How Many Loaves?

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus, Greek philosopher
Yesterday I left on a mini day trip to see my daughter at college and thus found myself alone in my car early in the morning.  The change of season has begun and a misty fog hung over the landscape, obscuring fields and pastures as I drove.  It was a beautiful sight.  I watched as the sun steadily rose over the mountains at my left to light the valley at my right and was amazed at the breathtaking beauty of this transition from night to day.

The feeling of gentle awe continued as Emmeline and I went to take care of our objective, discovered a problem with her car that I was able to help with, and a quick grocery shopping trip allowed us to visit longer than I planned.  I felt grateful that I’d made the drive, that Heavenly Father brought me there on the morning neither of us knew she would have car trouble, that we were able to get everything arranged or taken care of in the amount of time I had available.

The drive home was equally beautiful, the sky a deep cobalt blue against now white-capped mountains and puffy white clouds.  The road stretched out before me, punctuated by the occasional barn and birds soaring in the sky.  Three hours of driving alone provided ample time to reflect on my blessings and God’s goodness in my life.

I made it home with three minutes to spare before the next time-sensitive commitment of the day – more gratitude!  My top priority task of the day was completed – gratitude! I needed to find something for another teen-aged daughter which proved difficult to track down, but with prayer and persistence I located one, had time to run buy it and made it to the school in time to drive the carpool home.  Again, more gratitude!

There is never a day that goes according to plan, but I have learned that Heavenly Father is faithful in helping me with the day-to-day hiccups of family life.   Many of the things I take care of each day must be taken care of again tomorrow, or replaced with an entire new list of urgent needs.  My thoughts centered last night on the consistency of the Lord’s help in my life, the grace that is evident in the flow of the day and the gift of a new morning.

As a family last night we sat together and followed the counsel of Thomas S. Monson to “pause and contemplate our blessings.”  We sat quietly and each of us wrote in our journals the things we are grateful for, then shared some of them with one another.  We talked about the ten lepers whom Jesus healed (Luke 17), about how we can be like the one who returned to give thanks and was made whole.  We talked about the miracle of Jesus feeding 4,000 in the wilderness (Matthew 15).  When Jesus stated his intention to feed the multitude, his disciples asked “Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?”  So often I am like them, seeing only what is lacking and being intimidated by it!  But the Savior, once again, set a perfect example and asked “How many loaves have ye?”  Seven.  That’s it.  Seven loaves and 4,000 people.  He was not overwhelmed by what lacked.  He took what was available, GAVE THANKS FOR IT, and the miracle began.  All the multitude ate and were filled, and seven baskets of food were left over.

How many loaves have ye?  That question is on repeat in my head.

Yesterday I was reminded that God’s economy is one of abundance, that he can and will provide in ways that have no logical explanation, but which are often unlocked by using what is available to us and giving thanks for it.  When I focus on what I lack, fear always follows.  When I focus on how much I already have, happiness rushes in.

This morning I feel determined to keep the happiness of gratitude alive in my heart, to use what I’ve been given and give thanks for it – creating a shield for myself against the things I fear.  I am watching for the ways my Heavenly Father will intervene and direct my life.  I am thrilled to be given another day of life.

How many loaves do you have?  How can you use them for good?  What are you grateful for today?

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