Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ham Delights

My dear, sweet friend Margaret makes some of the best ham biscuits/sandwiches/delights in the world.  You know, the kind that you get at wedding/baby showers in the fellowship hall.  With poppy seeds?  And mustard?  And cheese?  And yumminess.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to have one fresh out of the oven... oh my word, it was tasty.

Shortly after that, Ms. M. pulled out a dish containing some amazing looking BBQ Chicken Pizza.  Oh, wow, it smelled GOOOOD.  I immediately told her I wasn't able to have any because I gave up meat for Le...n...t.... WHAT?!?!?!?

Yep.  My Lenten "sacrifice" of meat had rapidly been forgotten as I popped that Totally Delightful Ham Delight in my mouth moments before.




The past nearly 4 weeks have been a journey of "sacrifice"... I had intended to give up sodas (which I have... this only poses a problem around the 3:00pm hour when a Diet Coke sounds AMAZING), but Dan said he was giving up meat and I decided to join him in our mini-vegetarian-quest to add solidarity and functionality to our family.

I had no idea how much meat we ate.

I don't tend to think of myself as a "meat eater" in the sense that a Meat Lovers Pizza makes me gag.  Those shows where they wrap ham and kielbasa and chicken and steak in bacon and eat it?  Gross.  But apparently, I ate meat more than I thought.

We first noticed that the time we prepare meat most is when we entertain.  Not everyone gets excited about veggies only... or if they do, we over-think their response (before even giving them the chance to respond.)  We are not mean enough to offer make kids eat the fake hotdogs- we just had those for us and offered kids the "real" thing.  We grilled portabella mushrooms for us and chicken breasts for our guests. 

Still, not that hard.

Then you add in fast food.... What should I order at Chick-Fil-A?  (I had a side salad and fruit.)  (And left hungry.)  Running through McD's after preschool for convenience suddenly becomes less convenient.

But part of that has been the lovely blessing of Lent.  As I catch myself thinking "what will I order?" or "what will I serve?", I've taken my insignificant moment of sacrifice to think of that of Jesus.  (And you  know I hate a Christian Cliche', right?  But Jesus is the real reason for the season here, folks.)  His death on a cross far outweighs my repeat roast vegetable entree....  His sacrifice for me is far greater than any "silly" thing I can do here.

Then comes the Ham Delights.  For the first time in weeks, it never crossed my mind as I popped one in my mouth.  Only later did I catch my "mistake".

Oh, y'all... isn't that how I live?

I get caught up in my own wants and forget how focused I want to be.  Time after time, I fail.

Tonight, I watched E mimic my own moment of "weakness."  She, too, has given up something for Lent: Hand Sanitizer.  She loooooves the stuff.  (She still uses it at church and school, but has given up her application of it which often is bath-worthy.)  She entered her bathroom, lathered on up, and came out to catch herself with "that look" in her eye and said, "Hey Mom?  I'm like you.  I messed up my Lent stuff, too."

How they see every little thing we do and soak it in as teachable... even when we don't want to teach that moment.

We joked at dinner tonight that E and I made Jesus cry a little today (JOKING, people... we don't teach our child false theology) and then took a second to talk about obedience as worship.  We talked about how Jesus knows our hearts... and even when we enjoy a delightful moment of ham or a quick romp in the hand sanitizer... we can still seek to honor Him with our actions.

E skipped off to bed just now- dressed as Pocahontas- with another moment of reality filed away in her precious little mind.  She brushed her teeth in the same room as THE sanitizer and was able to pass on it.

Today, I passed on several items containing meat at lunch and dinner.

Neither of these sacrifices will get us to heaven, compare to His sacrifice, or even make Him cry when we fail... but our sacrifices lend focus to our constantly wayward lives.  And for that, we are delightfully thankful.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

THE house

This morning has proven to be surreal, and it's merely 9:19am as I type.  I woke up super early to finish a project for Teacher Appreciation Week... everything "clicked".  I was done with minutes to spare.  It looked the way I'd envisioned it to look.  (Side story?  We used tree branches as centerpieces in vases for the teacher's luncheon.  As I was assembling them, E comes downstairs and says, "Uh, Mom? What are those for?" Me: "Decoration for the teachers' luncheon." E: "Uh, Mom?  Sticks aren't really pretty decoration.  You should know that." Anyway...)

E had a friend pick her up for school this morning so I could be here for the installation of her playhouse.  THE playhouse.  She's been dreaming of this house for so long (read: about 8 months? a year?)... I think I've been dreaming about it even longer.

When I was around her age, my Daddy and my Papaw built us a treehouse.  My main job during the treehouse's construction was to be The Maker and Bringer of the Kool-Aid.  I was good at that job.  I brought them cup after cup of syrupy sweet purple stuff while they sweated and cursed in our backyard.  When it was finished, it was perfect.

I spent days in that house- playing school, being brave and sleeping all night by myself way back in the woods, decorating it was posters from Tiger Beat, having friends come play in it (when they weren't scared of spiders) so we could have "alone time", taking my journal or a book up there to write and read... it was my haven.

I used it way beyond when a child would usually "use" a treehouse... it's part of my story. 

When my Daddy talked about helping Dan build a playhouse for Elizabeth (house built in 1994? trees not quite ready for treehouses....), I was thrilled.  I envisioned E bringing Kool-aid and impatiently waiting for it's completion.  As we put together material lists and weighed pros and cons of "ready made" playhouses, my Daddy's Home Depot side won out and we opted for a "ready made" shed.  Apparently the fondly remembered hours of them laboring in the sun to build my treehouse didn't look so fondly in Daddy's memory.

And so here we are.  There are men in my backyard assembling E's playhouse.  It promises to be just as magical for her.  I can only imagine her years ahead filled with tea parties, sleep overs, book reading and journal writing, Tiger Beat decorating, secret telling, spider squealing, privacy seeking moments in that wooden refuge.  I am blessed to be able to offer her a chance to create her own memories of solitude (got that boys? solitude... that means you're not invited in 10 more years!).  I have no idea what lies ahead as God's plan for our lives unfold... but for this moment in time as I look out my window and see a gorgeous playhouse being constructed- I am content.

Playhouse warming party details to follow.  (Please note: I wrote this earlier this morning, but waited to post it until I had finished product pictures.  Tonight at church- without having read this- a friend of mine asked E if they could have a Purple Kool-Aid House Warming Party sometime soon... I immediately thought she'd read the blog... then remembered I hadn't posted it!  Apparently we will be having Purple Kool-Aid after all...)

 the truck arrives!
 her first moments of fun!
a happy (and quite thankful!) girl.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Letting Go

Ya'll... letting go is hard.  I'm not good at it.  Never have been.

I struggle with letting go of anything: possessions, bad habits, relationships.  All of it... hard.

My buddy, Jen Hatmaker, wrote a book called "7"... while I am still in the process of processing it (I've yet to been able to post a "book review" which I want to do), I'll tell you that it brought to the surface this idea of "letting go" of some very American and excessy (yes, it's a word) things in my life.

Take for example- possessions.

We do a fairly good job of teaching Elizabeth the difference in a need and a want.  It is pretty simple when you lay it out in 5-year-old language.  But if you look around my house, you'll see that I often confuse the two.  It appears that I make my wants become my needs and they begin to clutter my home.

This Thursday, I have the opportunity to facilitate the MOMS group at our church.  During this time, we'll hear a little bit about what my buddy Jen says about possessions.  We'll even have a chance to respond: I've asked the women who will be coming to bring 7 possessions they can/want to/need to part with.  There are no guidelines for this... need to clean out your closet? Bring it.  Want to purge your pantry?  Bring it.  Need to offer up something that is cluttering your life?  Bring it.

Here's the cool part- what we part with, others can use.  At the end of our time together, we will have a chance to "shop" from everyone's parted possessions.  There may be the perfect pair of jeans that you've been looking for but can't find.  There may be that book you've been wanting to read.  There may be a bowl that would go perfectly with your kitchen.  Who knows... but we'll be creating less waste by recycling these items among friends.

And bonus?  What doesn't get taken will be sent on to others who can use them- whether they are at Solus Cristus, the Street School, Potters House, etc.

But in addition to the "stuff" part of letting go, we'll have a chance to hear from some of our friends about how God has shown them specific things in their lives they need to let go.  I'll let their stories speak for themselves on Thursday... but you'll want to be there to hear it.

I'm in the process of having God redefine how I let go of things.  Quite honestly, it sucks.  It's painful.  It's exhausting.  But yesterday  morning, I laid at the alter of piece of paper that says "release and blessing".  I'm coming before the Lord as He shows me how to release what I'm not yet ready to let go of... at the same time I'm asking Him to bless that release.

So will you join me?  Thursday morning, 9:30-11:30 at River Oaks Community Church.  We'll talk about "letting go" together.  Me, Jen, some friends, and lots of the things in our life that we need to let go.  Bring your 7 things... we'll release them together.

And be blessed.