I’m so glad you’re here! Pull up a squishy armchair, pour yourself a warm drink in your favorite mug, and stay a while! This little corner of the internet is all about setting our eyes, minds, and hearts on those things that are lovely and beautiful and that should cause us to overflow with JOY – joy in our Creator, joy in His created world, and joy in the often-overlooked daily blessings (like that favorite mug you are holding!) that come directly from His loving hand. God loves to give good gifts to His children and He is no Scrooge . . . He pours out kindness after kindness on His people and far too often we receive them without a second thought.

I started this blog so that I could have a place to share a few of the many things that cause my cup to overflow with gladness: traveling, cooking (and eating!) amazing foods from all over the globe, photographing pretty places and lovely things, and celebrating life’s little gifts:  from yellow finches to turquoise Wellies, from glorious sunsets to a simple cup of home-roasted coffee, from Irish jigs to Bach chorales, and from elegant orchids to pudgy penguins.

Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it? A blog where you only see the beauty and the joy, and nothing sad or dark ever barges in and crashes the party or rudely interferes with the cheerful color scheme. It sounds absolutely lovely . . . and not like real life at all.

This is where the “CHOOSE JOY” part comes in . . . it’s easy to be joyful when everything is sunny in your garden. But we all know that is not the way life always is. Bodies break down. Loved ones grow old and wither away. Bank accounts shrink while piles of bills grow. Jobs and homes and livelihoods sometimes slip away without a moment’s warning. You may be thinking “That’s all well and good for you, but while you are over there posting pictures of trees and lakes and sunsets, I am over here struggling with X, Y, and Z.” Yes, friend, that may be true. But I am no stranger to X, Y, and Z myself.

Full disclosure: This blog is not only about travels through the Scottish Highland mists and how to make real Hungarian goulash and why flamingos are my second-favorite animal. It’s not only about the obvious gifts, the ones that are easy to see (yet so often are still taken for granted). This blog is also about finding contentment and joy and rest in Christ when the gifts are hard to see. Or maybe I should say: when the gifts are hard to see and accept as gifts. When the gifts are ones that you would rather not receive. Gifts that you wish came with a no-questions-asked return policy. Gifts that take the form of trials.

Just before my 30th birthday, I received the gift of a chronic illness called lupus.

This means that my body’s cells are in near-constant war with one another, with a whole lot of collateral damage done along the way. Though there are frequent cease-fires, there is almost zero chance of a complete armistice. This battle will wage on in my body for the rest of my life. Pain, exhaustion, fevers, and an almost-hilariously-long list of other symptoms are a true and ongoing reality in my life, and I honestly have no idea how I will be feeling from one day to the next. If you hang around this blog long enough, you may catch glimpses of the pain. You may gradually pick up bits and pieces of my story . . . and not just the sunny bits. The grey, stormy bits, woven through the joy-filled tapestry of my days like a coarse, black thread.  You will come to understand that I am not choosing to blog about pretty, happy things because I naively think that the world is only made up of light.

I am choosing to blog about light because the darkness will not last forever. The Light has come into the world and (spoiler!) the Light wins. Amid the cold of winter, we Christians hang strings of twinkle lights about the house and adorn slender white tapers with small tongues of flame . . . because though we once walked in darkness, now we have seen a Great Light.


I have lupus. And it is a gift.

Yes, you read that correctly. My chronic illness comes straight from the hand of my loving Father, just as much as the yellow mugs and fuzzy mittens and glittering twinkle lights in a frosty window. And if it comes from my Father, then it is for my good. Which makes it a gift. Which means I must thank Him for it.

My hope and prayer for this blog is that we will learn together to accept both the beauties and the trials as the gifts that they truly are. That we would learn to see and appreciate the small, everyday blessings, that we would have eyes to see the glories of His created world, and that we would receive every gift – including the gifts that take the form of trials – with true joy and deep gratitude.

~ Cassandra Marie