Darlene's story: Learn to recognize a blessing

By Darlene Warren

BIG SANDY, Texas--It was just a few short years ago that I thought I had the world by the tail. Everything seemed to be going so well--a happy family life, a job I enjoyed and a church I "belonged to." I still have all those things, but time barrels past us and nothing stays the same for very long. I think that's called life.

It's during the good times that people are lulled into a false sense of security. I must be good and righteous, because God is smiling down on me, we sometimes think. I know we all say we are thankful for the blessings we have, but are we really? Is the old saying "You don't know what you've got until it's gone" true? Does it have to be true?

What do you consider a blessing? Does a blessing automatically bring happiness? Are there different sizes of blessings?

When I woke up this morning I didn't have to visit an outhouse. A small blessing, you say? Yes, but I really appreciate that, now that I think about it. But, actually, I haven't thought about that as an alternative in my everyday living in quite a long time.

There was a time several years ago when my husband and I moved onto the Ambassador College campus (which was closed at the time), where we were both employed. We lived in a double-wide trailer and were perfectly content to remain there.

When the college reopened and the trailer was needed for other purposes, we were asked to move.

I admit I did not recognize this as a blessing. In the time we were given before we had to move, we were desperately trying to save enough money for a down payment on a piece of property.

We finally did. The day the loan was approved, we didn't care that we had no house to live in; we moved onto the property anyway. We finally had a place that was ours (and the bank's), and that's where we wanted to be. We owned a small pop-up camper that we had purchased for camping at the Feast of Tabernacles, and that was our home for the next three months, all four of us.

We were happy, but other people looked at us as if we were crazy. Who in their right mind would move to the middle of nowhere and camp out when there were perfectly good houses to rent in town? Who would want to take showers outside with a hose?

Because the temporary phone line wouldn't reach to the pop-up camper, my husband built a small wooden box and attached it to a post to keep our telephone off the ground and out of the weather. (At least we didn't have to climb the post as they did in the old television show Green Acres.) Other people couldn't see the blessing, but that's probably because it wasn't theirs, it was ours.

But the story doesn't end there. As winter approached we sold that pop-up camper and bought a travel trailer.

We were certainly in high cotton then. We even moved the telephone inside.

We had running water, a flush toilet and hot water for showers, and the roof didn't leak when it rained.

We lived there for a year and a half while we saved money to begin construction on our home.

After living in extreme conditions for three months, we really appreciated having a "real" home again, even if it was only 32 feet long.

It was a palace to us, a real blessing. But, as in most cases, when we began to get comfortable we began to take things for granted.

By the time we had saved enough money to start building the house, we were well past being comfortable in that 32-foot space.

There was no place to store anything, and the kids were tired of having to fold the dinner table away before they could pull out their bed. They were tired of the manna already. We had begun to forget those cold showers from the garden hose. We started to take our blessings for granted.

Eventually we built the basement of our house and lived there for several years while we continued construction on the main upper story.

Almost seven years (a sign of completion) after we bought our property we finally moved into our home.

This is not a process I would recommend to anyone considering building a home. I'm not even sure I would do it again, but it has helped me to recognize a blessing when I see one.

Life is full of trials and tests that we never have trouble identifying. They're always as plain as day. It's the blessings that are sometimes hard to authenticate.

By no means do I believe every trial and test is a blessing.

What I'm trying to say is that maybe we don't take enough time recognizing and thanking God for the tons of blessings He gives us every day.

This issue of The Journal includes many photos and several other graphics, besides the Connections advertising section. Don't forget to subscribe to the print version of The Journal to read all the news and features previewed here.


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