Three hundred and sixty five days ago, two of the bravest boys I have met were ushered into our home. At three and four years old, they had experienced things that we pray our children never see. They had spent six weeks in a shelter with no family only to find themselves walking into a home of strangers that they were expected to live with for who knows how long.
I don’t know who was more scared, them or us. I imagine it was a tie.
We were all completely clueless as to what we were supposed to do … but we all kept doing something. And that something turned into seven lives changed. Mostly mine.
Over the past year, I have learned that my goal in life is not to be good parents or efficient schedulers. That the expectation from Above is not to be best housekeeper, room mom or bible teacher. At the end of the day, no trophy is handed out for being the bestest friend, problem solver and mega meal taker. Spending energy and time on committees or working insane hours aren’t important in the end. Yards of the year and picture perfect families just don’t last.
I am not saying those are wrong. At all. They are actually all good and needed. But you see, as I was doing all of those and a few more (okay, not the yard and picture perfect family one) … I was forgetting to send each task/each ask through a filter: were they really what God was asking me to do?
So now, we have said goodbye to the days of me scheduling every minute, and hello to the days of seeing how every minute gets filled. It’s actually quite cool and way more productive, once you lay the pen of scheduling down. Without a doubt, the past year has begged me to keep.it. simple. It was summed up nicely by Bob Goff … in fact, I couldn’t push the “like” button on Instagram quick enough when I read what he said. “Most of the things Jesus asked His friends were simple, but they weren’t easy.” Amen and high five, Bob.
He (Jesus, not Bob) asked us to do two simple things.
- Love God.
- Love Others.
That’s it. Two simple things. I can do that.
Simple but not easy.
Hard but worth it.
Exhausting but life giving.
One would think I would have had this simple lesson down pat … each time I leave the camp I work at, I walk under a gate that reminds me. Heck, I think it’s written in my office. But nope … it took a year of lab work to get it in my heart. A year of moments that remind me to keep my focus simple. A year of moments like this …
… “Mrs. Kelli, ” our five year old says, “when you make my lunch and put a sandwich in it, you can put a note in it … that’s what moms do”. Well then, sweet love … off I go to find a marker and paper. Loving others can be super simple.
…As I roll the eyes of my heart (again) about building another fort and mumble to myself, “Not again, I already did this stage with the olders.”. I find myself extremely grateful that the Lord doesn’t take on the same attitude with me. And as I look closely at His example I am reminded just how to love others well.
…When opening your home to two more kiddoes, you clear your family’s schedule to make sure you can handle the load … you carve out time for the unknown. Um. Hello. Why didn’t I do this before? There will always be unknowns that the Lord has for us to do. So, go ahead, carve out time to run to a friends house when she is in a puddle on the bed, reserve time to stop and listen to someone in the store, be greedy with your time so you can take care of someone. Make time to love others.
…when you realize there is no stinking way you can drudge through a day without divine help, you realize how much you Love God. For purely selfish reasons of survival, you love Him desperately. I think He is okay with that.
…There will always be a situation that is just plain inconvenient or is a far cry from meeting my expectations. In an instance, I have a choice to make: begrudge that it isn’t going my way or be aware of what is really in front of me … an opportunity to Love God while loving others. To keep it simple … our choices are this: pout or love. (Let me tell you the pouting never ends well, the Loving God always does.)
…Feeling alone in a season or a place of serving can push you to depend on God and know Him in a way that is like none other. I stand amazed at how I can come out of a big time funk and be closer to the One that big time loves me. It is cool to see Him do that. As we accept His love for us … His love simply flows over to others. And isn’t it just like Him to give us a front row seat as it all unfolds.
It has become abundantly clear that my skill set isn’t in fostering, counseling, managing paperwork, staying patient, keeping enough food in our house, learning new processes and legal terms. (this list could go on until Jesus comes back … I’ll cut it off here). I imagine that if any of us were given an accurate job description of what is expected of us this side of heaven, we would all crawl under the covers. I have spent lots of time under the covers and probably will again. But, right now at the end of one very shaken up year, two extra kids all in an intense lab … I am starting to get it. There is some good news … our job description is simple … we just need to do two things until we get to heaven:
Love God. Love others.
Let’s do it.