Adding and Subtracting: Part 1


By Robyn

My mom is not as sacrificial as I thought she was. Last night we sat down together in our love seat to talk through what we would add and give up for lent. The first topic we discussed was vanity, which translates in my language as clothes. For me, picking outfits is a huge distraction in my daily routine.  It trumps my new year’s resolution to read my Bible each morning. Because this is a major issue, lent is like a “kick in the pants” to focus less on how I look and more on God’s Word. The first way Mommy and I are addressing this is by reducing our wardrobe for the next 40 days. We negotiated a deal but it wasn’t easy.

Here’s what we came up with:

  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 sweater
  • 3 shirts
  • 3 bottoms: jeans, exercise shorts (which double as pajamas) and a pair of shorts + mom negotiated for an extra bottom.
  • unlimited socks and underwear

Mom debated me for ten minutes trying to convince me that she needed 4 bottoms instead of 3. The dialogue went something like this.

Mom: I need jeans, shorts, pants to exercise in, and some nice pants or a skirt I can wear to work and church.

Me: What’s wrong with wearing jeans to work? I mean, I do my work in my pajamas! Give up shorts or something.

Mom: But then what will I wear on hot days?

Me: Come on.  Jesus probably didn’t have 4 tunics.

Mom: I can’t wear jeans to church.

Me: Why not?

Mom: Because it would be humiliating.

Me: That’s probably the place you need to wear them the most then.

In the end, I gave her a bonus pair of pants because I’m so nice.

Next, we argued about shoes.

Me: OK. So 2 pairs of shoes–

Mom: Wait, a minute. 2 pairs of shoes? I can’t do that!

Me: *sigh* Why not?

Mom: I’ll need shoes for cold days, hot days, and tennis shoes to exercise in.

Me: Well, pick shoes that works in both kinds of weather then.

Mom: But I don’t have any.

Me: Sorry to hear that.

No dice this time mom.  Your case isn’t strong enough.

We also debated about some of our unmentionables but that conversation is not public domain.

I was amazed at how much my mom “needed”.

Once we agreed on the terms of our reduction, we started talking about what we would add to replace it. When we take away the bad, we make space for the good.  So we are adding a daily meeting between, me, Mommy and God at 8:00 each morning and we’ll read the Bible together. This will be no picnic because I am NOT an early riser. You let me and I’ll sleep in till lunch time and since I’m a home schooler, sometimes my mom lets me.   It’s not really my fault because I’m an insomniac. I lie in bed bored to death, until at least 12:30 a.m. most nights. In a way, getting up will be more of a sacrifice than taking away most of my clothes will be.

We prayed and asked God to help us know Him better in all of this.

With vanity laid bare, we changed topic to idolatry which we spellC-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E.  Mom’s the expert on this one because she has so many years of experience.  So I’ll let her tell you what we committed to there.

Anticipating Lent

I stumbled onto lent about a decade ago when my life intersected with the Presbyterian Church.  Prior to that, I thought it was 40+ days when Catholics ate fish on Fridays for several weeks before Easter and I was never really sure why.  I have a reputation of being “alternative” when it comes to holidays– no presents at Christmas, no bunnies or baskets at Easter, God’s love bests romance on Valentine’s Day.  So, it’s no surprise that Lent piqued my interest.  I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with it ever since.  You see, every year, I make some variation of a pledge to abstain from eating what I love best—sugar, in all of its tantalizing disguises. My motives are convoluted.  While I am offering God the space in my life that sugar typically lives in, desperation to fit into my warm weather wardrobe also propels me.  I’m thrown off my game for the entire 40 + days. My idolatry of hand to mouth gratification is exposed and God faithfully, lovingly, mercifully and graciously takes temporary residence in the place that sugar typically resides.  By Easter morning, He’s spring cleaned the house.  I can see through the windows, past visions of candy bars dancing in my head to the cross and then the empty tomb. What comes next?  Well, just call me “daughter of Eve” because sugar moves back home by about lunch time.

This year, I’m upping the ante.  Recently, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. In it, she embarks “on a journey of less to create space for God’s kingdom to break through in her life”.  She intentionally and methodically reduces in the areas of food, clothes, media, stuff, stress, spending and waste in order to summon God’s movement within and prepare her for reconstruction. I love Jen’s book because it is a gold mine for anyone hungry for “a simplified life and an amplified God”.  That would include me.  My “7” will not necessarily be the same list as Jen’s.   Nor will it be for the same length of time.  We’re all on our own journey.  I decided to make Lent my starting block.  And my daughter Robyn has decided to hold my hand (and offer her technological savvy).  Together we will reduce and reorder and blog the good, bad and ugly of God’s redemptive work in our lives.

We invite you to join us.

-It’s not too late to get Jen’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  It’s a fast read—written journal style.  It will spark your passion for less—and more.

– Ask God what could be altered in your life to place a magnifying glass on the cross and the empty tomb this Lenten season.

-Partner with your child(ren) these 40 plus days and personalize your own “7”.

-Share our story.  Like Jen, we’ll journal our spiritual expedition in the raw and post updates on facebook.  If you or  your children want to contribute to our blogging conversation, let us know and we’ll send you contributor access to this site. After all,  “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble….Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4

I am hoping for more than a 40 + day realignment. I want to see God supplant the temporal and set me on an eternal trajectory. I long to have the cataracts dimming my spiritual vision for decades removed–that cloudy covering of food, clothes, stuff, media, spending, waste and stress- so that I can see Christ with greater clarity in all His resurrected glory.

With Anticipation,  Hope