Friday, July 14, 2006

The Secret to a Happy Life - by Marsha Jordan

There seems to be an epidemic these days of depression.

Everyone I talk to, it is experiencing some degree of depression. As I wonder about the cause of this twenty-first centuryphenomenon, I think of my great grandmother who raised my dad in the back woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the Great Depression.

She had a hard life raising twelve children and two grandchildren, seeing two die as toddlers as well as two as adults with cancer. She supported her sick husband who was twenty-two years older than she was. She struggled through the great depression, yet (according to those who knew her best) she was never depressed a day in her life! Why? Maybe because she was too busy just surviving to stop and think about feeling sad.

She came to this country from Holland as a child. She married at the age of 13. Her parents went back to Holland without telling their children. She fed her family by raising animals and a large garden, in addition to taking in boarders and caring for the elderly and sick. She sold her homebaked goods and ran the local post office. She entertained traveling preachers and live-in teachers.

She cooked on a woodstove in a house that was so cold the water in the tea kettle would freeze during the night if she didn't get up and stoke the fire. She could see the snow outside through the cracks in the walls. She had no phone, no electricity, no running water, no shower, bathtub or indoor toilet! There was no television to watch as she relaxed in the evenings. In fact, she didn't relax in the evenings. That's when she sewed the family's clothes. To listen to the radio, her family had to walk half a mile to the nearest neighbor's house. She was up before anyone else in the morning and she was the last to go to bed at night.

Her children were the only ones in school who had real meat to eat and didn't have to take lard sandwiches in their lunches. Her kids had shoes to wear when the neighbors didn't, but they put cardboard inside those shoes to cover the holes in the soles. Though they lived in a tar paper shack, they were better off than most of the folks they knew. When beggars came to grandma's door, she would always give them a meal and a dime, though a dime was a lot of money in those days. She and her children rarely took baths. To do so, they had to pump the water from the well, heat it on the stove, and fill the metal tub in the kitchen by the fire. They never went to a doctor when they got sick. They couldn't afford such a luxury. And in those days, there was not a whole lot that doctors could do for them anyway. (Modern medicine has come a long way in the last 70 years). This may sound like a story from Laura Ingalls Wilder books about the 1800's, but I'm talking about the 1930's!

My great grandma and her family rarely drove the 13 miles into town because gas was too expensive and they couldn't all fit into the car anyway. When they didgo to town, they had to change flat tires every few miles and in the winter they froze with no heat in the car and frequently got stuck in the snow even though they had put chains on the tires. As a newlywed, when mygrandmother moved to her new home with her new husband, she packed all her belongings into a horse-drawn wagon. As they drove away from her parents' home, she said "I forgot to bring a broom." Her husband replied, "The house we'll beliving in has a dirt floor, so you won't need a broom."

This was my grandmother's life. How many of us could live like that and still be happy? Maybe part of the reason she could be happy was that she did not have the high expectations that we have these days. She expected to lose children to death. She expected to have to work hard and not have much to show for it. She accepted whatever happened and kept going, taking each day as it came. Maybe our problem is that we cannot accept hardship when it comes because we expect our lives to be better and easier than they sometimes are.

When I compare my life to my great grandmothers, I realize that we are very fortunate to have all the good things we enjoy in our lives. Let's count our blessings and be thankful!

During this joyous season, when we celebrate the fact that God loved us each somuch that He was willing to give up his only son to die in our place, we can be very thankful for THAT and for many many other blessings.

Question of the Day: How many blessings can you count in your life that youare grateful for?

Marsha Jordan, Director
HUGS AND HOPE FOUNDATIONA ministry designed to share God's Word and His love with families of critically ill children Join Us! Together we can make a difference

About the Author

Marsha is a disabled grandma who lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband and toy poodle, Louie. She founded a nonprofit organization to help sick children called The Hugs and Hope Club. She enjoys collecting antiques and having fun with her grandson.

No comments: