Counting My Blessings Today

I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving by counting a few recent blessings. Want to join me?

I Finally Made it to Church This Morning

It’s been a long time. We’ve made several exhausting trips to Newbury Park in Ventura County during September and October to show our previous home to prospective tenants. We finally found the right ones near the end of October, and they moved in on November 4. It’s a blessing to have our full income back again. It’s an added blessing not to have to travel so much.

The trips took quite a bit out of us — ten hours of mostly travel sometimes twice a week. We aren’t as young as we used to be, and it’s hard to handle it at our age. I was often just too tired to get up for our 9:30 church service and be awake enough to fully participate. I determined to go today. Some people are Christmas and Easter Christians.

I’m a Thanksgiving Christian. I try to practice gratitude every day, but I love being in church to celebrate Thanksgiving. I love the Thanksgiving hymns like this one. We sang it this morning, but not quite as well.

I wish we’d also sung this one, another of my favorites. I guess my Calvinist roots are showing. Love this version.

An added blessing was the rain that has been falling all day. See my photos of it here. The thirsty ground in our city rejoiced.  You also may want to get in a rainy day mood with my HubPages article full of photos and rain-related music: The Blessings of Rain.

Thoughts I Took Away From Church

This quote from Charles Spurgeon was in the bulletin for meditation before the service started. It’s quite a bit to chew on. It reminds me a bit of peeling an onion.

Counting My Blessings Today
From Charles Spurgeon

Another quote also jumped out at me from the bulletin. This was written by a favorite author, Eugene H. Peterson and comes from A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Counting My Blessings Today

Through all of life, God walks beside me and dwells within me. He is my rock and my fortress when the powers of evil assail me. He is with me when little things go wrong, too, such as my car door banging into my face today. I hope He is your rock, too.

What are some of the blessings in your life today?



Earthquake, Fire, Tsunami, and Radiation in Japan

How does one face such as catastrophic event as Japan’s recent earthquakes and tsunamis? Where does one go to get hope?

It simply numbs the mind to consider that one minute people can be drinking tea with family or friends, and the next have one’s home torn apart by the earth’s shaking or have it washed away by the tsunami that follows. I know the helplessness that I felt during our Paso Robles Earthquake in 2003, which seemed overwhelming, but was nothing compared to what the Japanese are facing.  It’s the same powerlessness one feels in the face of any natural or even man-made disaster. But what we had took only two lives and only destroyed a few buildings.  My mind can’t fully take in the tragic destruction the Japanese have lived through this weekend as they saw their way of life fall apart with their homes and workplaces.

I read in my newspaper that the Japanese are the people most prepared for an earthquake, yet when it came upon them, many froze in the face of the shaking they got. Though some remembered what they had learned in their drills and dove under furniture to keep falling walls and objects from hitting them, many panicked and ran outside where there was even more danger. Preparation can go only so far in protecting one in the face of such horror.

Here a community steps in to help when a neighbor’s home burns to the ground. In Japan, where one’s whole community may be destroyed,  one has to figure out how to survive without a home, food, water, and, perhaps, without hope. One cannot just be taken in by the community, because it, too, may be in ruins. No one knows how long it will be before help comes, before communication and power will be restored, before one knows if family have survived. I imagine myself in that situation and I don’t know how I would handle it. Do you?

I am reminded that much as men want to be in control of their destiny, they aren’t. Such disasters force us to confront the big issues in life, the meaning of life, and who really is in control. We might wonder why God allows these catastrophic events, even as we trust him to help us get our lives back together. It is humbling to recognize we are but men — men who are dependent upon God.

I am reminded of the Biblical Job who lost all he had in a short period of time — his home, his wealth, all his livestock, and even his children. Then he lost his health. Of course he wondered why, and his wife told him to curse God and die.

Job knew better, even in the face of “helpful” friends who said he was probably being judged for some secret sin. Instead of listening to such counsel, he took his questions directly to God. In Job 38-42, the Lord appeared to Job from a whirlwind and answered the questions of Job’s heart with more questions designed to show Job how little he knew of the mind and works and plan of God.

After all this Job replies “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see thee; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. ” It is after this, and after Job follows the Lord’s command to pray for his friends,  who had given him false counsel in ignorance, that the Lord restores his fortunes and his health, and  brings comfort through Job’s siblings. He also given more children, just as many as he had lost.

In the face of immense suffering and loss, Job held onto his God, and when he couldn’t understand, he took his questions to the only one who could answer — God himself. He’s the only one who can deal with our questions, and we have to be careful not to try to “help” as Job’s friends did, with platitudes. Surely we here in America will do all we can to provide physical help. But hope and answers  only God can give.