There are very few times when I can clearly recall the words of a speaker.
But the words of a pastor delivered several decades ago during a sermon on trouble have stuck with me over the years.
"It's not a matter of 'if' trouble will visit your life, but 'when' trouble will visit your life," he cautioned. "The real question is this: How will you handle trouble when it arrives on your doorstep?"
There is no question in my mind that we, as a nation, are facing serious and troubling times. Terrorism has struck a hard blow to our sense of security and well being. The economic challenges of the stock market and its overall affect on Americans and business seem to be never ending. Gasoline prices are soaring to a record high. Our state is facing a financial crisis. And most frightening of all, our nation is at war.
All of these issues are unnerving. But combine them with the challenges we face daily on a personal level and our reality begins to become skewed by worry.
Most of us are not visited by incessant trouble. Neither are our lives completely without trouble. Instead, trouble seems to come in waves and cycles. One old adage is certainly true: Tough times don't last, but tough people do.
I, like many of you, have worries for our nation which have been combined with a wave of personal troubles. And in the last week or so, I've struggled - as an American and a private citizen.
This isn't the first time that my life has entered a cycle of challenges. It certainly won't be the last. And, so far, it's definitely not the worst. But, oh, how I wish this dark cloud would move on. Over the weekend, as I was pulling weeds in the unseasonably summer-like sunshine, my restless mind raced from one worry to the next - the war, the economy, and the price of gas. Those worries were compounded by the leak in the roof, the leak in the shower, and a giant unexpected tax bill. My fretfulness grew. I'm growing older, my last child is leaving home and I miss my family - especially my granddaughter.
Sometimes life stinks.
As I fretted and pulled, the mound of worry seemed to grow as quickly as the pile of weeds at my side. But, then I realized something - sometimes our view of life depends on which side of the fence we're standing. And sometimes, the remedy for worry lies in simply changing our view.
I sat back and idled my brain. I took a deep breath and looked around me. The sun-filled day had been a gift and I'd been too busy fretting to enjoy it. I mentally switched to the other side of the fence and my view began to clear.
Despite the homeowner challenges, I had a roof over my head and a beautiful one at that. My daughter is moving on, but successfully so. I may be getting older, but birthdays are better than the alternative. I miss my family, but they're all healthy and happy. The tax bill was huge and absolutely unexpected. But, thankfully, I had the resources to resolve the problem. And eventually, the economy will rebound, the war will end and gas prices - well, that remains to be seen. For now, I'll ride the wave. Yes, these are challenging times, but if we'd just take a moment we'd realize - despite the tough times, we have so much to be grateful for. Don't we?
Theresa Larson is the Lodi News-Sentinel's administration manager. She is married and the mother of five children. Her column appears the first and third Wednesday of the month. She can be contacted at 125 N. Church St., (209) 369-2761 or via e-mail.