Monday, August 25, 2014

A Grown Up Tantrum

The other day I asked my girls to fold a load of their own laundry.  A smallish load.  I dumped the hamper in the middle of the living room and told them to get it done before lunch, a half an hour away.  I walked away.  But not far enough away that I couldn't hear the ensuing conversation.

"Joy, you need to fold your clothes."

"I'm not going to fold them until you start folding yours."

"Well, I'm waiting for you."

Girls, just fold your clothes already!

"But mom, folding laundry is my least favorite chore."  As if Joy's position on laundry would sway this laundry-loathing mom.

I don't care.  Fold it anyway.

The tears, the drama, the whining and complaining!  Twenty minutes of insisting she just could not fold her own clothes.  Complete with a pile of kleenex next to her on the floor used to dry up her buckets of tears.

Finally I told her I was going to throw her clothes away since she didn't care enough about them to take care of them.  I scooped up the pile and walked to the trash.  Blood. Curdling. Screams.

"No, Mommy!  No!!!!"

"Joy, you have two choices: I can take care of your clothes by throwing them away.  Or you can take care of your clothes by folding them minus the tears."

Thankfully she went with choice number two.  She sat down and proceeded to fold her pile in five minutes.  When she was done, she cheerfully proclaimed,

"If I had just folded my laundry without all the crying, I would have been done a long time ago."  Ugh.

Today I handed Joy another pile of clothes to fold, to which she said, "I know it will go a lot faster if I do it without crying."

I went to post this on my facebook page.  Which is when it hit me--this is a critical life lesson that we all need to be reminded of.  Life goes a whole lot better when we do things without all the tears and drama.

A few weeks ago the reality of homeschooling my kids another year hit.  As in I did not want to do this even a little bit.  I pursued every option other than schooling my kids myself.  I had this dread consuming me--I cannot do this.  I cannot teach my kids this year.  I don't have it in me.

An old picture of me I found last week that about
sums up how I felt about homeschooling this year

I wrestled and prayed.  I just kept hearing God say, I know you want to have your kids do a virtual charter school or go to school, and I will permit it.  But my perfect will is for you to school them yourself.  This is where the bigger blessings will be found.

Me, who has been working so hard on listening and obeying right away, on jumping off the cliff and taking risks, doing anything the Lord asks me to do--I was kicking and screaming.  Crying.  Telling God I did not like this plan and just was not going to do it.  Even if I knew He wanted me to.  Even if my Hubby had prayed about it as well and felt strongly we should home school another year.  Didn't matter.  I prayed for the money to fall from the sky so we could send our kids to private school.  I prayed that an online school would actually work for us.  Anything that would let me off the hook.  Full blown tantrum.

Hubby came into our bedroom a few days ago and saw me flopped out on the bed, probably looking completely pathetic.  He asked me what was wrong.  Brave man.

"How sure are you that we're really supposed to do this home school thing again this year?"

"Very sure."  Darn it.

"Straight home school or do you think online school would be okay?"

"Straight home school."  Because clearly Hubby hates me.  Hmph.  "Lisa, how about I pray for you."

"I think you need to do some spiritual warfare while you're at it."  Because even in the midst of a full blown tantrum, I knew that this dread and helpless feeling wasn't me.  Hubby prayed over me and I swear that when I lifted my head up when he was done, all of the weight was gone.  Just gone.

Dread of another year.  Gone.  Feeling completely incapable of educating my children well.  Gone.  Desperate search for any other solution than me teaching my own kids.  Gone.  All of it.

The next day I was praying about it, "What the heck was that God?"  And God just laid it out there--Whenever you are at the start of a really important journey, the resistance from the evil one is always the strongest.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


So I fully expect this upcoming school year to be the best year ever based on the amount of resistance I experienced of just getting here.  Maybe the devil doesn't like that I felt inspired to have us read through the Bible this year.  Cover to cover.  Every single life giving Word.  That probably had something to do with it.

Life is a whole lot easier when we just get on with it without all the tears and drama.  So bring on the new school year.  I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Grieve

My Grandpa died yesterday.  While it wasn't unexpected, it still hit like a ton of bricks.  My Grandpa is dead.  I know I will see him again when I leave this earth, and I know he was in pain and lived a long life (he was 93), but it still hurts.

At the same time every news site, my Facebook feed, and passerby are talking about the world.  It seems like the entire world took a vote and decided to blow up at the same time.  Genocide, martyrs, drug trafficking, human trafficking, civil wars, refugees and people wanting to send them back, the list is endless.  And it's everywhere.

I have been following it, reading the articles, on my knees praying and interceding for these situations and these people.  It has consumed my mind for weeks.

Today I just could. not. take. it. one. second. more.  I turned off mobile data on my phone in an attempt to shut the world out.  I decided a media fast was in order.  I crawled back into bed and pulled the blankets up over my head.

Wake me up when it's all over was my heart's cry.  Please, God.  Wake me up when it's all over.

I am a fixer.  I want to fix everything.  And 99% of the things that consume my mind right now are things that I cannot fix.  They are things that even entire governments cannot fix.

Jesus, how can You stand it?  How can You watch Your people be slaughtered?  Displaced?  Every day.  You see it all, even the parts that the news doesn't report.  How do You do it?

I asked Him with my head under the blankets, as I tried to shut out the world.

I cry.  I grieve for every life that is cut short.  I know every one of my children by name and I grieve for Anya and Amar and Oscar.  Every life I created and filled with hopes and dreams, every single life that is taken away--I grieve.  I grieve for every life that ends--even your Grandpa.  

But then I rejoice because I know that this is not the end.  I have already Won!  While my children's earthly lives are cut off, their eternal lives with Me are just beginning.  I rejoice because I know how the evils of this world end.  I Win.  Every day.  I Win.  That is how I stand it.  I grieve and then rejoice.

So today I grieve and rejoice for my Grandpa.  I grieve and rejoice for every person who has been slaughtered, displaced, stolen from their family and sold into slavery or worse.  Because I know that this is not the end.  Jesus wins.  He wins every battle.  Every situation.  He always wins. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why You Wouldn't Want To Go On Vacation With My Family

The Smoky Mountains--The view from my balcony

Last week the Hubs, David and Lizzy went to summer camp while Joy and I went to the Smoky Mountains with my parents, my sister and her family, and my brother and his family.  I went into the vacation expecting to have a good time and to end the week refreshed after a week in the mountains.

God laughed.

Instead God had a plan to test me in every area where I am weak.  Safety, security, physical endurance and personal space.

We came prepared for the 10 hour drive

Sunday we went for a hike to a waterfall.  It wasn't a hard hike, but it involved preventing little children from throwing themselves off a cliff every few feet.  But the waterfall was beautiful and I let Joy take her shoes off and splash in the pool of the falls.  I thought about saying no, but then I realized that she'd hiked all this way, and why the heck shouldn't she get to play in the water?  I told her to take her shoes off and have fun.

Splashing in the waterfall

Sunday night was when all the fun happened.  It started with my family all wanting to go into town after dinner.  I didn't, so Joy and I stayed back to go to the indoor water park at our resort.  Twenty minutes into our fun, the pool was closed due to thunder and lightening.  As we were waiting at the shuttle stop to take us up back up the mountain to our condo, the cell phones of the other people waiting at the shuttle stop started going crazy with beeping.  Tornado warning!

Suddenly I am the only adult in a foreign place having to make a decision--do I stay at the bottom of the mountain and camp out in the lobby or do I take Joy back to our room at the top of the mountain?  To our fourth story room.  I needed a second opinion because I come from Michigan, the flat lands.  I don't know anything about tornadoes in Tennessee in the mountains.  I asked a security guard and he said we'd be fine in our room.  So up the mountain we went.  In a golf cart.  That struggled the entire way up.  With Joy freaking out next to me because we are in a foreign land, alone, in a struggling golf cart, on our way up a mountain with clear views of the quickly approaching storm, and the wind whipping all around us.

Storm rolling in over the mountains--the lightning was amazing

"Joy, God did not bring us to Tennessee just so we would die in a tornado.  We are going to be fine."  And then I prayed with her to be peaceful.  Thankfully we didn't die.  The tornado stayed north of us.  But we did get some really cool pictures and videos from our balcony of lightening strikes until they got a little too close for comfort and went back inside our room.

But the adventure didn't end there.  Oh no.  We were all tucked into bed, sound asleep, all 12 of us, when it hit.  Sirens and flashing lights all around us.  Have you ever been woken up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night in a foreign place?  I stood up and looked around me trying to figure out what was going on.  Everyone converged on my living room/bedroom and we stood around trying to figure out what was going on.  "Is that a fire alarm?"  some not-so-quick-witted person finally asked.  My goodness, I think it is!

Sweaters and jackets were hastily thrown on over our pajamas--because it was cold outside--and shoes were put on.  SOME of us even took the time to get fully dressed (not naming any names here, but they were over the age of 50 if that tells you anything).  I grabbed my purse and Joy, who was completely out of it after I woke her up because the sirens didn't (and she claims to be a light sleeper).  And out the door we went where we were told to exit the building.  Down 4 flights of stairs and out into the night.  We stood around not sure if this was real or a prank.  After a few minutes the resort security told us to go further away from the building.  We walked to the lower parking lot.  All 12 of us.  When the heavens opened up and the rains started.  Noah worthy rain.

Our condo in the middle of the night.  2 of our cars were up high.
We were told to move to the lower area so the fire trucks could come.

"Run for the cars!"  Which was good advice, except 2 of our vehicles were in the upper parking lot that was currently closed off for the fire trucks.  Which left all 12 of us and 1 van.  Which we somehow all squished into.  Which is when I started laughing.  Hysterically.  I laughed until I cried.  Because this is exactly how our family vacations always go down.  Somehow we always end up with a crazy story to tell at the end of our vacation.  ER trips, falling over a waterfall, nearly falling off a cliff, monsoon rains that flatten our tent, fire alarms in the middle of the night.  I have stories, oh so many stories.  I'm not sure if we've ever taken a non-dramatic vacation.

The good news is that the alarm was due to a short in the system and not an actual fire.  So after about a half hour we were all back in bed.  Wet from dashing through the rain, but safe.

Monday we went on a leisurely hike.  Or so I thought.  Unfortunately Joy was tired out from the day before and I ended up carrying her on my back for about one out of the four mile hike.  But the views were pretty.  We followed a river for almost the entire hike and it ended in a little waterfall where we sat and ate our lunches.

I'm too tired to hike another step

Tuesday I declared a day of rest for Joy and me.  We spent the day at the water park.

This shot was for Hubby--We sent it to say hi

Wednesday we went on a bear hunt at Cades Cove.  This is the highlight of every trip to the Smokys for my parents who come every year.  For the rest of us, it is not nearly so exciting.  It involves driving around an 11 mile loop at 5 miles an hour looking for bears.  If a bear is sighted, it results in a traffic jam that would rival any rush hour situation in a major city as people stop dead in their cars and all get out, take pictures of the bears, and try to get close as the park rangers yell at everyone to get back in their cars and move along.  Thankfully, this year we got lucky.  We took a cut through road that most don't take and came across 2 bears up in a tree.  No crowds.  No rangers.  We got lots of pictures, got way up close, and it was really cool.

Bear in a tree

Thursday we went the Ripley's Aquarium in the Smokys.  Which has been rated the fifth best aquarium in the world according to TripAdvisor.  I agree with them.  It is a really cool place and well worth visiting if you are ever in the area.

Manta Rays are such happy fish

Thursday night, as we were deciding what to do on Friday, I made the mistake of telling Joy that it was our last day there so if there was anything that she really wanted to do, let me know.  And the waterworks started.

"I don't want to go home!  This is the best vacation ever!  I will miss my cousins and my aunts and uncles.  I want to stay here forever!"  On and on she wailed.  Finally she sniffled and asked, "Mom, since it's our last day, can we make tomorrow the best day?  Can we goto the water park and then get ice cream at the stand?"  Sure.  Which is exactly what we did.

So there you have it.  The recipe for the best vacation ever.  Hiking, tornadoes, fire alarms, water parks, bears, fish, and ice cream.

And a really good story to tell at the end.