Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moods Go by Kicking. . .

“Let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably
with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28b)

I awoke this morning just before five o’clock as an orange glow began to mount on the eastern horizon. An actual sunrise?! Wahoo! I threw back my blankets, climbed out of bed, and opened both bedroom windows to let fresh air into the room. Then I lifted the living room blinds and peered up at the sky. There were some clouds, but not many. I stood and waited, looking to the east. (Oh, please, let there be light! There hasn’t been enough of it this year.) But instead of a steady increase in brightness, a grey overcast began to develop and soon enveloped the entire sky.

I moved into the kitchen, wishing mightily for the cheerful, vivid blue, sunny skies I loved so much in the high desert--and miss so much here--where visible sunrises and sunsets are a matter of course, even in winter. For most of this western Oregon winter, I’ve taken the grey skies and rain as a matter of course and have even enjoyed them, but this has gone on and on, and, for heaven’s sake, it’s almost July!
As the grey of this morning’s sky began to work its way into my mind, and then into my heart, in the form of apathy toward the day, I thought of the scripture, “Be content with such things as you have. . .” Oh, I am content, but I like the blue sky and the sunlight that God created and called good! Grey is not for skies; it is for concrete. . . and prisons! If I were to paint cheerfulness and warmth, grey would not be in my palette.

I ran water into the kettle and ground some beans for coffee (Stumptown Hair Bender beans, because if you’re going to drink coffee, it should be really good coffee!). As I measured the grounds into the French press pot and waited for the kettle to rumble, I chided myself: I am not in the high desert now; I am here. And the sky here happens to be perpetually grey this year (unusually so, maybe, and tiresome to the natives as well as to me, but that is of little comfort).

I sat down at the table with a mug of coffee and two pieces of buttered toast smeared with peach preserves and continued my self-chiding: So just stop it! Don’t let such a silly thing as how often, or how little, the sun shines affect your cheerfulness!

Okay, then. Shall I play Pollyanna’s “Glad-About” game with the color grey? Here I go: The color grey looks good on me. There’s a nice piece of artwork called Study in Grey and Black (otherwise known as Whistler’s Mother). Concrete has many beneficial uses. As do prisons.

Or, rather than playing Pollyanna, how about not thinking at all about whether skies are grey or blue and sunny? How about focusing, instead, on the many blessings in my life? I thought of the old hymn we used to sing often in church when I was young: “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.”

I stood up from the table, walked around the house, and began to enumerate the obvious sweet things in my life, big or little, “important” or not (you don’t have to read this long list; it’s mostly for me):

I walked to the front door and started there. Thank You, Lord, for this sweet little hand-woven Persian carpet in the entryway. Thank You for Julie, who gave me this pretty hand-woven market basket and prays for me so faithfully. Thank You for a comfortable loveseat and chair to sit on. I moved to the mantle that serves, for now, as my nature display-space and picked up the little red pumice stone I brought down from the summit of the South Sister when I climbed it last summer: Thank You for strength in my legs and air in my lungs and for the magnificent beauty of Your world as viewed from that mountain. My eyes fell on the shells and sand dollars sitting in a pink glass antique dish: Thank You for the healing gift of those extended weeks of 70 degree days (in February!) when my mother and I walk-walk-walked the beach after my father’s death. Thank You for wonderful, loving parents and for my warm, funny, kind-hearted, super-fun siblings, who have been my best friends for so many years. I continued walking around the house, looking and listening: Thank You for a roof over my head. Thank You for the lovely singing of the birds outside. Thank You for so many windows in this house and for the wood floors. Thank You for the extra bedroom for housing guests. And thank You that Michelle and her three little ones camped out on that floor for two fun days last week. I spied the little battery-powered Bat-mobile that Jayden left here: Thank you for the gift of grandchildren—little ones who remind us what faith and trust look like. Thank You that I have a warm, comfortable bed (even if it is currently a cot). Thank You for warm memories of the wonderful grandma who pieced the quilt on that bed. Thank You for so many good books to read. Thank You for Bob and Laura who have been such good friends and who made it possible for me to listen to these Tim Keller sermons every day. And thank You for Tim Keller because the sermons are such an encouragement to me. Thank You for the flowers in this little vase—they add such sweetness to this spot. Thank You for abundant delicious, fresh, healthy food to eat (and thank You that this includes dark chocolate). Thank You for the sister who kindly provided this cell phone for my use and for grown kids who call and text-message their mother every day!

Oh, Lord, I am truly, deeply, widely blessed! Thank You for providing for me, for sustaining me, for putting so many wonderful people in my life. Thank You for little gifts and big ones, too. Thank You for the grace and mercy you extend to me every single day. Thank You for Your unending love and faithfulness and for the fact that they are not dependent on my steadiness.

And on and on the list grows, and grey moods dissipate.

Oswald Chambers wrote that moods don’t go by praying—they go by kicking. And one sure way to kick the mutterings of mind and heart (that will grow insidiously into full-blown discontent and ungratefulness if unchecked) is by counting our blessings.

The point isn’t really that this will make us more cheerful, but that God will be honored and that our hearts and minds will be open to Him:

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

And a funny thing happens as the list of thanks is being offered. We begin to pray for all of those people who are brought to mind. We think of them and how much we love them, and we pray for their needs. Thanksgiving can slide us away from self-absorption and into intercession. It’s a good way to start the day.

(As I finish writing this, the sky brightens, but that is very much beside the point. Still, thank You, Lord, for sunshine!)


Now that I've posted this, I'm wondering why the title showed up in blue. Does it look that way to everyone? And can anyone tell me how can I change it (I can't seem to figure it out)?


  1. I really needed to hear this right now. Our home was storm damaged due to hail and a tornado in April. Thankfully, our interior is intact, but our exterior is a mess. It has been weary to see the whole neighborhood covered in tarps day after day. However, I know I need to be thankful in all we are going through as we have our lives and a home in which to live. Thanks for reminding me the value of counting our blessings in spite of any circumstance.

  2. Thanks for inviting us here to enjoy your summer musings! I stop by your old blog now and then just on the chance that something new might be there :)

    Mrs. H

  3. Such wise words. I too become overly involved with the whether at times, although it is the opposite for me--here in Southern California I feel worried if it is too warm and sunny over winter and worry that I will "miss out" on the winter season. Then I step back and realize that it's simply not healthy to invest so much energy in disliking or worrying about the weather!

    Happy summer solstice to you today!

  4. You've (humorously!) pinpointed the essential difference between being merely cheerful (which can be superficial) and being grateful. I'm going to print this out for CZ.

    Now, as to your practical question, you should be able to go into the design tab, then your template, then advanced (where you apparently found this lovely font) and look for a bar that says post title color, or something like that. (Sorry, I can't see it at the moment because I'm on the iPad and it doesn't scroll down.) There you should be able to change the color from a nice, summer blue to...gray.

    Now, if only the sky were so easy!

  5. Well, silly me! Now that I'm on the desktop, I see that the color palette for post titles is missing, while it's there for everything else. And no doubt you knew this already! So, apparently Blogger thinks it's a good idea to *impose* sky blue on you, at least in the form of post titles.

  6. Gosh, Michelle, that's rough! I just had a little mood or attitude to get over, but you've got bigger challenges to face. Still, being grateful really does make a difference. I pray you'll get everything happily repaired and in good working order. I'm glad your interior is fine!

    Hello, Mrs. H. How nice to see you again. :-)

    Mary Beth, that is funny! I guess the secret is to be happy and enjoy whatever we have--too much sun or too little!--because there really are so many good things to be thankful for. :-)

    Laura, I'm trying to follow your directions, but I'm not finding a "post title color" tab anywhere. I can change some things about the post title, but not the color. And why would it randomly change to this obnoxious blue? Yes, the sky--grey again today, but we sure had a lovely evening last night!

  7. I love your perspective here Susam, as usual!

    I came across this quote this evening and immediately thought of your post and just had to share it with you. It comes from the book, A Daughter's Devotion, by Geo. MacDonald (edited by Michael Philips).

    "If the sunshine fills the hearts of old men and babes and birds with gladness and praise, and God never meant it, then they are all idolaters, and have but a carless Father."

    :) Silvana

  8. *Susan* Sorry for the misspell.

  9. Susan,
    "Sweet",was the word out of my month tonight when I went to visit your older blog and saw that you are know writing this blog. I am so very grateful for you and have always felt blessed when reading your other blog. Thanks Dear One!

  10. Silvana, I just love George MacDonald, and that is such a wonderful quote! I'm glad you took the time to post it here for me. I'll definitely add it to my book of quotations. :-)

    Thanks, Sue, for saying hi in such a sweet way. I'm came by. :-)


  11. I really needed to read this even though it's two weeks after it was posted. God's timing is perfect timing. Thank you for showing me a wonderful method to push through the grey negativity to the sunshine that blesses my life abundantly. Thank you...

  12. I've been thinking about this post since I read it - about two weeks ago now. And every day I'm prompted to add a comment and everyday I let it go by and don't....until today! I just wanted to say how much it turned my day around when I read it on a gloomy overcast Sunday morning. I didn't even want to go to church - but the day got better,the weather stayed the same, but my horrible dark negative thoughts evaporated. It worked, I was thankful for all the good things I have, and I have huge amounts to be thankful for. Thank you Susan and yes, God's timing is indeed perfect.

  13. Dear Annie, thank you so much for posting this comment. It was a perfect day for me to read it! I'm glad my post gave the little nudge that helped make your day better that Sunday. And, by the way, your blog is such a refreshing stopping place for me. You live in a beautiful home in a beautiful place on earth! And I love your outlook on life, your creativity, and your spirit!