Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reflecting on Lent...

Now that we've finally entered the Easter season I think it's time to look back a bit on the past 40+ days. I've mentioned a few things I was going to be more attentive to during this time. Since I've asked the kids to review and reflect on what worked/what they would change, I suppose it's a good thing for me to do the same...

1. No yelling - (or at least not yelling at a specific child). I was pretty sure this was doomed from the start and, as suspected, I did not go 40 days without yelling. What I did do was consider a bit more what I was saying before the moment. While there were still moments of immediate reaction, I do feel like I've tried to explain more and instruct more. As for the volume? It's noisy here. A lot of the time the yelling isn't out of anger as much as it is to be heard. Perhaps next year I'll rephrase it to "not yelling in anger".

2. Budget - I've been blessed throughout this marriage to not have to live on a strict budget (before this marriage it was a necessity so, perhaps, that's why I've shied away). At the start of Lent, I asked my beloved for the budget - income and expenditures - so that I could see what we might change. The major expenditure is life insurance premiums and that's not going to change in the near future so we had to skip that. The next three were church/charitable giving, my mom's helper, and food. While it pinches a bit to tithe sometimes, It's the right thing so that's not changing. My helper...well, that's a limited-time commitment. She is a big expense now but in a few years, that too will pass. For the moment, she allows me the time I need to get things done or spend time with kids individually. I think, were the kids in school, she would probably not be here so I just figure not paying tuition makes it a wash ;0)

That leaves food. When he told me the typical monthly expenditure, I was really shocked. I cook nearly every night and we don't do fast food more than once a week so it was unexpected to say the least. I figured, sure, we can trim hard can it be?

Well, it turns out that it's sort of hard but not impossible. Since we were already giving up fast food for 40 days, that helped. Then I acquainted myself with my new favorite stores, Aldi and Bottom Dollar, for the weekly staples; we go to Sam's more often to stock up only on what we need for a few weeks; and I've been trying very hard to do a meal plan for the coming week. Sometimes it's tweaked depending on the sales but, for the most part, it's been working well. The downside, of course, is that I can no longer go to one store and buy everything so I end up spending the most precious resource of all - time. Luckily the stores are located near to kid activities so I've been popping in while they are occupied elsewhere.

3. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving - I feel like I have done a good deal in this area and that's why I'm kind of exhausted. I've been keeping up my daily rosary during the 40 days and we said it as a family every Sunday. I took the 3-4 AM Adoration shift at our parish for 6 weeks straight (no, I won't be signing up for that long-term) and attended a day of recollection. I (usually with the kids) stood vigil at the 40 days for life campaign three or four times and spent 3 days on a liquid-only fast to offer for the babies and their moms as part of the 40 days vigil (one of which was #2's birthday party - next year I'm going to concentrate on learning to plan ahead!) This past week I spent a great deal of time with my Aunt as she underwent surgery, recovered (thanks to God) and moved to respite care. What a blessing it was for me to have that opportunity to so closely serve someone I love during Holy Week.

The best thing to come out of this section was from the kids. As part of their monthly home school CCD, they were collecting money for a mission in Guatemala. The two older kids were on fire to find ways to help. I told them, if they helped more around the house, I would give them a weekly amount to donate. Immediately #1 decided she would fold the clothes from the dryer and #2 started collecting the trash every Monday. I am really impressed with how they dove in and still (even after the collection) remain dedicated to their jobs. As with many things, it seems like this is the time that they are finally ready to help. That not only makes my life easier but it helps me to see that they are, indeed, developing into older kids who are willing to do things for the good of the household. That is an amazing blessing.

I'm sure there is more that I missed but I've said enough. After reflecting, it's clear to me that I have been blessed during this Lent, both by opportunities to turn my life back toward God and also with situations that have helped me reassess my thoughts and decisions and how they do or do not fall in line with His will for me. He is a loving father and He wants the best for me. I have to continue to remember that and, while knowing and trying to follow the particulars, not turn my focus to the "checklist". It has been a huge help that this year the kids were asking "why" a lot more. It's good for me to sit with them and work out why something is done and what is gained from the action. This has helped me avoid the temptation of just "giving something up for Lent" and instead, trying to learn from everything I did or did not do...ultimately drawing closer to God in the process.

Happy Easter everyone! We are blessed.

No comments:

Post a Comment