On Counting Blessings, or, An Epilogue to Excrement

When we moved into our new apartment a couple weeks ago, I mentioned to Sam that it felt a little like we were living the second half of Job. The last two years or so have been so fraught with struggle and near-disaster that I kind of am numb to things going wrong now. Things Going Wrong just kind of fits into the category of “real life” now, so I guess I must have passed another phase of life. I work with several people in their early-mid twenties, and I’m surprised and disturbed at how I look at my own life at that age through their reactions to things and habits. One thing in particular that I’ve come to notice is the tendency to be surprised when things go wrong, especially when lots of things go wrong at a time. When Sam was in grad school, he was denied Texas residency, for instance, which meant that his tuition was double what we’d planned. Being that we were making barely over minimum wage, had serious student loan debt from our undergrad adventures, and Sam was only working part-time, that was a HUGE crisis in my book. I had no idea how we were going to eat, pay rent, and pay a double tuition bill. Well, we made it through that, and through totaling our car and being given a new one. What I learned from it was that 1) Excrement Happens, and 2) God is in control, and often has wonderful ways of fixing things, which we will see if we just calm down, stand out of the way and watch Him work.

Basically, I feel I’m at a place where I’ve gone from standing ankle-deep in the Excrement Happening and learning that God is good all the time to feeling really blessed.

1) We have an apartment that meets our needs, has plenty of space, is affordable, and allows us to live in peace as a family.

2) We are one tax refund from being completely debt-free (…[tapping fingers] we’re still waiting on the Wisconsin refund).

3) We are healthy and live in a relatively safe community.

4) We have a wonderful (and, thanks to our church, affordable) Christian school within one mile of where we live.

5) We have a clearer vision of what direction God is moving us as to ministry and gifts.

6) We have (way) more than we need materially.

7) We have a family that lives in peace with each other and, for the most part, knows the Lord.

8) Sam has a steady job that he doesn’t dread going to each morning.

9) We have a healthy family.

10) We have two relatively reliable paid-for vehicles, one of which is a VAN! (something I prayed for for three years)

11) Our kids are growing in the knowledge of God, despite the constant failings of an imperfect momma and daddy who have ample opportunity to introduce them to the concept of God’s forgiveness and grace.

And that’s only the first eleven things I could come up with. One thing struck me as curious through this whole two years or so of circumstantial excrement –we only lost stuff and stability. We didn’t lose our health or lose anyone we loved. We had the peace of knowing that our family was living on God’s grace through all this. Never did we doubt that God would use it for good, however frustrated I may have been with God’s method of illustrating that He is sufficient. For that I am grateful –the things we lost through three job losses, two cross-country moves, and lots of financial struggle are really not eternal things, but the things we have taken from the experience are.

 This is my Father’s world. 
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet. 
This is my Father’s world: 
why should my heart be sad? 
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 
God reigns; let the earth be glad!