Dirt and Water

Ironically,  I have this metal, ornamental word, “SIMPLIFY,” which appropriately adorns my table every Lent.  Bear with me, I’m getting to the part where it’s ironic.  I’m sure it was a garage sale find that was meant to inspire me to do as it reads, “SIMPLIFY.” And, yes, it’s in all caps.That way, when I’m not listening to it, it sort of shouts at me from my dining room.  Does anyone else see the irony here? Okay, I will spell it out for you, in case this is the first post of mine you have read, or you have never talked to me for more than 2 minutes. I am anything but simple.  First off, I have 5 kids and second, Hello!?!,  I bought a thing, that says a word, to remind me not to buy the very things, that make my life anything BUT simple…..(I know… you are blown away by my logic… try not to be jealous.)

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There is something very “in my face” about this decorative word, SIMPLIFY, at this particular time of year.  It’s Lent right?  We are supposed to be doing without, living with less, giving more, finding Jesus in the daily stuff, remembering His sacrifice. Right?  I am, honestly, I AM doing all that stuff, but what’s so REAL about today’s post is that I have a confession to make, sometimes I AM NOT shining the reason for this season with my actions.  I know… you’re shocked.  Don’t point and shout.  It’s not nice. This one is tricky to avoid though, because when I AM NOT making Jesus the center of this season, it’s still disguised as though I AM.

Allow me to explain, my spirituality, my faith, the teachings about Christ that I pass along to my children, it should be rich, real, but also simple. Right?  But the reality is that although it should and it could, it isn’t always that way.  Often, I get so overwhelmed with how to incorporate faith into our daily family life that I overdo and make life, decidedly, “unsimple.” So what should look like family faith growing activities, turns into something altogether different.

The Lenten/Easter season is the perfect example.  I’m trying to help my children understand the journey we should take through Lent.  Sacrifice. Waiting. Glory. In my head it’s beautiful, but if I’m being real with you, it looks more like this:

It’s coming kids! Lets prepare. Give something up, no not homework, make a sacrifice, it needs to hurt, people! Take all the flowers out of the house decorations, we are in the dark days, preparing for the light, we want to visualize (it helps when I say things like this with my crazy eyes). Then comes Holy Week, and things amp up a bit. Okay we’re going to wash each others feet like Jesus, troops. Get the bowl, don’t spill, act like you have carried a pitcher of water before. I don’t care if they stink! Stop splashing all over the place! Nooo don’t drink the foot water.  Just stop and everyone listen. LISTEN to me RIGHT NOW (insert clenched teeth), and don’t hit your brother while we’re talking about Jesus!  How about some resurrection rolls? No, don’t lick the top of the cinnamon container and you can’t just eat butter. Oh (word I shouldn’t use) I forgot the crescent rolls!!! – PAUSE BUTTON-  I’m in my kitchen barking off orders, sugar is all over, kids are yelling from every direction.  I have a lot of young kids. This is all realistic . It’s how it was going to be but my heart, my attitude, are somewhere else, and most importantly, where’s Jesus?

You get the picture.  Before long, something that was meant to bring my family closer to understanding Christ’s life, quickly becomes an overloaded disaster of my making.  It’s all good. It all teaches them about the journey, but either I need to learn to relax and be realistic about how a 1, 2, 4, 7, and 10 year old are going to walk this journey with me, or I need to let some things go.  Whether I simplify my thoughts or our activities, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Christ’s joy needs to shine through my actions and not the “Nazi Good Friday Mom” from down under.

Here’s the kicker, when the unfortunate Nazi scenario plays out in our home, Satan is laughing.  He is getting a kick out of this very “unsimple” mess, but Jesus isn’t laughing.  Jesus is watching lovingly and whispering something in my ear… “simplify.” It takes some deep breathing and a little effort, but if I take a moment to listen, in the midst of my chaos, I can hear Him, “Katie, simplify.” I bet you can hear him too.  Close your eyes and imagine he is saying your name instead of mine.  When you open them, step forward with a new lense.  What do you see now? I don’t see sugar on the floor, I see my kids smiling.  I don’t see kids demanding and yelling, I see that they are excited about God.  I’m not barking off orders, I’m just living in the moment and rolling with the punches.  How do you visualize your Good Friday, your family’s Easter now?

Case and point,  Jesus didn’t heal the blind man with the granules of dirt from the banks of the river Jordan, water from the Ephedra plant, and two strands of his disciples hair.  He used dirt and water. Simplify.  He didn’t make wine for the wedding feast out of forty of the finest grapes, without blemish, he used water. Simplify.  He didn’t calm the sea by saying abracadabra and bunch of big words that rhymed, he said, “Quiet! Be Still!”  Simplify. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus doesn’t explain in riddles or rattle off the seven stages of plant growth. He talks about something the disciples know. Dirt and water grow the strongest roots. Simplify.  

There’s an underlying message here.  Dirt? Water? Not quite, but it doesn’t get much more simple than dirt and water, so in a way that IS right.  Time and time again, Christ lived and modeled the simple life he is asking us to replicate. Let’s not make the miracles Jesus creates in us, and in our children, into complicated recipes with hard to obtain ingredients. Let’s not overdo this life, to such an extreme that our seeds don’t grow on fertile ground.  Instead, let’s follow His lead and use life’s simplest ingredients to pass along life’s best gift to our children.  

My prayer for you this Easter is that you look through a new lense, and take time to realize that the simpler your story is, the more extraordinary it’s outcome can be.

 

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Simply the Next Step

In the mom’s group I have been part of for the last 6 years, we are going to begin talking about simplifying our lives.  More specifically, about the book Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne.  It reminds me of another book that I have had on my shelf for awhile about simplifying, 7 an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker.  

So what does that have to do with For Real Friday Mom?  I have had one of the books for over a year. I bought it when we talked about this last year.  I’ve had the other for several months, borrowed from a friend, but I’ve yet to crack either of them open.  In fact, I have many self-help, marriage, parenting, biographies, novels, that stare at me from book piles all over my house.  Some get read, some get started, some get used as decoration or the occasional lap desk, most, don’t do any of that.  Many of these books are my favorites. Too many, I didn’t like after the first chapter, and others, like these two books about simplifying, are what I now call, osmosis coasters (say that three times fast.)  Come on, you know you all have them.  No mom corner table is complete without them!  The ones that don’t get read, whether because of anxiety, guilt, or pride, you’re not sure. Those books that you feel like, if you rest your coffee cup on them from time to time, or move them from purse, to table, to nightstand, you might absorb their all encompassing knowledge through osmosis.  Have you tried under your pillow yet? It’s a thought.

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So why do I hang onto books like this Simplicity Parenting and 7, but never read them? The former, is obviously a good book!  It comes with the recommendation of one of the people I admire most in this world. And the latter? Jen Hatmaker. Nuff said.  

Why do you hang onto your osmosis coasters? Do you think you’re not good enough? Is it because it reminds you of all the things that are in your life that shouldn’t be: the 60 board games, of which your family only plays a handful? The looming pile of laundry, that is the result of your “but it’s a good deal” finds? Your unhealthy obsession with The Spot, at Target. Don’t deny it! You Spot! Where else can you find  one dollar socks (that aren’t really a good deal), organization materials you “need,” and knickknacks to give the kiddos so you can keep them quiet for all of five minutes?

For me, it’s because, deep down, I know I need those books.  Maybe, I won’t ever actually read them.  Maybe the pillow osmosis trick will work.  Does it really matter?  The coaster itself has already done some work on my heart. God sees that small change and wants to help me make it bigger.  Just seeing the title is a reminder.  So, I’m going to stop beating myself up and telling myself the lie, that if I haven’t read it, I can’t start to make a positive change.  I don’t have to do everything “by the book” (pun intended) to make a difference in my chaos.  I don’t have to read the whole thing.  If, simply by looking at the title, one drawer, one cupboard, one corner, is improved, that’s better than where I was at when I used the osmosis coaster trick!  

What is in your osmosis coaster book pile?  A diet book, a parenting book, a Christian devotional? Maybe, for you, it isn’t an actual book but a change: more exercise, less sweets, reading with your kids, your Lenten promise.  Why did you avoid it? Why did you stop?  Because the whole thing was too daunting?  Was Satan whispering in your ear telling you that the book was too long, you didn’t have enough time, you didn’t read the devotional or do the exercise after Feb 1, so you can’t start again now?  Stop listening to him and listen to Jesus.   Where is He moving your heart to make a change?   

God recently laid something on my heart. I need to stop focusing on the overwhelming task of all that needs to be done around me, and instead, simply focus on THE NEXT STEP.  I think that thought applies here. The list is not getting shorter people! Read the whole book, exercise every day, put the dishes directly into the dishwasher, quit a bad habit, stop spending more time on social media than you do with real people. Whatever your mountain is to climb, quit looking at the whole task.  Looking at it that way is immobilizing  your mind and your heart.  Instead, just ask God to help you take THE NEXT STEP. Jesus will see the yearning in your heart and He will walk with you.  Heck, maybe, just maybe, you won’t have to open your osmosis coaster book, or even move it, instead just allow HIM to move YOU.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2

MY OSMOSIS COASTER PILES

 

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