It is still dark when I head to the barn, but the frost covered ground glimmers white against the darkness and crunches under my boots. Inside my waterproof boots, my feet are clothed with thick warm socks. A milk pail swings from my gloved hand and brushes against my insulated coveralls. Although it is slightly below freezing, it is not bitterly cold; however, the coveralls not only add an extra layer of warmth they also keep my clothing clean and dry.
I usually think little of my barn apparel, but this morning as I head out to milk and help my son with his chores, the frost covered ground reminds me of a passage from the book By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder which I read to my children many years ago. In the book, Laura describes going out to milk the cows on frosty mornings with a shawl wrapped around her head and shoulders and her bare feet and legs exposed to the chill winds and frost. I shiver to thank about it, and for a moment I consider what it would feel like to pull my foot from my warm boot and with sock covered foot touch the frosty ground, but I quickly reconsider and hurry on to the barn. While I milk inside sheltered from chill winds and bundled against any cold, I continue to think about Laura’s vivid description of warming her legs and feet against the cold while she squatted under the warm body of the cow and milked on the open prairie.
I loved the Little House books when I was a girl and my children loved them too. In the books, Laura Ingalls Wilder describes a childhood that was often difficult and harsh, but the reader never gets a sense that she is complaining – she is simply describing the events of her life. Thinking about her life reminds me of how many things for which I have to be thankful and while I milk I start mentally counting the everyday luxuries that I take for granted – warm boots, insulated coveralls, a barn, gloved hands, grain and hay, electric lights, and even hot running water in the barn that make barn chores easier. We are blessed with so much and I am saddened to think how often I overlook and pay such little heed to the abundance around me.
I know most people do not live on a farm or raise animals which require morning trips to the barn before dawn, but we are all blessed with so much! If only we would just stop to look around and count our blessings. There were many times in Laura’s life – and in the lives of many of our ancestors – in which she lived in a home with a dirt floor and yet we think nothing of having insulated walls covered in sheetrock with electrical wires running through them to instantly provide power to our many devices. We not only have running water in our kitchens, but we have hot running water in our bathrooms and laundry rooms as well and the list could go on and on. I do not know how we cannot just step back and take a quick glance at our lives and not be overwhelmed and awed at the abundance and blessings with which the Lord has so graciously showered upon our lives.
“I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works.” Psalm 9:1