The gift of change

By Ryann Kuykendall

The beginning of the year is a common time to want to make a change. I will admit that I am working on becoming into a more patient driver. While watching the 2008 presidential hopefuls debate and give speeches, change is a definite theme.

My first role model of change was Jesus. It goes without saying how Jesus changed the world. My parents taught me to look to Jesus for strength and knowledge of how to love. My most memorable lesson took place sitting in the old farm truck with my mom when I told her that I wished I wasn’t expected to do so much. I didn’t want to do my chores. She was not impressed. My mom told me the parable of the silver pieces from Matthew 25:14-30. My understanding of the story was that I was given many gifts and I am expected to take them and change them into reflections of God. This is my favorite parable and inspires me when I feel like being lazy.

So how can we use our gifts and our chores to change the world here in Kansas City? In my home we are beginning by trying to be more environmentally aware. Recycling is second nature because of the blue bins we can sit at our curb each week. As a mother this is a great way to teach our two children what a positive difference they can make. According to the Kansas City Public Works in 2006, KC Recycles collected approximately 19,000 tons of material. Things that can not be put in the blue bin are driven to the local recycling center. We reuse clean aluminum foil. We bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store. My witty husband likes to tease me that we are saving the world one plastic bag at a time. As our old traditional light bulbs burn out, we replace them with the newer energy compact fluorescent light bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emission of more than 800,000 cars. My husband and I force our children out of the shower after a few minutes instead of letting them fill the tub to their delight. We have insulated our home as best we are able. We use cleaning products and beauty products that are environmentally-friendly. We buy locally when possible and mulch what we are able. An added bonus to all of this is that these changes actually save us money too.

Really these changes we have made are not that amazing, but I like to think that they are making this wonderful world a little better. The next thing I would like to do is to set up a rain barrel. I tried to do this as a pre-teen after reading The Clan of the Cave Bear because the heroine washed her hair with river water and rain water was the closest thing to me. I failed the experiment and ended up being the butt of many (additional) jokes from my older brothers. Now older I would like to use the fresh and clean water for my garden and take advantage of water that would otherwise go in my street gutters. Annually Kansas City receives an average of 35.5” rainfall per year. As much as 600 to 1,000 gallons of water can be received from an inch of rainfall. That is pretty cool.

The 11-year-old version of me whining in the truck didn’t want to do my chores. Now raising a family and being a part of a marriage, family and community, I admit I still whine about what must be done. It is hard to see the chance to change the world by doing a pile of dirty laundry, however the chores we do can be done with an awareness of the gifts we have been given so lovingly.

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