Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keep Counting

My previous "Blessings" post was well received, and I planned on doing another one but had it on the back burner. With the recent Oklahoma tornado tragedies, I find myself once again counting my blessings and turning my eyes to the Father. I seem to wake each morning with fear of turning on the news, afraid of what new tragedy has occurred. This world is scary. It's mean. Hard. Full of hate. Unpredictable. Because we live in a fallen world. "We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." 1 John 5:19 (NIV) 

But there is always light. And good. We need to focus on, and look for, that when hardships are knocking on our door.

This particular story, on a teacher at one of the schools destroyed by an Oklahoma tornado, pulls at my heartstrings.

A teacher's job is hard enough....Saving kids in a natural disaster makes them heroes. Rhonda Crosswhite put her life directly on the line for her students. She's a 6th grade teacher at Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, OK - the school that was flattened by Monday's tornado. Rhonda was hiding with several kids in a bathroom stall at the school - and when she knew the tornado was directly on top of them, she laid her body across the kids. Crosswhite says, "One of my little boys just kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, please don't die with me.' But we're okay. We made it out." All of the children who were with her are now safe, there was one minor injury – a cut to the head. Crosswhite suffered only minor cuts and scrapes. Thank you Rhonda for keeping those kids safe - and thank you to all the teachers, first responders, and citizens who came to the rescue of others.

She is one among many, many heroes, and I want to personally say thanks, and that you are truly a blessing to that community.

Here are a few more blessings from my ever-growing list...

27. God's Word. It's my one true comforter. When everything is going wrong, the road looks long and dark, and nothing good is on the news anymore, I open the Good Book. I read His promises. "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20 (NIV)

28. Ears to hear. I can hear the worship service on Sunday morning. I hear the laughter and never-ending questions from the kids during every story time session. Even though it drives me mad, I hear the birds chirping outside our bedroom window at 5:30 in the morning. I can hear "I love yous," "Thank yous," and "I miss yous." I can hear music!

29. Getting out of bed each morning. I woke up today. I was able to climb out of bed without the assistance of another, which as Mama (who is currently rehabbing after knee surgery) can point out is annoying.

30. Strength. "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

I'm talking about all kinds of strength: mental, emotional, and physical. I'm blessed that my body can handle the weight-training sessions, the endless yoga poses, and frequent runs I put it through. One day it may not.

31. Ambition. I'm thankful I have "drive." Thankful I have goals and motivation to accomplish them. Thankful I work for them and not live off of, or take advantage of others. When I'm asked of the Father what I did with the time I was given, I can show him. I can show him the things I did in His name. Glory be to God.

32. Coffee. Oh, coffee beans. You are beautiful. Thank you, Lord, for putting them on this earth. And I can only hope heaven is filled with 'em!

33. Freedom. I am beyond blessed that the Lord gave me life, and that life to live in America. My freedom allows me to maintain a blog centered on my beliefs. I don't have to cover my entire body to walk outside. I can make eye contact with people. I can speak freely on my views.

34. Day shift. I love my job. I enjoy my evening preschool story time and yoga programs. But I love being home with my husband, eating at the dinner table together, and enjoying an evening walk through the park.

35. Nut Butter. When I was younger not a day would go by where I wasn't spotted walking around with a spoonful of peanut butter. These days I turn to almond butter for my fix. But I still indulge in my creamy peanut butter, usually in the form of brownies, Reese's Cups, fudge, or ice cream. It's a blessing to have a favorite. And I am very thankful for nuts.

36. My yoga practice. The number one reason I stay strong with my yoga practice is because it calms me. It is the perfect outlet for stress. The second reason: it brings me closer to God. When I'm able to shut-out the world around me, it clears my head. As I flow through the poses I find myself constantly talking with God. But I never intended this. I'm thankful I've found a place to meet with the Father. I didn't start yoga with that thought in mind. I actually began in order to tone my body, which is the third reason for my practice. But now I highly recommend yoga if you'd like to draw closer to God, forget your troubles, de-stress, or to just get in touch with your body.

37. Grace: to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2 (KJV)

"Let us therefore with come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4: 16 (KJV)

38. Laughter. I love to laugh. To be honest, it is probably my most beloved hobby. And Mr. B can sure make me laugh. The Lord wants us to be happy, to laugh, to enjoy this life.

"A time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4 (KJV)

"Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh." Luke 6:21 (KJV)

39. The kindness and goodness of others. They are there. Just look at all of the relief foundations springing up to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes. There is evil in this world, but there is also good. I was raised to help others, giving whatever I can...whether it's food, clothes, money, advice, or time. I'm thankful for my parents and this important lesson.

40. My voice. To not have a voice. To not be able to sing. To not sit and discuss my life with my best friend. I cannot fathom.

41. Mistakes. They constantly teach me to be a better person, how not to handle the next situation, to get back up and try again. To trust in God and His time, not my own.

42. Clothes. I'm not running around naked. Or better yet, I don't have cuts on my feet because I have shoes. I don't have sun burns because I have shirts and pants. My fingers and ears aren't frost bitten because I have gloves and hats. I'm not walking around in dirty t-shirts or holey jeans because the Father provides.

43. Worship. I'm blessed with music and words, and that I can praise my God through these.

44. Smells. I can smell the fresh-cut grass. The coffee-scented candle. The air right before it rains. Steak on the grill. I cannot imagine a life where one couldn't smell. How awful.

45. The telephone. Yes, I'm even grateful for this. I think of my ancestors, out exploring the world, leaving loved ones across oceans and never seeing, or hearing, from them again. I'm blessed to live in a time where I can talk to someone on the other side of the country. I can literally see my brother in South Carolina. I can call my family on holidays when I can't be there. I can call for help if I break down on the highway.

46. Hobbies. I have many passions, like baking, trying new recipes, yoga, scrapbooking, reading, sports, and gardening. I'm thankful the good Lord created us this way, giving us hobbies so we aren't all work and no play. It's a great socializing tool.

47. A child's smile. I can run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to create the most engaging programs, worrying about deadlines, costs, literacy levels, etc. But when the children smile because they've had a blast, and say "Thank you, Miss Brindi," my heart melts. It's always worth it for these kiddos.

48. Soap. I'm thankful for cleanliness, that I don't have to worry about minor germs. I think soap is something so easily taken for granted.

49. Holidays. I look forward to (And birthdays.) I love spending time with family. We are extremely close. I live about two hours away from my family, so I don't get to see them like I used to. I miss the days when my aunt (or whomever) would call and say, "Hey, we're throwing some burgers on the grill. Wanna come over?" I think it's why I look forward to the holidays so much. Especially the big ones...because then I know my brother will try to make it home.

50. And now that I mentioned it, OHIO. I only live two hours away from family, but my brother is seven hours away. So, I guess I'm thankful I'm still in Ohio. I actually love Ohio and, other than my short dream of being a magazine journalist in New York City (this was shortly after high school, and it was very short-lived), I wanted never to leave. I'm not from the city. I'm from the other beautiful parts that people tend to overlook when they think of this amazing state. I love it.

I want this shirt!
51. Cheesecake. It's my favorite. God bless the cow, the wheat, the chickens, the plants, the fruit, the oven, and the invention of refrigeration that enable me to enjoy my birthday cheesecakes.

Celebrated my 25th birthday with a peach cheesecake.
52. Clean water. Even more than soap. How is it that some countries have more water than they know what to do with and others barely have any that's okay to even drink from? Say a prayer of thanks the next time you flush the toilet, spill some water and are able to get more, or stay in the shower a little too long.

I encourage you to start counting your blessings. Feel free to comment and share how good the Lord is below!

With Love and God Bless,

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