I have always been one to thank God every day for my many blessings. At the end of the day I like to look back and think about how I was blessed in so many simple ways. Yesterday I had an interesting reflection. I am preparing to attend a Gala fund raising event later this month and have been dress shopping, of course. Our local YWCA has a bridal shop where they sell used formal dresses at a reduced price. The money is then reinvested into the operation and maintenance of the building and programs provided by the Y.
On Wednesday, my friend and I went there to dress shop. She found a number of dresses that fit and all at great prices, plus they had a sale that if you bought one, you got two dresses for free. I tried on dress after dress, looking for just the right thing at the right price. The only, and I do mean ONLY dress in there that fit was a lovely navy blue Kleinfield for $200. Very much a “Audrey Hepburn” kind of dress (For the men out there reading this, Kleinfield is a big deal in the bridal/formal wear world. Their dresses even have a special number sewn into the hem) I never owned a dress that had its own serial number before. Well, I decided that $200 was just too much to pay for a dress and left without purchasing anything. My friend Sally hit the jackpot and got three dresses for $52!!
Women out there will know what I mean when I say; I just couldn’t get that dress off my mind. I kept having visions of wearing it and knew what necklace would be perfect with it. But, wow, $200…heavy sigh. No, must be strong. Well, by Friday, my strength totally disappeared and Friday morning I told my husband that after work, I wanted him to take me to the Y to get that dress and hoped it would still be there.
Flashback forty years ago to when I was newly divorced with a five year old child. I was working in a beauty shop as a shampoo girl and trying to make a life for us. I guess I wasn’t a very good shampoo girl because they fired me and of course this meant I could not pay my bills which resulted in me getting evicted from my apartment. My daughter and I packed up and moved in with my mother until I could decide what to do. The decision was made that my daughter would go live with her father until I could get back on my feet. It broke my heart, but it had to be done. I left my mother’s house and moved into the YWCA while I looked for a job and a place to live to get my daughter back. My room was on the fourth floor, overlooking the phone company building. In my room I had a bed, a dresser, a desk and a chair. All the furniture was painted intuitional green, as were the walls. Oh how, I cried, and cried each night in that dreary room, alone without my child with me.
God’s blessings lifted me to new opportunities and I found work and moved out of the Y into a furnished apartment near my job. Baby steps, I was moving upward. The blessing continued and after two years, I found a house to rent and my daughter came back to live with me. A few years later I met the man who is now my husband. We just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary!
Wednesday was the first time I had been back in that building since I lived there in that dreary green room. I felt a twinge of sadness when I first walked in and flashed back forty years. Friday when my husband (my wonderful Prince Charming) took me back to get the dress I had a much deeper reaction. Yes, the dress was still there and I took it to girl and gave her my card and dropped $200 for a dress!!! She made the comment about how the money would be going to support the Y and I told her that I had once lived on the top floor and a quickie version of how that came to be. She said, what a blessing it is that I can come back and with this purchase give back to the Y.
For an instant, that’s all it took, my mind became a kaleidoscope of forty years of images that carried me from that green room at the Y with nothing to eat and flashed through all the blessing of each job I found and each home I had and all the people that God placed in my life so that here, on this day, with my husband and my life as it stands, I could give back something to my past. Suddenly, I wasn’t just buying a dress; I was using God’s blessings as a thank you. So last night as I had my special time with God, instead of reflection on just the blessings of the day, I took a little extra time to thank him for all the blessings of my life.
The journey from my green room at the Y to where I am today has been amazing. I have not forgotten a single tear I shed and all the heartbreaks and pain I endured as I faithfully followed the path God put before me. Faith is that thing we hold on to that gets us through. There is the comfort in knowing that no matter how hard the times are, God will give you the strength you need to see you through. I don’t ever want to forget my green room at the Y because it reminds me just how far God has brought me.
Hymn by By Johnson Oatman, Jr., (1897)
Count your Blessings
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done
Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold. Count your many blessings, money cannot buy Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end
.Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.