Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hay, now, focus … focus …

“The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.” ~Doug Larson

“I have learned the secret of being content in any situation; whether well-fed or hungry …” The Apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:12

Contentment is not one of my son’s strong points. He is a man on a mission.


Mom, I’m hungry.

Can I have a snack?

I want a peanut-butter banana now.

Mom, I’m still hungry.

Can I get some milk?

I want something else to eat, Mom.

Can I have some pepperoni?

But, Mom, I’m starving!!

And all of that within a 45 minute period, mind you.

Though it is not uncommon for his "mission" to involve food, even in other areas of his life, the boy is single-minded; he always has been.

I pray frequently that God will capture, tame, and use this trait for good. While it can frequently be frustrating or annoying to me at times, I know that he has the potential to get his head and heart wrapped intensely around following hard after God. Truly seeking Him first, and His righteousness, if you will.

We went on a school field trip to a farm on Friday.The agenda included learning about how pumpkins grow, a hayride, some games, roasting marshmallows, and a take-home pumpkin for every participant.

I’m convinced there’s something about being “down on the farm,” that releases the “boy” in boys, and the hay and play barn was an especially big hit. I wanted to take some pictures, but I’m really not sure what I was thinking when I decided to actually enter the barn (filled with approximately thirty running, jumping, playing kids). As I rounded a stack of bales, I spied my son showering another student with an overflowing handful of hay. This particular child did not seem very pleased, and his glare clearly displayed his irritation. I immediately shuffled over to help the boy brush the mess off, while at the same time chastising my child for committing such a heinous offense. As I recall, the conversation went something like this …

Me: “Hey! Stop that!” (My child began scooping up another handful, so my intensity increased rapidly.) “Don’t throw hay on someone unless he wants you to; do you understand?”

Him: “OK, then I’ll throw it on YOU!”

I wonder now, if I had chosen a different pronoun, if my son would behaved differently, but under the circumstances, he acted on impulse, delivering the hay even as he delivered the words.

When I emerged from the barn moments later, all of my little Mommy friends gaped in some sort of mock horror.

“Oh no! What happened to you!?”

Yeah, like you can’t tell.

I’m sure the hands clasped over their open mouths were really to hide their “ha, ha, you asked for it by going in there, you silly girl” snickers.

With the exception of the joy he found in the hay barn, my son spent the better part of the day discontent with whatever activity we were currently participating in. Instead, he asked me frequently when he would get his pumpkin. He was unsatisfied with my “right before we leave” answer, and with the “so we don’t have to carry it around” logic.

We have to eat lunch now, because we won’t have time once we get started.
“We’re going to get pumpkins, right? Can I have mine now?”

Come on, it’s time for the pumpkin growing video!
“Boring. When do we get our pumpkins?”

OK, now we're moving over to do the scarecrow-dressing race.
“I want to go get my pumpkin now.”

Look! We get to roast marshmallows!
“I don’t like marshmallows. I want my pumpkin.”

Yeee-haw! Time for the hayride!
“But when do I get to pick out my pumpkin?”

Yes, he was obsessive. Yes, it was distracting to him, and frustrating to me. Yes, he would probably have had more fun on the farm if he’d enjoyed the rest of the activities, too, but I think there is a lesson for me here. My son spent the entire day focused on the reward he would receive at the end. I'm talkin', the dude was fixated.

I do believe God wants us to find the joy in the journey of life. But, along the way, how frequently do I settle for what I like to call "contentment", but what actually leans more toward complacency? How often do I find my focus slipping from what, or Who, really counts?

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~Colossians 3:1-2

(If you look reeeeeealy closely, you can see the long-desired prize - a "ghost" pumpkin!)


  1. I would pack John a fanny pack full of snacks to keep his tummy from demanding food. It allowed both of us to enjoy the trip better. However, he still wants to take snacks at age 15!
    I am working on the joy in the journey of life part. Good reminder!

  2. Too funny. It makes me look at my daughter's questions in a new light.

    Paula Ü


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