happy is hard work.

Livi tries to show me on her Khmer consonant/vowel chart why this one sound can only be combined with this one other sound, and I’m all, “Go away. I don’t even care.”

Livi: Are you mad at me?

Me: No.

Livi: Are you in a bad mood?

Me: Yes.

Livi: What can I do to make you happy?

Me: Nothing. I don’t want to be happy.

Livi: But, if you’re not happy, none of us can be happy!

Me: Exactly. Why can’t someone else be in charge of the happy for once? I’m done.

Livi: Can you tell me why you’re not happy?

Me: Because there’s a bunch of stuff that’s bothering me, but I don’t want to fix any of it.

Livi: Like what?

Me: Like our house is a wreck, but I don’t want to clean it. Our food situation is abysmal, but I don’t want to go shopping. I want to know Khmer, but I don’t want to study it. ETC ETC ETC.

Livi: Is there anything I can do to help?

Me: Just let me be unhappy for a little bit. PLEASE.

I suppose that wallowing in misery isn’t really an option for a Jesus-follower. I should choose joy and be thankful and count my blessings and all that. But, MAN, it’s hard.

Okay. Deep breath.

Counting some blessings.

Ready. Set. Go.

1.) Gabe just walked downstairs and paid our landlord for our utilities for the last 2 months and our rent for the next two. Thanks, God, for providing for us.

2.) Our children are thriving in Khmer school (and Gabe and I aren’t doing half-bad either).

3.) We have A/C in our bedroom.

4.) We live in CAMBODIA.

5.) We have fun with our tuk-tuk driver each day.

6.) We love our Khmer teachers. And our classmates.

7.) We’re all pretty healthy.

8.) We’ve raised 27% of our support. Not super close to 100% but pretty awesome anyway.

9.) The girls are doing much, much better emotionally. (My turn to fall apart!) (Just kidding)

10.) Fresh fruit!

11.) We paid our deposit for Module #2 of school today. Yay! And we just need $450 more until Module #2 is paid in full.

12.) We get to Skype/FaceTime with friends & family.

13.) Lots & lots of people have reached out to us here, invited us over, made us feel welcome.

14.) I’ve been cutting Gabe’s hair for the past 17 years (and his mom cut it for the 21 years before that). And yesterday? He went to a barber down the street! For $1.25. Of course, he accidentally got his beard shaved off, instead of trimmed, but you win some/lose some.

15.) Free Kindle books from our library back in Ohio.

16.) Gabe still struggles with anxiety at times but has been doing really, really awesome. I’m so proud of him. And so incredibly amazed and grateful.

17.) I love living in flip-flops/bare feet.

18.) Facebook messages, blog comments, & emails of encouragement from all of you. (THANK YOU.)

19.) My happy banners all over our house.

20.) Promises from God’s Word.


My friend, Joanna, shared something cool with me last week. I forget the author of the quote, but he’s referencing Luke 12:6-7 that says if God cares about little sparrows, how much more must he care for us?

“God, by definition, is thinking of me. The merchant of mistrust dismisses these words as hyperbole and remains grim, sullen, fearful. The trusting disciple receives them and has an attack of the happies.”

I don’t want to let the un-happies get the best of me. Much better to be a trusting, happy disciple. Yeah, it’s hard work sometimes. But the alternative is selfish and stinky.

Here’s to happy!

How about you? How are you feeling today? Got any blessings to count?

10 thoughts on “happy is hard work.

  1. Michelle

    I get it. Imagine being a single mom having to WORK AND going to school to try to better yourself and NOT having other people pay for it and not living somewhere you’ve been pining to go for years and good people helped you get there. So yeah, it is really hard for some of us to keep our heads up.

  2. Brooke

    since committing to start a new Bible study (with me as the teacher) at my church, my anxiety and depression has went through the roof. trying very diligently to count my blessings. and ebooks and audiobooks online from my library make my cut as well!! <3 as does being selected as one of the 500 For the Love (Jen Hatmaker) preview peeps!

  3. Sarah Farish

    I found this app called Examine thanks to Tsh Oxenreider. it’s helping with the perspective. But, somedays, I think it’s ok to kick and scream as long as you don’t stay there. And cleaning? Cooking? No one blames you for that one – ICK! I love you. I keep praying.

  4. Sharon

    Many blessings to count. Trying to have a good attitude despite having trouble sleeping. I literally burst out laughing about Gabe’s beard being shaved off vs. trimmed. Hope you all weren’t too unhappy about it. If it were me, I don’t know how I’d feel. As a female, it would be weird to have a beard in the first place…..

  5. Jacquie

    Hi, sweet friend!
    It sounds like you’re struggling with something that many people, women especially, find hard–allowing ourselves to not be happy, happy, happy for even a second. Taking on the responsibility for others’ happiness and feeling guilty when we can’t deliver. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, and then give it to God. Wallowing is not the same as acknowledging. I really don’t feel like you’re wallowing!! Acknowledge that you feel bad, accept it, and ask for help. You’re not perfect, and no one (God especially!!) expects you to be that way. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus! Peter 5:7 is one of my mantras– Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. So, give yourself permission to feel, and then put it in God’s hands. Don’t let that nasty guilt get in there. It has no place!! Love you!!!!

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      You are so wonderful, friend. Always so encouraging. Thank you!!! Maybe I wasn’t quite wallowing, but I was well on my way there, and Livi helped me to acknowledge instead and then sloooowly move toward joy. I’m still not doing cartwheels, but I know myself. If I don’t turn the ship around in time, the hole gets way too big to climb out of. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor?) Love you!!

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