Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with just our family.  This is really different from our normal celebration with neighbors and friends.  Fat Tuesday is usually a production at our house.  This year it followed too closely after two birthdays, Valentine's Day and a five days of travel over President's Day weekend.  I decided it was better to remain sane and enjoy the day rather than pack in one more thing.
Family Fun magazine supplied me with some delicious recipes for the day. 
King Cake
Big Easy Shrimp Etouffee
We finished dinner off with chocolate fondue, strawberries, marshmallows and bananas.

In preparation for Lent I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to focus on during this season of sacrifice.  My husband commented a few weeks ago that my temper is quicker now than it has been in the past.  My first response to his observation was, predictably, anger and denial.  That was quickly followed by the thought that because he's around more often, this is the first time in two years that he really has any idea how I feel on a daily basis.  I know, that's still a pretty angry response.

After some thought, I realized that irritation has become a default emotion.  Really, it seems easier to be irritated than to really deal with the sources of irritation.  I'm not happy with several areas in my life.   The source of my dissatisfaction can be traced to a lack of discipline.  But really, who likes discipline?  I want to exercise daily, eat well, take care of my loved ones, grow closer to God, live the perfect life, without effort.  I don't want to work at it, plan it or force myself to do it.

Of course, you can see the problem.  Even in my irritation, I understand that my expectations are unrealistic.  Taking care of a family of six requires planning and intention.  Having daily time for activities that I consider a priority requires discipline.  Sometimes things do just happen but if a thing is to happen regularly, it must be planned regularly.

This Lenten season, my focus is on sacrificing selfishness.  I'm going to give up irritation as my first response.  My intention is that over the next forty days I will develop some habits that make me less irritated and more grounded.  I intend to catch up on my Bible study.  I intend to participate in some kind of physical activity five days a week.  I intend to write each day.  All of these activities appear to be all about me.  What I've discovered is that if I take care of these things, I feel more accomplished and satisfied.  As a result, I'm able to roll with the events of the day. 

For Lent this year I'm going to take better care of myself so that I can take better care of others.  I want this season of Lent to represent the sacrifice of irritation and an increase of joy.  Check back with me in forty days and I'll let you know how it goes.

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