Sunday, November 23, 2008

52 Blessings—Infinity

If there is one thing for which I have a knack, it is repeating myself. Some call it being redundant, but I prefer to think of it as placing renewed emphasis. And, since I don’t take myself very seriously, I know few people remember what I may have said at one time anyway. With that introduction, I’d like to place renewed emphasis on a newsletter I wrote a few years ago because I’m still quite simply amazed at what I learned when I wrote it . . . and it says what I want to say about 52 Blessings this week of Thanksgiving:

I think we learned about infinity in the third grade. It felt so Newton- or Einstein-like to use the word that could not be counted. Infinity held such power and from then on many childhood conversations were trumped with it; “I hate spinach infinity,” “I love arithmetic infinity.” However, when “powers” were introduced in seventh grade, infinity nearly came into reach. Ten times ten to the power of ten equals 100,000,000,000—and why, that’s just a short skip to infinity.

Using “powers” is a manageable way to count an infinite number of blessings: blessings that quickly multiply and are forever ongoing. You see, if blessings are broken down into the powers of ten, then one by one the blessings are countable and comprehendible while quickly adding back up to infinity.

For example, if we take ten blessing topics and then list ten specific blessings related to that topic under them we have one hundred blessings in no time. If we break each of those ten blessings down and list ten specific blessings then we have a thousand blessings. Down, down, down it goes while up, up, up go the number of our blessings. Since this time of year is a great time to audit our inventory of blessings, here’s an example. The ten blessing topics are italicized and the specific blessings related to the topic are numbered below.

Ten favorite foods:
1. I’d start my list with potatoes, but quickly add
2. corn
3. squash
4. lettuce
5. bread
6. soup
7. steak
8. broccoli
9. popcorn
10. crisp apples.

Then if I broke down potatoes ten times, I would say I’m grateful for
1. mashed potatoes
2. tater tots
3. french fries
4. hashbrowns
5. funeral potatoes
6. fried potatoes and onions
7. baked potatoes
8. potato harvest
9. dutch oven potatoes
10. Mr. Potato Head

Then if I broke down mashed potatoes, I would say I’m grateful for
a. the Thanksgiving holiday where mashed potatoes are a staple
b. for the days when I held our babies on my lap and fed them mashed potatoes from my plate
c. for glazed spud-nuts (made from mashed potatoes) air-drying on the cupboard
d. for the lessons in hard-work that potato harvest taught me—cleaning the smashed, rotten potatoes from the good ones
e. the fact that mashed potatoes have provided an inexpensive staple in our diet because of either growing them or generous neighbors giving them to us
f. comfort--mashed potatoes and gravy
g. memories of nightly family suppers
h. mashed potatoes make bread dough softer
i. left-over mashed potatoes browned in butter for breakfast
j. Shepherder's Pie (yes, we know everyone else calls it shepherd's pie, but we had sheepherders where I grew up, not shepherds)

and on and on and on . . .

Ten meaningful memories:
1. Checking beaver traps with Calvin and the kids
2. Playing shuffleboard in the autumn leaves of New York
3. Finding hand drawn pictures with chocolate chips and crackers on my pillow
4. Flying down to California to stay with Rachel, my sister, when her baby was born
5. Caring for Charlie Boss, an ailing friend
6. Babysitting my little brother in the toy store whenever mom had her hair done
7. Sitting on bleachers watching cold football games or long wrestling matches
8. Going on Sunday afternoon drives to check the cows with Calvin and the kids
9. Rocking sick babies to sleep
10. Picking and podding peas with the kids

Ten great relatives:
Well, this is an easy one—I have nine siblings:
1. Lila
2. David
3. Christine
4. Marcia
5. Lynn
6. Tim
7. Janet
8. Lee
9. Rachel

Add their spouses and I’m nearly to twenty. Add their children and grandchildren and suddenly I’m nearing seventy great relatives without even thinking.

Ten handy tools or technologies:
1. Paper
2. Sewing machine
3. Camera
4. Computer
5. Internet
6. Washing machine
7. CD player
8. Telephone
9. Mattress
10. Scissors
Ten favorite places:
1. Our home
2. The yard when it is green
3. Church
4. The bench at the top on Main Street at Disneyland (just outside of Frontierland)
5. Mountain meadows of Idaho
6. Hukilau Beach
7. Yellowstone
8. Temple Square in Salt Lake City
9. Movie theatres with a good movie
10. Restaurants that are cheap and good.

Ten teachers who aided me in school
1. Mr. Kinsfather let us have current event discussions.
2. Mr. Wilson made history come alive.
3. Mrs. Leonard taught with enthusiasm.
4. Mrs. Roberts read aloud to us hours on end.
5. Dr. Orme taught me how to grade livestock.
6. Mr. Dykes thought I was smart.
7. Mr. Larsen opened the mysteries of Algebra.
8. Brother Jorgensen helped me to slash unhealthy numbers of prepositional phrases from my writing.
9. Dr. Price taught me about child psychology.
10. Sister Swapp taught me the structure of a balanced life.

Ten medical miracles:
1. Blood transfusions
2. Vaccinations
3. Open heart surgery
4. X-ray machine
5. IV’s
6. Root canals
7. Insulin
8. Bone-marrow transplants
9. Cesarean sections
10. Advil
Ten great moments in life:
1. Marrying Calvin
2. The birth of Cali
3. The birth of Abe
4. The birth of Ty
5. The birth of Ande
6. Spending lots of one on one time with Ande when the others had gone to college
7. Crawling safely back on the boat after a scary scuba dive
8. Watching Abe and Ty take the oath of preserving the constitution
9. Watching Cali graduate from college
10. Turning Abe and Ty over to the Lord to serve missions

Ten lessons taught to me by God:
1. What it feels like to be humble
2. How to have faith when life is hard
3. How to forgive others
4. The relief of being forgiven
5. What it feels like to be loved unconditionally
6. What it feels like to love others unconditionally
7. The strength that a peaceful heart brings
8. How to build a talent
9. How good it feels to serve and help others
10. The power of prayer

Ten people who taught me something worthwhile:
1. Emma Henstock taught me how to listen and talk to my elders.
2. Anita Young taught me how to laugh really hard.
3. Deb Keeley taught me how to preserve photo legacies.
4. My mom taught me how to bake bread and clean house.
5. Marcia McManus taught me to see two sides to every story.
6. Marge Coleman taught me how to sew.
7. Calvin taught me how to dance.
8. Patty Gonzales taught me how to make tamales.
9. Shirley Nelson taught me how to swim.
10. Rachel Christensen taught me how to play the piano.

Ten more topics to help you count your blessings:

Ten friends who helped you in a difficult time
Ten heroes you admire
Ten people who have made you feel appreciated and special
Ten teachers who aided you through school
Ten people you enjoy spending time with
Ten times you were glad you could walk
Ten times you were glad you didn’t have to walk
Ten dreams that came true
Ten outfits or pairs of shoes you loved
Ten talents you have

As you can see, blessings quickly add up and before you know it you have more blessings than you can count. Infinity.

Count your many blessings;
Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.
—Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922)

Thank you for adding so many blessings to my inventory this past year—blogging friends have certainly given me blessings that I had no idea I would have five years ago.


Donna Chapin said...

I love your blog today, as I have been reflecting recently on all of my blessings. I thought it might because of the Thanksgiving season being here, but I realized it has been going on for several months. (And I am never ahead of any season.)I would agree with you how blessings work, and it does have a way to have a ripple effect.
Jane - enjoy your blessings! And I am glad to count you coming into my life as a blessing.

deidra said...

What a great list of blessings, and a super idea for Family Home Evening tomorrow. We are infinitely blessed.

Last night I got a phone call from my sister who said, "You friend Jane Payne knows 'Clintniferous.'" Then I remembered that he now lives in your neck of the woods, but grew up in the neighboring ward. My sisters were deep into FF with his brother and his sister is a dear friend of mine! And his cousins were in my ward and my cousins were in his ward. What a small world! :-)

deidra said...

Corrections: Your & FFA-- I hate when I get so excited I can't type straight!

A. said...

Wow - you certainly make my life sound boring. lol I just alot of your favorites. Mr. Potato Head for sure. :)

And I have to say, I am VERY impressed at remembering things such as teacher aids, and all the different ways potatoes can be served. lol I am definately looking up some of the recipes. - Thanks!

Becky said...

Wow...that is just about all I can say.

So grateful to be touched by the Spirit first thing this morning...what a great reminder of the power of "living in thanksgiving daily" (that's a rough paraphrase of one of my favorite scriptures in D&C).

Thank YOU!

Amy said...

I saw this on my google reader yesterday, but didn't click over in the busy of the day. But I have savored this post this morning. Your words always bring me to another world...I love all of the memories and people thanked by name.

Jill said...

Oh my goodness, what a great post! I love how you listed 10 things delved deeper listing 10 things about one of those things and so on. What a brilliant idea and what great words. You're a wonder Jane!

HeatherM said...

Jane-This is fabulous. I'm stealing it for my Thanksgiving post. You are just the best at gratitude - it humbles me every time. Thanks.

Ande Payne said...

Oh Mom! I love your blog! We are so blessed huh? Thank you for always setting a good example by having gratitude. You are wonderful. Thanks for sharing everything on your blog.

Lucy said...

Wow - this whole post was kind of metaphysical. But I loved it.

I'm thankful for potatoes too.

Cynthia said...

Jane, thank you for an awesome post. I think you are drilling down to the level of gratitude that we should all strive for. Thank you.

michelle said...

This is just amazing, Jane! Truly amazing.

I especially loved the lessons taught to you by God.

This is another testament to gratitude building upon itself, it really does. It's a miracle.