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the favor of happiness

Photos by: Tamra Maxwell

It dawned on me that I never shared our family photos form our Mother’s Day shoot………. or my thoughts about Mother’s Day! We’re a couple weeks late, but here we go!

For over five years I’ve consistently prayed for redemption and restoration of years of a life that had completely imploded. I begged for beauty for the ashes, to experience the gladness instead of mourning…… I wanted to be happy!!!

I had peace. I had joy. But, I was still missing something. I had the girls, work that I enjoyed, friends, jobs, my writing…….. things were good. The Lord was providing in some really incredible ways ….. over the last year, the Lord had been giving me small doses and very clear glimpses that what was would not always be.

For years, I’ve been told.. and you may have been, too….. that happiness isn’t the goal. And, it’s not….. happiness isn’t a Fruit of the Spirit, but what I’ve seen and experienced is that true happiness is a result of living in the fruits. If that makes sense.

Specifically love, joy, and peace.

And, I realized on Mother’s Day, that I had what I’d been waiting for:


“…. for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15
Happiness doesn’t just show up on your doorstep. It doesn’t come with a certain income, the pregnancy, the baby, the man, the marriage, the divorce, the promotion. It’s not a sure thing. No matter what you buy, ‘happiness not included’ is printed on the back. You won’t find it in the fine print.
But, it can come. We can have it! The Lord wants us happy – just as any mother or father! He says he sets the barren woman in families and makes her a HAPPY mother of children. Happiness isn’t bad, something to feel guilty about, or blow over because we think it sounds best to say we have “joy”. You know…. “I’d rather have joy than happiness.”…… I get it, but if the Lord is also offering happy – I’ll accept! Lol! We tend to prioritize joy over happiness and make ourselves and others feel like happiness isn’t something to strive to have, but it’s a GOOD thing.

It’s just not a sure thing. Or the only thing.
Peace. Joy. Happiness.
In that order.
We can’t have one without the other and I believe that once we are experiencing peace (calm in all circumstances) & joy (great pleasure in all circumstances) – both of which are Fruits of the Spirit, it’s almost impossible NOT to be happy.

Let’s break this down a little bit…..
A large meal, typically one in celebration of something
eat and drink sumptuously.
[a sumptuous meal is an expensive one…. had to look that one up!!]

Repeated frequently in the same way

Nourishing is in God’s nature.
Abundance is in God’s nature.
Consistency is in God’s nature.
He has, is, and will forever abundantly nourish us with consistency.

A feast has a variety!
Ways to give.
Ways to serve.

Our needs met.

Our hearts’ desires given!
All of this given again and again and again.
“He withholds no good thing from those who love him.” Psalm 84:11
The things we love and even the things we don’t prefer make up the continual feast. That strengthens, nourishes, fills, makes glad, and shows the absolute goodness of the Lord.
Dig and search and work and ask and answer until you find peace and joy so that your heart can be happy in Christ & you can continually be fed to full.

For those of us with a happy heart……. Psalms talks about the state of the heart quite a bit. There is so much clarity in what our lives look like with each description of the various states of our heart. And, I’m so thankful for this one.

If …. when ….. you’ve gone through traumas and difficulty, you can think about the state of your heart and how it affected the outlook you had on life, opportunities, and even yourself and those who love you. Life feels bleak. It feels dark. No matter what is going on around you, when your heart is sad……. there’s not much anyone can do to cheer you up.

The Lord says he cares about the details of our lives… he knows the numbers of hair on our head….. knew us before we were formed in our mama’s womb. He guides and protects, provides and blesses…… he is a good father who gives us beyond what we could ever ask, think, or imagine. Can you imagine loving someone that much and not wanting them to be happy?

But, I believe that he first wants us mature. He wants his girls (and, boys!) to know that he is our source for every single thing we desire. That we get down fruits of being in connection and relationship with him…… then, he gives us the cherry on top. One of my favorite movie quotes is “Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.” Happy is fun. The foundation of & growth from abiding in Christ are the fundamentals.

When I imagined and pictured beauty from ashes, praise for despair, restoration, redemption, and life after trauma, heartbreak, implosion, difficulty…… that when Jesus showed up and changed the situation, I would have the opposite of what I’d lost. In the same way because that’s still my heart’s desire. And, I believe those glimpses to be true pictures of what’s to come…… but I needed this. I needed to find joy, peace, and happiness in nothing & no one but God. And, for him to shape my heart the way has been over the last year first. He did show up and completely breathe new life, give life to dead bones, and restore so much brokenness and hardship. I am & have the opposite of what I lost….. in the exact way and time that we need it.

I pleaded for this, for happy. And, I have it. It’s here, completely a part from everything I thought it would come with. And, I actually like it a lot better this way.



  1. Ursurla Williams says

    I love your authenticity and vulnerability. Your family pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Tracey Jackson says

    Excellent post! So glad to know you & be inspired by your journey!!

  3. I love this! So authentic and genuine.

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