Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spending time with the family!

Last weekend our family got together to celebrate Anna's birthday with an "experience" that everyone could enjoy.  Given that Anna is only 2 it was not easy coming up with something that all of the kids would like (and the adults) that would be appropriate for Anna.  Thankfully, Gwen has just discovered this really amazing public library that actually has (almost) a Children's Museum as part of their kids area!  And it is FREE!  Can you imagine that?  There were so many activities for the all of the kids, as well as a really big library of children's books.  As a plus for the adults, they were having an art exhibition from local elementary and middle schools featuring art work of all kinds. It was really fun to wander around and see all of the really amazing art produced by these young kids. The older kids were able to explore without much adult supervision.  Anna had a wonderful time.  This little shopping area actually had a conveyor belt and cash register to "check out" your items, as well as that amazing little shopping basket.  There was a large airplane slide that could be "flown" by a pilot and co-pilot and Zeke spent most of his time taking passengers on marvelous adventures - mostly to Florida (the only place that Zeke has ever gone on an airplane!) that was also a slide! Anna found the dress up area and wore a crown for a part of the day. There were art projects and lego's and a light table and a really cool light bright'ish wall with giant pegs.  And of course there were IPads and computers.  We spent a very enjoyable 2 hours watching all of the kids have a great time.  Afterwards we all went to a local burger restaurant for lunch.  It was a wonderful, fun filled day of laughter and just being together.  Next weekend is Ellie's birthday and plans are already underway for our family "experience" day to celebrate her big 7th birthday!

So it is kind of ironic that I decided to use that picture of Anna from our day, since the actual point of this blog is about NOT getting STUFF!  Susie and Doug actually had the idea to find an "experience" to celebrate birthdays rather than giving gifts.  Each of us has a lot of "stuff" and what we all get the most enjoyment out of, is spending time together.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I have accepted the Lenten Challenge to get rid of one item each day from my closet and/or cupboard during these 40 days leading up to Easter.  This really small "sacrifice" has just reminded me how much I have to be grateful for!  Here is the first bag of "stuff" going to the donation center......
along with the chair it is leaning against!  That very old chair had seen its better days and was well worn.  Ken's dad had used this chair for many, many years and we got it in 2009 when he moved to Florida.  It has been in my scrapbooking room since then and I spent many, many hours in that chair over the last 7 years.  It was time that it found a new home!  That bag represents about 1/2 of the 40 day challenge. I have already started a new bag and have added items each day.  This is a wonderful way to change your focus and to remember what Easter is all about.

We are a blessed people here in the United States.  Most of us have access to clean drinking water at the touch of our hand. Our children have schools with windows and doors and roofs - and teachers and books.  We have libraries that are filled not only with books, but sometimes wonderful objects to help kids explore.  There are sidewalks and paved paths to walk on for miles and miles.  We have parks, forest preserves, green spaces and countrysides to visit.  A large percentage of us have amazing powerful computers that we carry around with us everywhere (our cell phones)!  Internet access is everywhere these days with free WIFI in every store and/or building you enter.  Our closets are full and our cupboards are overflowing.  Yet, among us there are the homeless and the poor and the sick and the needy.  Yesterday as I was adding an item to that bag I realized that just giving stuff is not enough.  It is something......but it is not enough.  The lesson I have learned from being together with my family is really simple.  TIME IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THINGS!  So, my new challenge to myself is to find ways to share time with others in addition to donating those objects.  Time to stop and chat with a store clerk.  Time to see a friend that you just haven't connected with in a very long time.  Time to help at the local thrift shop.  Time to pack some meals at Feed My Starving Children.  Time to serve food at the local shelter.  Time to send some hand written notes and cards to people who need to know you care.  Time to connect with extended family members who you rarely see.  You get the idea.  Just time.  Giving my time.

You know what.....this is all about love.  People will know your love when you spend your time on them.  And we know that Jesus taught over and over about showing love to others.  I was reminded of this verse as I was writing this blog.......
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.    1 Corinthians 13:3

Yes, I learned a valuable lesson at the library on Saturday and I am finding a lesson in my Lenten challenge.  I am ending tonight feeling so thankful for a warm house and hot food and a loving family.  My tomorrow will include looking for ways to show my love through my time.  Will you join me in this challenge?

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that giving things we possess is not enough.  Holy Spirit, help us to see all of the ways that we can show your love to the world.  Open our eyes to the small things that we can do..... the ways we can use our time..... to change our world.   Thank you Jesus for your great love for us!  Help us to remember that you see our love by the time we spend with you also!  Amen

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