I woke up this morning in my warm house.
I was wrapped in three nice, fluffy blankets.
When I got out of bed, I slipped my feet into shoes specifically made for walking around the house.
I sleepily walked to the kitchen where I pulled down a three pound canister of Folgers coffee and put on a pot to brew.
Then, I went into the bathroom, ignoring the baskets of creams and beauty products that remain unused, and turned on the shower.
While I waited for the water to get warm, I went to the clothes dryer to fetch a clean towel.
I proceeded to enjoy an extra long, hot shower, with water so clean you don’t have to worry about keeping your mouth closed in fear of parasites.
When my shower is over, I find myself silently complaining that it will be cold when I pull back the curtain.
And it is, so I quickly dress and head back to the kitchen for a cup of that precious, steaming hot coffee I love so much.
I add a packet of stevia (the “safe” sweetener these days) and a generous pouring of creamer before grabbing a muffin and popping it in the microwave.
I head to the couch, turn on my flat screen tv, and open up the Netflix app to enjoy an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’ve probably seen 3 or 4 times before.

Within an hour of waking up, I’ve encountered more things to be thankful for than I have fingers on my hands.

You see, I pray on the way to work every morning.  If I am completely honest with you, it is nothing eloquent.  It’s not filled with big churchy words and I usually lose my focus at least once.  (Cue awkward apology to our Heavenly Father for squirreling during a prayer.) And it’s usually pretty similar to the prayer from the morning before.

I always try to pray in thanksgiving for the many blessings I have received, but let’s face it.  We are a nation of abundant blessings and little thanksgiving.  We live day to day taking everything for granted but to an extent, everything has just always “been there” without us having to put forth any effort to achieve it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what it’s like to go hungry, or not to have shoes on my feet, or a bed to sleep in.  I don’t know true need.

Even as someone who’s visited a third world country and seen the devastation, the hurt, the poverty, and the need… I still come home and fall right back into the same ole habits.

A Haitian woman preparing a meal.

I’ll never forget my first trip to Haiti.  I remember being hyper-aware of the huts and tents the people called home.  Electricity is only for the “wealthy” and even then, it comes in spurts.  They wear tattered, second hand clothing and  worn out shoes, or in a lot of cases, no shoes at all… The soles of their feet are tougher than leather from walking barefoot. Their tummies swelling from malnutrition.  They’re heading to the river or, if they’re extra lucky, the ocean to bathe.

One day, we went walking through the community to do some outreach.  We handed out simple items like underwear and socks, candy and small toys.  There is a method to this kind of outreach.  You must be careful to keep your donations hidden from sight until you hand them out; you must pull things out one at a time.  Because when need runs this deep, when people are desperate, their eagerness will resemble an angry mob.

After handing out our items, we encountered a woman selling “dirt cookies.”  No, you didn’t read that wrong.  And yes, they’re exactly what you think they are.

Dirt, flour, water.

Offering little nutrition to those who eat them, parents often feed them to their kids just to fill their bellies.  But, with that quietening of their growling stomachs comes the risk of parasites from the dirt.

My sponsor son, sweet Billie! The picture on the right in from my first trip in 2014, the one of the left is from this past summer – June 2017.

Even my own sweet Billie was living in a mango tree eating whatever he could find.

Can you imagine?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of those parents?  Or those kids?

Today, on this day of thanksgiving.
When we’re taking showers with clean water.
When we stress about what we’re going to wear.
When we gather and eat until we are miserable.
When we fuss because the kids will only eat mac-n-cheese and rolls.
When we can’t agree on which football game to watch.

Can you put yourself in their shoes?

We are a nation of excess.  We are wasteful.  We are, in today’s lingo, extra. 

Most of us take everything for granted.

We are people who look at a full cabinet of food and just “can’t find anything to eat.”

This is what the Haitians call a “souffle.” It’s where their meal is laid out on a banana leaf. It’s considered a special occasion.

We look into our overflowing closets and just “can’t find anything to wear.”
Our perfectly good cars, phones, etc. need to be traded in for the newest version.

I know I am guilty of all of these things.

This holiday season, I want to challenge myself and all of my readers to give thanks for the things we forget to be thankful for.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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1 comment on “A Shift in Perspective”

  1. I absolutely love everything that was said in this post. I too have been blessed to travel all over and visit third world countries. I’ve interacted with AMAZING people who live off of little to nothing but exude happiness. I too have come back from these trips with a changed mindset, yet eventually falling back into my life of abundance.This dichotomy made me feel guilty and undeserving for a long, long time. Now I know that there is no such thing as deserving blessings. We have been given them by God and it is up to us to use them in a way that spreads joy and goodness to others.

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