Have you ever come away from a summer feeling as though you’ve grown in some ways . . . yet resorted back to your childhood in others? That was my summer.
I have learned that there is a life out there “beyond the trenches”.
The years spent taking care of many little people are what folks call being “in the trenches”. You buckle down in your own little trench with smelly diapers, sippy cups, and midnight feedings. Life consists of peanut butter sandwiches and always making sure the diaper bag is filled. You must plan on thirty extra minutes to get out the door to go anywhere – and once you get to the “anywhere”, you are so stressed that you’re ready to go back home.
You’re tempted to wonder if any of the kids will make it alive to high school . . . and if there will be anything left of you once they get there.
This summer has been like a breath of fresh air for me. We now have older kids – 10, 12, and 14 – who are the reason I have been able to climb out of my trench! When I would take off on my bike and head around the corner to the other garden, the older ones were left in charge. Forgive me if this sounds like boasting . . . but if any of my future daughters-in-law read this, let me tell you that my boys will come to you already knowing how to dress a toddler from head to toe, make a smashing peanut butter sandwich, fill a sippy cup, and even change a poopy diaper. They will probably grumble under their breath while using piles of baby wipes . . . but the job will get done!
This was the reason I could ditch all inside activities and play in the dirt or pull weeds. On the down side, I had to watch that I didn’t take advantage of my older kids and ask them to do too much babysitting – when it was Mom or Dad that the littlest guy needed at the moment. But generally, the older kids were glad to babysit instead of pulling weeds for hours; so it was a happy exchange for all of us.
I learned how to hook up a trailer to my Toyota . . . and even how to back it up!
I will have to admit that I usually do all within my power to avoid having to back up the trailer since I have a pretty good track record of crunching vehicles. I’m much better at swinging a wide circle with my trailer, than I am at backing it up. But at least I could probably . . . maybe . . . get it accomplished if I had to.
I have learned about giving away my joy . . . and how I don’t want to do that anymore.
Let me put it this way: I am a people pleaser. I love to see my man happy, my children happy, and my friends happy. And when they are not happy, I find that I begin to lose my joy. This summer, I ran across an article titled something about how the responsibility of a woman’s happiness should not fall on her man. And I realized how incredibly unfair it was to place that responsibility on anyone, whether it be husband or wife.
There is only one person in this world who holds the key to my joy . . . only one who knows the motives of my heart, even if my actions fumble it up sometimes. It is my Lord whom I seek to please and He has my undying devotion. My prayer each morning is that the Lord would guide my every thought, word, and action. And He alone has the power to take away my joy. If I know I have pleased Him, then I am happy.
I have fallen in love with my bicycle again.
This may sound a little strange, but I love to take off on it in the summer evenings, usually with a string of kiddos following, and go exploring. Problem is, we are running out of places to explore around our neighborhood . . .
I have learned about surrender.
Not just surrendering my chocolate to my kids or giving up my last bite of cookie to the Little Man. No, I’m talking about surrendering every one of my precious family over to my Father. These thoughts started after our ladies retreat in March where Wendy Good spoke on surrender. I began to realize that I held onto my husband and my kids a little too tightly. But when faced with the option of trusting God with them, and in a sense, letting them go . . . it felt like betraying my love for them. My earthly mind said “But if I surrender them, doesn’t that mean I will love them less?” It didn’t.
Many hours spent praying this summer got me to the point where I could hand each one over to my Father – knowing He knows what is best for my soul. And the most amazing thing happened. I found I loved them more than I did before! Which leads me to the next lesson . . .
I have learned to have fun with my family.
Not just fun as in going fishing, swimming or doing stuff together. But the kind of fun that lets you crack jokes in the kitchen at 6:30 with whoever is on breakfast duty with you . . . or leaving ridiculous notes on their sandwiches you pack for them, but that you know will make them smile and think of you. Having the kind of fun that looks your child in the eye, laughs with them, and says “You are special!” Or being such a flirt with your husband . . . and then laughing at his look of consternation that he must leave for work.
It has been fun having older kids who get your corny jokes – or at least laugh at them anyway. Then when they begin to tease you back, you know you have friends for life.
I have been reminded once again that nothing I can hold up to God can in any way atone for my sins.
It is only by the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. To really and truly know this in your soul is incredibly humbling, yet freeing . . . and I owe Him my life.
Even at my best, I am so unworthy . . .
A broken life is all I have to offer . . . and yet it is a priceless gift to Him.
I stand redeemed before the great I AM.
And until He takes me home . . . that will always be enough.
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