Recently I was invited to sing with a quartet of ladies who have grown up in my hometown for the most part, and who all belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were to sing at a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of our meetinghouse. Our congregation here in this town has grown in the last 3 decades so much! We were a branch when my family moved here way back in 1975. Meetings were held (lots of meetings, all the time!) in a little duplex right by the railroad tracks, not far from the local high school. Fifteen years later, we had a stake!
We chose to sing "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel", a favorite old hymn that reminds us of those early days when we were younger, and when perhaps our pianist only knew a few numbers. But I was thinking about what hymns I remember singing, and I suddenly remembered we ALWAYS used to sing, "Count Your Blessings", which begins with the phrase "When upon life's billows". I love that hymn!
I'm struggling to accept my circumstances lately. I'm tempted to think that 30 years after the groundbreaking for our chapel, I'm 40 yrs old, and 50 lbs overweight, and I wonder if I'm earning a 60% grade on my life . . . so I think it's time to count my blessings, or some of them, anyway:
1. I'm grateful to be the firstborn. This ensured my position as favorite ;)
2. I'm grateful to have been born of 2 goodly parents, taught somewhat according to the learning of my parents, and enriched by the teachings they encountered later.
3. I'm grateful that when I was 3, my parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Grateful to those dedicated missionaries and Flo Agee, our sweet neighbor, who knew the Truth.
4. I'm grateful that when I was 4, we were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple.
5. I'm grateful that at the age of 5, I started attending school, a private kindergarten held in the home of my teacher, Mrs. Harris. I already knew how to read, thanks to #2.
6. I'm grateful to be one of 6 blessed children of our parents.
7. I'm grateful we moved to our hometown when I was almost 7 years old.
8. I'm grateful to have been baptized and to have received the gift of the Holy Ghost when I was 8 years old.
9. I'm grateful to have had fabulous gospel teachers, such as Esther Peterson. I loved the scripture chases, and memorizing Bible verses. Sister Peterson encouraged us to pick our own favorite verses. I chose Matthew 7:7 when I was 8 or 9 years old. Thanks Dad (Sunday School President)for making sure I got to have Sis. Peterson as my teacher for 2 years in a row :)
10. I'm grateful to have had wonderful school teachers, like Mrs. Hicks, Pearson, Longtain, Greer, Kohlmaier and Franer.
11. I'm grateful to have taken lots of lessons in dance and piano from wonderful teachers like Miss Lesa, LaDawn Cottongim, and Sister Abercrombie (and genealogy too).
12. I'm grateful for the YW program of the church. I loved being secretary of the Beehive class, and loved loved loved going to ward dances!
13. I'm grateful for the home I was brought up in. We moved to a larger house when I was in 7th grade. We had ample room. We had order. My parents loved beauty and peace.
14. I'm grateful for stake dances, the dance festival, and drill team, and especially seminary. Uncomparable teachers like Bishop Campbell and Bishop Layton!!! Remember being taught to rehearse potential situations of peer pressure and how I would react. Also personal interviews with Brother Layton. He asked about future goals, one of which was marriage. When he asked where, I didn't know how to answer, because to me, marriage meant temple marriage. I couldn't conceive of marriage outside the temple. All I could think was, how do I know which temple I'll be closest to when I get engaged?
15. I'm grateful for wonderful loving friends like Tricia Matthews and Lotte Hass, and later, Michelle Lesue.
16. I'm grateful my parents let me grow into greater responsibility, and saw that I was trained. I got a driver's license when I was 17.
17. I'm grateful to have a gift for learning and understanding languages like French and Latin. I had great teachers like Mr. Chandler.
18. I'm Grateful to have been accepted as a freshman student by BYU, with 3 scholarships.
19. I'm Grateful to have been taught by wonderful thoughtful spiritually-led professors like Eugene England.
20. I'm Grateful to have met and married my sweetheart in the Salt Lake City temple.
21. I'm Grateful to have born our first son, a spiritual leader.
22. I'm Grateful to have met wonderful friends (Kent and Keisha H) and to have served in callings in our Wymount ward.
23. I'm Grateful to have a romantic husband who swept me away for an anniversary getaway.
24. I'm Grateful to have born another son, a bold and daring leader of independence.
25. I'm Grateful to have had nurturing environments in which to bring up our family, especially the family home in Orem.
26. I'm grateful to learn more about health and the human body, for continuing education, and good doctors (Remington, Loveland)and friends (LaurieKae).
27. I'm grateful to have born a beautiful baby girl, who will greet us in Heaven someday.
28. I'm grateful to have born a beautiful bright healthy daughter who loves music and dance, and who excels.
29. I'm grateful for opportunities to grow through service, such as my primary music calling. Also having a foreign German student named Laura come and live with us, and the great opportunity of traveling around the world with my husband and baby daughter.
30. I'm grateful to have found a new home when it came our time to move away from the family home, and for good friends (Burtons and Holdens and Norrises and Swans)and a welcoming ward.
31. I'm grateful to have born another healthy beautiful daughter who loves learning, music and dance, and to have birthed at home finally.
32. I'm grateful to have performed as part of a great big community theatre family in a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and to be part of the audience and support team for other shows like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.
33. I'm grateful to have such a supportive extended family, who sacrifice a lot on our behalf, including wonderful in-laws, and Heidi and Matt Parker.
34. I'm grateful to community members and neighbors who served and loved our children.
35. I'm grateful for wonderful city libraries.
36. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve as a part-time church service missionary in the Curriculum department, where I worked here a little and there a little. I enjoyed General Conference proofreading so much! The foreign language reading, and the visiting with wonderful proofreaders and editors like Carol Frasier.
37. I'm grateful to have born a beautiful healthy baby girl (whose struggles will teach me patience if it kills both of us) at home.
38. I'm grateful to have a wonderful warm and welcoming hometown to come home to, and to have found the home which I had previously seen only in a dream of promise.
39. I'm grateful to have born another beautiful healthy baby girl, a fair little Texas rose.
40. I'm grateful to have found an inspired program of rehabilitation for our rebelling teen, including AA, KCS, AIR, and the 12-step meetings at our church.