So, how are things going in your neck of the woods? I thought I'd share with you some sunshiney flowers that have been gracing our rooms since we've put our house on the market. Aren't they cheerful and lovely? I am thinking to myself that I would like to make a greater effort to just add fresh flowers to my weekly grocery list even after we've finished showing the house. Yes, they are an indulgence, but you really don't have to purchase expensive bouquets. I also like to add greenery from my yard to fill in the bouquets, so you could fill 3 nice sized vases with 2 bouquets.
If you are in the right season, you may not have to purchase them at all if you have planted a cutting garden. In fact, you may want to add cutting garden to your springtime planting list. They are fun to have and are beautiful inside and out. Some favorite, easy cutting garden flowers to grow are: cosmos, tall snapdragons, and zinnias. There are many others, of course, but these are easy to grow from seed and are sturdy in vases.
So, I am up to day 30 in my Lenten pledge to eshew complaining (I haven't been counting the days - I just went to check the calendar!!). And how has it been? Not too bad actually. Oh, I can think of a few moments where I certainly wanted to say something and I can think of a few situations in my future that may prove to be trials in whichI would want to complain, but I won't. Certainly, I am learning:
1) I don't really need to complain.
2) I can replace the urge to complain with something completely different.
3) The benefits of my not complaining need to extend to myself as well as others.
I'll explain these further.
I don't really need to complain.
I was talking with my friend the other day about this and I felt the need to clarify. Complaining is not the same as "not getting angry." Anger is a feeling that God gave us that we should not try to squelch, but instead use as a tool to help us recognize when we experiencing a siuational outcome we didn't expect or that we believe should have gone a different direction. I don't think it is realistic to live without ever getting angry.
Complaining is a different matter. I love how Jack Canfield clarifies complaining in his terrific book, The Success Principles:
In order to complain about something or someone, you have to believe that something better exists.You have to have a reference point of something you prefer that you are not willing to take responsibility for creating... Think about this...people only complain about things they can do something about. We don't complain about the theings we have no power over. Have you every heard anyone complain about gravity? No never....The circumstances you complain about are, by their very nature, situations you can change - but you have chosen not to. You can get a better job, find a more loving partner, make more money, live in a nicer house, live in a better neighborhood, and eat healthier food. But all these things would require you to change...But why don't you do those things? It's because they involve risks. You run the risk of being unemployed, left alone, or riduculed and judged by others. You run the risk of failure, confrontation, or being wrong. You run the risk of your mother, your neighbors, or your spouse disapproving of you. Making a change might take effort, money, and time. It might be uncomfortable, difficult, or confusing. And so, to avoid risking any of those uncomfortable feelings and experiences, you stay put and complain about it."
Until I had read this book last year, I had never thought about complaining in that way; it really changed my perspective.
I also don't think about "complaining to management" in the same way as I do generalized complaining. If my meal is brought to me incorrectly at a restaurant, I'm not going to not say anything because I'm practicing not complaining. I would speak up - politely - and ask to have it corrected. Complaining to me would be simply griping about it during the meal without doing anything about it. Or complaining would be nitpicking over every little detail of the meal just to make the staff's lives miserable.
Ultimately, I believe complaining, the grumbling and mumbling the Bible talks about, doesn't accomplish anything at all.
So, what do I do when I feel like complaining these days? I can replace the urge to complain with something completely different.
I can praise God.
"I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." - Psalm 89:1 KJV
And I can give Him thanks.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7
I can choose to say something positive instead.
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
- Colossions 4:6
And I can extend that grace to myself as well. One of the other verses I think of regularly is Ephesians 4:29. It says,
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what it helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
One morning I was being pretty hard on myself and I thought of this verse. I was starting to complain to myself about myself in my head and realized what was happening. I wondered if I could extend the grace I was working so hard at giving to others, equally to myself as well? "...that it may benefit those who listen." Certainly the one listening (me!) was not benefitting at all from my inner diatribe. I began to let some of that negative stuff go, and intead focus on what I could say positively to myself and obviously it completely changed my attitude for the day.
So, these are just some of the lessons I am learning from my sacrifice. We always do find blessing in our sacrifices, don't we?
Briefly, in other news, in the art class I teach weekly to other homeschooled students, I am now doing a series on portraiture. We practiced a couple of weeks ago with just eyes, noses, and mouths, and today we put them into practice in portraits. We started with photos from magazines, as it's easier to start with someone you don't know!
The girls were quite focused and worked diligently. They've come such a long way from the work they began with in the fall!