Saturday, June 18, 2011

Low Points Chase High Points: Day 12 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

In my last post I referenced a very low point in my life.

I was fifteen and had just moved away from all my friends.

It seemed as if the future was bleak. I was lonely, confused, and on top of it all, I was an awkward adolescent. That would have been enough, but my parents were going through a rough patch, too.

It seemed like it would last forever, but it didn't. I made new friends, though it did take a while; I'm an introvert. My parents got through it, too. By the time five years had passed, I was a bubbly optimist, and a young adult with a future to look forward to.

The blessing was that I learned about low points. I'd survived one, and discovered that they usually don't last, even though it seems like they will. They're usually followed by the opposite. I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone through it. That knowledge, only gained by experience has come in handy over the last few decades.

"This too shall pass", my father used to say. He knew it too, and I know how he knew!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Can See: Day 11 of The Count Your Blessings Challenge

I met a blind girl at  the lowest point in my life.

She stood in line to catch the bus for high school at the same place I did. She played the violin.

Even though everything in my life seamed bleak and hopeless, she shamed me right out of it...on a good day.

I heard she got married, and raised a family. I'm not surprised. Doesn't almost everyone want that?

She didn't let a disability stop her. Why should she?

I am blessed to have known her.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Camp: Day 10 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

As a teenager, I attended summer camp in the mountains of Northern California, among the tall pine trees, above Potter Valley where the Eel river snakes it's way through scrub oak and plenty of poison oak, too.  Wild blackberry and sweet peas cover the fence posts along the hairpin curves that few vehicles but logging trucks navigate to bring fresh lumber to the valley.

Back then the hippies all  but took over the hollers and backwoods. There was talk that the Hell's Angels had their headquarters there.

But in our little campground, campers from all over California slept in cozy, rustic cabins named after trees like Aspen, and Madrone, shared communal bathrooms, and swam on hot afternoons in the Eel river. Yes, it did have eels in it!

We listened to middle-aged men tell Bible stories out on an open pavilion with a backdrop of breathtaking scenery, sang folk songs, and were inspired to follow God and give our lives to Him. We went on hikes, practiced archery, played volleyball, and made crafts out of pine cones and lichen.

At the end of the week, on Friday night, there was always a hayride. You tried to ride next to that special someone, if possible.  When we got back from the hayride, there was a campfire where everyone shared just how much the week had changed their perspective on life, and what they hoped to do about it. When it was your turn to share you threw your fagot on the fire to symbolize you were adding the the collective 'light'.  Those of you unfamiliar with this term will chuckle at such a time. It existed. I lived and breathed the air up in those mountains with an almost hysteric joy. Just writing this makes me smell the pine needles and causes my palms to sweat a little.

Every important life decision I made, I made at camp. I am eternally grateful for my parents for taking me, and to everyone who worked tirelessly and often without pay, to make it happen.

Blessings upon blessings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

We Avoid A Nasty Train Wreck: Day 9 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

After years of living in either parsonages, rentals, or older homes my parents purchased their first-ever brand new house. We chose the carpet, the colors for our rooms. It was amazing.

In the spring of that year, we received a notice of immediate evacuation, as a train filled with bombs had caught fire nearby, and the bombs were still exploding. We left our home thinking perhaps it would be demolished and we'd never see it again. A historical account of military mishaps records the following:

April 1973- A railroad accident draws the Navy's attention to the hazards caused by fires and sensitive munitions. A train loaded with bombs had just entered the yard in Roseville, CA, when a fire was observed in one of the boxcars. Before the fire department could react, a massive explosion demolished the boxcar and spread the fire.
In the next few hours, 18 boxcars exploded in succession. There were no fatalities in this accident, but 48 people were injured and property damage totaled $24 Million.

Thankfully, when we returned home, our property was unscathed. Another blessing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Bridge: Day 8 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

The year is 1970. I am twelve.

Joplin and Hendrix overdose, and the Beatles disband. Richard Nixon is President and Simon and Garfunkel aptly release Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

But all was quiet in my secluded home in central California.

We moved. Again. This time we landed in the Sacramento area and I attended a private, christian school.

I didn't listen to the Beatles, and I didn't know who Jimi Hendrix was.

But the really important thing was, that while the world was whirling with political scandal, unrest over war, and social upheaval, in my home we were memorizing the oldest book of all time, the Bible. Whether in VBS or Sunday School, regular school. or at home, the scripture and it's truth dominated my life. 

And whenever I need it, it's there, in my head, the words written by the real 'Bridge' over troubled waters. He is over my troubled waters right now, for there are many.

I am thankful.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 7 of the Count Your Blessings Challenge

Seven is a perfect
number we are told
let's be more like seven
before we get too old...

Are you humming along? If so, you remember this ditty from your childhood, like I do.

We sang and listened to music regularly in my home, and by the time I was twelve, I had taught myself to read music and play the piano. No matter how often we moved there was almost always a piano in our home. I had the 'benefit' of not having lessons until later, so all the playing I did was for pleasure.

Playing for church developed my ability further, although I cringe at the poor quality of accompaniment the congregation had to put up with at first. I studied music in college, began teaching piano, and married a pianist.  Together we have taught and performed music for the last thirty years. As a result, I estimate approximately a hundred more people are musically literate, and thousands have been blessed by my husband's intuitive and gentle touch on the keys.

My father was a composer and wrote many songs throughout his lifetime. My siblings all learned to play an instrument as well. My mother has a lovely voice, and sung constantly during my childhood. She still sings throughout her day.

Music literacy is a rich blessing!