This article isn't my last say on the subject. To read a better perspective, read my updated version, two blog entries up from here, which doesn't focus so much on the earthly things that God has graciously provided. I'm not so proud of this list, but I think if you read it and then read the other, it might help some in seeing the difference regarding one's focus. I amaze myself in how fast I can forget the real truth and even think I'm being meaningful in the process. It happens too often!
I'm not sure if there's one thing to attribute it to, whether it's a post-Christmas letdown, where the anticipation of a short-term delight is past; or the darkness of the days, and the messy remnants from snow and ice; or a disagreeable encounter I had a while back that still disheartens and confuses me; or something in the way of low energy and perhaps a need to get out and get fresh air...I think it may be all of the above. But I'm in a funk. I hate being there, it's so disheartening and disabling that the unpleasantness in itself is a great incentive to change from there. The weird thing about that feeling is the passing occasional urge to hunker down further into it. I hate it!
So I was looking at other people's blogs for ideas, something new to think about. I know, I have too much time on my hands and if I were only busier...well, I tried just adding busy-ness to my day by making a list and starting on it. Then I ponder as I work...I do have too much time to think when I can think and work at the same time!
Looking at blogs helped. After a few that just made me sad that I don't feel like reading some of their Christian books that seem so helpful, I finally found one that reminded me of something very simple that I already know: Count your blessings. Yes, that is what I will do. It sounds insanely cliche, something parents tell complaining kids that isn't likely to garner much response. Still, it works wonders. I've done it before when my feelings were challenging me, and after a half an hour, all I could do was rejoice!
1. I am loved by the Creator, the Maker of Heaven and Earth...the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He has redeemed my life from the pit, that big, long-lasting, mucky one that had been home for 29 years. He helps me on a daily basis, and better than any of that, He promises that I will be with Him forever in heaven someday.
2. I live in a family who loves the Lord. We all agree that church is the highlight of our week. We know that what the Bible teaches is the key to all good knowledge and love and peace. (Even with these good realizations, I acknowledge also that we don't live our lives as fully taking advantage of the goodness of these things as we should...yet at least the connection is there in our heads, and room for improvement provides a goal for anyone who will pursue it. Though I read the Bible regularly, my lack of knowledge, understanding and application of so much of it...well, there's room for improvement.)
3. I live in a family who I love and who loves me. How good is that! How many people can say that?
4. We live in a peaceful land. We've never heard a bomb go off, and never seen a real gun pointed at a person--in person, at least.
5. We have the freedom to worship as we see is right. We don't have to sneak to church and back, or fear death in the process.
6. Gary has a job. This is good.
7. We have a home. We have some friendly neighbors.
8. We have a church we love. Our pastor preaches truth, prays for us, reads and studies the Bible, and interacts with his flock. He is a shepherding pastor. He corrects me when I need it (I need it too often--I was telling him recently that I suspect I am a "high maintenance" member of our congregation.). We love the people there. I even love the funky little building where the word "collapse" is too frequently spoken. I even love the little town where it is located that has been called the meth capital of the world. Yes, we love our church.
9. We have a number of good friends, both fairly long-term and rather new, a variety of them, from various churches and other places, who are sources of encouragement, balance, interest and above all, love.
10. I have been an at-home mom since Katie was 2. I quit about a month after I came to Christ. I wasn't earning much after the cost of working, and the money I can save by being at home probably outweighs those earnings.
11. I have had the privilege of homeschooling both of our children--Katie from 1st through 12th grade; Tim so far, and he's in 5th. It provides that they get a Christian perspective in the things they learn; they are spared the secular perspective presented as truth; and their relationships with God and family have been greatly enhanced.
12. Katie goes to a Christian college in California in spite of our finances more than because of them. She has gained a number of good and wonderful friends, some of whom I've met, and she has the God-given good sense and trustworthiness that eases my mind in having her so far away.
13. We are able to get about in two vehicles. This is good in various ways.
14. I have various ways to communicate with friends and family: prayer (only to God), in person (my favorite earthly one and someday heavenly one), phone, cell phone, mail, e-mail, blogging, and now facebook. Our directories are always well-worn.
15. We all are healthy. Okay, some would differ with that, that we could lose some weight and be more physically fit, but we aren't dead yet, and we don't have medical insurance (the lack of which, I suspect, makes us healthier than if we were always pondering whether we had reason to go to the doctor). We have pretty good vision, hearing, and rarely need medicine...hardly had any colds or flus for two years. And additionally, if we did need medical care, there are boodles of hospitals and clinics in close range.
16. We have sufficient food for ourselves and to share. I like that share part. It's the best, bringing food to church, to friends, and having friends come and eat with us. I think of "Now He who provides seed for the sower and bread for food..." and rely on that verse to promise me that the supply will continue.
17. We can put on blankets and warmer clothes, or turn up the heat if we're cold. We can take a cold shower or shed clothes (to an extent) if we're too warm. Not everywhere can people say both of those things. Our region does not tend to be either extremely hot or extremely cold for an extended length of time.
18. We have books, newspapers, internet, television (a mixed blessing), video rental--even a public library close by--from which we can choose various forms of information and entertainment.
19. We have a huge choice of ridiculously big grocery stores within a short drive, each with their strengths, most with their realm of predictable bargains, all causing competition among themselves, a good blessing. And at these stores, there is an unthinkable variety of food from every area of the world, so I can easily "bring my food from afar," yet from close-by.
20. In fact, our little Marysville is so sufficient (aside from our church being elsewhere) that I hardly ever need to leave town other than Sunday to supply our family with its needs.
21. We have a garden, where I can choose to grow flowers and vegetables as I have the energy and inclination. Sometimes this is a mixed blessing, in that it's more work than I can do.
22. We get lots of rain here, which means lots of fresh-tasting drinking water from the tap, lots of vegetation greening up every view, and clean air...in fact it's been so rainy this last year or two that moss abounds here as if it were a rain forest. Rain, I remind myself frequently, tends to be a description of God's blessing in the Bible. Boy, are we blessed!
23. When the sun does shine, we don't take it for granted. We may need to buy new sunglasses because it's been so long since we wore them that we've lost them, but it's great to get it back again.
24. There are sidewalks on our street; we have a driveway; and we have a garage. I've lived in neighborhoods without some of these elements, and I appreciate them.
25. We have bicycles, which we use on a wonderful trail nearby; there are various scenic areas around here, for that matter; we live in a wonderful part of the world, near ocean and mountains and rivers and lakes.
Okay, for the moment I'm feeling much better. That will do for now. But do you see what it is to count your blessings? I bet you have some that overlap with mine. If you're feeling in need of a boost, let me say what your mom used to tell you: "Count your blessings!"