The kids remembered their manners and actually shook hands and said, "Nice to meet you" to everyone they met. They were showered with combed hair that didn't get pulled out of hair parties until we were re-loaded in the van. Alli and Katie wore cutoffs (not my first choice), Paige wore striped shorts under her striped dress, and Grant wanted to wear his new white, cotton undershirt tank top as a "real" shirt, but I drew the line on that one. We were presentable, but definitely not picture perfect. The noise volume increased significantly when we arrived, but we weren't in Curt's building long enough to make a huge disruption. He took us out to the huge lawn and we picnicked in the shade of enormous trees that had to be at least 100 years old.
While we were setting up lunch, the kids scaled all levels of the outdoor brick fireplace/grill and begrudgingly got down when we realized what they were up to. Grant was the first to enthrone himself on the tallest stack of lawn chairs with his ginormous stick that he found in the woods and he promptly declared himself "King Grant." "Queen Alli" claimed the second tallest stack of chairs leaving Katie and Paige to alternately fight over the "Princess" stack of chairs or cry because Grant declared the non-Princess-sister to be "the homeless servant." We couldn't help but laugh at how it characterized the roles the kids play in our family. Grant bossing everyone around. Alli, the third born, pushing her way past her two sisters, but occasionally submitting to Grant's demands. Sweet Katie and Paige, who are always so agreeable but easily offended, protesting Grant and Alli's domineering ways.
They abandoned the royal game to play Simon Says. Curt was Simon and we giggled as we watched our kids play the game. Little Paige didn't even come close to grasping the concept. She stood in line, huge smile plastered to her face, immediately doing everything Curt dicated whether Simon said or not. When her siblings would scream, "You're out! You're out," she'd fall apart and run crying to Curt or I for comfort. We tried several "practice" rounds but her game play did not improve. Grant was more interested in exploring than playing, which left Katie and Alli who were much harder to trick. Curt finally tricked Alli, leaving Katie standing as the winner. When she realized her good fortune, she gleefully declared, "You're out Alli. You're out. I win." Alli set her jaw and said resolutely said, "No I'm not. I'm not out," and then kept playing.
It struck both Curt and I as high-larious and Curt quipped through his laughter, "What if life was like that?," and we started brainstorming scenarios. The police officer brings you a speeding ticket and you say, "No thanks officer," then drive away. You get fired from you job and you tell your boss, "No thanks. I'm not fired." It would definitely make life interesting to never play by the rules or be held accountable for bad choices.
I was journaling about our fun afternoon and inwardly giggling about Alli's defiance when it struck me. Life with Christ is like playing Simon Says Alli-style. Well kind of. I don't mean the never playing by the rules part. Obviously, God doesn't want us stepping out of bounds or not taking responsibility when we screw up. But there is the whole redemption aspect of Christianity that looks a bit like Alli's take on Simon Says. If God is Simon and we're players in the game, when we sin, God says, "Oops. You're out." And the consequence we deserve is death. Then Jesus enters the picture and says, "Hey Simon. I'll take that consequence so Jodi can play." Jesus' sacrifice on the cross gives him the life-giving power to say, "Jodi, stop sitting in death. Get up. Get into the game of life. You're not out." Anyone else up for a game of Simon Says Alli-style?