our best to add Kehoe family harmony. It was a holy time.

Nineteen days ago, his wife and his children encircled him and prayed and sang and held his hands and caressed his arms. We loved him until his last breath, and in that moment of his home-going, the words of the hymn “To God Be the Glory” played: “Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.” The moment for all of us was tearful, tender, and sacred.

It became the moment

…that my Dad was the happiest he’s ever been …that my Dad was restored in mind and body …that my Dad was embracing Jesus …that my Dad was ushered into the Kingdom surrounded by his loving wife and adoring children …that I was a daughter most blessed to have a father who was always there to love me, to show me Jesus, and to lift her up to the True Father …that I thanked God every day for my Daddy.

And I will for all of my life as I hold memories of love and fun and prayer and encouragement and laughter and play and wisdom and counsel. For my Daddy who bestowed countless happy and loving and holy moments. I am altogether happy. He was my leader, my patriarch, my friend.

Twelve days ago, family members and a host of friends gathered to celebrate the wondrous life of my Dad. They came. Long-time friends and just-made friends and beloved family. Friends and colleagues of mine, of Steve of Doug of Julee. All to love love love and honor my father, to embrace us, to share our grief and joy, to weep with us, and yet to rejoice. Pastor Kevin Holt spoke the truth, likening the life of Fred Kehoe to Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement.” This was my Dad: “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” ~ Acts 11:24.

Oh Dad, what a true father you are: always there for me. . .

A true father is always there. He is there to grin with happiness when his eyes fall upon his infant daughter. He is there with arms to catch her when she takes her first steps or stumbles. He is there to pick her up and teach her at the youngest age, that failure can turn into success. He is there to help her tie her shoes, cut her meat, and work on math assignments. He is there to play with her and tickle her and massage her little toes. He is there to keep her from making mistakes, yet helps her find her own way. He is there to hug her and kiss her and hold her on his lap in the “king’s chair.” He is there to teach her and tease her and laugh with her. He is there to lecture her, prepare her for the tough grown-up things, and point to truth and integrity. He is there to put up with her teenage moods and sensitive nature, comfort her tears and rejoice in her joys. He is there to pray and praise, to build up her faith and encourage her. He is there to believe in her talents, strengthen her commitments, bring guidance and wisdom. He is there for big and small events, when she graduates, to smile when her name is called and feel proud. He is there to embrace her and kiss her before she goes to live away at college. He is there to see her become a working woman, to walk her down the aisle. He is there to hold his grandsons and be a role model to another generation. He is there to watch her grow as the lines on his face grow. He is there to welcome her home, always, and let her hug him and smell the smell she remembers from childhood, the warm, protecting, comforting smell of dad. But most of all, he is always there to love her, to show her Jesus, to lift her up to the True Father. And she is always there to love him back, and to thank God for him every day of her life.

…And Dad, my hero, like heroes do, represents the best of ourselves, and reveals those noble qualities of loyalty, determination, courage, patience, perseverance, focus, and fearlessness.

He is admired and respected and he made our family brave and strong. He saw what was possible, and taught us that with God “all things are possible.” It was often my father’s faith that strengthened me.

That’s what a hero does – encourages, is selfless and generous in spirit, who gives and helps others, who cares so deeply.

My Dad, my hero, carried me in his arms
Carried my on his shoulders
Carried me on his back
Always, always he carried me in his heart.
He comforted me strengthened me taught me teased me humored anointed me… and loved me and loves me still. Every single moment.

If I am loving and confident and funny and strong and faithful. If I am positive and plucky and courageous and hopeful. If I speak Jesus and scripture and family and football. If I am all these things, then thank my father, my hero.

He is my patriarch leader advisor prayer-warrior coach teacher medic playmate trainer motivator preacher guide captain champion intercessor…. Hero.

But mostly, my Daddy. I love you and will miss you…until I join you and my Jesus.

The Letter “G”

Gratitude … brought to you by Jama

New Year! New Year! And what do we all want? … A year where we all want to be happy!

How we find the “Happy”? … I’m saying (as I have been for some time) that we should look to the Letter “G” … “GRATITUDE!” Authentic moments of gratitude boost our ability to be happy, to see happiness, particularly when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, just plain-old fed up – with everything.

We all have STRESS (oh my goodness, what a year 2016 was!), but our response to dealing with it ALL is what determines its potentially toxic impact.

My response is the habit of gratitude … living with gratitude.

The Letter G.

The more we practice gratitude in the face of fear, adversity, loss and disappointment, the more we increase our capacity for joy, even bolstering our immune system and boosting resilience. Seriously. There have been studies!

And when our expectations collide with reality, gratitude can protect us from stress and even depression and help us create a new way of seeing, being and living.

Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us to be healthier, to make more friends, and to deepen our existing relationships.

According to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

In her bestseller Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

And for me, it’s in the Bible:  “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Through expressing gratitude, we remember where our blessings come from. It’s in the Bible: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

To start your habit of finding the Letter “G,” finding a Happy Day Moment, an “everyday epiphany,” try these four things:

  1. Be aware. Every single day look around at your life and find something to be grateful for, some joy, some inspiration, some silliness. Pay attention! We so often look but don’t see; hear but don’t listen. Make your daily purpose to choose awareness, to enjoy the beauty of the treasures in your path. Look for God’s fingerprints and hear His whispers amid the messes, and your heart will change. Don’t lose sight of the goodness of life.
  2. Change your thinking. There’s more than enough negativity in the world right now. So do your best to be more positive about yourself, about those around you, and about life in general to tip the scale back towards positivity, love, and hope.
  3. Do something happy for someone.  What can you do right now to give a happy moment to someone? Even if it’s someone you don’t know … that stranger with a heavy load, a frown, a scowl. Even when you’re in an unhappy moment. Do something every day that makes someone smile, gives someone a boost to their weary spirit. You’ll find gratefulness when you can use your life in ways that lift another person.
  4. Keep track of awesome things. Remember the “happy moments” that you see, hear, feel, and don’t let them slip away after you come up with them. Write down the simplest things you feel grateful for daily, one good moment that happened to you, that you did, that you witnessed. Then, if something in your life starts getting you down, starts bugging you, go straight to your “happy moment” notes and get a dose of gratitude.

It’s really a choice. Your choice for how you move forward into this new year. Try it with more of the Letter “G”.