November 13, 2008

Simple Addition

I got to thinking this morning as I was reading another blog. The writer had lost her job and was noting the many things she has. Things that she had forgotten were such blessings when she was safely cushioned by her finances.

Life has been so hectic lately I've hardly had a minute to stop and think, let alone "smell the roses." My job is wonderful, but I find myself so mentally exhausted at the end of the day I'm content to sit and stare at the walls. I know it will get easier over time. But anyhow, her post made me think about life these days. I have so many comforts at my fingertips that I forget what it is like to be without. I often find myself thinking about "the next big thing" that I would like...a new lens, a fancy trip somewhere, a new pair of's becoming more and more rare that I stop and thank God for all the ways He's blessed me so greatly. And while we should be thankful for food and shelter and breath, I think it's important to be specific in our prayers of thanks.

God's goodness should be remembered. And I'm thinking about someday (in the distant future), when I have a son or daughter of my own, I want to teach them to always be thankful. It's easy to slip into an attitude of entitlement to certain things. In the blog post I was reading, the writer referenced Jo from Little Women, and how thrilled she was with the orange she received for Christmas. Here's how she put it:
It was the best dessert I've ever had in my life. The best. It was truly savored. I felt like Jo in Little Women, when she walks around with her Christmas orange for days, rolling it in her hands and smelling it. An orange. Can you imagine giving a child an orange in her stocking this Christmas? It would get a bigger eye-roll than underwear. An orange. What's an orange to us nowadays? What's a clementine? Nothing. Maybe we've had too many. Maybe our sense of value is too stretched-out to do us any good. Maybe it's because we think about our next meal while we're eating this one. We forget how wonderful it all is. How immensely blessed we all are. (When did we start measuring success with a stuff yardstick, anyway? Why can't the "successful" folks be the ones whose kids value what they're given? Why can't a worldly honor of success be bestowed on folks who live day to day, too? Why can't success be a title for a father who makes time for his kids? An aunt who makes chocolate chip cookies? A nurse who sits up with ill? A teacher who never backs down? A mother who says bedtime prayers? A preacher who perseveres? Why can't the "successful" folks be girls in handknitted scarves who sits in old houses, gratefully eating chocolate squares and clementines?)
I would like to capture that kind of gratitude. I don't want to look at all that I've been given as "mine!" I want to keep the proper perspective on things, remembering that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. Every good gift is from above.
Adding up life shouldn't have a dollar value.

For everything else, there's Master Card.


  1. I told my kids at school about the "orange in the stocking" tradition. They were taken aback. I hope they'll quite planning their thirty-odd-gift list and start being thankful for what they have! My own children have been getting lessons, with James being out of work for six months and now working for $15000 less a year. Be thankful!

  2. I'm so thankful for you, my precious daughter!

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  4. what a great reminder. thanks, Karen. its funny that you mentioned stopping to smell the roses. I am doing a photo series on that right now. you might enjoy it. if you want to see some, you can go to

    I really appreciated this statement: "Why can't the 'successful' folks be the ones whose kids value what they're given?"... a very VERY interesting thought.

    its so easy to forget the big picture! that in the long run, the lens/scanner/puppy/laptop isnt all that important anymore once it is compared to the cross.

    what james and kari said is a profound thought too, "I hope they'll quite planning their thirty-odd-gift list and start being thankful for what they have!" I can easily get disappointed at Christmas if I didn't get "gift A" like I asked for. How ridiculous??! I have ownership over nothing. I am simply the steward.