Finding joy in ordinary moments

IMG_0626One of my favourite moments of the week is to sit down at the breakfast table to read the Saturday papers with my morning coffee. I’ve done it most weeks of my adult life.

There’s something about the extras that come with the Saturday paper. It’s more than the sport, business and headlines. It’s the culture, the longer articles that you can lose yourself in or the reviews of the latest movie, book or show.

Last Saturday I sat back and soaked it in. Especially took note of this hour of quiet where it’s just the paper, my coffee and me. The family are still in bed. Oh, except for Beanie, our pup. She’s usually racing around outside and from time to time pops in to remind me she’s not far away.

Gee, I enjoyed it.

“Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the burst of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.”1

These past few days I’ve been stopping to take note of the ordinariness of life.

Pausing. To appreciate. The ordinary.

Sometimes I’d take a photo. Of our Beanie-boo as she slept; or our gorgeous bougainvillea as it blooms. Or being still with my wife as we I sat in one display home waiting for the rain deluge to pass before we moved onto the next one.

I was prompted to do this as part of an e-course I’m doing that is hosted by Brené Brown. I’m a big fan of Brené’s work. She’s a research professor specialising in shame, authenticity and belonging. Many people are aware of her Ted Talks on Vulnerability that have been viewed by gazillions. In her book (where the above quote comes from) we’re using as the key fact base for the course, Brené refers to her research findings to support all her conclusions and recommendations.

“Having joyful experiences is not what makes us grateful. Recognize that it’s the opposite: Practicing gratitude leads to joyful experiences.” (Brené Brown)

The exercise for this week was to produce an “Ordinary Moments Scrapbook” by taking photos of those moments where you experience joy. The photos included in this post are a sample of those in my scrapbook.


Hi, my name’s Beanie.

This practice reminded me of a chapter in “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. Ann’s a wonderful example of someone who practices gratitude. Ann was reflecting on her youngest child (five years old) taking photos around their house with Ann’s camera. When she showed mummy the photos, Ann got a different perspective on the everyday, simply because they were taken by a short person. A short person sees everything differently, not just because of their lack of experience, but simply because of their height!

Remember when you were a kid, every new experience was so often exciting, simply because it was new and thrilling. Most kids haven’t had their optimistic view of the world deflated yet so every new thing is exciting.

And so often those experiences are … awesome.

I think that’s what fearing God is about. When we’re in awe, our hearts are open. We’re grateful, we’re thankful; we’re in a state of worship.

Just where our Father wants us to be.

“Awe … awe ignites joy … and we are in deepest happiness in the posture of grateful worship.”2

I so enjoyed these past few days.

“Joy is additive. When we practice gratitude we fill our joy reserves.” (Brené Brown)

I’d encourage you to do the something similar or simply take time to pause and enjoy the ordinary. Whether that’s catching a sunrise, taking the kids to school, or holding hands with the one you love.

Let time stand still for a moment.

Listen to your heart.

Notes: 1. “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Brené Brown. Hazelden 2010. p80-81. 2. “One thousand Gifts.” Ann Voskamp Zondervan, First Ed 2010, p167

6 replies
  1. Cherie Gagnon
    Cherie Gagnon says:

    Well said Ian. It’s so true that joy is in the everyday moments and that a heart needs to be purposeful to find it. Just like you’ve indicated, it’s not circumstantial, but intentional.

    I’m learning how important joy is in our daily walk with Christ. I think it was RC Sproul who said to lack joy is to deny the faith. That’s powerful.

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Cherie, I read recently about the idea of “future joy”. We live each day looking forward to our eternal future in heaven. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom once again. I always appreciate it.

  2. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    “Let time stand still for a moment. Listen to your heart.”

    BEAUTIFUL Ian! Especially at a time of year that BEGS for just that! Being STILL to allow JOY into our hearts with ALL the wonder this season holds instead of rushing into and through it so fast that we completely miss EXPERIENCING it!

    Always look forwards to your posts Ian!
    “HI BEANIE!” XXX Yes. I’m a dog kisser!

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Especially wonderful for me to see your name pop up on my email, Joanne.

      Bless you my dear friend.

      Beanie sends you a big sloppy kiss and hug back!

  3. Dineen Miller
    Dineen Miller says:

    Ian, loved reading this! Beanie looks a lot like our new adoptee, Riley. Is Beanie a cattle dog breed? Riley looks a lot like a Coolie. LOL! He keeps us on our toes with his curiosity. I can’t believe we have three dogs now and each one is a sweet blessing in our lives. LOL!

    Love reading your posts, my friend. Blessings to you!

    • Ian
      Ian says:

      Dineen, Beanie is a kelpie cross-cattle we believe. We have lots of Coolie’s in Australia as they’re working dogs on many farms. 3 dogs must be a lot of work. Fi is keen for a 2nd pup so we’ll be looking out for one in the New Year, me thinks.

      Hugs and blessings Dineen. Thanks for popping over once again.


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