Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame wrote "Happiness is a warm puppy."
Schulz's alter ego, Charlie Brown, faced a lot of aggravations.
Lucy pulling away the football just as Charlie was about to kick a field goal.
Linus, Schroeder, Lucy, and Snoopy on the baseball diamond, determined to humiliate their manager.
Peppermint Patty once took the ball from Charlie Brown and ordered him to left field.
Especially if the little red-haired girl was watching.
The "happiness is a warm puppy" expression grows out of the realization that while we all face challenges, we should embrace the little joys of life when they present themselves.
For Charles Schulz, a warm puppy brought a smile even if just for a moment.
For you, maybe it's a good meal now and then.
How about that great feeling, half passed out on your recliner after a long day.
This one makes me happy: pants that fit.
Relish the small moments.
Which brings me to Ethan.
Ethan was born with a congenital heart defect.
He has spent more days in hospitals than out of them over the course of his young life.
Seen more of needles and nurses than ponies and paper airplanes.
Development stunted because his cardiac system can't move blood to the organs that crave it.
Ethan is shot up with steroids and travels by way of a wheelchair.
His frail body won't allow for walking these days.
The other day, Children's Hospital staff wheeled Ethan outside for his seventh birthday celebration.
Lots of children, laughing, running, dancing in the water sprinkler out in the sun.
And longingly wishes to feel the pulse of water on his skin.
Closer, he motions.
Closer to the water.
He wants to do what every kid wants to do when a sprinkler is spotted on a warm summer afternoon.
He wants to get in it.
Closer, nurse, closer.
Just inches away.
He struggles in the wheelchair.
Slowly extends his leg.
Stretches out his foot.
Then it happens.
Toe hits cool stream of water.
A big grin.
Then it ends.
Then it ends.
Too tired for more.
Return to the sterile universe of stainless steel, IVs, and hospital gowns.
But he remembers that moment.
And still today he talks about it.
And relives it in his mind.
And savors it.
And is happy because of it.
We've all got problems.
Some more than others.
But don't ignore the little morsels God gives you along way.
"Stop and smell the roses" means there are roses on your path you don't appreciate.
Your life is not as difficult as little Ethan's or even Charlie Brown's.
Yet they grab a little happiness where they can find it.
Charlie Brown looked at that decrepit remnant of a Scotch Pine and saw a beautiful Christmas tree.
Ethan got his toe soaked and beamed.
If you look carefully enough, you'll come across the warm puppies in your life.
Or maybe even a wet toe.
Just ask Ethan.