The alarm clock abruptly and rudely separates you from your beautiful dreams. You convince yourself that five more minutes will help you get out of bed, and finally somehow manage to roll out of your covers despite the cold contact with reality that follows. Your eyes keep rejecting the contacts you're trying to force in, and your brain is slowly rebooting for the new day. If this sounds like a familiar routine morning to you, join the club. Like me, it probably didn't occur to you that we take these things for granted- having your own warm bed, having contacts or glasses to see, having a brain that functions.
I was reminded of this today, when one of my kiddos expressed their anticipation and hope of their father getting a job so they could finally "have their own bed...and room". A pang of guilt shot through me as I realized that this child had no more than a living room couch to call their own for sleep. I'm no millionaire, but I've never been forced to sleep on something other than a bed at night. I shop at thrift stores and eat an elegant menu of cheap pasta most nights. But at the end of the day, I have a bed to call my own. Not only that, but I have friends and family that go out of their way to help me in my life endeavors.
A dear friend of mine recalled a funny story about gratitude that has stuck with me ever since. My friend's car had gotten stuck in a seemingly unending snow blizzard, and suddenly someone pointed out that snow sparkles. Taken aback and probably a little annoyed, she enquired what was so fantastic about sparkly snow. "God didn't have to make it beautiful. He could have made it ugly, but He didn't. He decided to give us sparkles from Heaven".
May we take time to appreciate this life- and see the sparkle in every situation rather than the blizzard. I'd encourage you to take a few moments and write down a list of things you are grateful for. It is humbling. As we recognize what God and those around us have done and are doing for us, it inspires us to help others out. Recently, I had an amazing friend of mine help me put back together my falling apart car. He wouldn't accept money for his labor or pieces he purchased to fix it. To say I was grateful for his kindness and charity would be an understatement. The only thing he asked of me with wisdom sparkling in his eyes, was to pass on the favor when I could to someone else in need.
Just a week or two after this experience, I passed an acquaintance as I was driving, who was walking up a steep hill to an activity that I was headed to myself. We weren't far from our destination, but I felt impressed to go back and pick her up. I didn't have much to offer, but because of someone else's previous service, I had a running car that I could most certainly use to give a ride with.
In the words of a wonderful hymn, "Because I have been given much, I too must give." Be grateful for everything you have been given. This wonderful life is a one-time experience, no do-overs. Make the moments count, and when you rest your head on your pillow tonight, I hope that your heart is filled with gratitude for the blessings you have been given.