the gift to be simple

Happy Halloween!

Like many of you, I have stayed awake far too late many nights finding pieces for Halloween costumes, hollowing out pumpkins, “closely examining” (insert shame-face emoji) already collected treats from various trick or treating events, and packed school lunches with jack-o-lantern faces on every possible food item. I’m ready for Halloween.

And I was thrilled to use my *skillfully scooped* pumpkins for carving with Boone and Jonah a few nights ago. I went out and bought a book of jack-0-lantern templates, ranging from “easy” to “hard.” I was going to let the boys choose their patterns and I was going to carve those pumpkins while we all laughed and ate roasted pumpkin seeds and listened to “The Monster Mash” on a loop.

I’m a bit of an idealist.

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We are so ready.

When the much-anticipated pumpkin-carving night arrived, we were starting lateral  than I had anticipated because of a piano lesson. I had picked up pizza on the way home and threw some at Jonah, who was starting to get hangry. Boone was excited to start right in to the cutting, but I was wary of letting him attack a giant squash with a knife. The book of pumpkin patterns looked incredibly daunting (even the “easy” ones), and we were inching ever closer to bedtime (aka MOM’S BREAK). I strongly considered throwing in the ghost-adorned towel.

But instead, the Holy Spirit whispered, as He often does when I attempt to craft with kids, and said “simplify.”

I LOVE plans. I love making plans. I love checking boxes, crossing off to-do lists, and seeing a plan through to completion. I hate changing plans. My plan was to carve intricate pumpkin masterpieces. My plan was also to keep my sanity. These plans were at extreme odds with each other.

So I paused.

Looked at my pizza-covered kids.

Took out (GASP) a black sharpie marker.

Said, “Boone, draw a face on that pumpkin.”

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A perfect likeness.

I saw the glee in his eyes as I handed him the normally-contraband permanent marker and all of my plans and expectations melted away. He drew a scary face while I drew a typical jack-o-lantern. Jonah can only really draw circles, so we decided his pumpkin was a (pretty effective) ghost.

We ate pizza and laughed. Boone carved a pumpkin by himself — with extreme supervision — surprisingly well. We listened to Hamilton (particularly “The Battle of Yorktown,” which is Boone’s favorite). We got to bed on time and I did not find myself carving intricate designs into orange vegetables late into the night.

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Jonah’s (L) and Boone’s (R)
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My pumpkin.

 

We do so much as parents; so much as people. Sometimes it’s good to go the extra mile, but sometimes it’s unnecessary. We need to be open to the whispering of the Spirit, telling us if and when to simplify.

No one’s pumpkin is pinterest-worthy, but they are important snapshots of our Halloween in 2016. The face Boone drew at 6 years old. The face Jonah drew at 2 years old. This is dear to me in a way that a store-bought template could never be. Simplify, mamas. Simplify, dads. You may be surprised at the results.

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