Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Counting Just a Few...

When I stop to count my blessings, I realize that there are too many to include in one blog post, so I'll just list a "few" today:

1. My salvation, and God's Word
2. My godly husband
3. My three children
4. Bobby is cancer-free
5. I was raised in a Christian home with godly parents
6. I have wonderful, godly parents-in-law
7. Except for Bobby's cancer, we have all been very healthy lately
8. We were privileged to live overseas for almost five months.
9. Wonderful family members and friends (if I started listing them it would go on and on)
10. Free minutes to my my-Faves numbers means I can call my sisters any time
11. Ditto for calling my parents
12. Electricity that is on 24-7
13. Wal*Mart (I know--it also falls under the "curse" category)
14. Quiet nights in Pooler, GA
15. Enough food every day
16. Heated house
17. Clean water straight out of the tap
18. Nice church to attend, with great people
19. Free housing for the last 10 months
20. A nice van (thanks M & D)
21. Music
22. Good books to read
23. Beauty in nature
24. A washing machine and dryer
25. All kitchen appliances
26. Blow dryer
27. Hair straightener
28. Easy communication through e-mail and Skype
29. Comfy bed to sleep in at night

I could go on and on, getting more specific. Like, in the food category: strawberries, chocolate, broccoli (yes, that's not a joke--I love broccoli, and in India we only had it twice in four and 1/2 months,) apples, ice cream, etc. etc.
Or, in the music category: playing the piano, listening to music, singing in the choir, hearing others sing...etc.

See, it's fun to count your blessings! And it makes me see that God has indeed blessed my life, even during times of extreme duress. More about that later.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

One by One....

I grew up in Puerto Rico, where my parents were missionaries. Every Thursday night our home was the location of the Mission Meeting--a team meeting of all the Wesleyan missionaries--during which they studied God's Word, sang, shared prayer requests, and prayed. Oh, they prayed. When I was little, I didn't fully comprehend what they had to pray about. What could possibly take that much time to talk to God about? My siblings and I would hang out in our rooms doing homework or reading, or planning ways to sneak past all the people in the living room and out to the kitchen to eat the goodies that people had brought. Or we just sat there waiting for the meeting to be over so we could go partake of the finger foods.

But what I remember most is hearing the missionaries sing. They sang all the great hymns, and it was a beautiful sound. I grew up in a house where music was nearly always playing. (My sister Ruth calls it "life with background music.") But there was something even sweeter (as I look back now from thirty years later) in this music sung by people who were living in a culture not their own, homesick, missing family, and certainly oppressed and fought daily by Satan as they strove to share the Gospel on that island. Having now lived overseas, I have a keener understanding of how they felt. I, too, have felt it. While we lived in India, we got together with other Christians on Sunday mornings, and again with a small group one night a week. What sweet fellowship!

One song they sang frequently during my childhood was Count Your Blessings:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

--Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Can you relate to these lyrics? Are you discouraged, burdened, or disheartened? Read those words again. They are becoming more dear to me every year. I can now understand why this was such a favorite for all those sweet people so many years ago. I realize that I need to number the the things God has blessed me with, and thank Him for His grace and mercy. Have you counted your blessings lately?

Kids and Candy...

A few days after Christmas, the kids made candy houses out of graham crackers, frosting, and enough candy for an elephant. They worked on them for three or four hours, on and off, and I think the results were great: Here is Bobby with his creation: And Mary with hers: And here is Caroline with hers: And I just have to add a few close-up pictures: