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A Giving Lent

God has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. But Lent wasn’t a significant part of worship in the churches we attended. So, I was intrigued and curious when I would see my Catholic or more liturgical friends show up on Ash Wednesday with a cross on their forehead.

So, with the season of Lent at hand, chatter about what it means and why it’s observed bantered around our carpool drop-off this morning.

“What is Lent,” floated the youngest.

“It’s when you fast from something,” said one. “You know, give it up.”

“Why would you do that?” the youngest really wanted to know.

So I shared from my limited knowledge (something I”m accustomed to doing :). “I’m pretty sure Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves about the value of repentance. People tend to choose something in their life, usually something they really like, to give up as a remembrance of what Christ did for them – at least that’s how I understand it.”

The church where I was raised never discouraged or encouraged observing Lent. But I’m all for a season of focus and surrender before the Lord – especially in light of the Cross.

“I think give is really the operative word,” I added. “It’s kind of fun to focus on giving. I was thinking the other day that I’d like to focus on give – through giving, giving up, and giving in.”

On the giving front, I was recently inspired by Janet Denison and her  blog post God is Kind. She had been moved by a gentleman who did the simple act of holding a door open for her at the Post Office. An act that might seem insignificant, especially in the South, but made all the more sweet since two other people had walked past her trying to manage a large package, gather her mail, hold her purse, find the keys and get through a door all at the same time.

It was a simple gesture of kindness on that man’s part, but it meant a lot to me. As I drove home I found myself wondering why. Simple kindness should be the norm, but that day at the post office, it was an exception. I am typically quick to hold a door, but there have been times when I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention. Sometimes I hold the door, but I don’t meet the person’s eye and smile. I often hold the door without saying anything at all. This man held the door, smiled, and spoke to me. He was kind.

So, I think I am going to focus my Lenten season on giving kindness instead of giving up something. I know that kindness shouldn’t be just for a season, but maybe if I place that focus on my life for a season it will form a godly habit in this hurried life I lead.

I LOVE her inspiration to GIVE in addition to or instead of giving-up for Lent.

I’m in.

Still, I feel like I could use a little giving up, especially in the food category. I don’t like how easy it is to grab and eat whatever, whenever. So, I’m thinking of punting refined sugar. Which around this house is a small feat since one of its inhabitants has been on a baking rampage. My word, the girl can bake. Everything she makes is beyond yummy, almost always at hand and by far and away my favorite things to eat. She’s okay with my short reprieve – not taking it personally – but will certainly rub in any hiatus from her treats.

Then giving-in, something that has been on my mind a lot. By that, I mean a conscious giving-in to the complete and total salvation that came with the Christ’s death on the cross – the power of which is at hand today. I’m a bit tired of the world’s winning ways so often driven by fear/pressures/expectations/etc. and usually centered on performance. What if we really let eternity inform today and saw things through the lens of salvific-perfection?

We know that we are saved by faith through grace, but we tend to shelve a portion of salvation to be realized upon our entrance into heaven – like we’ve been thrown a life-line that keeps us from drowning, but we’re still in the water. It’s easy to look longingly toward heaven, but what if we could realize the abundance of complete and total salvation – TODAY.

I recently watched Tangled with the kids (I love it as much as they do.) And I thought about Rapunzel being a daughter of the king – saved from the tower that had held her prisoner for so many years, pretty much her whole life. What if when she discovers the truth that she is the daughter of the King, accepts the birthright but never enters the castle and all the flourishing abundance of her salvation? What if she she just stays in a boat, on the water outside of the city, waiting for the day/someday instead of experiencing flourishing abundance TODAY.

Hmmm….

Well, I know when entering a period of fasting or such, it’s best to not talk about it. So, just sharing my thoughts.

The kid exiting our car this morning loved the concept of Lent and giving.

“Great! I like that you’re going to give,” he said as he hopped out. “After school, can you give me some money?”

Always keeping it real around here.

Thanks for walking the road with me,

Kay

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Eggs vs Goldfish

“Why do eggs make you so full so fast?” asked the kid sitting next to me. He needed to be sharp for the day ahead so I added some eggs to his waffle breakfast.

Reaching for all my scientific expertise I answer with the usual, “I don’t know” followed by a guess – “probably because it has protein.” Then teasingly/truthfully add, “Those eggs will for sure keep you going longer than your food of choice – Goldfish.”

The kid is fourteen and will still reach for a snack-bag of Goldfish over just about anything. And there’s nothing wrong with Goldfish – unless you’ve made them a food-group.

I could have gone into little life-lecture on how there are food groups that offer more nutrients than others – that food is our body’s fuel – that wise nutritional choices affect our ability to function throughout the day – yada, yada, yada. But I didn’t. Instead – as I sat next to him, watching him eat – I thought about those eggs and Goldfish. And I wondered why we’re so quick to run to the bright snacks that look and taste so good in the moment, that tempt us to think they’re vitamin-infused/healthy/baked-in-goodness, that quickly leave us flat and empty – rather than reach for lasting sustenance. I thought about how the things that fill to full often come with work & preparation, sometimes smell bad, don’t always pop with “flavor-blasted” excitement, can look boring. But only one satisfies and promotes growth. The other is fun and harmless in small doses, but simply lacks sustenance.

And I’m not talking about food.

My mind had quickly moved from eggs and Goldfish to all the other things in life where we opt for snack-ease over lasting sustenance.

Just in the other room, another kid was watching television, sort of. He was also playing Geometry Dash on an iPad at the same time. Not a bad thing in and of itself. In fact mindless decompression can be just what the doctor ordered after a long day.

But a diet of t.v. and iPad can leave anyone feeling a bit rotten, isolated and duped into thinking there’s nothing better in life than a screen to fill free time.

Just around the corner, a bit more nutritious form of entertainment sat on the dining room table. Two board games (Five Tribes and Power Grid) were waiting patiently for play to resume. The thing about board games, especially those of the strategy variety, it takes time, lots of thought and live human-interaction. Board games tend to be meaty, hard to learn and far from instant gratification. They promote problem-solving thought processes that not only offer sustenance in the moment, but growth & preparation for future real-life situations. And a board game win is a hard-fought road, paved not only with multiple losses but also learning and memorable accomplishment.

“I beat my 20-year-old brother in Five Tribes yesterday,” the 9yo t.v/iPad kid proudly told my friend who had stopped by for a iced-tea the other day. She had seen and asked about the games on our table. “I won by one point,” he continued.

She teasingly asked, “Have you ever lost to him?”

He grinned, “Only about 50 times.” Enter a side-dish of tenacity.

Eggs vs Goldfish.

Another example, and the I’ll quit => books. These days, reading any book is a good thing (especially books about freeing kids from entitlement or books about finding contentment in a culture of comparison – [shameless plug alert!]). We’ve gotten so accustomed to spoon-fed, tweet-length sound bites, it’s actually hard to sit down and digest something over 1000-words. Not a bad thing in and of itself. In fact mindless decompression can be just what the doctor ordered after a long day.

But adding to our diet throught-provoking, deep & challenging literature that promotes contemplation, questioning and consideration of human-existence circumstances so often portrayed through lives very different from our own is like reaching for kale instead of candy. Something we could use right about now.

Telelvsion iPad boy is reading in school Caddie Woodlawn, a classic. The other night he happily rattled off all that had been happening since I last snuggled next to him to read. “So the town invited Indian kids and folks that didn’t have much to a fair. And everyone got a coin to spend. Well Caddie gave her coin to a couple of kids who didn’t much of anything. That way they could go home with more. And you know the crazy thing – even though she gave away her chance to win or go home with something, she actually was the winner. Isn’t that incredible? She had really looked forward to spending that gold coin. But it was in the giving away that she actually got something real. She was so happy. And her happy lasted a lot longer than if she used her coin win a toy.”

Yeah, that. From a hard to read, seemingly boring, sometimes tedious book.

Then there’s Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (where a sentence lasts a page – not joking!) that is likely forever impacting our 18yo about the deepest intricacies in the human psyche – especially as it relates to truth and lies.

Mind-kale vs mind-candy.

Anywhooo … random thoughts during breakfast. Random and little convicting. Here’s to adding eggs to a Goldfish diet. It doesn’t stop with entertainment or books – it keeps going. Relationship: Text messaging is great, why not find some time in the calendar for relationship-kale today. Take a texting friend to lunch or for a long walk. Then, encourage those of the younger variety traveling alongside to do the same. It just might turn down the volume on so many of the social media/performance/measuring-up pressures that fill their space.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

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Kids, Social Media & All-Things-Internet with Kathleen Fischer

Around here, it looks like our 2017-February will be our new January since the days certainly passed, but it was so fast (probably due to some wheels that came off) I’m not sure I saw January coming or going. AND with The Say Something Show taking on a life of its own, all the writing that has been in my head hasn’t quite made it to the fingers and a keyboard. So, I’m combining the writing and the show since TONS of what people have been sharing still lingers in my thoughts.

Like last week:

Our wonderful friend and resident kid-whisperer Kathleen Fischer stopped by to chat about social media and all-things-internet as it relates to kids, us, self-worth, identity, safety, decency and more. And there are a couple of things she said that have stuck-with/encouraged me. So, rather than write it all down, here’s a clip of one:

I especially love her message to kids:

You’re not called to be so-and-so; you’re just called to be you. You don’t have to please me, or the coach, or the scoutmaster – you have to please the source of your gifts.

WATCH ENTIRE EPISODE (29 minutes) – for tons of great wisdom and info sure to encourage and inspire (it was hard to pull a single clip!). Watch embedded video below, or here’s the link for later if you’d like: Kathleen Fischer Kitchen Chat 2/2017

We had another TERRIFIC chat with Meredith Boyd on healthy-lifestyle in the midst of the New Year mad-dash to redeem holiday excess and to take culture’s bait of svelt. Meredith is amazingly grounded – continually pulling it back to stewardship. Her message reminded me a lot of Bobby Rodriguez’s “surrendered-wellness.” I just love that phrase. In my own world (i.e. our house :) I’ve been using the surrendered concept with steps as I’ve been contemplating how faith and obedience can live together with grace – when things like obedience can sound performance-y and pressured. Then there’s the wildly popular chat with Lysa TerKeurst, plus lots more at saysomethingshow.com OR YouTube channel (where at either you can subscribe to stay connected.)

Anywhooo – as always TBC (to be continued). I’ve been driving a couple of the kids mad with my super-cool and undeniably hip acronyms (like – “Hey, YTB (you’re the best) and don’t you forget it!” — apparently not-cool when yelled out the window at the carpool lane – whatever.) I’ve even garnished a “Mother! Please” hush-whispered my direction when I forgot someone new was in our car. At least I hadn’t broken out in song accompanied by well-placed hand-motions. … or did I?? (eek!!) I need to get out more.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Special thanks to Julie Hildebrand, Erin Scheyer (SaySomething co-hosts) and Kathleen Fischer.

About Kathleen: Kathleen Fischer, RN author, life-coach, educator and mother of three has specialized in adolescents for over thirty years. She has worked in public health,taught in high school as well as at the university level and encourages parents through her popular seminars. Find Kathleen at kathleenfischer.com and check out her terrific seminars.

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Obedience to Perfection or is it to Faith

One of the more fun things I’ve gotten to do this year (aside from the Say Something Show) is hang out with the MOST (Moms of Students) crowd at First Baptist Grapevine. We’ve been using the analogy of clothes to talk about identity issues in the context of the Lord’s vs the world’s views. This Sunday, we’re talking about shoes (“obedience”) – the action/taking steps. Which can look a lot like and lead to performance issues & pressures.

So I thought I’d share here what I’m going to share there (and also at Pine Cove’s Mother-Daughter Retreat in April) just because I really do think it’s interesting – and I’d love to know what you think. Why obedience? Why is it so important to the Lord? Seems like a heavy load to carry and yet the words “light” & “easy” are used when Jesus invites us to follow and obey.

grayhound

The heavy topic of perfection once again sucked all of the oxygen from the air surrounding one of my kids the other night. I watched as the lure, the expectation and the absolute inability-to-be-perfect weighed heavy and locked in like a heat-seeking missile to its target. I guess with five kids, this topic was sure to be on deck – often.

Perfection. Best. Winner. Top. Words that, though not always spoken outright, inform so much of what we do. It probably enters the conversation so often because perfection/aspiration is the side-kick of doing, the action steps in life. And with it comes performance tension, since its hard to know how do things without some sense of measurement.

And if/when these words are applied to a life of faith, they can be all the heavier. Especially as it relates to obedience – another word for doing.

The topic came up the other day with a friend of mine – not as it relates to school/grades/college applications like it can to my kids – but to parenting.

“It’s funny,” she said. “My husband and I were talking about it just last night. We thought we could ‘plan’ our family. And that parenting would be so rewarding. Cute outfits. Sweet artwork. Cheering from the stands at a baseball game. Birds singing. … And yet here I sit. Our family looks different than we thought it would. And we doubt ourselves every day. Then wallow in our inconsistencies and beat ourselves up.”

“And we want,” she continued, “– maybe even need – for our kids to be perfect. For so many reasons – for them and for ourselves since we can’t shake the reflection thing. Then, we stress obedience. Obey to be good.”

What is it about obedience. Why is obeying so important? It’s a theme we see often in Scripture. In the NIV, it shows up 223 times. And apparently, “(t)o obey is better than sacrifice.” (NIV 1 Samuel 15:22) Which is saying a lot. (See also: the book of Leviticus]

But obedience can be a tricky thing. Especially when considering the world’s idea of obedience compared to the Lord’s standard of obedience (which can be a mind-bender to grasp – as if we can this side of heaven.) Though the word is the same – obey – the road to it and outcome are significantly different.

With one, the road is uphill both ways striving to hit an ever-moving target that never satisfies. With the other, the road travels more like a journey than an arrival at a destination that is paved with doing as an outflow of trust and surrender.

One track dangles perfection like an artificial lure set forever out of reach, circling a track like a greyhound in a catch-the-rabbit race. The other offers perfection as a gift wrapped in brown-paper packaging which can make it easy to misunderstand, to overlook and even to trade for the more logical work-to-be-perfect box.

As far as I can tell, taking it down to the studs, it looks to me that:

Obedience to perfection = the world’s standard. Maybe even religion’s standard. If I do x then y then z, I’m good. In which case, we base-line trust in the ways of the world.

We live in the world, so how can we think anything different. The ways of the world not only seem good and right, they pave every path and define our self-worth from almost the minute we breath our first breath. From the age we crawl and how long we crawl determining intellectual capacity to the number/names of college acceptances weighing in on our identity – the world’s ways can be fickle. The Top Ten’s change, as do styles, as do all standards of perfection – even body types. The path to perfection or even simple acceptance is one paved with doing, and doing and a little more doing – according to standard to the day.

body type decades

The perfection thing is a prison, heavy-burdened with shackles. It matches perfection to works rather than love.

But …

Obedience to faith = God’s standard.

As I think about it, I’m convinced God wants us to obey not to be perfect, but in order to increase our faith.

To obey his commands (genuinely obey from the heart – which is different than being compelled to perform or out of fear) is to trust him. Trust. Literally transferring my will and my way to the will/way of someone else.

The path to perfection for God is different than the world’s. In the strangest, counter-intuitive way it’s a path based on His perfection, not ours. It looks less like doing and more like remaining – in his love. And it looks like trust. In fact, trust is kind of the linchpin. Because without trust, there sure aren’t any steps. But, I need to know Him and what He says in order to believe/trust. Which leads directly to faith, being sure of what I hope for and certain about what I don’t see. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

Obedience to faith – taking steps that put trust into action that on the other side of taking them lead to active faith. God’s standard is never obedience to perfection. He already took care of that. Maybe obedience is actually a gift that when accepted reveals the object of the faith required to open it.

Hmm….. Thoughts on obedience – hard to put into words, fun to contemplate, lots more to be considered – of that I’m pretty sure.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay