Ashlie Miller: Counting blessings instead of sheep

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

By Ashlie Miller

“It feels like 11 p.m., and it’s only 6 p.m.!” Several nights this week, children have found me wrapped in a blanket (with the a/c on because it is unseasonably warm, even for N.C.) and snuggled in my bed, anticipating bedtime. Yes, standard time can hit us hard. Falling asleep is not always the problem; waking at 5 a.m. is the conundrum — ask any young mom of toddlers and infants. I have more difficulty shutting off my brain to fall asleep as I age, so I occasionally pop a natural sleep aid like melatonin. On other late nights, I wake up with a random thought like — “What was the next line to the song I learned in second grade?” — which prevents the completeness of a good REM cycle. Unfortunately, when that hits at 3 a.m., it is not a good time for a melatonin rescue.

These are times when remembering things I am grateful for can be helpful. For those who are already deep in their Christmas movie watching, a song from “White Christmas” comes to mind:

“When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep

I count my blessings instead of sheep

And I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small

I think of when I had none at all

And I fall asleep counting my blessings.”

What does the Bible say about how to rest and have peace?

Psalm 116:7 says, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.”

Proverbs 15:13 says, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face.”

Recalling God’s bounty with praise and contentment brings gladness and rest!

Isn’t it something that our Creator enabled us to have a memory? Why is that? While some may say it is a natural instinct developed for survival with disregard to a higher being engaged with our life, why do we remember more than places to find provision? Why do we feel grateful to someone for things and experiences? Why do we express (or at least should express) thankfulness? Food for thought.

I can thank my Father for giving me a mind to remember. I can then be grateful for a heart that wants to express thanks rather than having a sense of deserved entitlement. Next, I can regularly utter thankfulness audibly as outward praise and inwardly as that never-ceasing prayer — because prayer is not always an ask but also a language of thanks.

Is your heart troubled this season? Does it struggle to find rest? Foster a spirit of gratitude through prayer and praise. May you fall asleep counting your blessings!

Ashlie Miller is thankful for so much in her journey of life with her husband Chad and their five children in Concord.

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