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My manicured yard meets Florence

My husband and I live in a subdivision where houses are surrounded by lush green manicured yards dotted with flowers blooming in a Crayola feast of color.  Folks take pride in the space where they live and painstakingly care for their lawns; some better than others.

David and I belong to the “others” group.  Neither one of us was blessed with a green thumb. Our next-door neighbor, Marci, could be a professional guru of shrubs, grasses and flowers. She personally knows every plant, weeds every day, and she must drink a special potion to be able to smile when she stands in our yard. 

After staring at our weedy backyard in disgust for most of the summer, we decided to redo the area behind our house that adjoins Marci’s. This meant hiring a professional to draw a plan and a landscape crew to implement it. The plan went into action on Monday.

By the middle of the day on Monday, questions flew as to where this or that plant was to go with no agreement. Our little maple tree needed to move to another location, and after much discussion, it moved by itself to Marci’s. By the afternoon my husband and I weren’t speaking too many words to one another because each of us had planted our feet in the toiled ground.   

The two things that can surely create tension in a relationship are where a tree needs to go in the yard and whether to replace the old recliner in the den.

The bickering continued until the evening news interrupted the noise. Hurricane Florence had claimed lives, destroyed land and washed away homes. Animals were trying to escape their flooded surroundings, and rescuers were searching for missing families. 

North and South Carolina are drivable distances, and yet I was a million miles away in my own selfish little world bickering over a piece of land about as big as a postage stamp.

It is sad how we all get caught up in the little things in life. We become anxious, argumentative, and we worry about the minutia of everyday living while others are literally trying to live. On Monday, I spent a good bit of my day acting silly over sod and soil. It was the same day others spent just trying to find dry ground.

Being thankful for blessings is an act, not a sermon. We can write about thankfulness, speak about gratitude and ask God to bless us, but being genuinely appreciative of what has been given us requires us to behave as if we indeed are thankful.

God reminds me every day of the blessings I have, but often I don’t see them, or I choose to ignore the reminders. I am blinded by bling and spoiled by my life. I live in my perfect little world where manicured lawns are the norm, and the cars are parked safely in the garage. The neighbors walk dogs and couples take strolls on warm evenings. My lights illuminate the dark of night, and my refrigerator purrs as it keeps the food safe and cool.

Florence visited my neighbors a few miles away and left them with no yards to tend or cars to drive. The cool evenings find submerged streets in subdivisions shrouded by the blackness of the night, and the purring of all things electrical has been silenced. Families have vanished, and the houses they once called homes are filled with dark water as the shrill howl of a dog is heard in the distance.

While I think about this scene, I see a message.  I hear a reminder. I must count my blessings while I search for a number to donate a tree or a recliner or money, so my neighbors can one day return home and dream of a manicured yard where blooming flowers again dot their lawns with vibrant colors.

To donate to the American Red Cross, visit  Redcross.org or call 1-800-435-7669.