Thursday, December 15, 2011

(first world) life lessons

Lately I feel as if every where I turn I am supposed to absorb some piece of very important knowledge. I feel God desiring to teach, teach, teach while I would rather pass notes to friends or play MASH. Despite my best efforts to not learn, some things are getting through. So, in this very blessed season while we await that oh so special birthday, I am, indeed, learning.

I am learning that most of my "problems" are of the First World variety. Now, this is not to say that they don't deserve attention. I have done some pretty significant harm to myself by believing that my problems weren't problems and I needed to focus more on real suffering in the world. However, as Ross and I were praying the other night about stressing over MY CHRISTMAS CARD, I found myself saying "Lord, I realize this is a first world problem." Ross laughed and I decided that this danged Christmas card deserved no more attention. It was something on a check list that needed a little time, but certainly did not deserve the level of obsessing that I was giving it. Since that night, I have found myself gauging a problem by whether or not it is a "first world" scenario. If so, it gets the appropriate level of my attention. As a counselor once told me, "you can sit on the pity pot but don't forget to flush." This Christmas, I am learning to be thankful for how truly minute these inconveniences are and flush a whole lot faster.

As we have all learned during the trials of sleep training, sleep begets sleep. Well, apparently patience begets patience. Love begets love. Tolerance begets tolerance. As my sweet husband and I continue on our journey toward loving and serving each other, it turns out that the more I practice these virtues, the more natural they begin to seem. I am reminded of Romans chapter 5 where we learn that "affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,and hope does not disappoint."  The more I do these things, the more I love him selflessly, the more I want  to do them.

I saw a beautiful family in Mass this week. The family of 8 took up the whole pew. By my (judgemental) observations, they appeared on the wealthier side. I sighed, thinking how easy it must be to decide to have a large family when money is not an issue. Of course, I have no clue what that family's situation is, but I started to go down the "I wish we had more and I wish we didn't need to consider money" hole. And just as that mom did to her son, God firmly pointed my neck back up to that crucifix. I have no clue what His plan is for our family but I do know that "He's got this." We work hard to be good stewards of His provision for us and try hard to make financial decisions guided by His wisdom. That does not mean He is going to reward us with financial gifts. I (think) I'm learning that by seeking Him, we will grow closer to Him and will feel at peace in abundance or in want.

When I got engaged, my Confirmation sponsor gave me one piece of advice. "Bite your tongue so often it bleeds." Now, I am aware that biting your tongue too often can have negative consequences as well, but I don't think I am wired to bite my tongue too often (ever) so that should not be a problem.  But recently I was frustrated with someone and I decided to take Ellen's advice. About ten minutes later, this person stopped and said, "I am really sorry. I was being selfish." All this time, I have thought that biting my tongue was simply a matter of picking my battles (metaphor overload here) and avoiding conflict. But I realized this weekend that what keeping my trap shut sometimes does is allow the other person time and space to evaluate themself. It does not always mean they will decide they were in the wrong, but it may give us the distance for real self-reflection instead of quick reactions.

I am in a season of idolotry. I read blogs and want to write like them. I see careers and hope to emulate them. I see homes and want to be able to buy one like them. I see ladies outfits and envy their ability to put together somthing so trendy and chic. I see people's faiths and wonder if I'll ever have as much "knowledge" as they do. Again, major first world issues. But identifying the error is the first step, right? Now, if I could spend half as much time praising God for what I have as I do wistfully dreaming of "more," I might wake up to see the mega abundance in my life. It's probably wrong of me to think about it this way because I know we do not have a vengeful God, but I feel a push to learn this lesson on my own before He deems it necessary to teach it to me!

I am feeling a bit like Martha these days. You know, Martha from the Bible, who is so busy doing God's work that she forgets to sit at His feet and simply be with him. Now, to clarify, nothing about catching up on Real Housewives episodes is God's work, but I do think I've made myself a tad too busy. So, to rectify this, I've joined a book study at Church :) While Ross and I continue to pray about where to worship, we have returned to the place we met, the Cathedral of Christ the King. I was happy to see a Monday morning study on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I have studied this book in the past but feel that motherhood brings a new spin on it. The study is open to anyone, regardless of church affiliation, so let me know if you'd like to come along. Nursery is available (woop woop!)

I need to lighten up. Insert roaring laughter from family and friends and fainting from husband. I have blogged about this before but I will totally blame my first-born-ness and years of super sad social work for my slight eeyore complex. With the holidays approaching, a sense of humor will be integral to survival (1000 square feet+7 adults+one baby+6 dogs+one cat+ ONE ONE ONE bathroom= potential chernoble). The upside is that this will get my butt in a pew every day next week praying for patience and gratitude and a much needed heightened sense of humor.

And lastly, this fast paced season is teaching me what a good mother I was. You know, what a good mother I was BEFORE I had a child. I was going to insist that my child sleep with noise all around her so that she would learn to sleep with noise. She would never have chocolate or juice and dammit the kid would have manners above all else. Today I handed her bites of chick-fil-a brownie (yes, with nuts. Because I am the only mother who didn't know the 'no nuts' rule applied until two) washed down with apple juice. She is in her bedroom with a sound machine blaring and I don't even walk to my bedroom for fear that I'll wake the gremlin. She throws fits daily (but to be fair, says thank you when I give her the item I think she wants before she decides she doesn't want it and chunks it.) So, while MK's manners get a B+, my parenting stands firm at a C. Lesson: no more assertions about what I will or won't do when MK gets older. Morals and values are one thing, set in stone, but day to day parenting, whew.

If I don't get back on here before Christmas, may yours be full of joy, blessings and a big ole sense of humor!


  1. Great words, mama Keri. Have you read One thousand gifts? If not, it's hard to read but a must read. It has totally transformed my spirit of idolatry. It all starts with being grateful and I am terrrrible at that. Anyway, pick it up if you havent' or check out her blog -

    See us soon, please. For real! You are dear to me because I trek with you every word you say. XOXO

  2. love it keri!!! i may just have to copy and paste on my blog. you put the perfect words to what i've been feeling too. i love the "first world problem" analysis and "flush it" analogy.
    i had the most horrific experience at ikea today and it truly pissed me off. but now i can flush it!!!
    love to you!