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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Five Minute Friday: Story

faded rose, sepia  

There are crumpled bits of paper on the floor all around.

Some wound up tight in frustration, others just neglected, falling on the floor carelessly.

I kick my way through and around and over them but never bother to pick them up. I never bother because my hands are full of more, and I furiously try to write a new page.

He comes in.

I'm all embarrassed and red. Crimson blood rushes to my face to show my shame and who am I kidding? Nothing was ever hidden, really. Nothing was ever unnoticed and now all the papers lie at His feet.

He picks one up and I shudder.

He smooths it. Puts it on the desk. I think He's reaching for an eraser or a big-fat-red pen, but He's crimson, too.

It drips on the page. All my ink spots turn red and I slump.

I should've known.

The paper is white.

All of them are gathered up and washed with crimson, all of them are bound up together. He signs His name at the bottom of every. last. one.

He's made it a story.

My trash, His treasure. 


This post is part of Five Minute Friday, where we write with a timer set and we don't edit or overthink. Today's prompt is STORY. Link up with us?


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India Chronicles, Part III

We all got on this bus together. Hindus, Animists, Muslims, Christians, and maybe even some non-believers if there is such a thing in India - all of us traveling together on the same bus to various destinations.

India passes by out our windows, every one of them down to bring in fresh air.

Father and son on bicycle

We had moaned a little when we learned that we'd be riding a bus with no AC for 13-ish hours.  After more than a week with no power and 100+ degree temperatures, we had kinda looked forward to some cool air. So when we slid our windows open and the bus began to roll, we were so relieved.

Pastor Steward had handed me a bag of chocolate cookies and bananas through the bus window before we pulled away. This wasn't going to be that bad, after all.

Because, you know, God-forbid that we should suffer.

I get a window seat and Tim is next to me, shielding me a little from the bumps and lack of personal space as passengers file on and off. Every single man that walks by gawks at us, and when your eyes meet their eyes there is no turning away. They just continue to stare.

So I face the window and snap pictures of the bicycles and vegetable stands and I watch as the sun sets, burning orange above the never-ending valley.

This place is beautiful and marred and rude and lovely, all at the same-sweaty-time.

The man in front of me rests his seat back and puts his hands above his head, on his head rest. It's so close to my face that I have to turn my head to avoid touching it.

The man behind us wants to talk to Tim. He asks too many questions and then laughs when Tim says he doesn't have a Facebook. Doesn't everyone have Facebook?

I think he's offended and he stops asking questions.

For awhile, there's a baby in front of Tim and she smiles as her mother dances her on her lap. She has shorn hair and sweaty skin and I take a sneaky picture with my phone. Only my flash is on, so it's not so sneaky.

Her mom glances back and then sets the baby down on her lap.

The man in front of me begins a conversation with Tim. Again, I feel like there are too many questions and when he flicks his hand for emphasis, I'm hard pressed for face-space.

He doesn't seem to notice.

He's coughing, and since he is reclined practically in my lap, when he turns his head he literally leans forward into Tim's lap and coughs. No hand over mouth, no attempt to shield anyone from the spray. He actually leans forward and coughs on my husband's legs.

I may have laughed.

But for the rest of his ride he is coughing and spitting out the window and I'm leaning in for cover. Too many wads of mucus have escaped one window, only to enter another, so I'm wary and awake.

I fell asleep sometime after he got off the bus.

I dream about social reform as well as spiritual life, about all the ways to make the air cleaner and the food more nutritious and the living easier for 1.2 billion Indian people. I get all idealistic, and then plummet to irritation and disgust at all the enemy has taken here, all the bondage and all the suffering.

Some things break my heart, and some things just plain irritate me.


I was thinking yesterday about Jesus, walking in to Jerusalem. I was thinking about money-changer's tables and cages of doves, about coins crashing all around, about pharisees and prostitutes and blind men and adulteresses. Dirty streets and sickly lungs and poor housing and curable diseases.

I was thinking about the crowds who wanted a king, not a Savior on a cross. They wanted some social reform and  political maneuvering, and they got upheaval in their souls instead.

Jesus didn't come to overthrow Rome and He didn't give the answers people wanted.  He didn't lead a march to freedom from foreign oppressors. He didn't come in the way people expected a Savior to come and He didn't stay and fight the way they had hoped their Messiah would.

The streets weren't cleaner and the diseases didn't stop. Evil men still persecuted the poor and oppressed the helpless. When He ascended, Rome was not even at the peak of her tyranny.

Sometimes, when I want everything to be better and nicer and cleaner and healthier, I remember suddenly that this is not supposed to be heaven-on-earth and God is not supposed to work according to my plans.

He has His ways.

And sometimes the evil is overcoming, but I read that I'm supposed to overcome evil with overcoming-good, a descriptive, adjective kind of overcoming. Like overwhelming.

That's how I hear it when I read it, that's what I hope we left behind, and that's how I picture it when I'm back home in my garden, when a plane ride takes me back to comfortable and everything is beautiful because my heart is thankful.

On the other side of the world and in my own home, evil always thinks it's overcoming. But this tidal wave of good, this overcoming and overwhelming and overachieving good, is mounting up. It's rising.


We all got on this bus together.

And everyone was beautiful.

The end.


Click to read:

India Chronicles, Part I

India Chronicles, Part II

India Chronicles, Part III

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