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At this time of the year I am always reminded of the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." In essence, when life gives you a bad situation, turn it into a positive one. I appreciate that, but I like even more the idea that when life gives us lemons, I need to learn to like lemons.
Life is full of circumstances beyond our control. And unfortunately, these situations will sometimes be bitter, and no amount of sugar will make them sweet. But I've learned to be thankful and see the good in any situation. This makes me happy, not because the situation has changed but because I have. It's easy to like strawberries and bananas, but how do we learn to like life’s lemons?
My husband, Greg, is an officer in the Air Force. As we began preparing to move from our home in Utah and take our first assignment in California, I was moderately to considerably frightened about the whole thing. But we knew that the Lord doesn't just give us a cup full of blessings; he pours them down upon us. So whenever we saw something being taken care of by the Lord in our behalf, we made thunder sounds and showed the rain crashing down with our fingers as if we were the itsy bitsy spider and the blessings were the rain. It's our family's way of taking a minute to recognize from whom the blessings come.
We gave thanks that the doctors allowed me to move with Greg even though I was seven months pregnant with our daughter. Rain. The night before we left, our 19-month-old son became sick with an intestinal bug, but we were thankful we still had access to a laundromat. Rain. Our Suburban broke down on the freeway in Las Vegas. We were thankful we were able to walk to a service station rather than be stranded in the desert. Rain. Greg was inspired to know what was wrong with the truck and fix it rather than pay a mechanic's bill from our $400 worth of life savings. Rain. Two-thirds of the way into our trip I started to feel sick as well yet didn't get intestinal cramps, which could have led to premature labor — for which we were very thankful. Rain. That moving trip was by no means peachy, but as we looked for the good in each circumstance we learned to like our lemons.
There is a truism associated with all types of human strength: Use it or lose it. When not used, muscles weaken, skills deteriorate and faith disappears. To exercise our gratitude muscles we will often need to stop ourselves in the middle of thinking, "This stinks," and instead find something — anything — positive about the situation.
We will spend Thanksgiving of this year on a remote Air Force station in North Dakota where we now live. There are 14 homes on the base, and around the holidays it can feel lonely. It’s one of our life’s lemons. But as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I remember that every situation has some redeemable aspect to it. I give thanks because I know that life’s lemons can’t always be made into lemonade, but as I look for the sweet among the bitter, I gain strength to accept hard challenges and continue on my journey with joy.
Miranda H. Lotz is a military wife, mother of four, bibliophile and musician. She lives on a remote Air Force station in Cavalier, North Dakota.