Friday, February 24, 2012

Road Trip

I've always wondered why some people call every trip they take a vacation. . . I mean, some trips are vacations for sure. Like going to Hawaii all expenses paid, not having to worry about anything but making sure you don't forget the sun screen. But other trips. . . not so much. Some trips are just road trips. Road trips can still be wonderful opportunities and some parts of them are even fun, but that does not make them a vacation. They are typically too stressful, too much like reality or too worklike to be a vacation.

That said, I'm pretty sure I stopped vacationing when I started having kids. Or maybe I am just having "working vacations" now. And I'm pretty sure that term is an oxymoron.

All kidding aside, though, this has been a hard trip for me. And not just because of the barfing in the car. Or starting my period for the first time in over 2 years. Or the typical stresses and hazards of driving for 20 hours straight with 4 kids in the car. Or because my great aunt died while we were here and we won't make it home in time for the funeral. It has been hard because I've been here before. Literally. We made this drive to Fort Sill for Labor Day 2010 to spend time with Joey. I remember the anticipation and excitement, happy expectations, joy to arrive and the enormous pain of having to leave. It was so easy to drive there and so hard to drive home. I got lost a lot on that trip, too. And that trip included driving through Dallas. (Dallas is like Atlanta only the roads are worse and the drivers are, too.)

This trip is hard because it makes me think about that trip. It was a good trip. We had a great time together. I thought we were happy and I thought we would be happy forever. And then it all blew up.

Its still hard to think about the good times. It still hurts. I still haven't learned to separate the good from the bad and discard the bad while benefiting from the good. Life is too much like oranges for me. I love the taste of oranges, but can't stand the white stuff between the orange and the peel. I spend way too much time peeling the orange and scraping off the white part and can never quite get it all off. It irritates me. For me, separating the pain from the good memories is about as easy as getting all the white stuff off of the orange. But its something I'm trying to learn. Life would be much easier if we could all find the benefit or the valuable lesson in each situation we find ourselves in. Imagine how much better off we'd be if we could use all the good we are ever exposed to to enrich our lives without letting it be diminished by any of the bad. I guess that's what we'll be like in heaven, only I don't imagine there will be any bad there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Personally, I find Valentine's Day a pointless holiday. God doesn't value money or possessions and it seems to me that so much of this holiday (most holidays, really) revolves around money and things. Commercialism tells us that true love can only be expressed properly by spending the money to buy the things to make your significant other feel like they are important to you, whether they really are or not because every kiss begins with K. . . and kisses generally make for a happy ending (or the beginning to a happy ending) on Valentine's Day. The end justifies the means, which requires absolutely no thought and only the effort and cash flow to run to Kroger at 7 pm on February 13th to buy a box of chocolates that will go straight to her hips and a dozen roses that will be dead in a week.

We went to the grocery store last night and I was shocked by how many people were there last minute to buy chocolates and flowers. There was a tent in the parking lot and all that meant for me was less parking spots. I wondered how many people there were buying chocolates and flowers because they knew that's what their significant other enjoys and how many were buying them because society tells us that those are the appropriate Valentine's Day gifts. I wondered how many significant others would enjoy their gifts and how many would not. I wondered how many people were out buying gifts for their significant other for Valentine's Day because society dictates that today is the day to express that you care. . . and how many of them will not choose to express that they care again until the next Valentine's Day. Or birthday. Or Christmas. I wondered why people think its worth the effort on the "big" days, but not worth the effort on the little days in between. In my mind, since the little days outnumber the big ones, they should be more important, but clearly not everyone agrees with me. Which is saddening.

And so, I find Valentine's Day pointless. I find most holidays pointless. And yet, I was at Kroger last night to buy Valentine's Day cards and candy for my daughter so she would not feel left out at her school celebration today. We were going to make origami hearts and butterflies for her classmates, but as is typical with 7 kids under 1 roof, the kids got caught up playing and time ran away from us. So we made the last minute dash out to Kroger to get what she needed to enjoy the holiday because even though I think this holiday is pointless, my girls think this holiday is fun and having happy children is worth the less than $10 and the bit of frustration I endured at the store last night. Because I love them. And making this day happy for them in turn makes it happy for me.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. I hope you all enjoyed celebrating with your loved ones and when tomorrow comes, I hope you are just as happy to celebrate your love with those you love. Because love is what its all about. Love is important. Love is what held Jesus on the cross. Love should be celebrated daily, hourly, momentarily. . . not just on the big days and it should be celebrated because it exists, not because everyone agrees that it exists or that it should be celebrated. Buying perfunctory gifts without love in human relationships is the equivalent to perfunctory time spent with God. Love is about personal relationships and time and other resources should be spent out of love not out of a feeling of obligation. If your heart isn't in it, it just doesn't count.

As for me, today my Abba Father gifted me with a wonderful, relaxing trip to the grocery store (which is saying a lot considering I had my 3 youngest children with me), 4 children napping at the same time (so about an hour of uninterrupted me time), and an overall wonderful day. . . So even if Rory doesn't sleep through the night for her 3rd time ever (which would be sweet), I am very grateful for this day.

And frankly, I'm glad I didn't have to share it with someone who doesn't care about me. I am happy to wait upon the Lord until He decides to bring someone into my life. Because the person He has created for me is the only one I want to be with and I am happy to wait for that day and today, I am happy if that day never comes. Today was a good day. I don't say that often, but I hope to start saying it more often.

This is the day that the Lord has made and I am glad in it. And I hope you are, too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jesus is like a tea bag. . .

The other day, I was making tea for my girls and I decided to let them watch and as I put the tea bag in, I pointed out that the water instantly changed colors.

While I was doing this, my mind went to the Bible story in John 2 where Jesus turns water into wine. I don't know why my mind went there, but it did and I wondered what it was like to see Jesus turning water into wine. Did He turn it into red wine? Could the servants see the color spread throughout the pot?

And then I thought about how being saved is a lot like dipping the tea into the water. In an instant, you are changed and the longer you steep, the more your tea becomes like tea and the less it becomes like water. And when you're saved, you are instantly changed and nothing can change you back. Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Now, I let my kids watch every time I make tea and I think about that miraculous change.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Today, I deleted my online dating profiles. I finally figured out that doing anything out of desperation because "its the only thing you can think of to do" is probably a bad idea, but I hope God got a laugh out of it.

I had a "duh" moment where I told myself to stop being so silly, that God is sovereign and if he has someone out there for me, he is certainly more than capable of bringing him into my life without my help. Sometimes I can be really slow.

I thought online dating would be a way to break the ice and an outlet to talk to other adults, but I found I'd much rather talk to adults at church. . . partially in hope that there's a greater chance that anyone I might talk to at church shares my belief in God. Its amazing to me how even when you clearly state "you should only contact me if you are a Christian" there will still be plenty of people who contact you who don't believe in God. Or even worse, they want to tell you they will believe in God. . . for you. Its amazingly hard to explain to someone who doesn't know God just why it doesn't work that way.

Anyways, I don't even think I have time for a relationship now. All my time is occupied mothering and soaking up the Bible. And if God wants me to have more, he will send it in His time in His way.

Right now, I am encouraged by Secret Church (yes, still), any songs by Laura Story (especially Blessings), any songs by Josh Wilson (especially Fall Apart), and bball1989's videos on youtube (especially Sex, Marriage & Fairy Tales).

Oh, and I had a refreshing encounter last Sunday with my old Sunday school teachers. I couldn't remember their names and asked them and they told me and also said they always liked the fact that even when I was being difficult (and if you knew me in middle school and high school, you'd know I was more than difficult), I was always honest. I took it as a great compliment. And now I'm hoping they were thinking that I'm still honest and not that I'm still difficult. . .

Reminder: We can't control what happens in our lives, we can only control how we respond to what happens in our lives. Try learning something from everything you go through. And when it gets hard, remember God's grace is sufficient. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It seems like all my time these days is occupied times three or four. I tire of never finishing all that I intend to do and prioritizing is hard and time consuming, but important. I'm getting a lot better at figuring out quickly what needs to be done first and doing it as well and as quickly as I can and then moving on to the next task until bedtime and then starting all over again the next day. It's never ending and thankless and there are no vacations. Sometimes we don't even get bathroom breaks. Unless you consider answering 20 questions while a 2 year old "helps" you pee a break. And some days, I do.

Mothering and homemaking are such thankless, invisible tasks. They are soon undone and must be redone. We are rarely told thanks or shown any appreciation. It is simply taken for granted that the house will stay clean, food supplied and cooked and children disciplined while we remain unmussed, serene, even happy. The pretty, put together, composed, competent, on top of it all housewife. There is no concept of the amount of work it takes to accomplish this great feat, therefore no value is placed on its completion (in part or in entirety). No wonder we are apt to get discouraged and feel unimportant. There are always clothes being worn and dishes being used. We are doing a job that will never truly be "done". And it is hard, taxing, thankless. And as such tasks go, it is absolutely vital. Just ask the garbage man. Or the people who benefit from his work. I bet he feels undervalued and unimportant at times, too. And his job doesn't include wrangling toddlers.

I love my kids therefore I love my job, but I strive to honestly acknowledge the downside of it as being part of it. Because it is a part of it. I am accustomed to others undervaluing what I do and unfortunately sometimes fall into undervaluing it myself. It is the culture we live in. Money and fame are importand and held in high esteem and are not produced by being a stay at home mom.

I have been discouraged lately. Fortunately, on one of the dating sites I infrequently visit, I received a message from someone who does view what I do as important. I didn't think men like that existed anymore. It was refreshing. Of course, he lives in CO and more importantly, he immediately deleted his profile. If I didn't still have access to the messages we exchanged, I would wonder if I had just made him up. Really, his existence is irrelevant, but it was enough for me to realize that God also views what I do as important. Which to me was very important.

All of this to say, moms if you are feeling unimportant, take heart. Our role is like that of a farmer, lots of hard work and then we wait to see the results of it later. If you need to hear it, listen to me. You and what you do is important. Do it well. It matters more than you know. And thanks for doing such a good job.