Friday, March 27, 2009

Counting Her Blessings

Ever have things just pop out of your mouth and you have no idea where they came from?

No, not like your teeth or your food. What are you thinking? What do I come to you people for if you're just gonna make cracks like that? Focus.

I mean you SAY something. And you didn't even think it up, that you can recall. And it's really good. And you hear it for the first time when it comes out your mouth. As if someone else said it.

That happened to me this morning. I came up with a REALLLLLY good excuse/explanation for behavior unbecoming a gentlewoman. (Well, I'm not much of a "gentlewoman" but I'm laying groundwork here.)

I was folding laundry. I had spent the night on the couch. Grizzly, the husband, now has the sickness we all had and we don't sleep together very well when one of us is puny. I squeezed out about four hours of sleep between flicking the tv on and off and changing laundry every time I woke up. The sound of the washer and dryer running lulls the kids to sleep (Wild Man, the son, almost melted down when we got a new washer and dryer. "I'll NEVER be able to sleep now because they won't SOUND the same!") and it blocks the sound of the tv. Oh, and it was also good to do laundry because at any given time, I'm usually eight years behind. But you know this about me.



So, as I hunted and picked through 3,000 socks, none of which had a match, I was telling the kids about a good thing that happened to someone we know. The kids were happy for them. Yes, this was good. I dug around the basket some more and pulled out a pair of underwear. As I looked at them I realized Minky, our six-month-old Border Collie pup, had chewed out the "center" (I'm trying to be delicate here.) How did this happen? Oh my socks and garters, just don't even ask. Toss. (Socks and garters! Isn't that just the best exclamation?! Especially for laundry. And no one here even WEARS socks with garters. Thankfully. That might mean my husband was 98 which would be ten years older than me.)

What was I saying?

Oh yes, continuing on with my big news, which wasn't the underwear, I then began to talk about WHY these wonderful things had happened to our friend. And I mentioned all the advantages life had offered her. Being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, as it were. Having wonderful parental support, don't cha know. Ample access to money that might give the faint-of-heart the vapors. Beautiful surroundings. Supportive, adoring husband. Wonderful health. Lots of family and help.

The Wild Man was not duped. "Don't covet," he advised, using my OWN words against me. (Coveting has always been on the front lines of my lectures because it robs us of gratitude and satisfaction. And I detest ingratitude.)

"I'm not coveting!" I laughed lightly. "I'm counting her blessings!" Wasn't that BRILLIANT?! What a fantastic explanation. And that's when that moment occurred I just mentioned. I didn't even know that was on my lips. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth spoke. Perfect! Excuse dujour extraordinaire!

Hannah-Bo, the daughter, laughed from the bathroom where she was getting ready for choir. "I LIKE that," she said. "I'm gonna use it!"

"Me too!" I responded. "That's my new lingo for coveting now. I'll just tell people I'm counting their blessings." How tidy!

And then I flopped back down on the couch and started having thoughts about how God CHOSE to allow her to be blessed in this way. And then something about Job, from the Bible, and me, and anyone else whoever asked, "What gives?" popped into my head. "Who are you to question God? If this is what he sees fit to do for her and not for you, then so be it."

Okay, Wisdom. If you're gonna come in, would you at least knock first? Just so I can decide if I want to open the door? It would at least give me the chance to act like I'm not home. Guess it's too late for THAT.

And a wonderful/terrible object lesson came rushing back to me.

I have to tell you first that our family has desperately desired to live in the country. We foam at the mouth when we talk about it. We have had a veggie garden, cats, dogs, chickens, a lamb, and varmints of all varieties in a suburban backyard. We rhapsodize about wide-open spaces, we glory in the mountains and views of them, we revel in the sounds of nature (except that confounded incessantly barking dog next door!). We have more trees on our little lot than the rest of the block combined. In fact, when we read the first Little House on the Prairie book, "Little House in the Big Woods," we dubbed our homestead "Big House in the Little Woods." (It's not all that big - it's just that the lot is SMALL.)

All that being said, we frequently take drives into the countryside and dream. And we oooh and ahhh. And we imagine. But the reality of that dream is not on our financial horizon nor will it likely be, short of a miracle. And it was in this mindset that the kids and I went on a "Point-and-Drive" one day. (The Wild Man started this and I do declare I will post about it.)

We came upon a grand house. It was in a Victorian style with three stories, beautifully appointed and painted in hues of light green, mocha, and burgundy, and situated on grounds that were more reminiscent of lush gardens than of a yard. An elegant white, sculpted wrought-iron fence surrounded all of it. And it was encompassed about by tree-filled acres opening to a view of the Sierras. We stopped the car. Who wouldn't? We pulled over to the side of the road and sat sighing, taking it all in. We talked about how lucky those people were to live in that place. And what must THAT be like? And wouldn't we love to have all this?

About that time, I saw a man walking out from the house toward the gate. The mailbox was there. Maybe he was headed for it. I presumed it was the owner and I thought he might be wondering what we were doing. Although I didn't think a woman and her two kids in their SUV would seem like an imminent threat, I felt I owed him an explanation. And, having NEVER met a stranger in my life, saying hello wasn't a big deal. I started the car and pulled closer to his gate.

"Hi," I said as he approached. "You probably get this all the time. Your home is so beautiful I imagine people are constantly stopping just to admire it."

"Sometimes," he answered with a smile. "I haven't been here too long. It was our dream home." He seemed to want to talk about it and, since talking is my main hobby, I could tell we were in friendly waters. "We just built it a few years ago," he explained.

"Wow," the kids and I responded. "You sure did an incredible job. I can't believe you could accomplish so much in such a short time," I added.

"I was a firefighter in San Francisco," he said. "Housing prices skyrocketed and after living there for thirty years, we were able to sell, move down here, and pay for everything outright."

"That's amazing," I replied. "How wonderful for you."

"Yeah, well, it would have been," he returned, "but right after we moved in, my wife got diagnosed with cancer and I lost her nine months later. I live here alone now. It's too big for me so I'm thinking about selling. My three boys all live in the area and one of them is talking about buying it. I can't rattle around in here. It was our house. It has everything she ever dreamed of. I built it for her. We'd been planning every detail for years. What's the point if she's not here to enjoy it?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry," I offered, feeling unable to think of the right words to say. I felt instantly broken for him. "How terribly hard that must be. I'm so glad you have your boys nearby." It sounded feeble.

"Yeah," he said. "It's good. I spend a lot of time with them. But they sure miss their mom, too, and the grand kids will be growing up without her."

We talked on for a few minutes more and then shook hands warmly and said our good-byes. Our hearts were heavy as we drove away. We felt so very sad for his dream lived out, alone.

And then I looked at the kids and they looked at me. "God allowed us to meet that man today and hear his story," I said. "When we look from the outside all we see are our own dreams and we imagine life to be perfect if only we lived like that. But would you trade your life and your blessings for his heartache? Let's try to remember that God knows best and we are where we are by his plan and design. And to want something else, to the point that it keeps us from appreciating the blessings we have, is to tell him he doesn't know what he's doing. That's what coveting is. God must love us dearly to allow us to learn this lesson in such a profound way."

And so, as I sat contemplating my laundry, I remembered this penetrating object lesson and stopped coveting, for the moment, again. And even if I call it "Counting Her Blessings" it all adds up to the same thing: dissatisfaction with what God has given me and thinking someone else is getting a better deal, or has something I think I need. And it took my son to name it.

So then I gave thanks for the 3,000 socks with no match.

No I didn't.

If you think I'm THAT far down the road of wisdom you haven't been hanging out with me long enough. Stick around.


Copyright 2009

52 comments:

  1. Ohhh... a laugh, then a boo-hoo, followed by a big sighhh.
    *
    How do I love thee, let me count the ways...
    *You're genuinely awesome.
    Hugs to you.

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  2. Wonderful writing, you kept me leaning forward toward my computer screen! Yes,.. I also subscribe to that belief,.. I remarried 5 years ago and thought things were so perfect,.. (he dumped me and 13 months later I was filing for divorce and had no job!) Now I know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be. near my children/grandchildren and working at the high school. Thank you Lord!

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  3. Very nice post! It's good to count your blessings every now and again!

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  4. Thanks for visiting my blog(s). I appreciate you stopping by and leaving me a comment.

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  5. Truer words were never spoken. Or written. Whatever.
    Why is it that when I come here, I feel a breath of fresh air... and feel like I've found the twin I was separated at birth from?

    So, in light of the gentle reminders, comtemplative memories and the heartfelt urge to become a better and less covetous person... all I can say is:
    *
    *
    *
    Get that CORN outta my face!!

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  6. Okay Robynn, must you add more things to my spiritural "to-do" list? :) I haven't gotten the past year's spiritual concepts down yet. I guess that's why they say the Christian life is a journey, having to navigate the road and once in awhile pulling over to the side to deal with a road block, I mean character issue. If people think that the Christian journey is boring, they are so misinformed. Thanks for your roadside contribution. Time to pull over for another adjustment here on the roadside . . . right after I wipe the tears from my face. Great writing!!

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  7. Robynn, You not only have a gift for writing...you also have the gift of gab...and that opens so many, many doors...My husband is like you..."Everyone he ever meets becomes his best friend" as my son always says...God uses you and your gift to touch so many people...and it shines through your writing as well! My heart breaks for him...but you and your kids were the hands and feet of Jesus that day! God bless you for it and for so many other reasons as well!~Janine XO

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  8. This was a wonderful post Robynn. May I please borrow your phrase?
    When I count my blessings, you're on the list!

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  9. That is a nice story, although a bit of a downer even with your 300 unmatched socks. ;)

    I am reminded, "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

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  10. I love this post. You are so on target, thanks for sharing. I love you for that!

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  11. Great story Rob...great life lesson too. I needed to hear it. I think you should submit this one to Focus on the Family...the magazine they put out or at least used to. They made cut backs but maybe they could use it. Love it! P.S. Throw out those socks and start over!

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  12. Lovely! You tell stories so well that I'm leaning closer to my computer so far in that my pants cut at my waistband!
    Thanks for your wisdom and for sharing this touching story!

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  13. Thanks for sharing! Stories like this are important. It made me take a moment and remember all that I am grateful for! Thanks for participating in Show off your blog Saturday. I really enjoyed reading your post and hope you can join in again this week

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  14. Reminds me of when the Littles wanted Extreme Home Makeover to come to our house. I was telling them that they help people in need: people who are very sick. Quotable Eli then said "My tummy hurts". ;-p

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  15. Oh, Robynn--that was an excellent post--and a wonderful reminder to count our blessings instead of coveting what others have.

    The grass only 'looks' greener on the other side of the fence, eh?

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  16. There are simply too many wonderful things about that post to even try and name them all. You covered the gamut, and it was good!

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  17. I always think of the saying the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.Someone might tell you their lives are perfect but they might not be telling you the exact truth.In the last 2 years I have almost died twice it really makes you realize what matters so for me to hug others to put others before myself is what makes me happy now.Listening to others and opening your heart up to people will make you rich in what is truly important and I think you did that with the kind man who owned the beautiful house.((((Hugs))) Darcy

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  18. This is very profound Robynn. Thanks so much for sharing. Definitely a good thing to be reminded of now and then. The socks part made me laugh. I had fallen behind on blog reading and now with this one I am caught up on yours. On to the next blog. Have a great weekend.

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  19. What a powerful message. Brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you for this!

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  20. Robynn, thank you for sharing this! :)

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  21. What a great lesson to learn!

    Head over to www.teahlo.blogspot.com - we're all counting your blessings for you. ;-) (You'll see - just go!)

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  22. haha - I enjoyed the laundry scenario. Hope you get the socks matched up eventually.

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  23. I love the picture of you on the washer! lol

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  24. For reminding me that I need to count my own blessings...

    Thank you.

    Helen

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  25. You got any spare black ankle socks? I seem to be missing some. What a nice story about the man. You write some powerful stuff!

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  26. This was just what I needed tonight. Thank you. You had me with you...I was really taken by the man's story, and found myself catching my breath. Good lesson.
    ~Lori

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  27. Oh - hilarious, sad and philosophical all in one go. Love it!

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  28. This is a great post, Robynn. Love that picture, too - I've felt that way many a day.

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  29. Okay, my dear wonderful, writing friend...you're not allowed to comment and make me blubber like a baby :-) I love you. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with me. I pray God will give you the comfort and reassurance you need in your difficult passages...I'm here with you, sister! XOXO Janine

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  30. Loved this post...laughing, crying, it has it all! You are truly a captivating writer, Robynn! :)

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  31. WOW! So much to think about.
    And, so true.

    I found your blog for the first time today. I think I will come back many times.

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  32. It was a beautiful lesson shared Robynn.

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  33. You are so good to read and so good to know. I love this post and the wisdom wrapped round every word. Even those socks! Thank you.
    X

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  34. Solid lesson for the week. And a good reminder why I don't have kids - I can't count to 3,000...

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  35. Robynn, feel free to use any of 'my' words... I sometimes get teased because I make words up as I go. People sometimes say senility, I say creativity!

    Thanks for stopping by my place. It always encourages me (some folks say I don't need any encouragement) when a writer that I admire like you stops in and leaves a comment.

    Thanks a bunch.

    Helen

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  36. What a nice story and the lesson that goes with it - "All things are lessons God would have me learn."

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  37. Great posting!So true and so much to ponder on our journey to be more like Christ. Enjoying your blog. Did you see Ree's Cow posting today? I live only about 5 hours actually less if I minus off Tulsa which is south of her. I want so much to head on down that a way and hit the Restaurant Supply Store she's posted about in the past...and some how some maybe I can find the ranch.
    Hope your having a lovely Lord's day and by the way you would never know we had an ice storm yesterday. It's sunny, ice all gone and no need for a coat.

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  38. P.S. I cracked up over the laundry photo......that actually was me once upon a time years back when all the kids were little. I didn't lie down on it but I did sit up on it and was dozing off!

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  39. Hopefully everyone is well now and you can get off the washer?

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  40. Oh what a lovely post. I daresay we all need to hear something like that...

    About the socks. I never match socks. It is a waste of my valuable time. I buy my family the same brand of socks, always, and just pile them in the sock drawer. And, I just wear mismatched socks. They're usually inside my shoes anyway, so who cares? It's very liberating. It was lovely to meet you BTW! I will be posting later this week about that hopefully. I'm waiting for a card reader for my stinkin' camera. :-)

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  41. I always know where to come for a laugh, but the lesson too, well that is pure bonus. I am continually fascinated with the stories you spin and tell :) I love this style that is uniquely you!

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  42. amen. amen. amen.

    I just said to my friend the other day, who wants so badly for me to be well so she doesn't have to go out without me [that's a true friend... one that wants you well because she misses you when she's out for dinner... made me laugh hysterically] that if I could be well but had to lose all the peace and acceptance I've gained from my troubles, I wouldn't do it.

    I've had great things and abilities, and I've lost those great things and abilities. But I'm still one of the most richly blessed people I know.

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  43. You know Robynn, this is an awesome post. Truthfully, we've never lived coveting what we don't have.
    Every minute part of our life, we are grateful that our pride and hard work and our Faith has provided for our needs.
    Unfortunately, the $$ was invented...and became mandatory to living...but Not to real LIVING!

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  44. I love this post, and the way you write Mrs. Reilly. God bless you!

    ~Sally

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  45. A wonderful read..I always tell my girls.."You have to do what you are doing, to get to where you are meant to be.." Sounds odd, but somehow through times that are not to my likening, I learned so much.

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  46. That was a wonderful story! I laughed and cried. You never know what is on the inside by judging by the outside. We must count our own blessings. A beautiful reminder that God gives us what we need when he knows the time is right.

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  47. LOL...I love what you said!!! My husband has caught me "gossiping"...I snapped back with 'we're doing praying requests'...I thought it was kinda witty, but it's now made me more aware of what i say.

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  48. Oh, what a story and you have such a talent for writing!
    It's so true, that you don't know what's going on when you are on the outside looking in. Great fingerprint!

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  49. I know I commented before..but wanted you to know, I reread the blog again and enjoyed it..Happy Fingerprint Friday..

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