Day 84 (August 13th) Count your blessings instead of sheep.

I love this movie and I love this song.

My prelude into this blog… enjoy.

Preview YouTube video White Christmas Count your Blessings

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Bob and Christi Picture

I am not one to be very open about my life.  Rose colored glasses comes to mind when it comes to writing honestly.  I do not want you to know my struggles just my victories.  As a biography it makes for boring reading and even worse, I have left the reader with no insight as to how I have worked through my struggles.  Resolutions that could benefit my posterity…and anyone else that might happen upon my life’s journey.  It is why I have no journals.  It breaks my heart that my grandchildren will have no record of my life, my stories, my trials and struggles and most importantly my triumph over them.  I am resolved to leave them my stories and hope that it comes in handy during trials of their own.

To be honest there have been moments on this sabbatical when it seemed the best thing to do was to just go home.  This intense focus on Bob and I and our future has been both hopeful and discouraging.  It would seem that after 40 years of marriage we would have a lot of lifes lessons figured out.  I have been inspired by thoughtful books, Ted Talks and articles during this sabbatical but theory is much easier than application.

There is hope in understanding

This is what I believe, I hope it helps.

Meyers Briggs

Rather you believe in the 16 personality types determined by the Meyers Briggs test or not, the fact remains that we are all uniquely different.  Even within the personalities are percentages measuring how much we lean into each personality type, evidence of how we come to the earth so uniquely us.  God intended it to be this way.  He needs each of us to stand apart and do our part.  Allow me to share two quotes that have empowered me to go in search of me…

“We detect rather than invent our mission in life.  We need to be aware of our own uniqueness and the singular contributions we can make to the world.” Stephen Covey

“Everyone has their own specific mission in life.  Therein they cannot be replaced, nor can their life be repeated.  Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it. “ Victor Frankl

With that said, I think it is one of the great human struggles…to honor ourselves and our mission and to empower those we love to do the same.  It is especially hard in marriage. The personal and intimate nature of the relationship of a husband and wife adds so many more layers to the complexities of life.  We kneel across an alter, make eternal promises, entrust our hearts to the care of our new spouse and then step outside the protection of that sacred moment and begin the process of weaving our live’s tapestry.

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Sometimes we don’t get to choose the color but if and when we do…I’d go for the “joyful” colors.

For Bob and I, we could not be more different.  Our tests show that our personality percentages measure up to 80% and 90% in each of the four categories.   Needless to say, it has been a struggle to know how to honor our differences in such a way that when our differences collide we are empowered to be ourselves without arming up for battle or folding in the middle of the conflict.

Honoring myself has been a very difficult challenge.  I remember reading in the book “Emotional Agility” that we never degrade our child the way we so quickly degrade ourselves.  It was a moment of clarity and a mantra when I start in on myself.

Count your many blessings

In church today, our closing song was “Count Your Many Blessings”.  I’ve never been really fond of the melody.  It feels like something a marching band should be playing.  I suppose that’s why I have never really listened to the words.  But in another Brenee’ Brown talk (she’s going to think I’m stalking her!) I listened to yesterday, she said that gratitude is not the product of joy….joy is the product of gratitude.  So when we started singing today in church I paid attention.

First Verse

Count your Blessings 1

Billows in the tempest would indicate your are in the middle of a storm on the ocean and that would my greatest nightmare.  Discouraged would be one way to put it but terror might be another and certainly being lost would mean more than “Where are my keys”.

I am now admonished to count my blessings…in a storm where waves and sails are billowing and all is lost?  Really, at this point I’m thinking, who wrote these lyrics?

To be honest, I know I would be both surprised and grateful to realize all that the Lord has done for me but I’m not sure this exercise would do much good except to distract me during the storm.

2nd Verse

Count your blessings 2

Burdens rest like elephants on my chest.  Sometimes it’s hard to breath.  Nighttime is the hardest.  The tenor singing group “Gentri” describes it perfectly in one of their songs:

“When the night is fast asleep, but my heart is still awake.  All my thoughts, they trouble me and it’s more than I can take”…and then the admonition…”Don’t let go.”

I have a new perspective on burdens.  I’ve spent many hours supplicating the Lord to ease my burdens.  These past five years I have felt abandoned as I prayed for direction on Consolari.  I felt divinely inspired and yet the heavens felt silent.  Just a few weeks ago and after several nights of watching documentaries of the Civil War I found myself more listening than praying in the early morning hours.  I began to imagine the prayers of those young boys dying on those battlefields and the cries of there mothers. The prayers to keep them safe from harm.  There were 650,000 mothers who did not get an answer to their prayers.  It was then that I realized that my burdens have been nothing…nothing in comparison.  Funding for a concert hall while all around me…well you get the picture.

That morning I did count my blessings, I got perspective and all my doubts were gone. I confess I haven’t been “singing all the day long” but I see more clearly, which makes me want to sing!  That clarity was tested just yesterday when I got an email from Sandy Nickerson from the Walton Family Foundation.  My plan was that when I received the email I would have Bob open it because I knew it would be a yes or no on the lead gift for Consolari and if it was a no, I would be devastated.  I saw her email, felt no panic and opened the email.  No anxiety.  Sandy asked me to call her.  We were able to quickly connect and had a lovely conversation about life and family.  The Foundation loves the project but it was not aligned with the Walton’s mission and they would not be offering funding.  Moment of truth…complete peace in my heart.  Complete calm.  Bob was shocked.  I think he was bracing himself for a few hard days with me falling apart which would have been a valid fear knowing my past disappointments.  It was like Frodo Baggins had handed me the ring and I passed the test. All my doubts just flew away.  So perspective and clarity was my antidote for burdens, especially when they are eternal.

Verse 3

Count your blessings 3

I’m not so envious of the land and gold thing.  Though there are those that look at my life and would say there is a reason for that…because you have known a little of that world yourself.  Those that know me well would understand.  Money cannot buy what I want most and that is to make God proud, to do what I was sent here to do on earth and to have these people with me for forever…

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Verse 4

count your blessings 4

I love breaking down words to fully understand how and why they were constructed. Discourage is a great word.  Dis – COURAGE.  I am a woman of courage and so my discouragements have never felt well in my soul.  Remembering that God is over all gives me permission to hand it over and stop fretting.  This life…what I often refer to as camping…is temporary.  Eternal views from vaulted skies gives me the courage I need. And if that weren’t enough, “angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end”.  I have felt angels attend me.  I saw my Dad the other night in my dreams. He could not speak to me because he was still afflicted with Alzheimer’s but he held me. He was my angel that night.  The most powerful experience with angels, however, was when Chelsee had been laboring for over 24 hours to give birth to her stillborn son Peter. She was emotionally and physically exhausted and all we could do was stand by her and watch.  She then looked to me and asked me to pray.  I held her hand with my right hand and placed my left hand on her head.  I began to pray…Chelsee stopped me.  “Mom I need you speak louder…so everyone can hear”.  Then something came over me.  I felt a mantle, an authority to pray in earnest on behalf of my daughter.  A felt strength as I called upon the angels of heaven.  Chelsee had born enough, and born it with incredible courage and faith.  It was enough.  Within 30 minutes our little Peter was born…a perfect little boy, our angel in heaven.

Singing in the Rain

I love this movie…and I love this scene!

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy again
I’m laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I’ve a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin’,
Singin’ in the rain

(I smile knowing that anyone reading this is singing the old show tune!)

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The Challenge:

Elder Uchdorft describes God’s blessings as rain pouring down from heaven.  The problem is we all put up our hypothetical umbrellas to block them.  How can you count them if you won’t receive them. (https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-03-009-a-shower-of-heavenly-blessings?lang=eng)

Bob and I are putting the promise of gratitude to the test.  I’ll start by saying I’m grateful this blog is finished!

 

 

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