Count your blessings ©

When I was a kid growing up in NJ, my parents used to get my brother and me up on Sunday mornings without fail and we all walked as a family a few blocks to Emanuel Baptist Church, a small community church that faithfully served our neighborhood. It was a thriving little church full of WW II vets just home from the war and starting to raise their families.

One of the things I remember about those days, growing up in that church was the robust singing that we enjoyed as a congregation. My mom played the piano and then the organ and somehow got inspired to start an “Orchestra”. I can picture them now: 3 trumpets, a clarinet, a trombone, a mandolin, a guitar, and mom on the piano. Oftentimes my mom would have them all over to our house (a small row house with a common wall to our next door neighbors) for practices. What a blessing those days were as l look back on them now.

One of the hymns we used to sing regularly (contemporary praise and worship music hadn’t been invented yet) was “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr.1856-1922. I didn’t know it until doing a little research this morning but Mr. Oatman was born and raised just a few miles from where we lived in NJ and he wrote the lyrics to an astounding 5000 gospel songs according to his biographical website!

It was the refrain to that song that was ringing in my head this morning as I was out on the front parch swing contemplating today’s column (My favorite place to do so). Here it is:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

And so I began to count them, one by one…..

  • A beautiful fall morning with breeze blowing and birds chirping everywhere and the ability to hear them even without hearing aids!

  • An incredible wife of 48 years who loves me beyond my dreams

  • A healthy family of 5 kids and 9 grandchildren

  • Parents who cared enough to take me to church when I was a kid. I can hear my dad’s rich baritone voice beside me singing those lyrics even as I typed them. (I don’t know how single working mom’s even survive in this chaotic world we live in today)!

  • And incredibly good health. This was poignantly brought home this morning after getting a call from my son telling me of a former Perry neighbor who is needing 24/7 care from Visiting Angels ®.

While this life can be tough, if you’re senior, especially a Baby Boomer or older, and you have good health, you have reason to be counting your blessings today, too. When you’re tempted to dwell on life’s conflict’s , try contemplating the last verse of this hymn instead:

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.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..See you next week!

Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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