Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Discovering "Falusi" Simplicity


The word has a derogatory connotation.

When something is simple, it is too easy for me -- not up to my intellectual level.

When a person is "simple," as many times people from Hungarian villages are easily labeled, we mean they are backward, unsophisticated, "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" so to speak.

Last week the simplicity of Hungarian village life poured into my home in the form of dirt. I arrived home late after taking our girls to their dance/gymnastics lessons only to find a definite layer of dirt all over the downstairs of our home. Although I was wearing house shoes, I could hear the grit under my feet with each step.

I quickly grabbed a broom and swept up enough dirt to plant a small, yet fertile, garden. "What happened here?" I thought to myself.

When Russ came in, I asked him about the layer of muck. I knew he always brought the boys home for icecream after baseball practice, but everyone takes off their shoes before entering a home in Hungary. It just did not make sense.

When questioned, Russ looked at me sheepishly. "Everyone took off their shoes," he insisted.

I shrugged my shoulders and commented, "I guess you guys played so hard they just got dirt inside their shoes."

Then Russell laughed a little. "Well actually," he stammered. "They took off their shoes and ran the bases in socks today."

My eyebrows raised into a large disbelieving arc. "Why?"

My husband threw his hands in the air. "They are 'falusi' (village kids)," he explained. "They said they run faster without shoes!"

I chuckled a little. "I hope they don't do that at a game in Budapest," I commented, thinking how embarrassing that would be.

Yeah, they are simple. But is that really so bad?

In 2005 17-year-old Steve Terret was found shot to death and shoeless in an alley on the south side of Chicago. Later investigation confirmed that he was killed for his $110 Nike AirJordan shoes.

That which these "simple" village kids so quickly lay aside, some city kids in this world have killed over.

Perhaps the village kids are on to something that could teach us a little about the Christian life. There is a reward in the laying aside of things. Of course, for these kids the reward was running faster. But for all of us so caught up in "acquisition" we often fail to ever understand the benefits of surrender.

"If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding the least bit of what surrender really means,"
Oswald Chambers noted, "You have become a Christian based on your own terms."

For the simple, surrender somehow comes easier. It is not clogged up with all our intellectual rantings, and analytical questions. Simplicity is able to recognize the point of stumbling AND willing to "cut it off" (Mark 9:43-45).

The Christian life in its fullness is simple surrender of everything we hold dear -- our very lives, that God "will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go." (Jeremiah 45:5 )God cannot give back what has not been fully given to Him.

"Once you do get to the point of total surrender to Him, you will be the most surprised and delighted person on earth..." Oswald Chambers comments in today's reading of My Utmost for His Highest. "If you are not there, it is either because of disobedience in your life or your refusal to be simple enough."

Maybe we all could use a touch of "Falusi" simplicity. Let's surrender our soles and run in the dirt for awhile. Maybe we will discover how much faster the surrendered soul can run.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fűszeres Háború

Itt van Tavaszt!

Ez az idő jatszani a kertben.

Ez az idő palántákat átültet a kertben.

És ez az idő gyilkolni a kertben is!

A férijam, Russell, az Amerikai katonasagban volt. Most nyugdíjas. És Russell nagyon szereti kertezni. Russell nagyon komoly kertész van. Minden éven, a szép rozsájat jönn elpusztit a gonosz levéltetű. A zöldellő növényt elfogyaszt a komisz hangya. És a gyümölcs fát lerombol sok bogarok!

A Russellnak, ez jelent háború!

De Russell nem szereti a kemia háborút. Ez a tavaszt, Russell csinal fuszeres háborút!

De nem mindig sikerül. Pedaul, a férjam tanult a interneten amikor a hangya eszik buza darat vagy grizt (cream of wheat), puffaszt a szemcse. Ezt eredményeként, a hangya kirobban! PUUFF! Russell kacag örömmel.

De amikor probalt, nem mükadik. A hangyak egy finom vacsorát élveznek. És a kutya nagyon szereti a fehér port. A kutya a fehér port szipákol mint kokain! Lehet buza darának rabja a kutya! Szegény kutya.

Russell probalt ujra. És egy masik fehér por mükadik! Nem, nem volt kokain! Hintőpor volt. A gyümölcs fa biztonságos.

Ma Törszvezér Russell felfejlődik az új stratégia -- FOKHAGYMA, ERŐS BORS, ÉS SZAPPAN!

Ez magikus főzettel Russell remel a rozsát megváltni és levéltetűi tömegsirt csinálni! (Gonosz kacag, he, he, he)

Vigyazz! A Chun csaladi kert egy nagyon veszelyes hely! (a rossz bogarnak).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spiritual ADD/ADHD

Confession: Last night I lost my temper.

It was ugly, but perhaps necessary. Niki (our eight year old) had homework and chose NOT to bring it home. An ill-conceived plot to avoid work (a skill Niki has perfected into a veritable artform). Luckily, her sister is in the same class, so I photocopied Andi's homework page and forced Niki to sit at the kitchen table and pour over it.

Niki is a classic ADHD. Her brain pilgramages to far off lands when academic exercises lay before her. I think many at school have written her off as not too bright. And granted she loves to play the helpless, the needy, the intellectually challenged in a masterful scheme to manipulate others into doing work for her.

Niki would rather be running outside collecting ladybugs and butterflies, composing her own off-tune ditties and frolicking around as she performs them, or just cutting up to win the affections of the kids sitting near her. To close her mouth and focus on reading or arithmetic: UGH! That's a fate worse than death.

But there she sat as I forced her to read the instructions aloud. She read ... poorly.

If course it was all Hungarian so I could not understand. The problem was she could not understand it either. As she made the sounds of each letter her eyes would drift away from the text, away from the paper, and soon she was making sounds for letters that did not exist.

"FOCUS!" I directed. I read the word aloud and asked her what it meant. She could not tell me. I had to call Andi over to translate and give her the instructions. Still, I kept my cool. I had her repeat the instructions and she said she understood.

"Okay, Niki I am going to read with Andi and when I return you should have the first one done. READ EACH WORD and underline the right ones," I directed.

When I returned, I noticed she had underlined every word and now pretended to toy with question 2. "Niki, did you read each word?" I asked.

Niki looked at me sheepishly. An incontestable wave of guilt rushed over her face. "I read the first one," quietly slipped from her lips.

The mercury of my internal thermometer shot up so quickly it broke the glass. "So you just guessed?" I snapped. "You did not even try?! I have NO patience for this!" I exploded. Niki burst into dramatic tears. You would have thought the world was ending. But I know that "Niki trick" all too well and I wasn't falling for it. I showed not even an ounce of sympathy for her life-shattering plight.

After sufficient verbal reprimand, I sat down beside her with fire still in my eyes and what do you think happened? With the exception of some struggles in reading the instructions, she whipped through the rest of the homework almost effortlessly.

I truly wanted to pull out my hair. She CAN do the work. Why must we reach such an ugly crisis point before she will chose to move forward in her academic duties and development?

Everytime I reach that point where I teeter on the brink of losing either my temper or my mind with one of my kids, it as if God taps me on my shoulder and whispers, "That's how you are with Me." And I can almost hear the gentle chuckle in His voice.

ADD/ADHD -- Attention Deficient Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a common struggle of adopted kids. Is it any wonder that we, who have been adopted into God's family, face a spiritual form of it?

So easily our hearts drift from the duties and development our God has placed before us as we would rather chase the brightly colored, twittering things of this world, focusing on our own self satisfaction rather than our sanctification. We would prefer the admiration of our social circles to the inspiration of the Spirit. How easily we drift away.

And for those who are big "do-ers", you can throw the "H" (hyperactivity) into the equation. Always busy. Very often busily doing good things, but wrapped up so tightly in insatiable activity, we find ourselves doing everything EXCEPT that homework that sits before us on the kitchen table. We may have even purposely stuffed it away and left it in our desk at school hoping to avoid having to deal with it at all.

Still, God, our Heavenly Father, stands over us and places the homework before us. But even in this close enviroment our eyes dart about the room. We may work through the first question, but we are sloppy and just guess rather than taking the time to properly work through what has been laid before us.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father does not lose His temper. But He is sometimes willing to bring us each to a crisis point and it may be an ugly one. Out of His great love for us, He brings us to that place of breaking and draws us through our own salty tears to move us ahead in our spiritual development.

I hate the ugly crisis. I hate the raised voices, the tensed muscles, and the desperate sobs. Ahh, but what joy comes when Niki completes her work and does it well. She looks up at me as sheer delight twinkles in her big blue eyes and all that is left of the tears is salt-stained cheeks. She throws her skinny little arms around me and hugs me tightly. And I am truly proud of her.

Let's take some time to FOCUS and overcome our own spiritual ADD/ADHD.

Let's push through the exercise the Heavenly Father has placed before us this day for our own spiritual development and when it is complete and we have come through the crises, He will wrap his strong carpenter's arms around us frail beings and say, "Well done, my child. Well done."