Gripe Jar Wrap Up

Well I’m a tad late on my Operation Gripe Jar summary but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a life changing experiment in minding my tongue.  It does mean that it’s been an insane week and our life was nearly consumed with my husband’s golf tournament at work, their big fundraising push for the year.

So now that it’s over our family is collectively trying to take a deep breathe and enjoy the end of 65 hour work weeks for a while.

So back to the Gripe Jar, I’ve spent the last week paying careful attention to the words that come out of my mouth and making an effort not to complain.  Something I should have been doing all along.  Each time I complained I had to put a penny in the jar, and I wrote down my gripes and what was going on with me that caused me to complain.

After the first few hours I was able to stop a good portion of my griping, whiney behavior.   However, I soon realized that just because I had stopped complaing with my mouth doesn’t mean that I wasn’t griping on the inside. (If complaining in my thought life counted the jar would be buried in pennies)  The inner griping is an indication of a much bigger problem.  I can be mindful to monitor my words and use discipline to control what I say, but it’s a lot more difficult to get a grip on your thought life, it’s easy to let your mind run away with you.

I’m coming to realize that all the inner discontent means that inside I’m not nearly as grateful and trusting as I’d like to be and that a week of pennies in a jar is only the beginning of this journey.  There will be days and years of willingly counting gifts and laying down my worries and discontent at the feet of my Father.

So, how many pennies made their way into the jar?  The official count is 53, but it was hard to track things since the kids seemed bound and determined to steal my jar and scribble on my gripe paper.

Here’s a breakdown of some of my recorded gripes, I’ve sorted them into categories.

1)  First World Problems– In this category fell gripes about not having a certain kind of food, slow internet, and the city turning our water off for maintenance.  All irritating things, but when I stopped to think about it they were rooted in a sense of entitlement that supposed that I needed all of these things to get by and be happy, which I don’t.  Most people on earth don’t have access to endless bananas, fresh ground coffee, wifi and clean cold water.

2) People’s behavior– In this category we have my children getting up too early (5:15 one day) My husband trying a discipline I don’t approve of or the kids scattering my laundry piles all over the house.  I am learning to resign myself to the fact that for the most part I could spend my life complaining about unwanted behavior if I wanted to.  But, the better option is to work with my kids on better behavior, have more in depth conversations with Kel on parenting choices and just get over the fact that kids sleep when they want to.

3) Struggle to serve- As I posted Sunday, I am still learning to die to myself and many days I don’t really get ample time to do what I want to do.  It’s easy to gripe about this but the real truth here is that we all have to learn to love the life we have, ideal or non ideal.  If you have a serious problem loving where you are or what you do, spend some time in prayer about how you’re supposed to change this.

4) WalMart– Yes, I complain about WalMart A LOT, I don’t like it and it brings out the worst in me.  Yes it has it’s own category, I could write a month’s worth of blogs on this topic, but I digress.  What I can’t do is deny that even a low quality shopping experience is better than starving or going without so I should probably, maybe stop griping about the Hell Mart, I mean WalMart.

5) Oklahoma– We live in a rural town that isn’t always my favorite place to live.  I love the people here but the weather and lack of options accounts for a pretty big percentage of my whining.  God’s working with me on this and keeps reminding me that if I claim that this is where we are supposed to be then I should cut out Oklahoma bashing.

6) Borderline- The hard to diagnose complaints, for example I was sick during Operation Gripe Jar, so when I said something like “ow my throat hurts” was I complaining or just informing my family about my pain?

So that’s a decent summary of Operation Gripe Jar.  I truly hope that I’ve started down a path where my ears are tuned to complaining so I may become a rare source of it.

What I can’t stress enough is that if you find yourself complaining a lot what you need more than a gripe jar is a self check.  You have to diagnose what’s going on in your soul and your relationship with God that’s causing you to have such a negative attitude about what he’s entrusted you with.

The bible says that we are supposed to capture our thoughts and make sure that they line up with Jesus’ teachings.  Jesus taught about contentment, thankful obedience and serving.  So if your words and thoughts aren’t lining up with that, then what you and I really have is a heart, relationship with God type issue, so ….ouch eh?

It’s been convicting and with my gripe jar, bible and Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 gifts I think I have a shot at this gratitude and joy business in the long run.


Choosing Joy 2-19-12

I’m still wandering through Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts and I have started using her nifty app to count the gifts I see in my own life.  I am trying to do 1000 this year, but as is always the case with my bible reading plans and devotional guides etc, I’m a bit behind.  Typically I let this make me feel bad, but I’m just going to keep counting gifts, reading on and breathing deep.

I love the concept of choosing joy no matter where life takes you, because attitude is a choice.  And its one that effects the day of everyone you interact with.  So on Sundays I like to sit and write about some of the ways that I managed, by the grace of God, to find and choose joy this week.

In Pictures:

These are taken from my flikr photo stream, which I use via Ann Voskamps 1000 gifts app on my iPhone.  Hopefully before 2012 comes to a close I’ll be counting gift #1000+

Gift #40- This year, inspired by our friends Andy and Katie, we celebrated ValenTOMS day on valentines day.  1) because we needed new shoes and 2) we like this company.  TOMS shoes are perfect for us because they slip on, work well in the Oklahoma climate 80% of the year and make us look hipper than we really are.  Win Win Win.

Gift #41- Is there anything that makes a gal happier than a fridge full of useful, delicious and healthy food?!  With Berries on sale in February?!  I mean diamonds are great but they don’t help me when both kids are screaming for a post-nap snack, but blueberries and string cheese do.  This right here, this is a gift.

Gift #44- Last night as we unwound in bed Kel filled me in on the Joshua Bell Washington Post Experiment, click the link if you need to be filled in too.  The whole idea behind this is that we walk by immaculate beauty all the time and are too busy to see it.  That concept caused me to hop outside barefoot this morning to snap this photo of the sun rising over our neighbor’s farm and the light shone like a prism through our glass front door.

On the Blog (in case you missed it)

The most popular posts this week were 5 valentines tips for imperfect marriages, like mine and The Coldest March, the loss of my Dad.

This week was the biggest week I’ve had on my blog yet and I am so thankful to all of you who commented and shared my story, please continue to do so anytime God speaks to you through this space.  

In Food:

Kel made us the pioneer woman’s pork tenderloin on Thursday night and it melted in our mouths.  There are still 4 slices leftover, and I think we may have a rock, paper scissors duel for them at lunch.  I’m going Rock but don’t tell Kel.

Jessica Seinfeld’s Banana Peanut Butter muffins as found in Deceptively Delicious.  I always have what I need in the house to make them, and this week it was one of our 2 yr old’s first baking experiences.  She got to enjoy something she made herself and I didn’t have to cook breakfast this morning, special stuff right there.

In Books

I feel like there is so often a pull to read only non fiction, and for almost my entire 20s I adhered to this mantra.  I purchased Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne and to be honest, I didn’t always read them all the way through.  I learned that I need to layer fiction and non fiction to make reading work for me.  Fiction is like a treat and it helps me be a better thinker, mother and writer.  It’s an escape from my daily life into someone else’s and sometimes it has a more positive effect on me than non fiction.

Currently I’m enjoying The Island by Elin Hilderbrand and it’s a good, easy read that lets you in on some family drama set on a tiny New England Island.  A Perfect bath tub read, which is exactly what I did for over an hour last night.

On Screens:

This week I enjoyed a little Grey’s Anatomy, the Movie Crazy, Stupid Love, and The Big Bang Theory of course.  I still have yet to start Downton Abbey (ack!), but honestly the thing I enjoyed most was this ridiculously fun you tube video about a guy singing his order at sonic.  More songs should include lyrics about Cheese Tots.

I pray that this week, you become a bit more talented at choosing joy and counting gifts in your own life.