The bare snowball bush outside my window, the handcrafted oak railing in my entry, an old worn flannel shirt and cross stitched Christmas ornaments – what on earth do they have in common? They are the gifts and memories woven together from the people I still love who are no longer in my life. I sit now listening to Christmas music, reading advent devotions and watching the lights on my tree and I think – I am blessed.
Blessed can be defined as “consecrated; sacred; holy; sanctified or supremely favored”.
If I am honest with you, the last years I have not felt blessed. Was I blessed? Yes certainly. My God never turned His back on me, yet I was hurt, angry and sad over the many losses I encountered. No sadly, my life did not reflect much of a “blessed attitude” and far removed from supremely favored. Yet now, what a different place I am in, but that journey has taken five years.
The snowball bush? That was an offering from my dad when my husband and I moved to Omaha. It was a cutting from our farm, which originally came from my grandmother’s bush. The oak railing? One of the countless reminders of my husband’s carpentry skills (learned from his father). We tore out the old wrought iron in our home and when nothing pre-made satisfied him, John created his own design. The flannel shirt? It was one my mom used to wear on cold winter days. I saved it and even though it’s falling apart, I love it. The ornaments? All painstakingly stitched by my mother-in-law, who despite arthritis gave us a new one each year. They are all blessings; reminders of the love and warmth that I received from some of the most important people in my life; reminders from God that blessings come in all shapes and sizes; not those physical things, but the people behind them.
So this is where I sit on a cold winter evening, contemplating my blessings. Once again I need to be honest with you. I overuse that word “blessed”. Really I take it for granted. Forgive me Lord. The question I should ask my self is not “Are you blessed Doneta?” No the question I need to face is, “Are you content?” Ouch. That really hits closer to home. In fact it’s a direct bull’s eye.
Contented: satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.
I often use those words blessed and contented interchangeably in my mind. And they are not the same. My heavenly Father continues to shower me with blessings through the pain; even when I am angry, even when I don’t acknowledge Him. He is faithful when I am not. As we celebrate this Upside down Christmas,
my desire is of course, to not expect more and certainly to give of my abundance to those who have less, but to be content. I have the most important treasure in the entire world and that is my Savior. How can I focus on anything else? How can I even think of wanting more?There is no more. I’ve got everything I need. St. Paul reminds me in Phil 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Wow, my Savior, my church family, my friends, my health, my home – am I blessed? Yes! Am I content? Well Lord, I am working on that and with your grace I’m beginning now!
Blessings to you as you recount your blessings and resolve to be contented! Doneta