Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Counting Blessings

Well, the holiday season has wrapped up ... the decorations have come down ... and we have a little more daylight everyday (we have to hang on to something in Michigan). You have probably been bombarded with lots of warm and fuzzy messages in the past couple of months... but have you really taken them in and reflected on what there is to be thankful for ... what are your blessings? We just returned from a family vacation to America's southwest. Our various travels and activities really gave me some things for which to be grateful. (Side note: I hate trying not to end a sentence with a preposition. Who made up that rule? Is it Biblical? Am I jeopardizing someone’s moral standing by exposing them to such grammar? I may start to look for them in the Bible so I know if it is immoral. Back to our program…)

First of all, just consider the blessing of Family -- people who you love and that love you, regardless of your past or weirdness. Just having those people that you can be you with is great. There are so many broken homes ... kids in the foster care system ... messed up priorities. Be thankful for your family and all of the good and bad that go along with it.

Be thankful that you are an American citizen and live in THE United States of America. Early in our trip, we drove from San Diego over to Arizona. There was a point along the highway where you could see the Mexican border, the fence, and U.S. Border Patrol vehicles patrolling the landscape. We went through a few Border Patrol checkpoints. It really brought home to me how easy it is to take where I live and how I live, with all of our freedoms, for granted. I didn't have to sneak into the US or fill out an application. I was blessed to be born here ... through no effort or talent on my part. During another activity of our trip, we had the privilege of getting a view at some of our naval fleet. It took my breath away to consider those that have served and those that serve today. Be thankful for these brave souls. Be thankful for our country and be thankful for what it REALLY means to be an American.

Our entire trip was punctuated at various points with the opportunity to just ponder God's imagination and His mercy to share it with us. We drove through the mountains. We drove through the desert. We saw snow in the desert -- very cool! We saw migrating gray whales just outside the harbor of San Diego. We experienced our smallness and His Greatness in all of those places. At the San Diego Wild Animal Park (better than the zoo, IMO), we could marvel at His creativity, and His sense of humor perhaps, as we saw giraffes with necks that reach up to the sky and rhinos wearing their own armor. It all made me think about the Garden of Eden and how it must have been for Adam to meet each of these creatures and assign them names. How did he pick them? And isn't it funny how each name fits its owner. What a blessing to see them and to experience them with those I care about most.

But those are easy topics to pinpoint blessings, aren't they? What blessings do we have that we don't think of until, they are gone or threatened?

This Christmas, we received a beautiful framed cross-stitch project from my mother-in-law. This was project of love and thankfulness after a surgery that improved her vision enough to return to a beloved hobby. My friend, Terri, had surgery to remove a brain tumor that was threatening her ability to swallow and smile. Are you thankful for the ability to see, hear, swallow, smile, walk, dance, run? Have you recognized the blessing of your health and abilities? How about those of your family and friends?

And what about the blessings of life’s lessons? The ones that teach you flexibility, time management, money management, people skills, thankfulness, selflessness, patience, discipline, self-control, priorities, hope, the value of others, the extent of your personal knowledge and wisdom, and faith. Be thankful and remember to learn the lesson because “lesson repeated until lesson learned”.

There are blessings to be found in every day, every experience. It may take some looking, but they are there. Get in the habit of remembering them each night before you go to sleep and thanking God for them.

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