Wants, Needs and What I can Afford

Wants, Needs and What I can Afford kktaliaferro.wordpress.com #DailyGraces #Lent
Image by Kjersti Brennsæter via Pixabay. Text added by Kate Taliaferro 2016.

As John is getting older, he’s 4 and a half now, he is starting to figure out just how to ask for things. I’ve found myself having to correct him a few times a day, saying “John, you don’t need to have that race car/cookie/blanket/etc., you want it. We don’t ask for things that way, can you please try again.” With Lent starting tomorrow – yikes!, all this talk about needs and wants has me thinking – What do I want vs. What do I need, especially when it comes to how I spend my time while the kids are sleeping or napping – my “me” time.

Let’s start with the “Wants” list, because it has all the fun stuff on it =)

Want to:

  • Knit/crochet/craft – I just taught myself how to knit and have thrown myself into a project. I also have sitting in the wings a crochet project, 2 cross stitch projects and a new chaplet project for my moms group/bible study.
  • Write – I’ve got all these ideas for blog posts and lengthier ideas that need development, evolution and most importantly, time to hash out. I’m discerning if God is calling me to a bigger writing project, more articles, etc. All I want to do is write.
  • Read – I am in the middle of 3 books right now. Yes, 3. And I just volunteered to read a 4th and write a review of it that has to be posted during Lent (not sure I got this gig yet, more to come, maybe God will take care of my craziness for me because let’s face it, that may not have been my best impulsive move of the day).
  • Go to Mass daily

Now the Needs:

  • Pray daily – in a calm, collected, designated time that isn’t while I’m talking to all 3 kids at once.
  • To go to confession, even though I don’t particularly enjoy it (because I don’t do it often enough. I know that if I dedicated myself to the habit, my attitude would change.)
  • Clean the house, at least minimally, to maintain my sanity.

Breaking down the lists between wants and needs threw into sharp perspective the difference between the two. For my survival, sanity and overall physical and spiritual health, there are things on my needs list that no amount of the wants can fulfill. I could spend every available moment knitting, but it won’t repair my relationship with God. I can read many books, fiction or spiritual, but unless I talk about my day, my experiences, my trials, and even those books with God, I won’t deepen my relationship with Him. And, no amount of griping, complaining or avoidance will clean the bathroom or vacuum the floors.

Think about it like this: in the Bible, God asks for sacrifices that are of the first-fruits, the cream of the crop, the unblemished lamb. The Israelites were to give to God first, then to themselves. In this way, God’s blessings would return to them 10-fold because by offering their best to God, it returned to them increased. Today, we can think about it by considering what we give to support our churches, charitable organizations and other worthy causes. A true biblical tithe is 10% – before taxes. Give to God, then give to Caesar. It is interesting to take a hard look at your finances and see where your money goes, especially percentage-wise. Take that lesson and look at your day. Are you giving God the first-fruits of your time, or is He getting what’s leftover? This is tough friends, and I am as guilty as anyone of giving to God what’s left, instead of what is first.

As Lent starts, I am going to be taking an honest look at how I am spending my time, making sure to prioritize my needs over my wants. I need God to come first, to prioritize my relationship with Him before anything else. For me, this means that before doing anything else during naptime, I will prioritize my God time. I expect most days I will still have time for my wants and hopefully, they will bring me even greater pleasure because I have taken care of my needs first.

 

Be a Good Past Self

kktaliaferro.wordpress.com. Lenten Resolutions, Be a Good Past Self #DailyGraces
My husband has a funny habit of talking about himself in 3 versions: Past Self, Present Self and Future Self. He will have a dilemma, a project or task that Present Self does not want to deal with but he knows he will have to do eventually. There is a choice, do the task and move on, or, let Future Self deal with it. Then, when Present Self catches up with Future Self and the task cannot be put off any longer, something like “Past Self sure is a jerk sometimes” will be uttered before he gets to work.

I love these little debates and have actually started having them myself sometimes. As I was reflecting on what to do for Lent this year (yes, I’m sorry to bring up the fact that Lent is already coming! It seems like it came too quickly this year, probably because we’ve been practicing Lent songs in choir for what feels like weeks now), I kept thinking about this whole Past Self/Future Self quandary.

We all have things we don’t particularly enjoy doing. Maybe for you it’s cooking breakfast. Maybe for someone else it’s folding laundry. Maybe for someone else it’s cleaning the bathroom (I’ll raise my hand for that one). Maybe for someone else it’s mowing the lawn or taking out the trash. Whatever your something is, you know you’ve got it.

Now imagine (or maybe just reflect on reality depending on the task – I’ll probably be doing that for this exercise) what the task in question would be like if you put it off for a week. You did nothing to help yourself out, you didn’t do a little piece at a time. Maybe you felt you didn’t have time, maybe you chose not to make time. How much more difficult is your task going to be and how much longer is it going to take because you have avoided it entirely? Your job will most likely take longer, be more difficult, and you are more likely to do it with a grimace on your face.

Now, imagine a different scenario. Let’s say your unpleasant task is doing the dishes. Rather than letting them pile up throughout the day you explore an alternative option. When you wake up, you immediately unload the dishwasher (yes, you can get your coffee going first). Then, after breakfast, your dishes immediately go in the already emptied dishwasher. Your kids want a snack a while later. No problem, especially if you ask them to bring their dishes to the counter or if they are big enough, to put them in the dishwasher themselves. No dishes on the table and none in the sink and it’s already lunch time! Continue the trend. Most importantly, you clean up as you go with as you make dinner. Dirty a spoon? Straight into the dishwasher. Finished with a pan? You’ve got a bowl of hot soapy water waiting in the sink. Evening comes and your dishes are basically done, maybe just a few ice cream bowls to celebrate a dishes day well spent. You were a good Past Self, so Future Self gets to relax and enjoy her Downton Abbey and not have to scrub the living daylights off the crusty oatmeal bowls from breakfast.

Most of life works like this. We can do a little at a time, or let things pile up. Personally, the higher the pile, the less likely I’m going to do it (kind of like the pile of laundry I’m presently avoiding because, sometimes, my Past Self is a jerk too).

So, Lent this year: Be a good Past Self. Hopefully it will mean I ultimately have more time for prayer and I will do my tasks with a happier disposition.

Mise en place

Mise en place is French for “putting in place” (thank you Wikipedia). It is a phrase used in the culinary world, typically referring to the preparation and organization of ingredients. When I am cooking, I always feel so much better when I take the time to prep – to mise en place – my ingredients.

Just this past week we celebrated both my baby girl Clare’s first birthday, which also happens to be her great-grandmother’s birthday. We were enormously blessed to have Grammie, as we are fondly calling Ben’s grandma, visit us and to be here for their birthdays. Typically for birthdays we let the birthday person pick the dinner. Since Clare is only 1, we decided Grammie might make a better dinner choice. She asked for something Italian, which is great for me and my cooking comfort zone. I’m not sure what I would have done if she had said, “You know, I’d love some Thai food.” I’d like to think I would have figured something out, but it probably would have kept me up all night wondering if I could pull it off.

The saved frozen batch - I was so excited to eat I forgot to take a picture of the final product! So just imagine the cheese is ooey-gooey and everything is hot and baked
The saved frozen batch – I was so excited to eat I forgot to take a picture of the final product! So just imagine the cheese is ooey-gooey and everything is hot and baked

Anyway, long story short, I decided to make stuffed shells. Basically, think lasagna but instead of layers like a cake, the ricotta cheese and sausage/ground beef mix is stuffed into a jumbo noodle shell and then baked in a marinara sauce and covered in more cheese – delicious! But, very time consuming if you don’t plan and mise en place well. Thank goodness for Grammie who is so helpful in the kitchen.

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