Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Count Your Many Blessings

I love this time of year. My flowerbeds are all cleaned up and ready for spring. Tulip and daffodil bulbs are snug in those beds, ready for snow to pile on top. I've planted garlic bulbs in a special place in my garden for next year. The harvest is over, at least for our clan, and I survived canning season. ;)

Our freezers and pantry shelves are well-stocked for the winter months ahead. And I have a plethora of fun projects to tackle during those loooong cold months. Since winter in this area lasts about 7 months, (From about November through May) it behooves one to have a variety of indoor interests. For me that will include working on manuscripts, organizing pictures I've taken this past year, Christmas gifts (I'm making a lot of those this year), keeping up with my responsibilities in the YW, and sorting through each room in our house (I've been striving to de-clutter closets, etc.). I'm also diving in on a new interest---learning to paint landscapes. This should prove interesting since I struggle to draw stick figures. ;)

This month I will also ponder all of the wonderful blessings in my life. I love all of the holidays, but Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart. In recent years we learned that some of our ancestors were in attendance at that first Thanksgiving celebration. My 10th great grand-father (John Howland) and 10th great-grandmother (Elizabeth Tilley) survived that first harsh winter. Unfortunately, both of Elizabeth's parents passed away during that challenging time. So I'm sure that first harvest celebration was a bittersweet moment for her.

I'm a descendant of their daughter, Hope. What a beautiful name. I'm sure it was aptly applied to this daughter. Can you imagine traveling across a large ocean on a cold, dark ship---arriving in a new country you weren't adequately prepared to endure? You brought along basic supplies, but there isn't a handy Wal-Mart to refurbish those items you've run short on. You have to make do with what you have, and what you can find.

Since there aren't any houses to buy, you have to build your shelter from scratch. If you get hurt or become ill, there isn't a medical facility to hasten your recovery. You are pretty much on your own. With one exception. You came seeking religious freedom and you are now able to worship God according to the desire of your heart. Daily you pray for guidance, for the courage to survive all that lies ahead as you help shape what will become the greatest nation in the world.

Currently our country is facing a lot of problems. The economy seems perched on the brink of disaster. This week's election will finally bring to a close one of the most controversial presidential races on record. Heated debates on political issues have filled the news for weeks.

I wonder what our forefathers think about all of this commotion. When they see our warm homes, convenient cars, the stores that exist, do you suppose they scratch their heads, wondering why so many people are unhappy? As they gaze at the modern devices we've come to accept as our "due," and all of the technology we've been blessed with, are they dismayed by how we've taken it all for granted?

I was once accused of being a "Mary Poppins" type of person. I've decided that's not an insult. I do strive to look on the bright side of things. This doesn't mean I haven't faced challenging trials. Au contraire. Twenty-six years ago, I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic. Twenty-five years ago, my father took his own life. I've endured 3 difficult pregnancies and several surgeries that were less than my idea of a fun time. Eleven years ago, I was told that I have lupus. And so on. There have always been challenges. But even during the worst possible circumstances, there has always been hope. That is what keeps me going. Plus the knowledge that this life is but a brief interlude when we consider the eternities that lie ahead. This is a testing ground, a chance for us to prove ourselves. It is up to us what we do with our time in mortal mode.

I love to laugh more than I like crying, so I gravitate toward things that I enjoy, downplaying items that aren't enjoyable. Like last night. I use an insulin pump---it has been a great way for me to enjoy life more fully as a diabetic. But there are little snags that occur. Last night the cannula (plastic tube injected under my skin---the insulin passes through it) from my pump pierced a small vein. Let's just say it was not a good time. But I hung in there, cleaned things up, and started over. I suspect this is how my ancestors survived all that they faced during their challenging time in mortal mode.

My challenge today is this: look at the good things that are going on in your lives. Focus on the blessings, and express gratitude daily for those items. Let's see if we can turn the tide of negativity that is currently thriving. There are a lot of problems in today's world, but there are a lot of neat things, too. Make a list of those things and keep it where you can see it every day. Realize what a great time this is to be alive, and savor each day as it comes.

One of my greatest blessings is featured in the picture at the beginning of this blog. This is my first grandchild, Aari, giving her Grandpa Crane a love. She is a doll and next Sunday, we'll be gathering as a family to witness her blessing in sacrament meeting. I can hardly wait. She is the first of a new generation in our family. She is part of the hope for our future. Her safe arrival into this world heralded a new adventure in our lives. Before she was born, the doctors raised concern over a problem with her kidneys. Combined prayers, faith, and the power of the priesthood paved the way for a miracle. Aari's kidneys returned to normal size before her birth and they have worked fine ever since. You can bet this miracle is on my list of things to be grateful for this year. There are others. Despite what appears to be a darkened time, there are great blessings taking place all around us. I think it's part of our responsibility to take stock of these good things, and to patiently endure what isn't so good, trusting in a wise Father in heaven who knows what is in our best interest.

What items will appear on your blessing lists? Feel free to share. ;)


Michele Ashman Bell said...

What a wonderful blog. This is such a good time to reflect upon our blessings and realize that despite our trials and challenges, there is so much to be thankful for.

Jennie said...

Other holladays turn into entire seasons, but Thanksgiving tends to be just one day with more emphasis on food than gratitude. I think it's a wonderful idea to spend this entire month thinking of those things we can be grateful for. I suppose it sounds trite, but I really am grateful for my husband, my children and their spouses, and my grandchildren. I'm thankful too for my home, my calling to serve in the temple, and a lot of rather mundane but lovely things like central heating, microwave ovens, and indoor plumbing.

Gale Sears said...

Those sentiments were just what was needed after a hard fought political campaign. Thank you. I needed to take a deep breath and count my blessings: good husband, warm home, white puffs of snow on the edges of the pine trees, clouds orange with the sunset, the gospel, and a great country that will endure. Thanks for your encouraging words! Gale

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Sounds silly, but your blog brought on some tears. I happen to have a high water level. It over flows easily. But when I think of how much I have to be grateful for I always get choked up. Last week in our Primary class, Brad pointed out to our class that if we ever feel like we are picked on, that we have things too hard, in our prayers we should start to name our blessings that we are thankful for, naming them specifically, and we will realize just how blessed we truly are.
I have been more blessed than I deserve. Your blog gave me time to stop and reflect on my bountious blessings. Thank you.