This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Need Speed (Bumps).....

In my Sunday school class yesterday the lesson was about using the gifts God has given us.
I walked in with a big 'ol box wrapped prettily in bright blue paper.
Talk about an instant kid magnet!

They ALL wanted to hold it and shake it and open it immediately.

I told them that I had just received this "gift" in the mail.
I told them how cool it was to get such a neat gift.
I told them how excited and grateful I was to receive this big box.

Then I threw it in the trash can.

Ballistic freaking out ensued.

Of course we later pulled it out and my rabid precious 3rd and 4th graders psychotically excitedly ripped it open and we discussed how important it was to recognize and use and appreciate our God given gifts and talents.

(And before you think I am at all creative....that idea was directly from my pre-printed lesson guide!)

The big blue box,
in combination with this really cool book I'm reading,
Got me thinking.

How many gifts am I given that I basically just chuck into the trash can?

How many many many good things do I unconsciously
(and sadly enough....consciously)
ignore or
overlook or
push aside or
simply not recognize
because I'm too busy focusing on the constant chaos that consists of my daily life?

Paul says,
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

All circumstances.
ALL of them.

I've heard that before.

When things...."bigger things".....happen in my life I do try to find thankful moments.
It's certainly not easy....and it's not really natural sometimes...but I try.

If the "event" is big enough that it registers on my
then it's a little easier for me to recognize it and look for the proverbial silver lining.

Dishwasher breaks down?
Thank God we have a warranty and running water and paper plates.

Car battery dies?
Thank God I have a good neighbor and recognize that He might have been protecting us from something along the driving journey.

Flight gets cancelled (three freaking times)?
Thank God for extra time with my kids and a cool experience.

But what about all the smaller moments?
The tiny events and occurrences that add up to the "normal" daily grind of my life?

Making coffee.
Washing dishes.
Checking email.
Shopping for school supplies.
Working out.
Washing sheets.
Watering plants.
Driving to activities.
Paying bills.
Dusting shelves.

I suspect that every single one of these little activities....
these "moments"
carries something that I could
-and should-
be thankful about.

I have 3 healthy kids.
They go to an amazing school.
They progressed to the next grade.
They are excited about new supplies.
My husband has a job to make enough money to purchase supplies.
I am DONE school supply shopping.

All things to be thankful for....sure.
BUT....what about the SMALLER moments?
The little "freeze frames" that make up the frenzied chaotic and (let's admit it) relatively stressful excursion of outfitting 3 kids with school supplies trip??

--Ethan's total focus on finding just the right ruler.
--Carolyn's gi-normous grin when she finds a pocket folder with puppies on the front.
--Bennett's pretended nonchalance as he requests locker accessories.
--the smell of freshly sharpened wooden #2 pencils.

These "mini-moments".

Just writing about them makes me smile.

If I can slow down enough to recognize them as they are happening....
Recognize and grab onto the "blips" of joy that are truly truly numerous...
...It would begin to seem that all of these small events could  add up to
and hours
and eventually (possibly) into a state of being.

When I look for
and recognize
and thank God for these smaller things.....
They stand out more to me.

Instead of the stressful nuttiness with which I usually operate....
I can maybe begin to see all of the goodness God has placed in my path. picking out the little little things...
(the way tomato plants smell when water hits them)
(the sound coffee makes when it's perking)
(the feel of warm sheets coming out of the dryer)
(the satisfaction of seeing a pile of bills ready to be mailed)
(the smell of lemon Pledge )

...I can really truly be thankful in ALL things.
In ALL circumstances.
With ALL situations.

So many things I've overlooked or ignored.
So many gifts God's plopped right into my lap that I've tossed in the trash.
So many moments I've missed because I'm too busy to see them.

Slow down.

I'll try.
I'll really try.

Maybe I'll just sit and drink my coffee without answering emails and reading the paper and straightening the kitchen and having to rewarm the cup 8 times.

Maybe I should start with baby steps and just try to only rewarm it once???

Either way....I'll be thankful that I have a microwave.
And more coffee.
And new moments with new chances for the many times I mess it up.

So many little gifts.
Wrapped in all kinds of pretty paper.

I'm going to keep my eyes (and heart) open for them....
And probably drink more coffee.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Today I came across a link to a really neat blog.

I found this paragraph.....and it hit me pretty hard.

I have no fancy preface,
No humorous introduction,
No dry funny sarcastic transition....

Just this.

I love reading over the accounts of those who are in Eastern Europe now, and meeting their children.  I was particularly touched by one family's account this week.  They are adopting two little boys.  As they visited in the orphanage, a little girl sat beside the mom and said, "Don't adopt ____, he's a naughty boy.  You should adopt me instead."   Most children that we know who are growing up, it goes without saying that they are loved and wanted, even though we say it plenty to them anyway.  Can you imagine having a little girl sit next to you -- a perfect stranger to her -- who is so desperate to have a Mommy, a family, a home, a place to belong, that she would try to convince you to take her home?  The sadness of this just really impacts me.  This mom went on to say that many of the children at the orphanage asked her to please find them a family too.  There are children in this world who are begging to have one of the most basic things in the world:  a family.  Not a rich family, or a family of a certain size or in a certain place.  Just a family.  Just somebody to want them and to belong to.  What a basic right, that we take for granted.  Such a simple thing to provide for a child who needs it; something that YOU could provide.  Hear them sitting next to you, and asking you, "Can you please help find a family for me?  Couldn't you bring me home?"

Oh my heart.
Oh my selfish horrid self-pleasing heart.

I am grumpy because my car is having issues.
My child complained to me that they were tired of the swimming pool.
Another child grumped about having to practice reading.
I spent my afternoon irritated that my dishwasher isn't working for the third week straight.

Oh my heart.


What am I thinking?
What are we doing?
Why is this ok???

So I send money.
I sponsor a child.
Or two.
I pray, and remind my kids to pray for the "less fortunate."
I maybe even help coordinate a fundraiser.

And I crawl into my big 'ol bed in my air conditioned house....
And my kids each crawl into their own beds with fluffy clean blankets...
And I tell them good-night.
And they sleep.
And they sleep with peace...because they know that

...their dad and I will keep them safe that night,
...if they have a bad dream I will rub their backs and help them sleep.
...if they are sick they have a mom to hear them and come help.
...they will wake up in their own home in the morning.

Shouldn't every single baby have that?
Shouldn't every single child know that security?
Shouldn't every kid know that they are wanted and loved?

My heart.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Escape From New York....

Let me start this post by saying:
This is not a highly spiritual or emotionally charged message.

Yes....emotions are involved.
Yes....I did a lot of praying.
But....this is more of a narrative kind of thing to simply preserve a lovely and unique experience (and to hopefully remind my children--years down the road--that I truly deserve a REALLY NICE nursing home).

Last Monday the kids and I drove down to Arkansas to hop on a plane to NYC.
My aunt and cousins live there and we hadn't seen them in 4 years.
It was time.
WAY past time...actually.

We had an uneventful and awesome direct flight into LaGuardia where we rented a car and drove out to their place on Long Island.

I would like to post
(and probably will later)
about the super fun we had up there....

How great it was to see the 10 cousin kids melt into a crazy perfect romper-room-esque playground.
How fantastic it was to just sit and chat with my cousins and my aunt....
How beautiful it was for us to sing the songs my grandfather had taught us and have my kids realize I was NOT crazy and did NOT make up a song about a guy who made a machine to grind dogs and rats into sausages and just remember....
How emotional it was to see the damage that Sandy had done to their community....
How inspiring it was to see the "Rebuild the Beach" signs up all over.

I would like to post about that....but if I'm to describe our little jaunt home....I simply do not have time in this post.

(But it was really truly awesome!)

On Wednesday we said our goodbyes and drove back to our hotel.
Thursday morning we got up super early and drove into the city.

By "city" I mean the place where people honk and scream (instead of wave) and yell not-so-nice-words at your 13 year old when he accidentally bumps their girlfriend as he's gawking at sky scrapers.

We went up to the top of the Empire State Building

and did a quick tour of Times Square,
then hopped back into the rental car and drove to the airport.

We got there PLENTY early (you're welcome Dad!) for our 5:50 DIRECT FLIGHT back to Arkansas.

We relaxed and ate and shopped for chintzy souvenirs and I even managed to keep from saying a word I learned in "the city" when my offspring dumped a large root beer on my cloth carry-on and all of its contents.

At 5:15 the gate agent asked us to gather our things and climb on a bus (yeah I said bus) which would shuttle us out to our plane.


We climbed on and we shuttled
150 feet
to a plane sitting NO WHERE NEAR a runway.

We boarded
...a little mystified as to why we couldn't have walked from the stairs to the plane...
and proceeded to sit there with the door open for 30 minutes.

A flight attendant informed us that the pilot was delayed on another late flight and we had to wait for him before we took off.

Good idea, I suppose.

40 minutes later
(and don't tell me they didn't know the pilot wasn't available when they bussed us away from the gate they apparently needed for another flight)
the pilot arrived.


He got the door shut and began taxiing.
Then stopped.
He told us we had to wait in line to leave because there was so much bad weather that flights were "trickling up" and it would take a while.


Two hours later (yeah I said two) the pilot informed us that no flights could leave to the west or south.

That's sort of where Arkansas is located.

BUT....said pilot man....there was a possibility of flying north for a bit and then going south.
However....this would necessitate a fuel stop somewhere along the way because now we were running low due to sitting on the ground for over three (yeah I said three) hours.

Ummm....not so Ok.

You see...
My kids' entertainment devices had run out of batteries.
I was running low on sanity.
The plane was actually rocking on the runway due to high winds in the New York area.
I could see nasty storms on the radar on my phone (which was loosing battery power rapidly).
We had been on the plane for 3.5 hours and IF we flew we wouldn't arrive until after midnight where I still faced over an hour drive home.

I pressed the little stewardess button.
She came.
I nicely stated that, if she wouldn't mind, I would appreciate her telling the captain that my vote was to go back to the terminal and try again the next day.

She smiled and said we would know in the next 15 minutes if we were flying.

I grimaced smiled back and said, "Ummm....Ok."

30 minutes later the pilot informed us that,
we were taxiing back to the terminal.

We taxied back to the "bus stop" and ran through the pouring rain to the terminal.

We were told we could "hang around the gate" in hopes that the flight would eventually take off...
Or we could rebook for the next day and go....somewhere else.

It was 10:30pm.
It was really stormy.
My kids were beat.
I was beyond beat.
We were out of there.

I asked at the desk about a flight for the next day.
"We have a 7am to Arkansas but it's full."
"But we have space on the 3:25!"
"Just you?"
And my 3 offspring.
"No way.  That won't work.  I only have two seats."
"We don't have anything else available for tomorrow."

I decided to take my kids out of that particular level of hell and call the airlines later.

When the pilot finally decided to go back to the airport I managed to shoot RH a text asking him to find us a hotel room.
Then my phone died.

Awesome RH had booked us a hotel (in Manhattan because everything around the airport was booked).

We found a cab and taxied our way back into the city....
found the hotel...
ate the bagels we'd gotten for RH and carefully packed in our bag...
and the kids collapsed.

I crept into the bathroom and called the airline.

Again I was told there were no flights for all of us into Arkansas.
I told them I was willing to fly out of LaGuardia, JKF, or even Newark.
I told them I was willing to fly into Springfield, Kansas City, or Tulsa.
I told them I could even do Dallas and rent a car home.
Ah HA!
Flight found!
Except it connected through SAN FRANCISCO and didn't arrive until after midnight the next day.


So I hung up and tried not to cry.
Then I pulled up my trust Expedia app.
Found a flight the next day at 3:50 into St Louis.

I can drive home from St Louis!

I called the airline back and they confirmed that all four of us could go to St. Louis the next day.

Book us.

Pass out.

The next morning we packed our things (including the bagels) and set out to explore New York.


As we found cleanish clothes I discovered that a certain nameless child had opened a $30 dollar "Multi-port charger" from our mini-bar to "just see it."

I managed again not to repeat the word I had learned from the mad New Yorker the prior day....and packed the lovely 30 dollar souvenir into my carry on.

We left our bags at the front desk and caught a cab to Central Park.
It was awfully pretty....and other than Bennett's encounter with what we hope was dog poop we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
For exactly 1.5 hours.

We had to get back to the hotel then to meet the car service to get to the airport.

Silly me....
I thought it would be easy to find a cab around Central Flippin' Park.

20 minutes later a taxi finally stopped and we climbed in.
When I told him where we wanted to go he said something like,

"Theese ezzz one waay street.  I no go theeere.  You geeet out my cab."

And I, certain I had misunderstood, repeated the name of our hotel with my sweetest most innocent smile I could muster.

And he started yelling at me.



We got out.
And I smiled at the kids and told them what a NICE man that was to give us instructions like that!

And we finally found another cab.
And we got back to the hotel.
And we got the car service.
And we headed for the airport.
And my phone "ding-a-linged" with a message.

"This is your airline.  Your flight to St Louis has been cancelled.  You have been automatically rebooked on flight xxx to St Louis TOMORROW."

At this point hysterical laughter took over.
My kids looked at me smiling.
Gradually, their smiles turned into looks of concern.

I confirmed the date with my driver.
I confirmed the date again.
It happened.

Then I played the message so the kids could hear and confirm it.

It was true.

The driver offered to take us back to the hotel.
I manically laughed at him declined and asked him to take us to the rental car area.

The kids looked even more concerned now.

"Umm...Mom?  Are you really thinking about driving to Missouri?"

"No sweet babies.  We ARE driving."

Road trip!!!!!

According to mapquest it was only 1350 miles or so.

We got this.

Seemed pretty obvious that God didn't want us flying home, anyway.

Now I love a good road trip....but I like to pack and prepare.

This wasn't what I had planned.

We had no DVD player.
We had no atlas with carefully highlighted routes.
We had no extra clean clothes.
(and all of our gently worn clothes smelled like "everything" bagels.)

We had a great deal on a rental car.
We had a close-by gas station to purchase a map.
We had some serious moxie.
We had to get out of New York City.

And you know what?

We had a darn great time.

An unexpected adventure that created precious memories.

1,350 miles...
11 states....
358 juicy drop pops...
7 nights in hotels....
3 movies replaying on a kindle...
4 new pair of underwear at Walmart in West Virginia...
48 pounds of gas station junk food...

I'll take it.
And feel