God has such gladness every time he sees from heaven that a sinner is praying to Him with all his heart, as a mother has when she sees the first smile on her baby’s face. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly implore His protection and favor. —George Washington
I’ve seen better days, but I’ve also seen worse. I don’t have everything that I want, but I do have all I need.I woke up with some aches and pains, but I woke up. My life may not be perfect, but I am blessed. —Anonymous
While I was waiting for the groomer to finish one of our little mini Schnauzers, I picked up a book about dogs, and thumbed through it. I came across a story that reminded me of how blessed I am and to thank the Lord for the many simple gifts in our lives that we forget to count. God gives us gentle reminders of how thankful we should be to Him for so many joys in our lives.
The story was about an elderly gal who had had a magnificent companion in a wonderful dog that she’d lost 14 years earlier. She was asleep in her bed when two men broke in to burglarize her home. The police were called and the intruders were caught running from the house. They had fled because a dog had chased them out and had even bitten one of the criminals, and yes, there was a visible bite. The elderly woman said she hadn’t had a dog for 14 years; her beloved pet had been gone that long. As she laid back down to rest, she felt the cold nose and whiskers of her pet on her cheek. When she reached out her hand to pet the dog, he was gone.
Shortly after, the woman’s daughter came to visit, and took a photo of her mother in her garden, and in the picture was a blurry image of the woman’s sweet dog beside her, still watching over her.
The story stilled me for minutes, and I thought of all the wonderful four-legged creatures our home has been blessed with, five of whom are buried in our backyard. The story touched my heart and I told the Lord how thankful I was for the creatures He has given us and how they’ve loved us so.
Sacrificing to Give Joy
In 2016, author Neil Gaiman recorded a video about his cousin Helen who at that time was 98 years old and he told her story. “She was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of “Gone With The Wind,” and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.”
Helen went on to become professor of the Holocaust at Miami University, teaching kids about what had happened and ways to stop it from happening again. She was one of the people behind the War Memorial in DC, and later the Holocaust Museum.
Painting Beauty for Others
You may have read this story, but it’s worth telling again.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band — he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy. “Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.”
How wonderful are our blessings from the Lord?! In Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible, the Lord speaks of the animals and assures us of His love for them. And in Romans 8:21-23 it says, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, for we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Yes, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6
As a child, I was raised in the Christian church. My mother and both grandparents saw to it that I was in church every time the doors were opened. I loved it and being with them. My Irish grandmother, a Dolan from birth, used to whisper to me the Irish blessing that I should remember it well.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His Hand.
Like so many others, we also know by heart, the Doxology sung in so many church services that came from Thomas Ken in 1709,
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Picking up that little book about dogs, God gently nudged me to remember all the blessings, big and small, that He has given so freely because He loves us. Thank and praise Him even in times of trouble and sorrow, for He is with us always, and He really loves His kids.
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