This fall, Heidi and I have been reading some books by James Herriot. His memoirs look at the life of a country veterinarian in northern England, during the 1930s and 40s. This is a fascinating but difficult time, before the discovery of antibiotics, and before British farming was really mechanized. However, what really stands out about his books is his tremendous attitude of joyfulness and thankfullness. Despite the incredibly hard work and often harsh weather, Herriot is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunities that he was given, the wonders that God has created, and the blessings that he received, great or small.
I have been convicted by how ungrateful I can be when my life is so much more comfortable than a country vet’s, and so much better than I deserve. For the next couple of weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Heidi and I are trying to be more diligent about marking our blessings and thanking God for them. Because I don’t have James Herriot’s incredible grasp of the English language or storytelling ability, I’m going to rely on pictures to describe a day in my life.
This is who I get to see first, every day:
…and this is who I get to see second:
Those two pictures alone prove that I am indescribably, unfathomably, unbelievably blessed. But there’s more. So much more:
Heidi makes an amazing breakfast every morning. We have cheesy eggs and pan-roasted vegetables so often that on the few days when we just have cold cereal, it actually feels special… and it is, because it’s usually homemade granola. Then we have family devotions, play with James for a while, and make coffee. This time of year, my coffee gets a splash of eggnog. Truly, I am experiencing blessings beyond measure.
Leaving for work is usually the saddest part of the day. James waves goodbye, and I drive off. It seems silly to complain about a short drive to work in a warm car at 9 in the morning when James Herriot often found himself inching through blizzards at 3 a.m. in an unheated car. Also, all the roads leading to the shop look like this:
After an incredibly picturesque drive, I begin my day job, where I get to make things, using real tools. It’s a strange combination of skills that I already have, things that I want to learn, and new challenges every day. I’ve been interested in CNC machines and 3D printers for a long time, and am excited about what they could mean for family businesses and decentralized manufacturing. Now, I’m actually getting my hands dirty with this newly-affordable tech.
But the best part of the work is not the absurdly cool fact that I’m teaching robots to make tactical gear; it’s who I get to work with. This is a business where I get to work with my brothers and some folks from my church family. Every day at noon we break for prayer, and someone usually has a Bible reading or an encouraging passage from another book.
And some time after prayer comes lunch. Sometimes Heidi is surprised that I like leftovers so much, but I’m surprised that she’s surprised. After all, leftover lunch means I get to eat things like this delicious eggplant lasagna with spicy pepperoni… twice.
I usually eat at my desk, watching the CNC machine work, partly because it’s fun, but mostly because I don’t trust it do things while my back is turned. As I’m describing how completely and utterly good God has been to me, there are also plenty of thorns on my way. The work isn’t always pleasant, and the learning curve has been brutal. The software is archaic, the hardware is temperamental, and Kydex is kind of a pain to work with. Every batch and color behaves differently at high temperature, and when it has been freshly milled it has razor sharp edges that slice my callouses off faster than I can grow them.
It could also be noted that once all the skin has been scraped off of the fingertips, they are a lot more sensitive to that high temperature Kydex I just mentioned. Or that equipment malfunctions either result in terrifying showers of sparks or mysteriously creeping calibration that doesn’t get noticed until several holsters are ruined. Or… but after all the tremendous blessings that I’ve just noted, these little difficulties are hardly worth mentioning. Besides, it’s time to dodge a few deer and armadillos on the drive home, and try to get there in time for dinner.
Those two loaves of brown crusty bread are going to be buttered toast for the next several breakfasts, now that we’ve finished the muffins. Those perfectly seasoned hamburgers are going to be my next lunch, and I can hardly wait. We buy a lot of our food in bulk, which Heidi always manages to make delicious and healthy. And after a wonderful dinner, and after I’ve changed into my zippered Mr. Rogers sweater, it’s time for reading with James.
Sometimes we play with toy animals or cars, but he is increasingly interested in books, especially books about animals or cars. I’m trying to get him interested in airplanes, mostly using Bored, Nothing to Do by his favorite author and illustrator, but he still finds cars and trucks more fascinating. Eventually, he’s ready for bed, and that’s when I start my night job.
Not only do I get to be a product designer and machinist by day, but I still get to be a graphic designer and animator by night. Tonight I’m working on a logo for small business startup. I have less time to do this now that I’m making holsters most days, but I enjoy being able to paint and make videos on the side, and I’m glad that God is sending me enough work to keep my hand in. Sometimes Heidi reads while I’m working, and sometimes I read while she’s sewing.
Every day is filled to overflowing with the blessings of God, even the days when things don’t go so well as this day. It’s so easy to overlook the small blessings, and then take even the big ones for granted. But just thinking of the things to include in this blogpost has been a reminder of God’s overwhelming goodness to us, and all that we have to be thankful for.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”