One Good Thing: A Scavenger Hunt For Joy

One Good Thing: A Scavenger Hunt For Joy July 8, 2023

Raindrops on a car windshield
The sound of silence: hushing bridges in the driving rain

::click links for an immersive simulation of real-time conversation with somewhat distractible me. You may want to read straight through one time first::

Little Is Much

In one of my favorite childhood books, “McBroom Tells A Lie,” by Sid Fleischman  protagonist Josh McBroom is swindled into buying an eighty acre farm only to find all eighty acres run vertically– that is, one on top of the other. 

This bad break leaves McBroom, his wife and their eleven children living and working on a fun-sized one acre farm. But that one acre? It’s miraculously fertile. So, Josh and his family make the most of their lot in life (Yes, I see it- an intentional pun.)  Not content with having swindled the McBroom family fortune, Hector “Heck” Jones, the sly-old-fox neighbor, begins  smuggling the miraculously rich soil one barefoot toe-pinch at a time. 

It has been a decade (or three) since I owned that book, so I can’t give you a complete recap of the story, (at least, not until the middle of next week, when my “used-but-good-condition” copy arrives from Amazon) but I am sure that McBroom bests his nemesis in the end. 

The McBroom family understood making much of little, and “Heck” Jones understood the incremental approach to gaining ground. (pun emphatically intended) 

Anyone who has put a stalling child to bed, asked them to do chores or leave a playground is likely acquainted with the Heck Jones method, too.  

“Just five more minutes…please?! ”

Lays Potato Chips have been hedging their bets on Heck for years:

“Betcha can’t ___ ___ ___!” 

And don’t,  just do not, make eye contact with those kiosk attendants offering samples in the mall – they’ll take every cent you have. 

When Heck’s around, less is always more: paper cuts, cayenne, wasabi, stubbed toes, snubbed noses and people knocking at the door. 

It Only Takes A Spark

But little is much when God is in it, mini is so often mighty.  

A boy with his slingshot…”and the giant came tumbling down.” 

A meager lunch, unselfishly offered …in Messiah’s hands: a buffet with doggy bags besides. 

Mustard seed faith moving  mountains to the sea.   

The whole arms-wide-open world saved by a little baby. 

What if we chose to believe that little things are sufficient to cause big change? 

We might 

One Good Thing 

Many years ago, the high school group I worked with would take requests before closing in prayer. 

I began to notice that the girls were leaving the group carrying not only  the weight of their own concerns, but now those of their friends as well. Things just felt heavy as we all headed home. 

The collective weight of our burdens outweighed our joy in the Lord which, we are told, is the source of our  strength. We hadn’t been counterbalancing our requests  with gratitude or celebration. 

That’s when we started playing One Good Thing. 

After prayer requests, and the last  “Amen” we started to go around the circle to share one good thing from our week. It could be anything at all. It didn’t have to be super spiritual or a major accomplishment, just something to be glad about

Soon, our meetings were ending on a lighter note, and the time in between meetings became a scavenger hunt for joys to share the next time. 

One Good Thing is just a little game, but it can be one Heck of a game changer, too. 

Consider this your official invitation to play. 

Baby Steps 

It means setting small, reasonable goals for yourself. One day at a time. One tiny step at a time”  ~Dr. Leo Marvin 

Over the years, I’ve led anxious friends and family through countless rounds of One Good Thing. It’s the kind of game you sometimes need others to initiate, but it’s not just a game for others. It is an essential practice for me.  

Whenever I begin commiserating with those portions of the Psalms that invite the good Lord to break my enemies teeth, or, in the words of Melville,Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to… (wade into a sea of good things)…”

Gratitude, however,  is not just an antidote for my bad days. It is a prevention and cure essential to cultivate every day. 

 On brighter days, when no temptation to knock hats off beset me, tiny toe-pinches of joy are easier to find and tuck away for a rainy day. Then, when the rainy days arrive, as they are wont to do,  my reflex to reach for pocketed light is well-trained.

One by One 

There is nothing wrong with a list containing only one good thing. 

I have known seasons where one was an exceeding large number. 

Like fruits or flowers in season, there may be times where one solitary bloom is all that you can find. Just remember, when it isn’t peak peach picking season,  canned will also do.

Conversely, I have found the more I look for good things the more there are to be found. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, as it were…

There is no limit to how many good things we can collect and preserve for tomorrow, no threshold for how tiny a joy can be. They are all perfectly ripe and sweet as can be.

Finders Keepers

One of my favorite moments in life occurs only occasionally: when I’m at the sink to wash dishes and a flurry of tiny bubbles fly up from the soap bottle. Even more sublime is when these perfect little spheres kiss sunbeams and cast an iridescent shine. 

I am always washing dishes or scrubbing some unclean thing when they appear. It doesn’t happen each and every time and the bubbles aren’t magic like those scrubbing fellas from the bathroom . I still have to- er, get to – be the one to wash the dishes. Baby bubbles don’t transform dish washing into a beloved pastime – but for a moment, they make me happy and transform my state of mind:  “Thank you God for dishes to eat from and water to wash them in; for soap and especially the tininess of bubbles. Amen.”

Another  pocket-sized joy I carry with me is the fleeting sound of silence when my car goes through an underpass in just the right amount of rain. It is a rare and delightful moment; one that makes me turn the radio down. Like my tiny dish bubbles, it is only possible in favorable- or, as it were, unfavorable conditions. A veritable white rabbit sprinting by. One must anticipate the moment to appreciate it. 

Here on Earth, we have a boundless supply of good things for finders to keep. My own collection rivals Ariel’s grotto, though these two favorites never run aground. They are often replenished by another load of dishes or a rainy day drive ‘neath  hushing bridges, so there’s plenty to go around. Don’t be shy friend, break off a square and stuff your pockets with joy. 

Precept Upon Precept

Students practice jiu jitsu on one another
Mental Jui Jitsu: Taking every thought captive

Just as learning to sound out one little letter “A” led me to the endless adventures and rewards of reading, looking for good things in every situation has expanded my way of thinking and being. 

It is not unusual now  for me to think through a  list of “ Ten Things I Accomplished Today” as I settle in for sleep. It is just one of the many thought exercises in my regular rotation of mental Jiu Jitsu that grew from playing One Good Thing

(not to mention the premise for this blog )

Some others:  

  • Five Enemies To Pray For  
  • People to Pray For A-Z
  • An Alphabetized List of Answered Prayers 
  • Ten Good Things That Are True Even In The Apocalypse
  • Lovely Things No Bigger Than A Bunny
  • Lovely Things Much Bigger Than A Bunny

In some of my most unfavorable conditions, I reached through the stupors of insomnia, and wrapped my kickdrum heart in good things like so many weighted blankets. 

It helped. 

Practicing gratitude has taught me to take my fraught thoughts captive. I control my thoughts, not the other way around.  It leads me to choose at least one action by day that I feel good about by night. 

On very bleak days, perhaps I can only celebrate  brushing my teeth or taking a walk. There have certainly been days with shorter lists than that. Indeed,  I have tossed and turned many a listless night. (just right there in the o-pun,for all to see)

But with time and intention, my lists and good habits grow and I am soon adrift in restful sleep long before my list is through. 

Practice Makes Progress … Not Perfection.

As Bob Wiley discovered when he took Dr. Leo Marvin’s aforementioned advice,

It works! All I have to do is take one little step at a time and I can do anything!” 

Yet everything wasn’t instantly better. If it had been, we’d have a lot less movie to enjoy. Bob had to apply the principle to each new challenge he encountered. 

So it goes with collecting good things – be it one or many.


We don’t live in a conveniently scripted world. There are limits to what focusing on good things can do;  there isn’t a cosmic exchange rate for positivity, excepting maybe peace. 

Remembering to notice bird song will not your mortgage pay.  Guard your expectations. 

Unpleasant work and grim realities must still be met head on. Rainy days will still come, as they are wont to do.

Unfavorable conditions may persist, but look around when they do – you just may discover tiny wonders, too.  


Let your gaze rest on the good things in life . Be reminded that this marvelous, mysterious planet we share is brimming with awe and art, including incredible you. 


So… how about it, then? What good earth will you pinch between your toes today ?

It can be anything, anything at all.  There is no such thing as a joy too small. 

*and if you clicked even some of those links, God bless your weary soul.

Just imagine being me… awash in all this  soup 

About Kelly Brewer
Kelly Brewer is a mess…but the fun kind. She was born older on the inside, though the outside is quickly catching up. She loves Jesus, creativity and the whole wide world. Sometimes she writes stuff, including accidental poetry. Other times she doodles, but not very well. She is most rewarded by encouraging others. Kelly enjoys music, reading, coffee and quality conversations, sometimes all at once. She likes to think of her writing as a welcome mat. She hopes you’ll say hello. You can read more about the author here.

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