Consumerism vs Generosity

I was struck again by a sermon at my church.  It was on Matthew 6:22-23 and was entitled “The Dark Side of Unchecked Ambition.”

Matthew 6:22-23On it’s own, Matthew 6:22-23 is kind of an odd little Bible verse:  “the eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!.”  In actuality, it’s a powerful statement on the importance of generosity.  The original Greek would lead to a translation much closer to substituting the word generous for health.  In other words, you could read Matthew 6:22-23 as “The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is generous, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is not generous, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  Honestly, that’s still a little confusing!

Another way to understand Matthew 6:22-23 is to read it in context:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, If your eye is healthy,your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is unhealthy (bad),your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
In plain English, this Bible verse is telling me that I cannot surround myself with stuff. The love of stuff and the hoarding of it prevents truly free generosity and gets in the way of serving God.  We are blessed by what we give away.
For me, on the surface this is really a challenge!  I know that I’ve talked many times about it, but I really enjoy shopping.  I also really like the idea of having wealth.  Yet, this Bible verse would tell me to recognize when I have enough and to generously give above and beyond that.  In fact, I need to get beyond even concentrating on having enough.  It’s not about “having” at all.  I need to concentrate on God and His Will.
Really, Matthew 6:22-23 is a difficult set of verses for me.  I need to escape consumerism and concentrate on God.  The Keller Family has so many blessings, but to really understand and serve God, we need to  share those blessings.
I’ll be writing a blog post tonight on my most recent Stitch Fix subscription. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have kept a single thing.  The clothes are a waste; I don’t need a single item.  Now, there is one of them that I just love, but now I’m torn.  This Bible verse would tell me to quit obsessing, suspend my subscription (already done, actually), and donate my extra items to women in need.  Even just thinking about all of these consumer items is just such a waste!  I have to quit defining myself in terms of stuff and instead define myself in terms of memories, experiences, and my own actions.  It’s important for my own salvation, and it’s important for the salvation of my children.  After all, I’m setting an example every day for BK and MK.

MK the Bee Slayer

She’s brave!  She’s tough!  She’s MK the Bee Slayer!  Hmmm — or something like that…bee slayer

Friday marked just our second after-hours family medical concern.  MK was stung by a bee while at daycare.  It occurred towards the end of the day so they put ice on it and snuggled her, which is exactly what I would have had them do.  They also called me and informed me that her hand had become quite swollen.  This caused me to call Mr. Keller in order to be sure that he would be picking BK and MK up from daycare soon.  He was and so I prepared to head home from work, too.

I wasn’t quite prepared for how swollen her little left hand was!  The poor girl looked as though she had sausages for fingers!  She was uncomplaining, though.  She simply told me that a bee had stung her, and her hand felt very tight.

bee slayer

Her left hand would end up quite a bit more swollen than this!

Because of the swelling, I called the after hours number for MK’s pediatrician.  Can you believe that they had to call me back!?  Her pediatrician is part of Unity Point, and, apparently, their call center serves more as a way to send calls to the appropriate state.  So, I called, told the nurse what was going on, and then she told me that she was not located in Illinois so would need to have someone in Illinois call me back!  I’m just glad that MK wasn’t suffering from something a little bit more serious!

Just a few minutes later, the Illinois nurse called me.  I went through the whole story again, and then she directed me to the nearest prompt care clinic.  We should have just headed there rather then spend all that time on the telephone!

During the entire telephone process, BK was pretty excited.  He was absolutely convinced that the nurse was going to send an ambulance for his little sister, and he couldn’t imagine anything cooler than riding in an ambulance.  Me, on the other hand and being the mama, I’m hoping that no one in my family ever has to ride in an ambulance!

Once at the prompt care, MK charmed all the people.  She told the nurse practitioner that MK had been “bit” by the bee.  She laid out the whole story:  she was minding her own business, eating her Popsicle when a bee landed on her!  She didn’t want it to get her Popsicle, so she grabbed the bee to throw it off of herself.  Of course, that’s when it “bit” her.  She declared that the bee was not very nice!  The story, as MK told it, was absolutely adorable, and we are very grateful for the time the nurse practitioner took with MK.

MK, we were told, would be fine!  Of course, we didn’t doubt this, but we were relieved to hear that no medication was needed.  It seems that a bee allergy may be in the cards for us, but without another similar reaction, it was hard to tell for sure.  It may be that MK was simply “bit” in a sensitive place, or perhaps multiple times.

MK the bee slayer was not only brave, she was impressive!  Not once did I see her cry.  She even barely admitted to any pain, but, as swollen as her hand was, it must have been throbbing.  There were even a few red streaks through it.  Her brother, BK, could hardly even look at it (he can be a little melodramatic).

MK, our little bee slayer, is now as good as new!  The swelling went down over the weekend until Tuesday when it was basically gone.  We are so thankful that our little bee slayer is as good as new.

Words Hurt

This past weekend, I was reminded of just how much words hurt–even when they weren’t intended to be hurtful.words hurt

We had gathered with some of Mr. Keller’s family at his grandparent’s home to enjoy an evening with family along with some pizza.  Mr. Keller, the Keller Kids, and I really enjoy these evenings.  It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Keller Kids to interact with their grandparents and great-grandparents as well as a chance for them to play with their cousins.  Mr. Keller and I also love to catch up with his family, and I love that I don’t have to cook!

It was just after we had finished our dessert that I was reminded how much words hurt. We were discussing how St. Mary’s Church had sponsored a beer and wine tent at our local carnival when someone at the table said she had “never met a good Catholic.”  I was a little shocked and stunned given that everyone at the table knew that I was born and raised Catholic so I responded, “hey, that’s my whole family.”  Mr. Keller’s mom and grandmother were also quick to chime in that they each knew good Catholics; however, the other person simply responded that she “was sticking with what [she] had said.”  At that point, I was so hurt and shocked that all I could say, in a small voice, was “that’s not very nice.”

Truly, I was so hurt that I could barely breathe.  I very rarely worry about the opinions of others so when someone says something negative about me, it almost never bothers me, but this–this was directed at my entire extended family.  People I’ve known from birth who have done absolutely nothing to deserve to be damned by someone who barely–if at all–knew them.

I had to leave.  Normally, Mr. Keller and I stay at these Sunday evening gatherings until it’s pretty late, but I just couldn’t do it.  I started putting away our dirty plates and utensils and folding up chairs in absolute silence.  Then, I looked at Mr. Keller and said, quietly, “We need to leave.  I have to leave.”  He could tell that I was upset and agreed.  Normally, I have to drag Mr. Keller away from social opportunities, but not that night.

On the way home, I realized that the person who had upset me may not have realized how truly hurtful her statement was.  I texted her, letting her know that her statement had been very hurtful and not very Christian-like.  After some dialog back and forth, she responded that I was simply making this into too big of a deal; perhaps I was.  It’s entirely likely that her initial statement was not meant to hurt anyone at the table, and, perhaps, it wasn’t meant to hurt anyone at all, but her refusal to back down from saying it is what had truly upset me.

Honestly, at this point, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that this interaction was a learning experience and reminder for me.  Words hurt.  Whether they are said in a heated argument, offhand, or directly at someone, words hurt.

It’s a reminder to me of how easy it is to say something that hurts another person without ever.having intended to hurt them.  I know that I’ve said many many things the wrong way.  I know that I’ve hurt people without ever intending to do so, and I know that I’ve reacted the same way that the person who hurt me did.  That is, I responded in a way that belittled the other person’s feelings.  This interaction last Sunday has served to  remind me that whether I intended to or not, if I hurt another person’s feelings with my words, I owe them an apology.  No one deserves to feel as helplessly hurt and angry as I did that night, and I hope to never make someone feel that way again.

Words HurtI think about how much words can hurt when I think about my interactions with my children, too.  Just one or two badly worded sentences, and I could really bruise my children’s feelings.  They don’t deserve that.  Just as importantly, it’s my job to provide the Keller Kids with a good example on how to treat others; I need to be sure that’s what I’m doing.  This really served as a wake up call for me!

Every interaction–whether it’s a positive or a negative interaction–with another person is an opportunity to learn.  I was reminded of just how much words hurt, and, though I could wish the reminder hadn’t happened, I’m thankful for the opportunity to correct my own actions going forward.  I pray that I remember this lesson and that I truly grow into a better person.

Wrong Woman

I have a confession:  I think Mr. Keller married the wrong woman!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve probably realized by now that Mr. Keller enjoys agriculture.  He likes driving tractors, working on them, planting and harvesting our farm, baling hay, and taking care of the cows  I enjoy domestic hobbies like cooking, baking, reading, and gardening, and in spite of growing up on another little mini farm, I have absolutely no experience in driving tractors–not even rider lawn mowers.

Wrong Woman

Chad running the baler

In spite of my lack of agricultural interest, I found myself driving a tractor this past week.  Not only was I driving a tractor, I was running the baler and pulling the hay rack that Mr. Keller and the kids were on.  Me!  Running the baler!

For the first thirty minutes or so as I drove the tractor through the field, all I could think is that clearly Mr. Keller either married the wrong woman or he needs to make more friends who can help him!  After that point, I reminded myself that Mr. Keller needed my help, and I could do this.

wrong woman

It’s a family affair

We got the baling done, and I even felt proud to have assisted.  I’m nottelling anyone where the field is that we baled, though, because if you checked, you’ll find a lot of hay on the ground yet.  It turns out that I’m not very good at turns!  Mr. Keller had me completely worried.  He told me before we started that I had to take wide turns (whatever that means when you’re pulling a baler and a hay rack!) in order to avoid harming the PTO shaft.  I took wide turns, but I left about half of each line of hay whenever I turned.  Regardless, we still baled more than 100 bales that night!  Not bad for my first time.

I’m not really the wrong woman for Mr. Keller.  I just have to expand my skillset.  I’m sure I can handle it–at least until BK is old enough to drive the tractor on his own!  Marriage is all about being one another’s helpmates.  It sometimes means going out of one’s comfort zone, and I certainly did that!

wrong woman

BK looking down the field

Preschool Graduation

Watch out, Kindergarten, BK is on his way!  Last week, we attended BK’s preschool graduation.

Preschool Graduation

BK with his teachers

The ceremony itself was on a Wednesday afternoon.  It lasted all of about 10 minutes, and in the grand scheme of things, isn’t really that important, but for that little boy on that Wednesday afternoon, it meant the world.

BK really worked hard for his preschool graduation.  In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, he practiced the songs they would sing (adorable, btw!!) and the motions that came with the songs.  He learned his place in the procession, and he solemnly took in the order of events.

The ceremony itself was really great.  As I said, it was only about 10 minutes, but they sure packed a lot of cuteness in those 10 minutes.  They processed in, sang songs, received their diplomas, and then sang again for us.  The kids were even wearing little graduation gowns and hats!Preschool Graduation

Prior to practicing for graduation, he focused very strongly this past year on learning the basics for Kindergarten.  “Going to the big school” next year is really important to him, and he’s proud of what he has accomplished.

As his mommy, I’m proud, too.  I’ve watched his coloring evolve.  It’s gone from scribbles to carefully planned out master pieces.  BK loves to write letters as we spell words for him, and he has an amazing grasp of shapes and colors.  I kid you not, the boy even knows color combinations (for example, blue and red make purple).  Academically, he could not be more prepared for Kindergarten.  He even very nearly aced his Kindergarten screening, scoring a 36 out of 39 while a score of just 31 is the goal.Preschool Graduation

BK’s preschool class was small as only 6 graduated with him.  I know of only 1 of those that will be attending BK’s same “big school,” and this both disappoints me and scares me.  He’s so prepared academically, but I worry about him socially.  That’s been part of the reason we signed him up for soccer and tball; we want him to have every opportunity to make friends.  I would imagine that most parents have these worries when their children enter new situations, but I sure do wish that I had a crystal ball so that I can reassure myself that all will be fine!  Ooh, Mom worries!

BK will do really well in Kindergarten.  He’s looking forward to riding the bus, and he loves that he’ll be going to the “big school.”  We will continue to support and foster that adventurous spirit and excitement!