Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Name Them One-by-One

There's an old hymn that Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote in 1897.  It goes, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done!"

This morning Jonathan was looking for a particular button-down shirt and couldn't find it.  He looked in my closet (where I hang the clothes that are washed and need to be ironed), he looked in his closet, the guest room closet and several bags he had recently used while traveling.  He looked in the dryer, washer and all of the laundry baskets.  I also went behind him for a cursory review of things.  The shirt was gone.  He left to take the kids to school and I went to iron the #2 choice shirt for the day.  As I was getting the iron out of my closet I looked one more time in the "to be ironed" section of clothes and sure enough, tucked behind another shirt was the one we had been searching for.

How often has that happened to you?  The thing you are searching for is right under your nose the entire time?  And you've wasted a lot of energy and effort looking for it.

I've been thinking along those very same lines lately about my life.  There are so many blessings right under my nose and I often look right past them.  Since the horrific events that occurred last Friday in Newtown, CT, I think many of us have been challenged to take a closer look at how we view priorities in our lives.  I have spent the last few mornings before school cuddling my babies as long as I could before they had to get ready.  I have hugged, played and listened much more intently.

A few weeks ago our preacher, Bill, said "Don't let the urgent supersede the important."  He was referring mostly to the hustle and bustle that comes with Christmas, but it's applicable to every day in our lives.  Since we moved into our house 3 years ago we've wanted to do some remodeling - the kitchen, master bath and floors all need updating.  But it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen.  We are blessed to have enough space, live in a safe neighborhood and have all the creature comforts we need.  It would be nice to do some upgrades but I feel convicted to not complain about the current state of our home. 

Yesterday I was at the Family Dollar and there was a lady with about 15 items in her buggy.  I had a ton of stuff so I let her go in front of me even though I had already loaded most of my things on the checkout counter.  She nervously watched as her items were scanned and she held a roll of quarters ($10) in her hand.  She questioned the clerk a few times about some of the prices that rung up.  She stopped the clerk before her buggy was empty.  I told her not to worry, just to add my items to hers and I would take care of it.  She about fell over.  She exclaimed, "Thank you, Jesus, for sending an angel!" She cried and hugged me.  This was over about $15 worth of merchandise.  I can't imagine being so worried about spending $15.  I'm not writing about this so you think I'm an angel.  I want to share it because it profoundly impacted me.  I take for granted that I can run to the Family Dollar on any given day and buy whatever I need (or want).  I am BLESSED beyond what I even fathom.

I haven't done an actual count but I've probably had at least 50 different people do something nice for me or my family the past 14 months.  It's incredible to consider that so many have made sacrifices, big or small, for me.  Even the phone calls or cards that probably don't mean much to them are significant to me.  I am extremely grateful for the blessing of loved ones in my life.

I am praying for so many people right now:
  • A classmate of the kids' who has non-cancerous tumors on all of his vital organs.  The ones on his brain are causing lots of seizures.  His parents are struggling to get him the medical care he needs.  It's a financial burden and they're having to take time off work to care for him.  And so I'm thankful for the asthma and ear infections that my kids get.  They are nothing compared to what this family is experiencing.
  • A friend's child struggles with grades in school.  She worries every week about how she's preparing him for tests and that she's doing enough for him.  My kids don't struggle with schoolwork.  Without having this friend to share her worries with me I would have taken Beau & Lydia's good grades for granted.
  • A friend is in remission from cancer.  He worries often that the tumor(s) will return.  My dizziness and "quality of life" issues pale in comparison.
  • The parents who are burying their children in CT this week.  As I read the list of names and dates of birth I froze as I realized most of them were born in 2006, the same year as Beau & Lydia.  My heart physically hurt.  Those parents aren't "stressed" about making sure every gift is bought and wrapped or that they have the perfect thing to wear to the holiday party.  Makes my worries about those things extremely petty.
It's so easy to just get through every day, getting things done, focusing on the urgent and not the important.  And we miss the blessings that are right under our noses.   Even when things are bad, even when we really are sick or finances are a mess, there is usually something that we have to be thankful for.    Sometimes the kids will fuss about something silly and I'll look at them and say "Waaaah!"  If God wasn't so merciful he'd probably do the same thing to me and probably on a daily basis.

There are seasons when the blessings are tucked away in an obscure place and we have to search a little harder and be a little more creative in where we look.  Other times - I'll even go out on a limb and say most times - the blessings are there right under our noses as we search and search and search without ever seeing them.  We wake up every day with a choice.  We can choose to see the clouds or we can find beauty in the sky that God hand-made no matter how stormy or ominous it looks.

I hope everyone reading this knows, believes and accepts what Christmas is really about.  It's about Jesus Christ choosing to leave heaven and take on human form because he loves us that much. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ---Luke 2:10-12

Merry Christmas from The Gregory's

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?