Generation Cedar

“I wake up every day with a simple choice to make….give back my life in thankfulness, or with complaining take.” ~Kelly Crawford

I got mad at my computer today because it was too slow, froze up and generally acted like it wasn’t my friend.  Mad. At my computer.

The machine that lets me tell a friend who lives on the other side of the world a piece of information in under 12 seconds;  a few hundred years ago it would be weeks (and some serious effort) to send a message to a neighboring state.

This machine that gives me any information I want in a matter of seconds.  I remember a time where one needed to drive, in a car, to the library, to read about something, look up a phone number in one of those paper phone books, or go to a music store to buy a song they wanted.

Isn’t it interesting how our entitlement mentality increases in direct proportion to how many privileges we have in life?

When my dish washer broke I felt sorry for myself even though I have hot and cold water at the turn of a knob.  No buckets to carry, no cold weather to brave, no fire to build, no waiting on water to heat.

“We need another cell phone!” Do you remember the time when you had to actually stand beside your phone and dial the numbers and then you were chained to that spot?  I even remember picking up my grandmother’s phone as a little girl and there were other people talking–yes, A PARTY LINE!  People actually  had to share the same phone and they still thought it was wonderful to be able to speak through wires.

Do you remember when you had to use a payphone to call home if you were out?  I still do, just for the record.  (Do you want to see something funny?  Walk into a gas station or store and say, “May I borrow your phone?” The looks are priceless.)

I thought technology was supposed to enhance life?  Could it be that we are less grateful than ever?

In reality, we should walk into a room, flip on the light switch and say, “Whoa!  Do you see that?

We should be utterly thrilled to jump in our vehicle when we need to go somewhere, no matter how old it is, or how ugly.  Shouldn’t we?

There are still people all over the world who would marvel at the ease of our lives and marvel more at our lack of gratitude.

“Lord, make me grateful!!!”

And our modern conveniences, by the way, are the least of things for which we should be grateful.  I want to train my heart and mind to keep a running tab of the gifts in my life so that my gratitude would pour back out as a gift in return.

I think today I’ll stand in front of my freezer and marvel at the ice.

Would our days look different if we walked through them with new eyes?

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39 Responses

  1. Ha! There was an old episode of Bewitched when I was little and George and Martha Washington got brought to modern times. They were marvelling over everything. I was thinking about that the other day while I was cutting up stuff for supper and thinking it was sure taking a long time to cook. Yes, in my home, with running water, electricity, dishes, food, etc. Puhleeze. I was thinking about the pilgrim women who braved those first years in America and how hard they must have worked. What would they think of my kitchen? It really does give perspective.

  2. It is amazing indeed that (in general) the more we have the more ungrateful, unthankful and unhappy we are. And to think we read “having food and raiment, be content” and shake our heads and echo amens.

    Thanks for stepping on our toes with this terrific reminder this Thanksgiving Eve.

  3. I LOVE this post! I can’t believe people yell at their microwave to “hurry up!” I remember in a sermon I heard in my youth, the pastor told the congregation how he recently opened up his refrigerator and the ketchup fell out, smashing on the floor. He admits that he was angry at this and even swore and yelled to his wife, “Our fridge is so full, stuff’s falling out!” And then he caught him. “Our fridge is so full!” And he knew just how blessed he really was.

    My mom laundered the clothing of her family of 7 for the last 23 years without a dryer. She washed the dishes of her family of 7 for the last 23 years without a dishwasher. And yet people today believe that dishwashers and dryers are absolute necessities meriting going into debt for. I am so blessed to have a dryer (thought I still line dry a lot) but I don’t have a dishwasher.

    I have a saying that goes, “If your child is away from you enough to merit owning a cell phone, then your child is away from you too much.”

    I’m amazed at how many people deem luxeries as necessities, even myself.

    It is also evident in the boredom, outrage and mischief that occurs when the power goes out. It is evident in families who can easily live on one income, allowing mom to stay home, but because of all the extras they think are needed, they think they cannot afford it. People don’t know how to function on less.

    I’m guilty of this, too. I think most of us are in the western world. But, I will say that I thank God nearly every time I hop in the shower (in my one and only bathroom) because I know what a luxury a shower really is.

  4. We have a vintage stove that is -well – there’s no getting around it – gorgeous. But it’s also an eyeopener when preparing meals. It’s not designed for the ginormous pans we’re all used to, and you actually have to check the food once in a while. Who knew? It’s not particularly well insulated, so it’s hot in the kitchen (waaa) and I have to light the burners individually (waaa) and there is only one oven rack. ONE! (waaa waaa), so I’m forced to plan my meal prep.

    I’m the worst about stuff like that – I have a meal to plan, the means to procure and prepare it, a beautiful stove that I love and has served me well and has actually inspired some interesting family conversations – we all like to imagine the years it’s seen. The rest of it is only ingratitude. Waaa.

    1. I can relate with my little apartment sized stove! I only have one oven rack that fits only 1 cookie sheet at a time (and it is so hard to find a cookie sheet small enough to fit inside!) The burners are small and close together, so my big canning pot takes up 2 1/2 burners, barely leaving room enough to any other pot of stuff I’m working on for canning. Also, the hood is so low that it is rather precarious trying to load and unload practically molten jars of canned goods. In some ways it is troublesome. In others, I enjoy the challenge in the kitchen! Enjoy your stove!

  5. GREAT post! Loved it!

    Digital cameras too! You get to pick and choose which photographs to keep and yet people complain about how they are on the computer and how hard it is to print them up. So funny!

    This was great, I’m going to have to respost it. 🙂

  6. Kelly
    My husband and me were just talking on this subject and how its having a impact on kids today…They don’t have to wait for anything because everything is so instant for them..Kind of alarming, I think..
    Blessings, Heidi

  7. We don’t have a dryer or a dishwasher, and yet we have had people in our house (we don’t have floor coverings either…the horror haha) who think that we “have our priorities messed up because we don’t own “essential” items like a dryer or a dishwasher”. Since when is a dishwasher, a dryer or even floor coverings essential? We at least have wood floors, not dirt. People are crazy.

  8. I confess to threatening my computer’s life last night. I had to wait a whole five minutes while the anti spyware stuff updated, right in the middle of my writing “flow”. I was so mad.

    Pathetic, I know.

    You are right. We have so much to be thankful for, and we so easily fall into the trap of entitlement.

  9. Beautiful post! I agree with have so much to be thankful for but sometimes we are so use to our blessing that we don’t see it as blessing anymore!

  10. I know there are a lot of things going on in the world. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and most everyone will be saying a pray- even some non-religious people. I think everyone should pray the situation with North Korea doesn’t escalate any further following yesterday’s attack that killed several people. This is kind of off topic, but I think everyone knows someone in the military or someone that could be recalled to the military if something more serious happens.

  11. You are so right. I’ve been convicted over the past several years about how much we (as Americans, but also me as an individual) have and yet we want more and more and more and we are not satisfied with what we do have. We’ve been doing Thanksgiving stuff this week in homeschool and I read to the kids “Sarah Morton’s Day” about a day in the life of a Pilgrim girl in Plimouth Colony. Wow. I can’t imagine living back then. And then I was grumbling a little to myself that I have to clean the bathroom today. Ha! Sarah Morton didn’t even have a bathroom to clean.

    1. LOVE that book. Especially the part where she serves the parents breakfast and stands while they sit, bc she doesn’t have a chair. Excellent. I also love the part, where she says something to the effect of not wanting to be too chatty bc she can tell mother wants to be quiet. That book is a tremendous eye-opener, especially to us girls.

    2. Thanks for mentioning that book. It sounds essential for children growing up today. I will be eagerly looking for it to read to my wee ones.

  12. This reminds me of an article Randy Alcorn wrote one time. He said, “What if God took away everything you never thanked Him for?” Not that He would or that He is like that, but just prompting the idea that we have sooooo very much to be thankful for, yet we take for granted. Which often turns into feelings of entitlement. Sigh. I think Westerners are especially prone to this because we have so much. I think Americans are even more prone to this because we are so smitten with the idea of ‘rights’.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    I’ll think I’ll repost my original blog post tomorrow.
    http://gratefulforgrace.com/2009/05/mindful-monday/

    Have a grateful Thanksgiving!

  13. Some days I feel like I am the worst at this. The other day I complained about something my iPad wouldn’t let me do….um??? My husband reminded me how silly and ungrateful that sounded. I was a little embarrassed.

  14. So true! I’m fussy today because our plumbing is broken and I need a shower desperately. But it will be fixed soon and in the mean time I can walk over to the church and fix our Thanksgiving meal in a lovely kitchen there and we will get by just fine. Thanks for the reminder! I am constantly amazed at the people who come to our church looking for food and help with their utility bills who have nicer cell phones and cars than we do. I’m trying to love them where they are, but I really want to love them enough to tell them that when they have truly scaled down their expenses and really can’t afford food and electricity to come back and see me because I don’t see hardship there yet. Tough call…

  15. I like this post and all the replies. Makes me think of how sometimes I forget that I did not have to be born at this time period into the loving family I have with the education I had access to, as well as, meeting my husband because of the friends in my life that introduced us. My husband only has the job he has because God has given him a sound mind and the ability to work hard and the opportunity of employment. All of it is blessing and all of it could be taken away. I am entitled to none of it.
    We were studying the time that the railroad finally joined in Utah to make travel and providing goods coast to coast as lot faster. Then, Thomas Edison and his introduction of electricity. It ushered the U.S. into the modern world. I just think it’s so amazing that less than 150 years ago our country was not considered modern. Who would say that now?
    Last winter we ran out of propane and had no heat over Christmas. We thought we had planned well but with the sudden bitter cold we had in the South the propane company was backed up over a week. We were cold but we managed. We took showers in the barn where there was an electric(thank you, Thomas Edison) hot water heater. But, we knew it was a matter of time before we had restored heat. What about those with no hope of warmth or food until someone provides it? I realize we are one serious injury away from losing so much of the lifestyle we think we can’t live without. Praise God for what he provides today and may I always find things to be thankful for and not have an entitled attitude because I deserve nothing.

  16. I didn’t read all of the comments here, but I completely agree with your article. One thing to remember as a lot of us are raising kids, is they are watching what WE are doing. If we are ungrateful they will learn that too. If WE give them too much, they will expect to be entitled to that much. The other day I heard from an older woman in our church that they would buy their kids ONE big family gift. That would be like a Little People’s playset because it is for a variety of ages. They just had to be happy with that, and guess what? They were! I thought about trying that but to be really honest I can’t even imagine!

  17. Lovely post. I do not know if having more makes us more ungrateful, or if our ungratefulness in the face of all we have makes us come to repentance faster! Just last night I was telling my husband it was great to have the 2 ovens (which I prayed for) but they were both smaller than a regular stove oven (really, not by much). I just now realized I was despising/complaining about how the Lord had chosen to answer my prayer. I am so grateful for His grace and His mercy. As He washes over me now (I believe He is happy I realized this with His help), I am in awe of His greatness and how God chooses to love us.
    Everyone from India to Africa to Mexico to America has so much to be thankful for. And me all the more!

  18. My dishwasher began to leak too badly so I had to retire it too 🙁 But then, I discovered it was a good thing. My girls are learning how to wash dishes… an important job that I did not have them doing because I loaded a dishwasher instead. And then I discovered that as long as I have this broken dishwasher in my kitchen, it works swell as a drying rack and I love that I can shut the door and hide the dishes until the kiddos can put them away.
    I think it is true that when we have more we (tend to) come to expect more. It is a shame. Looking back on a lot of O.T. history, it doesn’t seem to be a new problem for people though. We can strive to be better aware of what we have and make a point to express gratitude.

  19. I too love this post and the replies.

    This has made me think- when Jesus said that it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom, I’ve always thought Jesus was talking about Mr. Moneybags in his mansion up the street you know? However, this post has highlighted for me that, with a global perspective, we in the West are the rich.

  20. Hi Kelly!
    Timely words for me to hear! Joy @ thestayathomemissionary.com posted a video that I think you would enjoy. It is called paradigm shift and I am sure you can find it on youtube. Check it out.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
    Sarah Lownsbery

  21. So true. We went to El Salvador this summer and it was quite the experience. Gratefulness is a choice no matter what conveniences we have or have not.

    Happy Thanksgiving Kelly. Thank you for all you do for us through this blog. God’s blessings on you and your family.

  22. Yes I can’t imagine how pioneer women made it, but then again all they had to do was “make it” Now we have so many petty things to do like shuffling our kids from activity to activity and volunteering on a dozen different committees.

    I think the pioneer women had it easier sometimes because they prioritized. Washing dishes, making food, washing clothes etc was the goal of the day and everything centered around that..housekeeping and educating. So when i become frustrated with my life/house I start to think what is unnecessary.

    Women actually had a wash day….where the whole day centered around laundry. Now we throw our laundry in a really nice efficient washing machine but instead of it actually lessening our work load it increased it. Because now that we have an easier way to wash clothes we just go out and buy more. Our wardrobes today are a lot bigger than ever before. Sure now we have families that own two cars, but we didn’t cut our workload shorter there either, we just do more errands.

    Now we don’t have to med our clothes and alter them to fit as our children grow. But now we just come up with a bunch of different crafts to do because we have that emptiness from not being creative and utilizing our hands. So we scrapbook…

  23. Our Congolese friend grew up with opportunities that many poorer kids in the country did not, but even he washed his clothes by hand and ate small amounts of simple food. His life sounds like it was much, much simpler. When he first came here to the States, our clothes washing machine and dishwasher amazed him. His reactions made me look around my home with gratitude and wonder for all that we have.

  24. I may be wrong BUT i find that the more modern conveinences we have, the less we have to rely on people! also, there are fewer jobs in the culture with these modern inventions..so people stay to THEMSELVES. In the 1930s, people HAD to rely on each other..GOD created us to be in communities as well as families. (Mrs. smith was the woman next door and Mrs. Jones had the grocery store) since that is gone, we are starting to have more CLINICAL DEPRESSION and the MEDS for it. In the future, i think we are going to see young people abandoning technology for a time, similar to the AMISH, but not as drastic.

  25. Although this is about gratitude,many neighbors looked after each others kids, it was the parents who had the last word though, and people taught kids to be grateful..i’ve heard that the GREAT DEPRESSION was a blessing in disguise

  26. When i started to have the internet, it didnt matter that it was slow, as in dialup, now, its different. also, i wouldnt get an elementary school kid a cellphone because they think its abnormal when they dont have one! and become ungrateful! High schoolers are a different story to me though, and they could pay for it themselves–when teens drive, you need to keep up with them since payphones are almost nonexistant.

    1. This thread reminds me of two things:

      (1) Dishwasher. When we bought our house the kitchen appliances were old, but usable, We knew they’d need to be replaced within a few years. The dishwasher went after about 4 yrs. I was getting my hair cut before we went shopping for a new one. When the hair stylist asked me whether I was doing anything exciting that weekend, I said, “well, I guess. We need a new dishwasher and don’t have much $ to spend.” She said, “I’d be thrilled to get a new dishwasher. I’ve never had one.” OUCH! The scratch & dent model we bought is going strong 14 years later.

      (2) A former minister attended seminary in Chicago with a man from Africa with a vision of church planting and eventually starting a seminary in his home country. When they were graduating, my minister asked his classmate what he would most miss about living in the U.S. He expected him to say something like the great museums, orchestra, and zoo in Chicago, Lake Michigan (the African man lived in a land-locked country), the libraries, especially the one in the seminary, exposure to a truly multicultural city, the Chicago Cubs (he was a fan)…But his answer really surprised my minister. He said, “the ability to take a hot shower whenever I want to.”

      I remembered that the last time we had water problems and had no running water for about 3 days. But a next-door neighbor offered us showers, we had expired drinking water to flush the toilets, I got some fresh bottled water at the store, we could cool it the fridge, heat it on top of the stove or the microwave for cooking or washing up, and also had chilled water, juice and Gatorade already. O, woe was us . What terrible hardship…how much we take for granted.

      And oh my goodness, we didn’t even freeze to death during the Thanksgiving weekend two years ago, when our propane furnace died. (Of course ~45 degree temperature didn’t hurt). Pile on the clothes, stay close to the ceramic heater, and huddle up!

  27. It’s really not the amount we have, but the heart attitude; some deprive their kids and themselves of way too much thinking it will purify them, while others all too obviously, grotesquely drape their spoiled children with rich gifts, clogging their hearts just as if they were feeding them a steady diet of greasy, nasty food. Such children are monsters by the time they’re teens and go ballistic if someone else’s party is better than theirs. I have bad bouts of anxiety and unfortunately, they’re sometimes wound up in the computer. One big attack welled up tonight, with helpless frusteration spiraling into fury when this computer pulled one of its worst dragging/freezing stages; when I get mad at such things, it’s not the sense of entitlement that does it, but the knowledge that the darn thing should be working far better than this and, sometimes, the fact that I want to get to whatever it’s keeping me from (which is sometimes, I confess, some silly online discussion I shouldn’t care so much about). It’s gotten better and tonight was unusual, but the fact that anxiety exists to such a degree (and gets wrapped up in the computer) is bad. This makes me unhappy and I am trying to fight it; one of the best things to help, I find, is having a job. When I was back at my highschool once as a student-observer, I was happy, busy, and recall very briefly thinking of an online discussion with the words “Oh, who cares?” dismissing it just like that. More important things filled my time.

    What really shames me is how I once (gulp) threw a fit when our Comcast feature stopped working. Yes, you heard that. It was later at night, I had the living room finally to myself, and was looking forward to a free movie to unwind; if this thing blew, I’d have to wait another 24 hrs to have my nice new-movie-alone time. And yeah, it was a sense of entitlement I had that the darn Comcast feature should be working for me. My temper that night..I should still be eating dirt for it :S I am, luckily, someone who thanks God for many little things, as well as some unneeded-but-big things, like the access to great writings and amazing music that our computer gives me via the Internet (other than wonderful instant communication with loved ones, these are the most precious and important). I have so much to work on with my sinful temper, and so much to both work on and heal with my anxiety (which is often hand-in-hand with said temper), so I have to keep reminding myself to pray and be thankful to God. This post is perfectly timely! What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had! And how amazingly, stunningly blessed we are. Forgive me Lord, for being a tidepool-shallow sinner the way I often am. Thank you so much for your beyond-stunning Love and Generosity.

  28. Kelly,
    I love this post. I was just talking to my husband about something similar. I am starting to see a spirit in my children that I think directly relates to the amount of sheltering we do in our home. I am seeing sheltering bring about selfishness! Sin creeps in regardless of the sheltering. So, tomorrow we start fresh with gratefulness for how we live and perhaps getting out a little (more) in the world to give a little more. Lastly, I was at the Baby Conference and wish I could have met you. Any chance you will be at Love the Church? ~Kristen

  29. Going through all old posts since I had visiting family, but now booking this post. Really nice post. Thanks for the reminder of not taking our blessings for granted even something as simple as a hot/cold water out of a tap.

  30. I’m so grateful for your articles. I love reading them almost constantly. It has encouraged me alot in attaining a new job, a promotion, handling people and colleagues.

    You know, i used to be a loser in the company, and i was frequently harassed and loaded with work by my managers. Now that i’m a manager myself, i feel that i won’t want to treat my team the way i was treated. And they are grateful to me. Thanks to you and your lessons.

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