Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 22nd August 2017

How to Put Up Your Dukes When Happiness is Hard to Find

When I was a little girl, I loved the phrase “put up your dukes.” I suppose that’s because I was a scrawny little Dukes girl, and it astounded me that such a powerful phrase could include my last name. I viewed myself as small, weak, incapable at times, unsure of myself in times of trial. The phrase felt empowering, and when other kids called me by my last name — “Dukes” — I felt strong enough to hurl a bowling ball over the barn.

There are several theories about how the phrase “put up your dukes” came into use.

My favorite theory suggests that “put up your dukes” referred to a king summoning his dukes, knights, and soldiers into battle against an enemy. As a follower of King Jesus, I love that image.

In times like these, when the world seems so harsh, unforgiving and unhappy, I need that image. I need to know there’s a real King who is still on His throne.

And since there’s a real King …. maybe, we are all the dukes. We have a King calling us into battle against a real enemy. The King is “putting up His dukes,” and that means He’s putting up us. We are the dukes, no matter how weak and incapable we feel today.

He is summoning us. And when we’re ready to heed His call, we can practice the Principle of Putting Up Your Dukes.

The Principle of Putting Up Your Dukes became a powerful principle for me when I took my dare toward more happiness. I learned from people who had faced tremendous hardship in their lives that they had fought for happiness — and wielded it like a weapon. What I discovered is that some of the happiest people I knew had gone through some of the greatest trials, but they followed their King onto the battlefield and refused to give in. They didn’t want to give up on joy, happiness or peace. They didn’t want to sleepwalk through their life.

They learned this important truth:

Sometimes happiness is a choice — a hard choice, but a choice nevertheless. And when you choose happiness, you are not giving into the pain of this world; you are refusing to give in to it.

No matter what we’re facing, we get to choose how we’ll fight. We are the dukes. YOU ARE A DUKES GIRL! (Or Dukes boy — shout-out to the guys who are reading!)

Here is the surprising secret to happiness that we all need to know: The way to happiness is happiness itself. The way to find happiness is to fight for it.

Maybe you’re not ready to fight yet. That’s okay. Go easy on yourself. Maybe you’re like my friend Beth, a woman who has endured great pain in her life the last three years. Sometimes, she told me, fighting for happiness sounds like a lot of work: “My first thought is that happiness is a three-syllable word, and some days that just feels like too much. It’s hard to live, and it’s too big of a word to say.”

Some days you’re not ready for a three-syllable word. Some days you’re not ready for a fight. Be still. Breathe. Remember: It’s okay to not be okay.

But there will come a day when you know that the fight is what will save you. The fight is in you because Jesus is in you. Christ in you, the hope of glory. The hope of everything.

– Love from a Dukes Girl

Edited Excerpt from The Happiness Dare.

Related: If you liked this post, you’ll love The Happiness Dare. I have a FREE companion Journal and Discussion Guide for you, downloadable if you subscribe right here. 

A HUGE Thank You & Giveaway Announcement


Last week, so many of you said “yes” to being a part of bringing tremendous hope and healing to real women, real mamas, in Haiti.

I had no idea how much we would raise together. But I have tremendous news. As of Saturday evening, we were already at $5,600, and the donations are still coming in. I am praying that we can exceed $6,000!

So many of you gave, and so many of you shared on social media — which automatically entered your name in a drawing for great prizes! I wish I could give every one of you a prize. Here are the winners:

The 2 donor packs go to: Kristin Smith and Sue Donaldson!

The 1 social media pack goes to: Sarah Geringer!


My promotion for this project has concluded, but the fundraiser is ongoing.


If you would like to DONATE to Rosie’s expansion today, click HERE to donate through PayPal *** please add Rosie’s expansion in the “add special instructions” box ***

or send your donation to:

Touch of Hope
205 Old Mill Lane
Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246

*memo: Rosie’s expansion*

Great news! By early September, you can order the products from Rosie’s Boutique online by clicking here.

Your support will help expand what’s already being done in the pictures represented here!



Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Lesley. With everything happening in America right now, I found Lesley’s blog post to be extremely timely. Our words have the power of life and death… let’s choose to speak life! Find Lesley here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Oh, I like this rendition of ‘putting up your dukes.’ So well said.

    • You’re a total Dukes Girl. 🙂

  • wow and double wow – so very wonderful. Thanks, Miss Put Up Your Dukes. God is especially fond of you, as they say (and they are right!)

    • The gifts should be coming soon! I now have everyone’s mailing addresses!

  • Ps did I mention I love orange? such a happy color. maybe because i have redhair. not sure.thanks so very much for your generosity and big heart.

  • Loving that royal job title and challenging job description that goes with it! And it’s true that daring to step into our happiness puts Jesus on display with all the banners and fanfare He deserves!

  • Susan

    Oh yes I remember “put up your dukes.” Love that you turned it into a Jesus – Happiness battle cry! As soon as those orange mugs are available I’ll be ordering one. They are sold out at the moment! Will link up in the morning! xoxo

    • Keep checking back, Susan. And also … the Rosie’s Boutique Online store will be opening soon. I am thinking they will be carrying the mugs. Check the link in the blog post, and you can sign up to get notified when the store opens.

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  • So true that we have to fight for happiness sometimes. I love how you put it that it’s choosing not to give in to the pain of this world. It’s always good to remember that the ultimate outcome of the battle is already decided. And thank you for featuring my post this week- that was a lovely surprise!

    • It’s so fun to feature heart-stirring, encouraging, and beautiful posts. We love having you here, Lesley!

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  • Yay this brings me back to last year! I love your heart for others, Jennifer and my coffee-loving taste buds are being drawn to those mugs. Checking this out now!

    • Yeah. So I was needing a little reminder myself, re: Happiness.

      And yes, the mugs are totally adorable!

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  • Sarah Geringer

    I am SO excited for two reasons…the amazing $5,600+ donation amount, and the fact that I was chosen as a winner! Thank you so very much, and I’m praying God will do a BIG work in Haiti with the donations.

    • So happy for you, Sarah! I am going to do a FB Live early next week with the updated amount. The money has just continued to come in, and I’m so blown away by the generosity!

  • Susan

    Are two comments allowed? Want to thank you for sharing your fun weekend with girlfriends (FB posts) – you took the dare and it looks as though it was well worth it!

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  • Kristi Woods

    “But there will come a day when you know that the fight is what will save you…” Amen, Jennifer. Great way to start the day – by reading your post.

    • So happy these words came at the right time for you, my friend.

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  • Your title caught my attention! Love it! And I agree, happiness is a choice and I choose JOY! Thank you for sharing!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    “When you choose happiness, you are not giving into the pain of this world; you are refusing to give in to it.” Reminds me of LaMaze!! There are so many strategies we can implement to bypass at least some of the pain in life and greatly increase the happiness. Your book, The Happiness Dare, presents a number of them! One of my favorites: paying attention. I love making happy discoveries like a house wren in the woodpile, a rainbow in the sprinkler, or a baby’s smile in TJ Maxx! You are so right, Jennifer: “Gratitude is the strong foundation on which our ultimate happiness is built” (p. 245). Thank you for your continued encouragement to fight for happiness–a battle we CAN win because Jesus, our Source of Joy, lives within!

    • Oh Nancy. I love that! Thanks for sharing the Lamaze connection. So true!

  • You will remind us when we can purchase online more orange mugs? thanks, Jennifer. (:

    • Yes Sue! If you go to the links above, you can click on Rosie’s Boutique online store. It will be open for business in early September!

  • I believe it is a choice we just need to learn how to choose well. I choose Joy!

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  • Julie Loos

    This Christian walk is a lot about choosing, isn’t it? I want to be a Dukes girl:)

  • Teresa

    I AM A DUKES GIRL TOO! I could so identify with your train of thought as I had the same thoughts growing up.
    “When I was a little girl, I loved the phrase “put up your dukes.” I suppose that’s because I was a scrawny little Dukes girl, and it astounded me that such a powerful phrase could include my last name. I viewed myself as small, weak, incapable at times, unsure of myself in times of trial. The phrase felt empowering, and when other kids called me by my last name — “Dukes” ”
    The phrase “put up your dukes” still brings a smile to my face. Thank you for this article. There did come a day when when I knew that the fight was what would save me. The fight was in me because Jesus was in me. Christ in me, the hope of glory. The hope of everything. I may have added my married name to my maiden name Dukes but I will always be a DUKES GIRL too.

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@jenfulwiler You model this well, Jennifer. Loving Jesus and serving him boldly with your gifts.