I always learn something from my friend Monica.
She learned to read and write in the last decade or so, when she moved to Kampala from her village in northern Uganda. But despite my college education, she has a lot to teach me.
When I visited her shared compound on Saturday, she couldn’t wait to show me inside her house. I had to comply looking into the toothy ivory grin parting that smooth, ebony face. And when I entered, I understood why.
I view the items in my home differently now. Everything is slid into a category in my mind: Pack it. Sell it. Give it. Just as we did five and a half years ago in Little Rock, we’re packing up our lives here in Africa. But of course the person who packed up then isn’t the same person who’s packing now.
And thankfully, those intangibles are things I can keep.
They don’t take up precious luggage space; I won’t need to sell them for pennies on the dollar with which I bought them. They’re Africa’s gifts to me.
One of my favorite aspects of my African lifestyle is a lean muscularity of simplicity. Forget keeping up with the Joneses. You are the Joneses, when your kids are going to play with kids whose families (who may or may not be literate or have lost a child) live in one room, which may or may not have electricity and running water.
So people expect my light fixtures to, say, look like I swiped them from my church in the eighties. They anticipate that when I serve lemonade, it will cascade from an ugly plastic pitcher.
Perspective is everything.
Randy Alcorn explains in his (highly-recommended) The Treasure Principle, “The more things we own—the greater their total mass, the more they grip us, setting us in orbit around them.”
In light of the series on Spiritual Disciplines for Real Families, I’m hoping this easy, often printable tools (some old, some new!) will help weave prayer into the fabric of your family.
There’s a bit of irony in this post for me. Currently my family and I—yes, all four children—are residing at my in-laws’ during our stint in the States. I’m still schooling them during the day. Yes, that’s just about as “alone” as it sounds.
Some of you with kids wrapped around your kneecaps might be thinking, Solitude. I think this could be my favorite discipline yet.
Maybe your chest is as chock-full of emotion as mine over the results of November 8, 2016. As my friend Kristen Welch wrote in her excellent post, America is Stunned. God is Not: 5 Things We Can Teach Our Kids in the Wake of Change: I don’t even know what to say, but just between us: I wasn’t with her and I wasn’t for him.
From the moment we got off the plane, my kids have marveled slack-jawed (with the rest of us) over the news shows and internet headlines of the rabbit hole that is the 2016 elections. Perhaps like I’ll never forget the Challenger exploding at liftoff or where I was on 9/11, they will never forget these last few months.
Some of my kids have dealt with no negligible amount of fear. They’re rife with questions, and looking to a lot of places for hints on how to make sense of this brouhaha. And, as my mom used to say, I can assume they’re even smarter than I think they are. They’ve picked up on a lot. (Though I had to grin yesterday, when during a wrestling session I heard, “Can’t Dad just run for president?”)
What can we say today?