Practicing Gratitude [11.13]

>> Thursday, November 13, 2014

Well, first and foremost this week, I am thankful that Monday's 4-hr round trip for medical appointments went safely.  And without snow!  Here on the Canadian prairies, that time of year has arrived when weather is an undeniable consideration in making ~ and more specifically, keeping ~ travel plans.  We've had a few skiffs already, but nothing major at this point.  In fact, here at our house there isn't even any snow on the ground yet, while just a few miles away there's been a light covering for a few days already.

Stopping at an old roadside park
to check out the ice.
I'm thankful for moments of personal growth.  Last week, I spent the better part of two mornings putting plastic on our windows and I found myself muttering under my breath an awful lot.  I began to wonder why I hated the job so much and I realized it wasn't the job I really resented, but the reality that necessitated it.  I hate that we haven't had the money to replace our old, drafty, falling apart ~ and in some cases, moldy ~ windows.  I resent feeling financially stuck and unable to do even the things that NEED doing, let alone the things we'd LIKE to do.  But then I remembered I'm among the few fortunate in this world just to have a real house.  A roof over our heads and a place to get out of the wind.  A place with running water and two sources of heat (one of which would be almost oppressive at times if our windows WEREN'T drafty!), and filled with things we don't really need.  And I'm thankful for ways to minimize the drafts.

Driving in the shade with snow on the left, blue sky on the right, and sunshine in between!

I'm thankful The Man got a 5-day weekend and could spend some time on things around the house and yard.  Like getting our firewood!   It's too bad he couldn't work a full week ~
The girls both had
volleyball tournaments
this past week.
that's not great from our little trucking company's standpoint ~ but it's been a long time since he's had more than just a day and a half at home, so it was good for all of us.  (And I'm so thankful the reason for the time off was weather-related shut-downs, not truck break-downs!)

I'm thankful for all the rights, freedoms, and privileges we enjoy in this country.  The girls and I attended a Remembrance Day service on Tuesday and one of the speakers asked us to think about what fallen soldiers from the past might think about our current use of freedom.  Would they still be proud to have given their lives for their country, or would they be grieved by how often we abuse our rights and take our freedom for granted?  I must confess, I never give much thought to that perspective, but I want to try and keep it in mind a little more often.  I guess this, too, is an area where I need to think more about what it looks like to live in gratitude.

What are you most thankful for today?


They Thought I Was Worth It.

>> Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's unfortunately popular to disparage the North American war efforts of the last century.  Trendy to criticize and place blame for lost lives.  This isn't to say that some of it isn't deserved, but for the most part, I think we miss the point.

How will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren perceive our fights when the tales are recounted for them?  Will the causes seem as worthy then as they do now?  Will the risks taken seem pointless or worthwhile?  Will future generations see selflessness and heroism or will they see only ulterior motives and greed?  Will they comprehend all the things we had to consider, will they understand the elements involved in the decisions we made or had to make using the only available intel at the time?

Not likely.

And maybe that's exactly our problem.  We don't see the events that lead to past decisions.  We don't feel the very real fears that were felt at that time, in those moments.  We can point fingers and make accusations all we want; we weren't there.  We simply don't know what it was like.  By and large, we as North Americans don't know how scary it is to feel threatened.  The events of 9/11 reminded us briefly that we weren't invincible, and defending our homes and ways of life became more important for a time, but even then, I don't know that we were really concerned about a large-scale invasion and an impending loss of life as we know it.  Certainly not up here in Canada, anyway. We just don't know how it feels to really, truly, viscerally believe that our lives, our families, our livelihoods, our futures, are in imminent danger of being lost forever.

I get so weary when I hear statements like: "I don't believe our 'freedom' was ever actually, literally at stake" or, "I never asked anyone to fight for me."  The former is pure speculation and the latter is just asinine.  One doesn't ask, or determine not to ask, a hero to step in and save a life when there is no perception of danger.  The hero just does it and then one humbly expresses thanks later.  And sure, we can speculate that no enemy would have been able to take over our country, but we can just as easily speculate that one could have.  How would things be now if two generations ago, our country, our military would have decided nothing bad would really happen?  There's no way of knowing, but I, for one, am glad my grandparents' generation didn't take that risk.

And that's obviously only talking about preserving my own rights and interests in the second world war.  What of other situations and other times that had nothing to do with our own way of life, but where our country engaged to assist a people group being raped by its corrupt government or ethnically "cleansed" by a bloodthirsty, power-crazed militia?  On the school ground we insist our children go tell an adult when someone is being bullied, but don't we then expect the staff to intervene and end the abuse?  Who does an oppressed tribe turn to?  Who saves the lives and ends the suffering for the oppressed and persecuted?

The concept of having a "peacetime mentality" has come up several times in various settings the last little while and it appears to apply to virtually every aspect of life.  Our lives of freedom and privilege have yielded a culture of incredible self-absorption and pettiness.  We focus on the wrong things, we spend time and money on the wrong things, we fight about the wrong things, and it's all because we've become rich, fat, and lazy.  There is absolutely nothing that we as a nation are striving for together, no collective sense of urgency to meet another's need.  We have nothing to focus on but ourselves and far too much time and money to do it.

I hope we can turn that around.  Obviously, we will not be able to mimic a war-time mentality without conflict, but I hope we think of the future when we fight, whether literally in armed conflict, or more figuratively.  There are always conflicts in this life, and until human history comes to an end, there always will be.  Whether we choose to engage voluntarily or find ourselves thrust into the midst by forces beyond our control, we will fight for, against, or about something, with someone.  I hope we choose our battles wisely, knowing our children are watching and learning from our decisions.  I hope we teach them there are things and people worth fighting for, despite the possibility that they may disagree with our decisions later in life.  I hope we teach them to respect and honour those who fought before our time, because even without seeing our generation ~ without knowing us or who we'd become ~ they believed we were worth the fight.  They didn't assume life would carry on as it always had if they just did what they felt like doing and stayed home.

If there were no other reason to be grateful, that is enough.


The Elevator Project: Part October

>> Wednesday, November 5, 2014

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