Friday, April 4, 2014

Lent, Just 16 days left, or just the Beginning?

Isn’t it amazing how our own dirt doesn’t seem as gross as others? A few weeks ago we bought a new Washer & Dryer. I was getting the old ones cleaned up to sell at our garage sale and saw all the build-up that had been there for quite awhile. I must have seen it each time I put a load in the wash and never did anything about it or even let it bother me. What if I was looking at it as an outsider? There is no way I would want to wash my clothes in that machine. So how is it I can I live with that dirt each day and do nothing, but yet I would judge others on their housekeeping with the same results?

What a connection to our life and how we judge other people and sometimes forget our own shortcomings. They always say you notice the flaws of others that are likely flaws of yourself.  It seemed appropriate to think of this during Lent. What a great time to clean up your body and soul.  The simple task of scrubbing yuck off my wash machine opened my eyes to a Lenten opportunity to try and remove some of the dirt from my life. 

For those who are unfamiliar with Lent, it is the 40 days beginning at Ash Wednesday and leading to the Easter Triduum and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. In these 40 days many Christians give something up that they enjoy, “sweets, chocolate & my son even gave up his I-Pod”. In the Catholic Faith adults are asked to fast (no eating between meals) and abstinence from meat on Ash Weds and Good Friday along with abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent. Some may look at this as a silly practice and if you are only going through the motions then it is silly. If you can take that sacrifice and use it to focus on God then it is far from silly. Every time you desire what you have given up it can be a very faith growing experience when you instead turn your focus to prayer.

These sacrifices and added practices may be to better you physically and spiritually.  Body and soul are both gifts from God to be cared for. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. ” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20“  So don’t feel bad if you try to exercise more or eat healthier, just remember why you are doing it. It is amazing how much you can accomplish with God as your trainer.

At our church we are encouraged to think beyond just “giving something up”, and led to thinking also of Prayer, Almsgiving (service to the poor), along with Fasting. Our theme at church this Lent is “Give Up, Take-Up, and Lift up”. “Give up” of course leads us to the normal sweets and chocolate, but it could be bad habits that don’t make you an example of God’s love.   “Take up” a good practice or two, spend more time in prayer or reading the bible, participate in a study or daily devotion, volunteer more , donate more, speak kind words. “Lift up” work harder at being more positive to others, lift up your worries and struggles and your life in prayer to God however small and petty they may seem. Don’t be afraid to try to do something you’re not sure you can accomplish. I am guilty of this. Isn’t the struggle what it is all about? Challenge yourself to do something you WILL need Gods strength to get it done. 

This may seem late as there are only 16 of the 40 days left.  For me sometimes these last few weeks are the hardest or maybe I realize it hasn’t been that hard and it may be time to evaluate if I have done enough? Has it been easy so far, it really depends on the day and how bad I want dessert! Is my focus in the right place or am I going through the motions and ignoring the dirt each time I see it.  Jesus was born in to this word to fulfill the promise that God made. His sacrifice for our sins gave us all the gift of grace, the chance at forgiveness and salvation. I am considering adding more these last few weeks to really steer me towards the celebration that will come on Easter weekend. You don’t have to wait until next year to try to grow in your faith and closeness to God, join me even if you haven’t started anything yet.  Don’t let your dirt continue to build up until you look at yourself and say EEWW! Start today “Give up, Take up, and Lift Up” you won’t be sorry and hopefully what you gain will continue throughout the year even after the Easter celebration.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Last Pacifier

I have been thinking back to when we were trying to break the pacifier habit with our toddlers. Many of you can probably relate. Breaking the habit is as hard on the parents, as it is on the kids. Throughout the time you allow your child to use this pacifier you have back-ups stashed all around, one in the diaper bag, in the car, on the changing table and probably a new one in the closet just in case. If one went missing you just grabbed for another, when too many disappeared you’d buy more. We were good at losing pacifies, in fact we once found one several years after all our kids had outgrown them. But when we were determined to NOT buy another, that last pacifier was like gold! It was well cared for and always put in its place. If not we would hunt until it was found.

As the piles of Christmas presents move to the past and the New Year has begun with hopes of cleaning out and getting organized. At the end of January my head is still spinning from all the chaos and all the STUFF that has accumulated in my house. We are drowning in our things, and having too much, like having too many pacifiers, is causing us to be lazy and careless with what we have.  Having too much has caused us to lose appreciation for having and getting things.

Too many pencils, markers, clothes and toys you name it. When a Poly Pocket is left on the floor, a threat to throw it away doesn’t pack much punch when it is 1 of 100 Poly pockets that inhabit the house. Nerf bullets disappear during a battle, no one takes time to find any that are not in plain sight. Why take time to look for your shoes if you can just wear another pair. Basketballs and soccer balls sometimes don’t make it home or get brought inside because there are others to use.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I have heard, “That’s OK we still have more”, when something gets broken or lost.

I am caught as much as my kids in the laziness of having too much. No hurry to get laundry done there is enough clothes to last another week.  When a Sippy cup goes missing, I may not look for it right away and then when it shows up with a special scent and color, I just throw it away.
Then the electronics, we do not have one I-pads per kid, but we do have multiply options as a family. So what happens when the I-pad battery dies? It is put away and plugged in to charge. WRONG! It is left and they move onto another option. Waiting in that location for the next unexpected user to find it with only 1% battery left.

I do not think we are alone in these habits and some of it is just kids being kids. But parents have a part in it too. As parents we want to make our children happy, we want them to be able to have and do things that they love and enjoy. With this good intention I think many times we overdo fulfilling their wants thus they lose the chance to truly appreciate what they are given or already have.

So as we wrap up our season of giving and look at all of that has been added to our bulging tubs and closets, I realize that that we are there, we have TOO MUCH! As we move forward into 2014  instead of opening the sales adds searching for new and bigger storage options, maybe we can get down to having only the things that we truly love and enjoy. Hopefully then keeping this thought in the back of our minds throughout the year. We don’t have to fulfill each request just because the money is in our wallet. Maybe this year if we give less to our kids, we will truly give them more.

I am not saying our resolution is to not give our kids things and everything we own is going to the poor. We have more than we need. I do think it is obvious that if we had less we would care more and it may make life easier around here. We may care enough to be sure things are put in their place, and all things may have a place. Wouldn’t it be easier to put clothes away when the drawers and closets aren’t overflowing? If we could get down to that last pacifier we would create more appreciation for the things we have and hopefully break some bad habits along the way.