“..a thousand around us will be saved..”

Man before cloudsAfter the events this week in Oklahoma, following their devastating tornadoes, I am thinking of the gift of life. It is so precious and so very fragile.  A priest friend of ours used to always remind us, “We are not guaranteed our next breath.”  He is very right.  Each breath I am taking, I am feeling, noticing.  Watching the photos and video on TV about Oklahoma, speaking with family members who live there, and friends who have family members living there, makes you take a look around you at the blessings you have…God saw fit to allow you to wake another day.  Give thanks for that, alone.  But there is so very much more to thank God for each and every day.

Two days ago, our day was pretty amazing for us, on several fronts.  My husband was called for several interviews, and the companies are ones he would very much like to work for…so we are blessed that our future looks brighter than it did a day before that.  Also, we were sent several videos of our new grand daughter.  She was wiggling and cooing, and even sneezing.  I loved watching her smile and stretch her toes, and reach out for both her daddy and her mommy.  It was so wonderful to see her react when they spoke to her; she knows their voices.  It reminded me of John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”  And it also reminded me how instinctual it is that our children know us and willingly follow us, just as we know Our Lord and follow Him.  Sometimes not willingly, as we have that gift of free will, which habitually gets in our own way.  My grand daughter was adorable and pretty darn perfect.  Her sneezes were greeted with laughter and, “God Bless You’s” from her parents. It was a precious peek into their new lives as a family.  My husband and I both wept with the joy of it.

The other wonderful news for us is that our older son and his wife found out the baby they are expecting in October is a little girl!  We are all so thrilled.  In our family, there are few few daughters (they have usually arrived via a marriage!!) and it is nice to have little girls coming into our family!!  Having three sons was great for me.  God knew, in His infinite wisdom, I would fail miserably with all things girlie.  I cannot do hair, for one thing.  Which is why I think I was blessed with straight hair I could put in a pony tail or part on the side and have it resemble some sort of style.  Ha-Ha!  And I am not your lace-wearing, doily-using grandma.  I prefer t-shirts and jeans.  I always wear dresses to Church, but they are simple and have no frills. It is just not me.  However, I am excited to shop for two grand daughters.  I now have someone to leave my teacup collection to; my inherited jewelery to; my antique dolls to.  I am so excited to explore that side of me.

When I was raising my sons, we spent an entire year homeschooling using a themed curriculum – it was Medieval History. We built castles, moats, trebuchets, swords, coats of arms and armor. We participated yearly in family hunting and all of us went to Hunter’s Safety and have our own shot guns.  (I got a bottle of perfume and a new shotgun on my 40th birthday! How cool was that?!?).  My sons played hockey and were very rough and tumble boys.  And now those sons are becoming fathers to little girls.  What a change they are in for!  Already we see their softer side emerging.  Our oldest son, upon learning they were having a girl, exclaimed, “Bring on the pink!”  I love it. Of course, he is thinking pink cammo and Carharts! Ha-Ha!

God has blessed us over and over again.  We get an opportunity to start over in a new state, doing new types of work (St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us).  We are living in a new place near our children.  And we are open to new things, experiencing new aspects of life.  On a little field trip our daughter-in-law arranged for us, we visited the Knik River and felt glacier melt up close and personal.  The mountains felt close enough to touch and moved me in ways I cannot fully express.  Next, we saw fishing sites my husband and son have visited, off-roading favorite places, and then we went to an actual Caribou Farm!  How exciting to see.  My son and I were able to feed the young Caribou right out of our hands.  We saw babies frolicking with their mamas out in the fields.  We saw (and smelled – ugh!!) Elk in their state of molting off their winter fur (all the animals are molting these days), met Dolly the Bison and Denali the Moose.  I was overwhelmed at the size and manner of these exotic creatures.  I need to keep reminding myself they are native to this land and I am the newcomer!  They live here, too!

Caribou Farm2Today we are praying for the intercession of St. Rita, patroness of the Impossible, to help us in our time of need.  We appreciate so much the gifts from Our Lord.  We have these amazing gifts of life all around us.  Christ has told us not to worry, that He provides for us and we firmly believe that.  Matthew 6:25-34 tells us: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  We do, however, take responsibility for our part and we pray and try to keep our minds clear and our thoughts on God.  In the book, “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives,” Elder Thaddeus tells us,  “Our life depends on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm, meek, and kind, then that is what our life is like. If our attention is turned to the circumstances in which we live, we are drawn into a whirlpool of thoughts and can have neither peace nor tranquility.”  Abbot Tryphon told us in his post today, ‘Saint Saraphim of Sarov said that if we “acquire peace, a thousand around us will be saved,’ for having been created in the image of God, and we are part of the Divine thought that was made material in time and space. We not only influence those around us with our thoughts, but we even influence the cosmos. If we focus on the negative, those negative thoughts impact everyone around us, and even the whole world. The Elder Thaddeus tells us we can be either very good, or very bad, depending on the thoughts and desires we breed.  There is a lot that is wrong with the world, but it begins with us. If there is to be peace in our world, it must begin with me. If hatred, anger, envy, lust, and spite, are to end, it must end with me. When we allow destructive thoughts to destroy our peace, the peace around us is destroyed. We can not blame the world, or even those around us, for that which happens around us, radiates from us. Blame for all that is wrong with the world, can not be placed beyond our own hearts.”

Today I opt to focus on the positive, on the gift of life in amongst the angst and trials of living in this crazy world.  I choose to keep my eye on the prize – eternity with God.  He promises us that if we focus on our souls and our love of God, everything else will fall into place.  I think I will take Him up on that…the glass is very much half full!!

Knik River.AK