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Needs? Wants? Or Enough? A Thanksgiving Reflection

A Red Pine Mountain LogoFirst, I'm pleased to announce the winner of the cookbook is Nadine Tindell. Please contact letters@grit.com to claim your prize.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, “To everything there is a season,” and as we head into this season of Thanksgiving and celebration, I’d like to share some thoughts with you.

I know you enjoy humorous posts and so do I but I’ve been in a somber mood. I sit down to write and nothing comes to mind. Nothing worthwhile to share, nothing to say so I don’t bother. Yes, I’m in a funk. That’s the truth. And if I’m honest with myself, it is because Mountain Man and I are entering our season of golden years where difficult decisions have to be made and all those aches and pains and medical problems start to clamor for more attention every day.

Our biggest challenge recently has been making the decision of whether we can afford to stay in Vermont for our retirement years. And the answer which we’ve discussed until we feel our heads are going to explode is “No, we’re not going to be able to afford to stay here.” We “want” to stay but it’s not realistic to think we’ll be able to stay. Mountain Man has dragged me kicking and screaming to this decision because I love this farm, but when he calculated how much it costs per hour just for the always increasing property taxes, I realize we are going to have to make some changes as we age.

What to do? We’ve grappled with this issue as well, and although we are still in the planning stages, we are most likely headed to the Ozarks next fall and will rent out our farm here.

This decision has left me downhearted and sad. I walk outside each morning, watch the sun rise over the mountains, see the horses grazing in the pasture, and ask myself, “How will I ever be able to leave?”

And while we have been making this life-changing decision, I’ve been coping with health issues; my eyes and most recently a cardiac problem brought about by having to stay inactive for so long. My doctor came right to the point and told me I have to find some new activity which I enjoy and get moving again. I started taking medicine which promptly made me sick causing me to fall into a deeper pit of despair. I don’t want to get moving again if I can’t do those activities which mean so much to me and which I enjoy. I want to do what I want.

It’s not me who has the answers. But the answers are always there; when I listen; when I engage in daily prayer. I’m never alone. Not really. So I say the words out loud over and over, a mantra: “Please Listen Lord God and answer my prayers. Make my eyes sparkle again.” Psalm 13:3.

And the answer was shown to me when Mountain Man returned from a trip to the Ozarks this week. He was out there building a barn for my horses, and while clearing brush, he managed to get covered in poison oak. It’s oozing, nasty, itchy. But it hasn’t stopped him. Oh, he’s fussed a little, he’s entitled, but he’s kept on working from dawn to dusk. He’s positive, moving forward, excited about new adventures ahead. And if he can be so positive, why shouldn’t I be as well?

I start walking again. And as I gasp for air as I walk up hills, I realize by focusing on my wants, I’ve been removing the joy from life. Kind of like a spoiled child, “If I can’t have what I want than I don’t want anything.” I’ve been hurting myself. No one else.

And I’ll leave you with this quote (author unknown):

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all (wo)men, most richly blessed.”

I know what I want, I understand what I need, but because of God’s ever abiding love, I have more than enough.

From our family to yours, Have a Joyful Thanksgiving!