“We love living in North Dakota. We’ve been here almost four years and love the people, their biblical values, the beauty of the midwestern prairie. We love it all, except for the winters.” That’s how my conversations usually go, and I need to stop it.
That little phrase, “except for the winters” always makes its way in. Now, please believe me, when I’m trying to get my car started in -20° weather, I’m less than appreciative for North Dakota winter weather. However, I’m talking about a general frame of mind toward something. The “well it’s all good, except…” frame of mind.
Years ago, I worked for another nonprofit and remember sitting on an overturned bucket in front of a tiny brick hut in Zambia (I later found out that the overturned bucket was only taken out and offered to honored guests). The hut was occupied by a crippled lady who had two children of her own and had taken in three more when her sister and brother-in-law died of AIDs. Our organization had replaced her thatched hut with a small bricking dwelling. Near the end of our visit, I asked the lady if she could have any three things, what would they be. She was noticeably uncomfortable at my question and there was a very long pause, leading me to doubt I would even get an answer.
She finally said, “an ox so that I don’t have to hitch my 15-year-old to the plow, a sewing machine so I can earn a little money making dresses, and a mattress”. She had so little, but was happy with what she had. There was no “except” when we talked earlier, and if anyone was entitled, she was. I never heard “Thank you for the hut, except I also need an ox, sewing machine, and mattress.”
Similarly, when I worked for a food bank and talked to people coming in for needed food, there was never an except phrase. “We really appreciate the food, except could there be more vegetables? …except it’s a long drive to get here. …except we really could use more food.” Nothing. Ever. There was just thankfulness.
Our country and state are blessed beyond imagination. We have prosperity, life, religious freedom, protection for families to thrive, and many more blessings. However, we often hear, “except this political party…, …except this person just won’t listen to reason, …except the media is so biased.” We need to stop that. They may all be true and there are certainly things that need to change, based on biblical precepts, but let’s also be thankful for what we have and fight to preserve them.
Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota does just that. We are grateful at God’s grace and provision for His people in a culture that is frankly antithetical to biblical values. However, we also fight to preserve these values. That’s why we need your help. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to our organization so that we can protect your biblical beliefs in the public arena.
After returning from my trip to Zambia, Ruth and I donated funds to help the mother get those three things. A month later, we received a picture of her smiling face, with her ox, sewing machine, and mattress in the background. I’ve kept that picture up for years, to remind me of what thankfulness truly is.
I am honestly thankful for North Dakota in so many ways, especially for all of you, but the “except for the winters” has to go. I’m working on it.
President and Executive Director