As I listen to my children bicker and fight over a kickball game in our basement, I am frustrated by the unkind words they use and the mean way they pick apart one another’s attempts to kick, run, and throw. It hurts me to hear them use such forceful language when it’s supposed to be a fun game.
What I have to remind myself is that their play is a way to learn the basics of the game, how to handle conflict, and ways to work with others while being competitive. Those viscous kickball games are growing opportunities for turning thrown stones into bridges for better play and successful communication in the future. (That doesn’t make their taunting any easier to hear though.)
Unfortunately, my kiddos’ emotional “rock collecting” has not been limited to the jabs and insults of their siblings. My children (like all kids) have come home with hurt in their eyes and frustration in their hearts from things said and done at school and sports practices. Seeing my kids hurt by the words and actions of others is probably the hardest part of being a parent. These challenges have forced me to dig deep into my repertoire of comfort and advice, but also add to the School of Hard Knocks’ curriculum as my children earn their diplomas in adolescence.
“When people throw rocks, you can either build walls or bridges. Be a bridge builder” – Lynda Mullaly Hunt
All too often I’ve heard that if you pray for patience the Lord will test it. I take pride in the patience I feel towards children, animals, and tedious tasks. I’m not always so patient with laziness, meanness, and ignorance.
Lately, I have witnessed laziness and unkindness in amounts exceeding my limits. In spite, of my prayers for peace, grace, and patience, the will to tolerate such selfish behavior has had me thinking about an alternative intent for my prayers.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still asking the Lord to help the flawed human race find peace, generosity, and compassion, but every once in a while, I want to pray “The Pissy Prayer.”
Now this isn’t a prayer sanctioned by any church or liturgical governing body, but it is one that I think a lot of us could benefit from. (I made “The Pissy Prayer” up myself.)
“The Pissy Prayer“ By Melanie A. Peters
Grant me permission to be pissy about insignificant things that others blow way out of proportion.
Grant me fussiness when friends and family fail to recognize and appreciate all the blessings you have bestowed upon them.
In your most holy name, I ask that you help me through this hissy fit and guide me as I lose my good and capable mind over whatever has worked its way into my heart.
But most of all, Lord, grant forgiveness for my imperfections, because that’s what I need to feel and demonstrate in this most imperfect world.
Burning rituals have been a part of society since civilizations first took shape. It seems that the act of allowing flames to consume things has healing properties. While the ceremonies of burning rituals do not all contain the same supply list or formal procedures, they all do have two things in common: fire and something to burn.
On a recent getaway with some of my gal pals, we lamented emotions and worries that were weighing heavily on us. As we sought respite in food, drinks, and re-runs of Friends, we were inspired (in part by Phoebe’s idea in “The One with the Candy Hearts”) to have our own burning ritual.
We would each write down the things that were weighing on us and then toss them in the fire. (Our rental cabin had the MOST amazing fireplace.) It took no time at all for each of us to jot down the issues we would like to see go up in flames. Before we decided to just willy-nilly toss our troubles into the fire, we thought it would be best to research burning rituals to see if there was anything that would increase the effectiveness of our sacrifice.
Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)
When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.
The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.
The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.
When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.
As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.
Forgive and forget… easier said than done. I’m gonna make it happen in 2021.
It is true that we are often our own worst critics, but being a flawed human (just like everyone else) I have come to the realization that I am pretty critical of a few other folks in my life.
My cynicism is the result of my failure to forgive. I can’t be my best if I do not absolve my grievances with the people who have hurt or hampered me in the past. Never would I claim to be completely innocent of hurting others, but if I am ever going stop the damage to my own self-esteem and the esteem I have for others, I am going to have to do some forgiving.
When I started gathering ideas for my 2021 Vision Board, I knew I needed to work on my relationship goals with some people in my life, as well as myself. Setting a goal for greater compassion and acceptance was something that my Vision Board simply HAD to display.
In my search through magazines and websites, I couldn’t find just what I needed to say on my board, until I stumbled across a quote from Galina Majda in Mukilteo, Washington. (I am sad to say I don’t know what magazine this was from.) Galina’s statement of forgiveness was EXACTLY what I needed for myself and my relationships.
“Every night before I go to sleep, I forgive everyone, including myself.”
Wow! Wow! Wow!
“I forgive everyone, including myself.”
Do you ever lay awake at night hashing over the mistakes you made or the things you forgot to do? Do you ever just lay there simmering in regret or guilt or anger? I know I do. Ending the day with a mentality of forgiveness could stop all of that wasted worrying and bring about greater peace. It’s what I need to do.
Mom-guilt is the WORST guilt. After a recent bought with illness, I had to wrestle this most worrisome of self-reproaches. Mom-guilt crept up often as I tried to get rest, let the kids cook, and not let the chaos of my unkempt home get to me.
I was sick enough that an outer space alien could have easily taken up residence and claimed our home for his base, and I would not have felt the impact, so forgiveness is an alien entity I’m going to have to let in.
Climbing my way out of the chaos and regaining my strength, I’m finding that I need to be nice to myself or I’m never going to feel better. (Maybe not “never”, but it’s going to take a while.)
As we tackle the challenges of giving our families the “perfect” Christmas and making all of our relationships as meaningful as possible, I encourage you to accept that most alien of notions, the notion of self-forgiveness.
When it comes to being far from perfect, I’ve got imperfection in the spades. I often beat myself up for having so many flaws and petty insecurities. It’s tough being human. (Do you ever get down on yourself for being less than perfect?)
In his homily this past Sunday, Fr. Tony addressed the challenge that is posed to us by All Saints Day. With tremendous understanding and the right amount of humor, Fr. Tony reminded us that the canonized saints were human too. They struggled with jealousy, anger, fear, and weakness (among other things). In his narrative, Fr. Tony dared us to be like the saints. His All Saints Day challenge is to live with love, compassion, and faith at the center of our thoughts and actions in spite of our struggles.
Nobody is born a saint, but we all have the power to be saintly in our words and works. In the bulletin “Message from Fr. Tony,” he thoughtfully stated, “The simple but reassuring fact is that nobody was born a saint. It’s something we have to strive to become… All Saints Day calls us to something beautiful. It reminds us of our great potential – the promise that lies within each of us. The promise of holiness.”
We are all familiar with the “If you can’t say something nice…” adage, but how often to we put effort into leaving our lousy thoughts out of what we say?
Last week I was angry. Angry at someone I care a great deal about. Angry at the choices they had been making. Those choices felt unfairly selfish to me. When I voiced my anger to my friend Emily, she helped put things into perspective. Emily reminded me that the person I was mad at wasn’t necessarily being selfish; they were being human. Each decision they made was done so because they thought it was the appropriate choice for them.
Of course, Emily was right and I needed to quit being so judgmental.
This week, as I was taking a drive with my friend Chelsea, she was lamenting the overly critical nature of one of her family members. The nature of their hypercritical haptics was exhausting her. We came up with the brilliant idea that people should quarantine their fault finding fascination. The quarantine of unfair judgment and social criticism would be a great way to cure the world with kindness and understanding.
You’re basically a houseplant with more complicated emotions.
We do! We need water. We need sunlight. We are definitely emotional!
While we all have our basic needs, fulfilling those needs is often impacted by our ability or inability to take-in the required air, water, sun, exercise, and nutrition. Similarly, if we do not allow for positive encounters in our day or uplifting words in our speech, it’s really hard to squeeze them in later. After the sun goes down, you can’t exactly be like, “Hey, sun, could you come out and shine for just a bit? I missed you earlier.”
Doritos are not allowed in my house. Not in the snack size, family size, or the party size. Doritos are not allowed in my house in any size, shape, flavor, or package.
I will eat them.
If I have Doritos, I will eat them. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
On a camping trip this summer, I splurged and bought a bag of those delectable Doritos and said to myself, “I’m going to be on vacation. I want to eat like I’m on vacation.”
And I did.
A large portion of that bag was consumed by me. And a large portion of the next two days were drug down by a terrible stomach ache. (My stomach apparently does not share my love for those triangular treats.)