As a young boy growing up in a small town in the midwest prairies of Canada, I had the opportunity to experience many new things in life. One of those experiences was to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) in a little Baptist church. My particular age-group class was often run by one of the three girls (sisters) that used to babysit us when we were younger. I was raised in a Catholic family and attending Mass every Sunday was just something we did, whether I liked it or not. In fact, I served as an altar boy for a few short years for no other reason than my friends were doing the same thing. Perhaps a social expectation of my family, but quite adventuresome nevertheless. Playing good-natured pranks on the local priest was just part and parcel of belonging in the group. What led me from Catholicism to a little Baptist church is a whole other story in itself.
There is one particular song that we sang as a group in VBS that has stuck with me all through my adult years. It goes something like this:
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, and see what God has done
Today, as an adult, when I find myself in harried situations, and feeling the stress of problem upon problem piling up, I am reminded to live in the present and to be thankful for each new experience in life, moment by moment.
If you are like me, having spent a considerable part of your time travelling to different parts of the world for both work and pleasure, then you know the difficulties of a travel itinerary. Sometimes, things just don’t work out according to our carefully laid out plans. Patience is a good quality to possess when one is stuck in a crowded airport due to reoccurring flight delays. Being thankful is even a better place to be. If we look carefully, we can often find an opportunity to be kind and gracious towards someone else in their time of trouble. Taking our attention off of ourselves and our agenda and looking for God in our everyday life situations is the only genuine way that we will find true peace of mind and heart.
The photograph in this story says volumes about calmness and serenity. However, the truth is that the picture I took that morning is one of regret. Allow me to explain – after an early morning and long flight from western Canada to Toronto in the east, and then another bumpy flight from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale, we finally arrived late in the evening at our beautiful resort in Florida. We were soon to discover the banquet prepared for us was nearly over and that the hotel had pretty well run out of food to serve the remaining guests. I went to bed that night hungry, tired and exhausted wondering if the entire trip was going to be this stressful and crazy.
I woke up early the next morning and decided to take a walk around the resort property. The clouds were dissipating and the sun was shining brightly. The flamingos were attentive to feeding and the hotel maintenance staff were busy cleaning and manicuring the grounds to perfection. As I walked by the outdoor pool on the way back to my room, I stopped and paused to take a photograph. My thoughts were ones of regret and a little disappointment – I did not even have the time to truly enjoy swimming in the pool and lounging at the poolside. The shuttle buses were arriving soon to transport the masses to the shipyards where we were soon to experience the long period of time and complexity of passing through the security process of boarding a cruise ship destined for international waters.
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