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My Little House Without the Prairie Still Has Room To Grow

by Maria Peceli

Oh, I imagine those days of Laura and her family out on the prairie. The vast expanse of space and the loneliness they felt, their reliance on God, land and one another and the closeness they felt to one another. In reading Laura's books, we learn they measured success by introspection, growing in virtue and love for one another.

Today, our culture measures success very differently. We deflect our true self worth into ownership of a big house without a prairie, much less a decent-sized backyard. Our prairie is full of empty houses owned by people who have to work all day to pay for them. Well, our little house on a little lot is a little house without the prairie. It serves to alert me to the empty space within.

When we first moved to our little home, there were two of us - well, really three as we were seven months pregnant with our first miracle. A year after she was born, our second miracle arrived. Twenty one months later came our third miracle and thirteen months after her birth, our fourth miracle arrived.

For the first couple of years, after all of the births, the lack of space didn't trouble me, but lately, I find myself feeling claustrophobic, stifled, if you will. I do have a little house and a little yard - but by international standards, I am a wealthy woman - with indoor plumbing, central heat and air conditioning. So why am I having such trouble being grateful?

Could it be because somewhere along the line I adopted America's false measure of success? Could it be I saw value in myself in how much money we had or what I owned. Has I forgotten that I had value as that naked, possessionless, little baby who came into the world 35 years ago merely because God thought of me? Could it be that if I had what society deems successful I would be led into the temptation to feel superior to others?

The answer to all of those questions is yes.

But here is where Christianity's message is full of hope . . . I can change.

For one, I can say, "Thank you," to God for giving me the gift of seeing my emptiness. Secondly, I can say, "Thank you," because God can fill that emptiness into a cup that overfloweth - not with material things, per se, but with Him - so that I might constantly rest in the knowledge that I am His and I have worth, simply because He made me.

And lastly, I can look at my husband, this man who loves such a flawed creature and I can look at the four, awesome children that we share, and I can say, "Thank you."

Really, when all the layers of false self-worth are peeled away and I can sip my tea and dwell in my little house without the prairie, I can be thankful for what I have. Because, despite the lack of physical space, there's always room to grow.

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