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Hello, Cougar Nation! 

My wife, Sarah, informed me yesterday that I had written the wrong day. I apologize for that error, but to be honest, all these days seem to blend together! So welcome to devotion day 5, or day 75, I'm not sure! And while I'm confessing my shortcomings, please pardon any and all previous and forthcoming spelling and grammatical errors! I don't have Tina Souza and Rebecca Hansen at my home to proofread! Now don't get me wrong, Sarah is a certified teacher and could proofread, however, she is running around the house wrangling the cats...kids, I meant kids...but let's be honest, SAME DIFFERENCE!

I want to be honest, and this may seem a little funny, but I'm glad it's almost the weekend! This has been one long week...do you agree? I was so glad to get the video from Mrs. Robbins along with the emails from Mrs. Niswonger and Mrs. Finnegan. These ladies have led so well during this time and truly care how students, parents, and staff are affected by the changes in our daily routines. No one knows the right formula for this kind of thing...but together we will figure out how to make it work the best it can...and hopefully not for too long! :)

This all makes me realize how blessed we are! Let me explain what I mean by blessed because we misuse the words blessed and blessings a lot in America.

We tend to use the word blessed when things are going well for us, or when we get a good grade, or when we get a promotion. We use the word blessed when we get into the prestigious college, or if we have a nice house, or if our new car has all the bells and whistles. But what does it truly mean to be blessed?

Many NT scriptures mention blessings, but none of them indicate materialism or perfect circumstances. Actually it seems to indicate the very opposite since blessings are typically connected with poverty, trials, and spiritual growth.

Have we been misusing the word blessed? Let's look back on the last year and see how we've used it.

mug that says blessed

When looking back, what was the premise for the times you felt blessed? Now, honestly, how many times have you said, "I am blessed" after losing a friend, or losing a job, or having a bad day at work, or after you made a huge mistake? Probably never, right? 

Many times we equate blessings with how good we feel based on how great the outcome of any given situation. Are those moments really blessings at all or are they just comfortable complacencies? 

When I was in Ukraine and Honduras in the summers of 2005 and 2006, I learned this lesson personally. I witnessed things that made me cry, nightly! Children with deformities because of Chernobyl, poverty to which I had never fathomed, and families who faced trial after trial after trial.

But do you know what I saw over and over again? People with huge smiles, who shared love and believed they were blessed!

See their blessings weren't based on the material things we typically think of. Their blessings were based on how they saw Jesus actively working in their lives daily through their trials and their poverty. 

During those two summers, I learned that I was blessed and not because I was from America with a car, a comfortable living, and a bank account. I learned that I was blessed because God continued to show up and continued to teach me with love, mercy, and grace. I was blessed because Jesus was with me, and I started witnessing His miracles. He had done miracles around me before, but I was so well taken care of I hardly ever noticed. 

I want you to know this week that you are blessed. Maybe you have cried this week because an assignment was too hard, or teaching a lesson was too difficult, or filming a video for a class created some anxiety. Maybe you have been worried because you can't stop thinking about what the "news" said or because you don't think you are adequately equipped for the tasks at hand. Maybe Satan has messed with your mind and filled it with unwanted and unwarranted ideas. 

It can get overwhelming, trust me I understand, but then God shows you a glimpse of something that changes your thinking. You see your kids getting along and playing together, or you find yourself laughing with your family as you play a game, or you remembered that pen pal you had and you wrote a new letter. Maybe you found out something new about your spouse, or your child, or your parent and you bonded. Or maybe you have talked to the Lord and you are hearing from Him more than ever before. 

Know that you are blessed, not because of your "stuff," but because God reigns and works for the good of those who love Him. The Lord is using this very moment to spend time with you and show you His miracles. Maybe we needed this time as a reminder of the great God we serve, even in comfortable discomfort. 

We will get through this current obstacle soon, but then another will come. There may be a season of comfort, but there will always be a new trial. Find your blessings in the trials and enjoy the comforts as they come your way! 

We always say, "If I had more time..." Well now is your time! Seek God daily alone and with those who are quarantined with you. Recount the blessings together and watch Jesus change your family in real-time as we hunker down at home!

"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." James 1:12

Have a marvelous weekend and see you next week!