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The Inaugural trip

Two weeks ago, we bought our first brand new vehicle for our family. We crossed over into minivan land, a glorious world of tri-zone air controls and cup holders as far as the eye could see. We’ve never owned anything with less than 6,000 miles on it, and we loved knowing that it would be ours for at least the next 5-10 years.

This week we took the inaugural road trip with Odessie (That’s her name) to Arkansas to spend spring break with our families. We unloaded the car, left the kids with the grandparents, and we drove into town to buy some supplies. A storm was on the way, so Todd and I decided to take shelter and rest until the storm had passed.

At first it didn’t feel like we were going to get much more than some rain, and I was beginning to feel a little silly for waiting. Then some pea-size hail fell intermittently, and during that time, some women pulled up behind us in a minivan. One of them came to the car and told us that they cleaned the building we were at and needed to park there to get into the building. They kept circling and staying close and I began to be concerned that we were holding up their job and keeping them out in the elements. As the storm seemed minor, we decided to find different shelter …and then the storm really hit. Hail. A lot of it, and it was large. We were probably only caught in it for about 3 minutes while we found a Sonic to hover under, but it did damage.

After the storm had passed and our nerves had calmed slightly, we drove past our original shelter, where the women were nowhere to be seen. They lied. Honestly, that hurt far worse than the damage to our new van. I found myself ashamed, guilt-ridden for asking Todd to move, and angry that someone would take advantage of us. Every time I pass our van right now, I relive these emotions, and I hate it.

I know that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am to be kind, full of grace, and in a ministry of calling people to him. I should put others before myself, and I should always strive to be a servant in whatever capacity I can. So what do we do when we feel we are being faithful to our faith and find ourselves feeling punished? How many times in my life have I thought, “God, I’m doing what you called me to do, why isn’t this easier?”

Yet I know I’m not called to have it “easy.” In this instance, it’s just a thing. A new, treasured, expensive “thing,” but it’s just stuff. I won’t have it forever, and while it will cost time and money to repair, it’s just money. Money we have right now, thankfully. We know what it’s like to be in need, and we know that while we’re finally in a place where we can breathe a little, it’s not even the tiniest bit important in the scheme of things. We know where our true treasure lies.

For me, my heart right now is wrestling with feeling violated, and I don’t like losing my sense of security. I need God’s help in teaching me how to forgive, not just them, but as a whole. I have secretly wished bad stuff to happen to their van… but that’s not the answer. I’m just being honest with you about my emotions.

I’ll tell you what I am thankful for. I’m thankful for Todd. For him keeping his head and keeping us safe. I’m thankful that when I was sure he would be so mad at me, he wasn’t. He looked me in the eye, and talked to me about how he was feeling, and reassured me everything would be alright. I’m thankful that he doesn’t hold onto things with an iron fist — he knows where true value lies. I struggle with that, growing up poor. I tend to get swept up in those details. Todd teaches me so much with his generosity. I’m also thankful for the period of time when we barely had anything. When we truly understood what Paul meant when he said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

It’s just a van. It’s just stuff. Those women might have gotten their shelter, but I refuse to allow them to rob me of my emotions any longer. My security is in Someone far greater than anything or anyone else.

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Feeling afraid and what lies ahead

I know, it’s been awhile. Writing ebbs and flows, and there are many times I become discouraged, or simply out of practice. It’s only when the words and thoughts build up in my brain to the point that I have to move my fingers to release the mental pressure that I finally find the time to sit down and do something that’s not absently staring at social media.

I’m writing to admit something to you (and me).

I’ve spent the last several days in sadness and fear. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I tend to deliberately remain ignorant of the world around me. I fix my eyes on the things of my everyday mundane–cleaning the house, taking care of the children, feeding and washing and everything in between–that I deliberately stay away from things that interfere with it.

The truth is, my spirit can’t handle it. I am a person who has a hard time with things outside of my control. ISIS is way outside my control. The Paris attacks. The crime and all these road rage shootings here in DFW. The stories that pop up on my news app — they are so far beyond my control.

All this talk of Syrian refugees and ISIS threats and people coming into the US, well, it’s scary. There are so many days it feels like the end is near, and here I am, a young mother raising her babies and scared to think about how I can protect them. There are days I wish the Lord would just scoop all of us up and take us safely to His kingdom so we could escape this world. The truth is there are times I ask God why I had to be born in THIS age, where it feels like I won’t be able to live to see my children full grown and children of their own. How can I think to bring any more into this world when I doubt my ability to fully protect the two I have?

Then I think about the people who have gone before us. I wonder if they also felt like their generation was the last generation. I’m almost positive they did. Yet this feeling feels singular and isolating and it makes me want to move off the grid entirely. Perhaps being an adult is mainly about looking put together and mostly feeling like a helpless child in a grown up body.

This morning, I was turned towards John 16. Jesus is talking to his disciples, telling them of his coming departure. He does not sugar coat the conversation, but instead warns the disciples of the trials and difficulties that lie ahead. Verse 33 sums up his speech:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

I know it’s perfectly normal to be afraid and as much as I want to pretend that this world is going to be uneventful and safe for the duration of my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren, I know that I can’t give or get that guarantee. As much as I would like to crawl in a hole and wait for things to be my own brand of perfect, I can’t let my fear rob me of the joys I get to experience every day.

I think about the fear I feel now, and I hold it alongside the families trying to live in the midst of these atrocities. I’m not going to tell you what to believe, but I would hope that we do what we would want done for us. And I hope we have the strength to do the right thing, even if it is not popular, even without the guarantee of return.

For me, I am leaning into the fact that I don’t have to know all the answers, but I know the ultimate outcome.

He has overcome.

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I just wanted to share my favorite photos with you a little bit this morning. These photos are a glimpse into the last few weeks in our little household. We’ve went to Legoland and the aquarium with the kids, and little miss Bluebelle has started kindergarten. She’s a week in now and she loves it so much. According to her she has the best teacher ever and has no problem getting to sleep every night!

Enjoy the photo dump!

This was a picture before we went to Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium two weeks ago. I love how happy and excited they all are!

August 2015 (2 of 8)

This was little man watching his sister sing karaoke at the “princess” part of Legoland. It was very…pink in there.
August 2015 (3 of 8)

We loved the mini Lego city of Dallas! It was so cool to see it all in a smaller scale. Of course, we had to take a picture of Bluebelle at the Ballpark because it’s one of our favorite places!

August 2015 (4 of 8)

I didn’t get a lot of photos from the aquarium, due to lighting and such. It was a really cool experience, but pretty small. I don’t know if we’d pay to go there again. Thankfully, Todd had gotten us complimentary tickets to both. The sharks and the sting rays were pretty amazing to see!

August 2015 (5 of 8) August 2015 (6 of 8)

Finally, here’s a few quick back to school photos for both Bluebelle and Dean Bean! I had the hardest time preparing for Belle to go to school, but once the day was there, it was time to send her off without a tear. I just like to bawl for the weeks beforehand! haha! We’re already in love with her school and I don’t think she could have gotten a better teacher! I signed up to be a room mom… we’ll find out if that’s “on my beam” or not!

August 2015 (7 of 8) August 2015 (8 of 8)

Today was Dean Bean’s first day of Mother’s Day Out. I’ve actually never done that before. I’ve had the kids with me all day every day since 2010… but since we’re away from family and with Todd’s schedule, we decided that 10 hours a week for me to write and do anything I need to do sans kids was a pretty good idea. I wasn’t sad about this at all — I might have squealed “Dobby is FREE!” on my way to Starbucks. Maybe. I make no promises.

Since he’s the second kid and we were running fast and frantic this morning, I snapped a quick phone pic or two. No sign… because, well, it still says Kindergarten on it. He’s already playing and having fun and he has been wearing his backpack since 7 am.

…And they won’t upload right now. You can just check my Instagram. 🙂

This is quickly becoming a beautiful season of our lives. I’m thankful for it.

Have a great Tuesday!

 

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