When You Don't Get What You Want

We were going to camp at Wallowa Lake. It's our very favorite spot, because of the memories there and the nostalgia that the name brings. It's where we sat down with the deer, where we fed the squirrels in Oregon's own alps, where we biked with sleeping kids in the bike trailer and rented paddle boats and fished the lake and listened to daddy's stories in the tent at night.

We've only ever been there once as a family, but you'd think it was an annual thing - the way we talk about it.

We were going to visit again this summer. We wanted to spend four days traveling and relaxing and re-creating the perfect camping trip.

Summer swallowed us whole, though, and the window of opportunity slammed our fingers in the sill and we're still a little sore about it.

Sometimes life is just that way.

You don't always get what you want.

Life's not fair.

Quit pouting and be thankful for what you have.

God works all things together.

All my parenting skills and wise-things-parents-have-said-for-generations turn on me, all of them pointing their fingers at me and talking at once. I don't like this flip-side of my own words. I don't like disappointment and plans that fall through. I don't, I don't, I don't.

My worldview and the rubber-meets-the-road part of my life sometimes come into conflict. My worldview is something along the lines of God does work all things together for my good, and sometimes those are hard things, sometimes the things that are for my good are hard lessons I need to learn.

But when it comes right down to it, I want what I want and I live like I deserve it. The truth of my living is sometimes akin to a 3 year-old's, and it's not pretty.

Of course, it's on a larger scale than missing my favorite camping spot. It's apparent that I'm a whiny three-year-old when I want what other's have, without the work other's have done; when I fight for my rights and trample other's rights and trample their feelings, too; when I focus on all I don't have or didn't get or can't do, instead of being thankful for the abundance I do have.

And sometimes, in my mind, everybody else is doing everything right and enjoying life way more. Because I'm three.

I'm working on this grown-up thing. 

The beach

So we went to the beach for the day, instead of Wallowa Lake. We packed a picnic lunch, grabbed some bags for sea-shells and other rotting things that wash up on shore, and we loaded in the van with admonitions to any grumpy people that they ought to remain silent.

This was our family trip and we were going to enjoy it. Period.

Most of us would have preferred the trip to Wallowa, but we made the best of the beach and we came home refreshed, with energy to spare, and we still liked each other. Who knows what the 9 hour drive to Wallowa would have done to us - with much larger children than last time, and a huge tent and coolers and tired parents?

Most of us are disappointed with life at some point.  

We should be.

What spoiled brats we would be if we got everything we wanted, all the time. 

One of the goals we have for our children is to raise them to be thankful. It's tough.

I can't blame them for their small perspective on life. I can't blame them for being disappointed sometimes, or even whiny and cranky and self-centered. I'm a "grown-up" and those sins are still present in me now and then. 

But when our plans fall through and our dream vacation gets canceled, maybe the good that God is working out in us is really for our vision to be smaller.

Maybe it's really time for us to grow up and also to be small again, to see the small things and show our kids how to be thankful for sunshine and blue sky and a van that fits us all in; for ice-cream, even if it's not exactly the kind we wanted; for low-tide and warm sand; for playground equipment that makes us all kids at once; for a short trip that doesn't leave us exhausted and spent.

Sometimes when we don't get what we want, I think God is making us small again.


Linking up with EmilySheDoesJusticeGrace Laced Mondays, MercyInkThe Wellspring, and  #TellHisStory


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Repetition is My Friend {6 Lessons Learned in 13 Years of Homeschooling}

It's coming. It seems like we've barely turned the calendar on August, but you know these last days of summer go the fastest. Are you squeezing out every last drop? Planning last minute trips and letting the kids sleep in another day?

Or are you wrung and ready for the next season?

The busy started Monday for us. Football and volleyball, and today I'm hammering away at preparations for another school year - ordering books and picking dates and praying. Lots of feverish praying.

boy in creek


I started a list of some of the things I've learned in 13 years of homeschooling. I wanted to have one for every year, to keep it all "13 Things I've Learned in 13 Years", but I've found that for the most part I just keep learning the same things, over and over.

There are just some things God wants me to know really well, I guess.

Here's a partial list:

1. Consistency is better than green grass. Or, the owner of the Better Homes and Gardens yard...is tired. I've worn myself out looking at the newest and the best and the guaranteed-to-produce-a-well-rounded-genius. There will always be something else and something more, but the best results have come from consistent love, consistent discipline, consistent time, and consistent prayer. And sometimes that just means that I consistently start over, doing what I know is needful. 

2. The best curriculum is the one you'll use. This relates to #1. I've learned that if something is too teacher-intensive and requires me to spend an extra hour each week in planning and preparing, it will sit on the shelf until I find some ambitious mother-of-one or SuperMom to buy it from me. I need simple. Simplicity = Consistency.

3. Homeschool moms are o-pin-ion-ated. I'm a homeschool mom. I've learned to shut my mouth unless asked for my opinion, for the most part. I really learned this in the two years that we spent at a Classical charter school. We attended classes 3 days a month and the rest of our schooling happened at home, but because it was a charter school and therefore publicly funded, there were some who scratched me off their Homeschool Mom list. It was good. I learned that I, too, have judged the way others choose to teach their children.

4. You are you, and I am me. For many years, I stopped reading homeschooling blogs and magazines. I grew weary of trying to keep up with the Martha Stewarts of homeschooling and the comparison I always felt. I have begun reading a few again this past year, and I realize that I have gotten to a point where I can sift the information and ideas without feeling overwhelmed or less-than. I've learned that in homeschooling, as in life, there are people who can do more and handle more and commit to more than I can. And that's okay. I'll just leach their good ideas and benefit from their efforts.

5. It's okay to say no. We are tempted to create so many opportunities for our kids - homeschooled or not. Sign up for this and volunteer for that and be sure to apply for here, and don't forget to buy such-and-such so they can go to so-and-so and learn this-or-that. Just say no. Save your sanity and your children's childhood and all of your time.

6. Jesus is not a school subject. He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He doesn't fit in a box or a curriculum, and we don't check Him off a list. If we handle a secular book, we handle it with the mind of Christ. When we study our Bibles, we study to find Christ. There was never a curriculum that Jesus died for, so we handle everything outside the Bible as the word of men and hold it up to the light of Christ - Christian publisher or not.

Whether it's public, private, home or any other educational path we are blessed to choose in this country, may it be for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

What have you learned? Have any great ideas or nuggets of wisdom I could leach? Leave them in the comments and let's encourage all the weary mamas. 


India Chronicles, Part I

It's been four days since I did laundry or cooked a meal or cleaned anything, and I feel a bit useless. They won't even let me chop cabbage for dinner, so I sit and watch. Three meals a day pop-up without me lifting a finger, plus several tea-times, and someone called me madame.

I'm being served. My skin crawls a little.

The ferry

the ferry flags

We've traveled 49 hours in cars, planes, shuttle buses, taxis and a ferry, and I suppose I don't look like I can handle much more. It's grace that the women's meeting has been postponed, but I've lost my identity for the moment. 

What's a woman to do when there' s nothing for her to do? Because doing is big-time important, right?

I bring water bottles to Tim and David and try to return the tea tray to the kitchen as often as I can. Something.

I pray.

I wash some clothes in a bucket and hang them to soak in the humid air

I listen to stories and take down notes in ink and synapse, wrap-up whole life stories all neat and tidy.

I prepare notes and scratch out irrelevant epiphanies, write down new ones, scratch them out. I finally decide that all that kind of preparing is done, and now is a different time.

Time to absorb.

faithful disciples studying the Word

There are pastors who've walked 2 days from the Burmese border to get here, and they have questions like:

"What do I do with the drunkards in my church who want to quit drinking, but can't?" 

"What do I do with pastors I oversee who have to grow and sell opium to survive?"

"What do I do with the man who has two wives?"

Those are just the stories and questions I catch through translation.

I'm in the middle of not being too dramatic, and not being dramatic enough. I fear drama so I swing hard towards stoicism, cynicism even. These are the processes that get me to the place that God wants, and it's good that I'm not teaching for a few days.

My heart's a little bit of a mess.

Saturday, June 15th, we celebrate our 17th anniversary. I'm truly happy, in my sweat-soaked dress and swollen feet, to do hard things with this gift-of-a-man the Lord has blessed me with. I watch him give guitar lessons under a jack-fruit tree and I'm smitten all over again, with him and with the God Who orchestrates all this.

guitar lessons

I find two notes from my Shelby in a book and a pocket. That girl gets me from across the ocean and I smile and tuck the notes away.

Sunday morning, Father's Day, Tim teaches at church.  In typical Indian fashion I learn that I'll be sharing with a home fellowship that evening, so I spend the day preparing. I'm not a spur-of-the-moment kinda gal, but I've come to expect that everything is subject to change here and to always have something ready. You know - walk in the Spirit.

After days of stifling and suffocating heat, the sky splits open that morning and it rains like all the metaphors you've ever heard: cats and dogs, sheets, buckets. It's great relief to this Oregon-girl. I sit on the porch and flop open my Bible in true Holy-Spirit-turn-the-page fashion, and land on Hosea 6:3.

 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

He makes good on His word and comes to me in torrents. 

Goose doing the happy rain dance

In the weeks before this trip I had handed over my joy and taken dread in exchange, but the Lord opened my eyes to redeem the time and now, half a world away from some of the dearest people in my life, He pours out rain on the parched places in me. 

He was putting me in a place of receiving when I thought I was always supposed to give - that my only worth was in giving. 

When your only worth is in giving but your joy is in receiving, there's a real conflict. 

But the rain waters the earth and the earth yields its abundance and we all open hands and close around His gifts, pass them on, opening and closing like a bucket brigade of blessings. 

Exactly as it should be.


{This post is pulled from my journal and other bits of paper I scribbled on during our 3 week trip to India in June. I'll be sharing more, hoping to light some fires and keep mine going.}

Click to read:

India Chronicles, Part I

India Chronicles, Part II

India Chronicles, Part III


Linking up with HeatherGrace Laced Mondays, The Mom Initiative, Soli Deo Gloria,Titus 2sdays,MercyInkThe Wellspring, and  #TellHisStory


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