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Count Your Blessings

By: Valerie Martin

The countdown to Christmas has begun and I'm excited about watching all of the old Christmas movies. One of my favorites is White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. One of the songs from the film always sticks in my head this time of year, especially these lyrics:

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep 
And I fall asleep counting my blessings 

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all 
And I fall asleep counting my blessings 

In these current times of strife, uncertainty, and the marketing of fear, it can be easy to lose sight of all we have. Instead, we focus on what we might lose or what is missing. Couple this with the craziness that has become the holiday season, and counting our blessings might just be the last thing on our minds!

Yet, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about our blessings. Blessings of family and friends. Blessings of a home and a place to lay our heads. Blessings of having what we need, not necessarily what we want. The blessing of God’s amazing gift to the world.

When my mind takes me to the places that seem empty in my life, I am reminded of an experience I had in Mexico on a mission trip a number of years ago. We were there to help those who live in the garbage. They made their living from collecting others’ trash and selling the reusable items.

In the optical tent where I was working, a couple in their 90’s came in for help. Their sun-dried creased faces were amazing with grins and shining eyes. They said they had been married so long that they could not remember the number of years – I’m guessing 70 or more. Someone asked them about their obvious happiness and contentment, and the woman said, “God loves us so much that He has given us long life.”

This stayed with me for weeks – like a slap in the face. Here was this couple who had spent their lives living in other people’s waste, toiling in the sun and stench, not getting proper medical care, and probably did not have any education. They had practically nothing and never anything new. They lived in cardboard and metal huts they built from finds in the trash. They had no running water or plumbing. They had probably outlived their children and grandchildren.

They were the world’s forgotten – considered no better than garbage themselves by their society AND YET, they were happy with 90 years of this because they knew God loved them. These beautiful people seemed more thankful for their lives than I had ever been.

Had they always felt this way? Who knows – maybe it comes with a lifetime of lessons and living with whatever God allowed, whatever He gave. Though I don’t know their names, this lovely pair are two of my faith heroes. 

In this busy holiday season, my prayer is that we remember to stop and reflect and give thanks. It is my prayer that we aspire to the contentment of this shining example and remember to count our blessings.