“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
I’ve talked previously about regularly writing in a blessings journal. I take no credit for the idea – God used various people in my life to encourage me to start – but I have to say, I’m starting to see changes in my life that I really like. I’ve also talked about how I used to be a Tigger personality but had started to see Eyeore creep in over the years and didn’t quite enjoy him as much. Well…I’ve noticed lately that Tigger is sticking around more and Eyeore is getting booted out.
The week of the Fourth of July, it was predicted that the midwest was going to get severe storms. We all went to bed at normal time, but God impressed upon my heart to get up and finish the work waiting for me instead of leaving it until morning which was my plan. Therefore, I worked until approximately 12:30 a.m. and then went to bed. The whole time I was working, I was praying, asking God to have the storms move around our area and miss us completely.
Well, God had other plans for our family that particular week. Soon after falling asleep, I was awakened to ferocious wind, stronger than I had heard in a long time. I can honestly say I laid there scared. I spent the majority of the night praying for protection…not sleeping. Soon after, we lost our power. We lay in bed, hoping the electricity would be restored, but doubtful, due to what we were hearing outside the bedroom window.
When we finally woke up and took our morning walk, there was devastation all around. Our house and the houses on our road were intact, but tree limbs, as thick as they were wide, were blocking the street in both directions. I thanked God our neighborhood was safe and for protecting us, despite not having any power. The county sent out a bobcat in order to push the debris off the road so neighbors could go to work. We set up our generator and off I went to take our three kids to the dentist, as planned. My husband chose to stay home from work that day, prompted by God’s urging. Arriving home, after grumbling about needing to find money to fix not one but three cavities, my husband informed me our generator died. Since we are still in the recovery phase from the financial setback that occurred last fall, that wasn’t what either of us wanted to hear.
However, God worked out the circumstances and my husband was able to borrow a spare from his employment, allowing us to keep the water out of the basement and save our food. Now I had a choice…I could either keep grumbling (which I was doing a great job of) or I could choose to be thankful for the blessings we did have. I chose to be thankful. At first, it took a lot of work. Instead of focusing on the money we didn’t have for the dentist bill and the gas and repair bill for the generator, I chose to be thankful. I started with the fact that the storm broke the humidity that had been hanging around and God supplied pleasant temperatures since running the air conditioning wasn’t an option. Then, my husband was home when the generator quit and knew what to do. Our house was spared any damage from the storm and the tree damage we did have was minor. Our family was healthy and safe. It was a holiday week so I would have extra time to catch up on work when it was finally restored. We had friends and family who were willing to help. God loved us and was taking care of us. This was just a minor inconvenience.
I decided, though, instead of just stopping there, I wanted to take my thankfulness one step further. I chose to do something positive. Instead of sitting around, wasting time, wallowing in a funk, I decided to tackle a job I hadn’t previously had time to start – organizing my office space. It was a job I had been procrastinating about because I knew I needed a large chunk of time and up until this point, I hadn’t had that.
Even though I didn’t start out in a grateful mood (it’s hard to be cheerful when it feels like everything around you is pointing to trials), I soon realized my attitude was a choice…and I needed to choose wisely.
By the time the actual holiday arrived, I had a newly organized office space that I was proud of, the work I was finally able to begin was manageable, and God still gave us plenty of family time to enjoy making memories.
Sometimes we have to start small when listing our blessings, but I have found for my own life, thanking God has a waterfall effect. Once I begin, it changes my whole mood until I again see blessings everywhere.
© Cheri Swalwell