When I was the Worship Leader, I picked out all the music for our church services. We had what was called a “blended” worship service meaning we sang both old hymns and newer praise songs. One Thanksgiving I was searching for an appropriate hymn and ran across this profoundly simple song written by Albert H Hutchinson in 1909.
For All the Blessings of the Year
For all the blessings of the year,
For all the friends we hold so dear,
For peace on earth, both far and near,
We thank Thee, Lord.
For life and health, those common things,
Which every day and hour brings,
For home, where our affection clings,
We thank Thee, Lord.
For love of Thine which never tires,
Which all our better thought inspires,
And warms our lives with heav’nly fires,
We thank Thee, Lord.
It just expressed Thanksgiving in a simple tune and lyrics. Some of the things we take for granted but need to remember.
I am so incredibly blessed. As Pastor David Butler likes to say, “If God hadn’t done anything for me besides sending Jesus to save me, it would be enough.”
And yet, God has given me that and so much more. None of it deserved. None of it earned. And yet, I am blessed beyond measure. So here is my list of Blessings through the year.
1) God. The foundation of my life is the faith in Jesus that transformed my life. Incredibly gracious to love me when I am unlovable. Incredibly generous to me just out of His great love for me. Praise God from Whom ALL Blessings Flow! Faith is no longer widely accepted, even in America. We just watched an old clip from The Art Linkletter show where Kids Say the Darnedest Things. He asked questions of the children about the Bible and many kids answered questions about other things with answers that showed they came from families where faith was a part of life. It made me sad that a show like that would no longer be accepted. So many people today don’t understand the Christian faith, but I am so grateful that I was raised in the church where I heard the Good News. I wouldn’t want to go through this life without it. The blessing of knowing Christ died for me is the basis of every other blessing.
2) Friends and Family. I posted today on Facebook about our kids vying for first position as we held hands on Thanksgiving and went around the table to each say something we were thankful for. The no-brainer answer was “friends and family.” If you weren’t first, you had to dig a little deeper for an answer. But really? Friends and family next to faith is the greatest blessing. I laughed today when two out of three kids texted us saying they were thankful for friends and family! I am so proud of all of our kids–they are hard working, good hearted, kind people who live out their love and faith in creative ways. We are also blessed with the additions of our son-in-law and soon to be daughter-in-law. They enrich our lives in so many ways. But you do too, my friends– with your laughter, your thoughts, our conversations, your kindness–even the ways we disagree. I love keeping up with people who live far away on Facebook and have met the most wonderful people who have enriched my life by sharing theirs. I love my friends that help me wrestle with life and faith and the sharing of both joys and sorrows. Even when we disagree on things. What would life be if it were perfectly smooth and everyone just alike? I don’t want to live in a world of robots. I like the craziness of all of you, my friends and family! And I love, love, love each of you in your uniqueness!
3) Health. Man of My Dreams and I are healthier, happier and saner than in years past. After the scare of his semi emergency open heart surgery a few years ago we’ve worked hard to get and stay healthy. Life is saner. More peaceful. And we feel good. Oh, we have our aches and pains. I worked 19 hours yesterday and I felt it today, but I’m so grateful I could do meaningful work! I’m still running and following Trim Healthy Mama that you can read about here: http://kimzweygardt.com/2016/02/the-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-begins-with-a-single-step/ Life is good and I am grateful for life and health! We are truly blessed every day we wake up to life and breath and can see and hear and walk and talk. Don’t take it for granted. It is a blessing and a gift!
4) Our Home. It’s not fancy. It’s not a mansion–although it would be to many people around the world. In my living room is a sign that says “What I love most about my home is who I share it with!” So true. Our home is filled with love because 20 years ago I met Man of My Dreams. In our family, we laugh. A lot! It’s funny because our home wouldn’t have been my first choice but there weren’t a lot of homes for sale when we were looking that were the right size and right price for our blended family. This one was and even though it was stuck in the last 1970’s remodel with avocado green carpet and gold flocked wall paper and bright blue and harvest gold Mediterranean style linoleum in the kitchen, the bones were good and it has been a loving work in progress the last 20 years. I think God chose the house for us. We live right in the middle of our small town. When the kids were small, our home was the center of activity and I loved that. We live right across from the park and we like to say we have the best front yard in town! Now our home is a quiet island of peace in our busy lives. We are blessed.
5) Meaningful Work. I love being a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist in our rural hospital. Most of my patients are people I know. People I “do life” with. I get to share the joy of childbirth. But I also share the sorrow when the diagnosis is scary. Healthcare has a lot of stress these days what with the challenges facing us with the (un)Affordable Care Act along with the normal stresses of caring for people in their most vulnerable moments. But I cannot imagine doing anything else and I am blessed to do work that I love. What is the saying about finding something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life? Yeah. That. It’s a blessing. (One of the things that puzzles me is this idea that asking people to work is somehow mean spirited. That is why I love this new commercial from Dodge. Work is one of the things that gives meaning to life. Even hard work that feels like drudgery. Putting in a good days work is a satisfying, life enriching experience. You can watch the commercial here, if you haven’t seen it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVlgTkYXWik )
6) The Joy of Self Expression. I have loved expressing myself on this blog. And thank you to those who interact–even to disagree with me. I love that I am in a play with a new drama group here in town. I love that I have an outlet to express the life changing power of Jesus Christ by performing dramatizations of women in Scripture. I love the women that come to me to tell me that their lives are changed by seeing the Gospel expressed through drama. I love fusing glass and sharing that love and beauty with others by having glass classes. I love that I am involved with the Cheyenne Center for Creativity–a group here in town that came together to promote the arts and creativity to enrich lives. Being on the board, interacting with other like minded people, hearing reports of how the classes and the Quincy Gallery are changing lives and changing our town is an incredible blessing. We had 80 plus people at Man of My Dreams art opening. The energy in the room was amazing. Coming together for food (and that is something I love–with Cuppa Joe closed, I have an outlet to make fun, delicious reception food and feed the masses!) and wine and laughter and conversation about art is a wonderful thing. God is a God of creativity. I love that He pours His creativity into us and we can pour it out to others. Art and beauty and creativity enriches all of us.
7) My Town. I love Saint Francis. It is a very special place with friendly people who truly love this place and each other. Oh, we have our disagreements, but let trouble come to any member of the community and people are rallying to help. Our town has attracted some new people–which is important for life and vibrancy. Like any small town, there are issues–an aging population, a shrinking tax base, lack of opportunity and young people moving away. Drugs have crept in. But St. Francis is fighting back. And things are changing. We have the Art Gallery, creativity classes as mentioned, a beautiful world class motorcycle museum, a new swimming pool is being built after years of the old one leaking, several new businesses have started in the last few years, and there are plans for a new assisted living facility. The world says rural America is dying, but no one told our town. Man of My Dreams and I have talked some about retirement. Would we move? And we decided if we were to move, we’d be looking for a place just like Saint Francis–except maybe warmer. But this is home. So we will make adjustments as we get older such as hiring someone to scoop the snow, but we are blessed by our town.
8) Our Country. I started to say the election because I have written about my thoughts and reasons for why I am glad that our next President is Donald Trump. But the reason I’m glad that he was elected has more to do with the country I love and less to do with him. I realize the world has gotten smaller due to 24 hour news and social media and the like, but God created the times for men and where they should live. (Acts 17:26) He obviously cares about lands and countries since He chose the Jews as His own people and told them to claim a land for themselves. He also commanded us to pray for our leaders and for them to be righteous. He commanded us to pray for the prosperity of the place we live for if it prospers, we prosper. (But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jer. 29:7) So if God cares about our country, so do I. It is not wrong to be patriotic and to want a strong. safe country that is built upon the principles of God. I am grateful that Donald Trump was elected because the Progressive Left that is for the “world” to take precedence over our country is a dangerous slippery slope to One World Government. And beyond anything else, I truly believe that DT loves America. I may not like and agree with everything he says and believes, but I believe he wants what is best for America and so do I. We are incredibly blessed to live in America. There is a reason that people from all over the world want to come here for a better life. Those who hate us, hate our freedoms. America needs to remain strong and again be a force for good in the world. Have we made mistakes? Certainly. Has our government been shady? Obviously. But the men who founded America knew she needed to be Godly to be good and I believe that DT understands that as well. I am grateful for America and look forward to the future.
9) Innovation. Although some of technology is a little scary for a non-techie person (I just watched a commercial for a video game that was so scarily life like and I don’t know how I feel about that), I am grateful for cell phones and the internet and Skype and face timing. My mother worked part time for the phone company when I was small. She once helped with some kind of exhibit about new phone technology and the big thing was a phone where you could see the person you were talking to! We laughed about why anyone would want such a thing since sometimes you answered your home phone in your pjs and no make up and your hair not fixed! But here we are! Now, I keep Face Time off unless I’m wanting to video chat for a specific reason, but it has been a great blessing with Lauren in Washington State for she and her hubby to join us for holidays across the miles. I remember the days of only calling when the long distance rates were down. You didn’t just pick up the phone for every little thing. I am grateful for instantaneous communication across the miles that doesn’t cost a bunch of money for every call. Though I sometimes hate that we are constantly connected–I do think it adds to the stress of life–but I also remember the old days of carrying a beeper that didn’t reach very far and getting beeped and trying to find a pay phone to call in to find out why you were being paged. I love the freedom of being on call with a cell phone. For all of its downsides, I appreciate technology and innovation and that includes modern appliances. I cannot imagine the old days of washing clothes by boiling water in a kettle over the fire! Microwaves and coffee pots (Hallelujah!) heating and the AC for hot summers, clean fresh water with the turn of a tap. Technology that is bringing clean water to poor countries to combat famine and disease. I love how technology has changed medicine and created new ways to treat disease. I love that throughout history, there have been people who have used their creativity for innovation to make life better for us. And today in our fractured world, new Christmas commercials have come out that are so touching and heart warming about what is truly important–coming together as human beings–that I am blessed by those who use creativity and innovation to bring the world together.
10) You. Whoever you are. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and interact with me! It’s the old conundrum–If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise? “If you write a blog and no one reads it, do your words make a difference?” I don’t think so, so I am so grateful for those who read this blog and let me know you enjoy my words and writings. You are an encouragement to me!