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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On Keeping it Beautifully Simple

labels, Jesus, church, denominations, Jesus banner I grew up "un-churched". I remember attending random places of worship with my Grandma or with the families of friends over the years, but it was just a side-effect of having spent a Saturday night with them. Or a Friday night, in one case.

I had no clue at the time that there were "different" churches. Church was church and you got dressed up and sat quiet and then went home. I don't remember much beyond being uncomfortable in those settings.

I realize now that I have been in Lutheran and Roman Catholic and Seventh Day Adventist and even Mormon churches, and Grandma probably took me to a Baptist or Missionary Alliance church.

Somewhere in there I'm sure the Gospel was preached.

When I met my husband, he took me to church.  A little country Missionary church, with a wrestling-coach pastor and a lady on piano.  We sang the words off an overhead projector, lead by either a gentleman with a velvet voice or by the elderly Native American woman, and the sanctuary was full of light.

I know the Gospel was preached there.

Before we married, I had fully accepted that I was a sinner saved by Amazing Grace and that Jesus had called me His. I don't have a date and there was no Road-to-Damascus-type conversion,  and maybe I was truly saved at nine years old when I prayed with Grandma in her motorhome, but my testimony is just this: I know I was lost, and now I know I'm found.

We married in another little country Missionary church with red-shag carpet and a gymnasium.

After our honeymoon, church was in a garage or the living room of faithful saints. Eventually our little body moved in to the Methodist church building, meeting for a couple of hours after their service and usually having a potluck afterwards.

On my 21st birthday I was baptized.  By my husband.  In a hot tub.

We were few but faithful, and our lay-pastor was a certified genius who taught us of all the wonders of God and His word. I remember round tables and Bible studies where the whole church would show up, all 40 of us, and we'd discuss and disciple, and we grew.

Tim and I grew and our church body grew, and there were babies born and funerals for those faithful saints who opened their living rooms to us, sharing their mincemeat and encouraging us of God's faithfulness.

We read our Bibles and opened our eyes. We traveled overseas and to the neighboring towns with Good News and we were, we are, small town American Christians loving the God of the whole universe.

God called a biologist back to his hometown to teach us the Word, full-time. So we got ourselves a pastor who'd never been to seminary, and somehow we outgrew the Methodist building and God gave us a larger one to rent. And we keep growing and going around the world.

We never took a label except the one pictured above.


In all this quaint history of my "Christian experiences", labels have never been important. I still don't understand what it means to be Lutheran or Baptist or Episcopalian or whatever. I know there are churches where Jesus is preached in all the fullness and infallibility of the Word of God, and I know there  are churches where He is not.

The jokes about denominations go right over my head.

The debates about -isms don't hold great interest to me.

Emergent and fundamentalist, egalitarianism and complimentarianism, Christian feminism, Calvinism, Arminianism, on and on ad nauseum.

I'm sure there is merit in understanding the different schools of thought and in debating the various theological arguments. We have some of that in our small group meetings and Bible studies, and we are digging in to church history in our homeschool.

So I probably do use labels as a sort of caution, because I do need to define what is pure and true and noble. But at the end of it all, I didn't sign-up to join a movement or to get a group membership.

When I read something or hear something, when I see someone labeled or find myself labeled, when I look up the definition to try to understand what is being said, I really just have one simple filter.

Is that in the Bible?

Because I guess I am just a simple person, believing in Jesus. I'm ok with that.


Linking up with The Better Mom, .Titus 2sdays, Growing Home, Soli Deo Gloria,  Miscellany Monday, Imperfect Prose and The Wellspring.





How to Double Your Investments {Spending Time on Memories}

Harvest of time, vineyard, making memories

Time is one of those things you can't really manipulate.  You can manage it and be accountable for it, but you can never stop its progress or speed its momentum.

It's un-manipulative-able and deaf to all our pleas.

But imagine if time were a natural resource we mined or harvested or could synthetically re-create in a lab - if it were our currency.

Imagine if we could get time in 5 minute increments.  How much would you buy?

We could invest it and trade it, hoard it in pantries and hide it in the underwear drawer, and we'd never-ever-ever have enough.  Never.

Instead of "buying on time" we'd buy with time and all our homes would be worth their time in hours, or we'd be upside down and the banks would foreclose while we asked for more time, just a little more.

The fancy-pants would buy imported time and the purists would buy locally-harvested, organic time. Corn wouldn't drive the cost of everything this winter - a weak harvest of time would.

Our kids would ask for some extra time.  We'd argue with our spouses about how we spend our time and we'd work out budgets and cut out those time-suckers and really pare down the wasted minutes.

Because time would be money and that would make it valuable.  Right?

But we don't buy time.  We only spend it and there's no choice in how much, only in how well.  

She asks for a little time last night before bed and I stress, all emphatic and motherly, how late it is and how tired I am and how much is left to do downstairs and...

I give in.  I flop on her bed and just disappear for awhile, time ticking by and standing still at once. The roof doesn't cave in and the world keeps spinning.  Amazing. Why do I always resist this slowing down, and then complain about how fast they grow up?

Soon the whole family has gathered upstairs, sprawled on the floor and hanging over the edge of the bed.  They've found us wasting time together and it's irresistible indulgence, like chocolate chip cookie dough and spoons for everyone.

Together, all six of us.  Laughing and harvesting time for this moment, because we will remember this moment, we'll cherish it and live off of it when times are lean. 

Tim and I play 'Dead Cockroach' at Jacob's request and our knees shake.  I lose, the first one to wear out, but this is a winning kind of lose because we're all together.

We wrestle and tickle and these kids are stronger than they should be, aren't they? They're all toothy grins.

The phones don't ring and I can't see the laundry piles from up here.  Nothing is urgent. Everything can wait except the people we love.

Memories are a harvest of time, stored up as they are shared and multiplied in their extravagant spending sprees.  Worth every minute.

She smiled this morning at the remembrance, and it was like we doubled our money.

Linking up with Imperfect Prose, Getting Down with Jesus, and Scribing the Journey.