Thursday, December 4, 2014

Twinkling Lights

This week's gifts...
1087. Filling Adam's big truck up for less than $2 a gallon (yay Kroger fuel points!)
1088. Him and Brooklyn going to see his parents while I took a nap
1089. A quiet winding-down evening
1090. Good relationships with small business owners
1091. The sun countering the cool breeze so I could practice peace on my parents' back porch
1092. A much-needed date night, looking at lights and keeping warm with Onyx coffee, a new scarf from Terra Tots, and lots of laughing and conversation
1093. Taking Brooklyn to an alpaca show - so cute and fuzzy!
1094. A pretty new GreenCraft magazine
1095. Sharing a bag of gf yogurt pretzels on the drive home
1096. A few moments of quiet on the balcony to start my Sunday
1097. Adam taking Brooklyn to get groceries, while I did some needed cleaning/tidying (made much easier without her "help")
1098. The Warm Up America! basket at church being full to overflowing with panels
1099. Only one early appointment this week
1100. A week to focus on hope and promise and new beginnings
1101. Adam making it to Auto Zone with just fog lights when his headlights both went out at the same time (after dark, of course!)
1102. Brooklyn's cough going away (without having to resort to medicine)
1103. Frozen pizza, since neither Adam nor I felt like making dinner
1104. Getting all caught up on my knitting quota
1105. and then getting ahead
1106. A verse in Psalms that I'd never noticed before
1107. Rice to make for dinner, so we wouldn't have to get out in the cold and the wet

I strive not to fall into the trap of negative comparison. This time of year is rife with opportunities for it, but for the most part I admire everyone else's decorations and traditions and pins and Instagram photos and remain wholly content that our visual reminders of Christmas pretty much end with the front door (which I hung a store-bought evergreen spray on. It smells nice, it doesn't matter if it drops needles because it's outside, there are no ornaments to pack away, and when it turns brown it's small enough to toss in the trash compactor). Not being able to string our own lights shouldn't keep me from enjoying others' sparkling displays.

But the comparison pendulum swings both ways; you can compare up, but you can also compare down. There is always someone who has it worse than you, regardless of your present circumstances, but that's not really an encouraging line of thought, either. Telling myself that it could be worse just starts me on a downward spiral into darkness: acknowledging my own situation (rationally, not in a pitiable or whiny sort of way)... trying to downplay it by thinking of someone else's (you have it so good! how can you think otherwise when they're going through something so much worse!)... not being encouraged by that... feeling guilt because I think that if I was more grateful then I wouldn't find things so difficult...

Comparison is the thief of joy - and really, that's all comparison (well said, Teddy!). Looking up in envy at someone else's gifts can cause us to miss the ones that we've been given, but a grateful attitude doesn't necessarily mean that storm clouds never come (because they do, and sometimes they bring floods that seem to rise instead of waning, and threaten to drown our hope) - it just means we're able to see the silver lining. Gratitude doesn't make the hardship or grief or trials or pain cease to be, but each gift counted is a star in our valleys of shadow that will eventually be overwhelmed by the dawning blaze of a rising sun.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will trust in Him.
[Lamentations 3:22-24]

Won't you join us in counting (and recounting!) His mercies anew? Just grab a journal or notebook (it doesn't have to be fancy) and a pen and write them down, then join us each week to encourage each other by sharing all of the blessings we've spotted. Catch up on everyone's posts and if you don't have a blog, feel free to participate by commenting, instead!

Check out these #NewEveryMorning hosts, as well, and don't forget to use the hashtag on Twitter so that we can find each other:
   Kayla [at] Renown and Crowned
   Kelsey [at] Faith Fun and the Fergusons

Do you more often fall into the trap of comparison by looking up, or looking down?

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