My husband and I first moved into our apartment because of the great view it afforded us — not of an apartment parking lot, which I have grown quite tired of — but of beautiful leafy green bushes and the Rocky Mountains.

Pitying myself for still living in an apartment, my view was my solace.


And then one morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard a big truck beeping as it backed up in front of our window. I peeked through the shades and saw the driver unload a huge green dumpster.

port-o-let-and-dumpsters“That’s odd,” I thought, as he drove away.

Not long after, there was more beeping. And another big green dumpster. And then another truck pulled up, and my new green neighbors were met with a shiny new Port-o-Let. I was less than thrilled.

It seems that our little view had become operating central for the crews that were methodically painting our entire apartment complex.

Each morning, instead of gazing out at my view and enjoying the chirping of the birds and the occasional sight of a fox bounding down the ditch, I gazed down at work crews banging in and out of the Port-o-Let and whistling along to the polka music blaring from the trucks. Again, less than thrilled.

As they moved in and got comfy, they got messier and messier. Trash flung here and there, half-started painting projects, and an overflowing dumpster.

Each day, instead of gazing past it all to the Rocky Mountains, which still loomed as tall as ever, I found my eyes fixated on this blight on my view.


But then I remembered this.

These children are smiling and laughing, despite being surrounded by worse conditions.

I had developed tunnel vision, or garbage vision, only noticing each day not the incredible blessings of God around me — the trees and mountains and birds who still chirped along with the polka music — but only what was in my life that wasn’t right, that I didn’t want to be there.

God blesses me so much every day. Sometimes I see it, and other times I don’t see the blessings for the garbage. What’s your view? How do you remember the good God has given you instead of what’s still not quite right?

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14 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Lindy
    Aug 13, 2008
    at 4:36 am

    Wow, Amber! What a powerful message!

  2. Aug 13, 2008
    at 6:23 am

    Amen….thanks for the reminder!

  3. Aug 13, 2008
    at 8:03 am

    After the events that followed after the divorce of my parents, I had both emotional and physical scars from it all. I went through a period where everything was garbage to me. I focused so much on the negative that I completely lost sight of anything to be joyous about. It took me forcing myself to write down in a journal 3 things each day that I was thankful for. To find those 3 things was very hard, but eventually got easier. When I go back and read my journals from this part of my life, I see how God was working so hard on me, but I refused to allow Him to. Gradually, I began allowing Him to do what He promised me all along and by the end, I couldn’t just stop at the 3 things!

    God has a way of humbling us when we feel we have it bad, but also is so great at working in us to focus on the things ahead and not the little pieces of garbage along the way.

    Thank you for your post this morning. I love to see those smiling faces!!!

  4. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Aug 13, 2008
    at 8:09 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Abbie. Being thankful can be so powerful!

  5. Aug 13, 2008
    at 8:39 am

    I think we’re all guilty of that from time to time. Thanks for the reminder – great post!

  6. Aug 13, 2008
    at 10:13 am

    Great reminder…there is always good to be found.

  7. Aug 13, 2008
    at 11:58 am

    I agree–good post! The trash outside your window actually looks quite neat and clean compared to the other, doesn’t it? It’s all relative. I recall an elderly friend that told me that a friend once pointed out all the weeds in a field to her. My friend hadn’t even noticed the weeds; she was looking beyond them to the mountains. She said this helped her keep things in perspective from then on. Also, although the noise from the workers outside your window are annoying, I wonder what God is thinking as he watches them? Precious lives.

  8. Aug 13, 2008
    at 2:01 pm

    Do we first see the trash in this photo, or do we see the bright faces of worth, value and potential?

  9. Aug 13, 2008
    at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing. That is powerful.

  10. Aug 13, 2008
    at 9:52 pm

    Focus. It’s key, isn’t it?

    Personally, having lived through some pretty trashy years, I’ve learned to “fix my eyes on Jesus” and not look around me. It was the only way to stay sane, some days.

    Still is, even though the view has improved.

  11. Sara Benson
    Aug 13, 2008
    at 9:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I too get distracted by the small things that are not really that important and overlook what God is doing.

    I love that photo. It is from a project in The Philippines right?

  12. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Aug 13, 2008
    at 10:20 pm

    Actually, it’s from an area outside of Jakarta, Indonesia. If you click on the photo, it’ll take you to a post about it–in the comments there I mention more about the background.

  13. Aug 16, 2008
    at 11:36 am

    Another View

    This is going to sound odd to some of you (maybe not to those of you who actually know me), but some of the best memories of my life are the times I spent at the city dump. You see, when I was growing up, the dump (and you’re not going to believe this) was right next to my grammar school. Almost every single day, school would let out and me and my friends would run directly into the dump to climb on the junk, search for treasures, and play any kind of game we could make up.

    How does that relate to ‘the’ photograph? Well I suppose the most significant difference is that I played in the dump by choice and the kids in the picture likely work in the dump out of necessity.

    On one occasion, my friend sustained a severe cut on his leg that required a gazillion stitches to close. It gives me pause to think how these kids, many of them barefoot, are similarly injured, but do not have immediate access to doctors and/or medicine. The injuries they receive could very well kill them. Which reminds me of a story about Allison Juan, my sponsored child in the DR.

    A couple years ago he was playing where he was not allowed to play and got a serious cut on his leg. He didn’t tell his mother because he didn’t want to get in trouble. As a result infection set in and he almost lost his leg.

    Enter Compassion

    While my sponsorship fees do not cover these types of medical emergencies, there are funds in place for Compassion children that do provide for these things. Praise be to God doctors were able to save Allison Juan’s leg. I am often reminded that if not for Compassion International, Allison Juan would likely be an uneducated, one-legged, street urchin, having to beg the remaining years of his life in order to just stay alive.

    Praise be to God

  14. Aug 17, 2008
    at 11:52 pm

    Wow Dave. That’s amazing. When we were in the Dominican Republic, they were showing us the files they keep on each child and mentioned one boy and said, “You know about him, don’t you?” We said, “No — but please tell us his story.” When he was 9 years old, he had needed open heart surgery, and Compassion was able to fly him to Michigan for the surgery. At this point in the story, they called him in from outside (where he was playing) and he pulled up his shirt and showed us his scar (he’s 11 now). We were stunned. It was a reminder to me again that Compassion provides what each child needs, personally. They certainly go the extra distance, and make sure some of the donations are available for this kind of special need.

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