As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nervous boy goes to the Dentist

The dentist is quite an ordeal for my oldest son.  At three years old, his first checkup turned out to be the only one that was cavity-free.  At the next appointment just six months later I (who never had a cavity in my life) was horrified to hear he had four.  What could be the culprit? I wondered.  Having a fairly decent diet ruled out the usual suspects (candy, pop, junk food), so we swore off fruit juice on the advice of the dentist and hoped for a brighter future.

Turns out, this boy has soft teeth.  Every checkup shows at least a few cavities.  When he was four we scheduled him for day surgery to have our squeemish boy's teeth repair, since the mere thought of needles sent him into hysterics.  The experience was okay, but not one either of us (my husband and I) were overly comfortable with.  When the same situation confronted us a couple of years later, we declined and found a dentist who would perform the fillings awake in her office, with nitrous oxide.  This experience, while slightly traumatic, was much smoother than the hospital one.

This weekend after a very painful toothache, I advised my oldest that I was taking him to the dentist.  He was resistent, but I told him that since his two younger brothers have both had fillings with our dentist, that we were not making a special trip to a different dentist.  That he was going to have to "take it like a man" so to speak, and walk in the same path we expect his brothers to.  At nine years old, I figure it's time we stop catering to his fears.

Today was the big day.  We were late, and as soon as we got there he was whisked away.  My heart sank as I thought of him.  He is more nervous than the rest of my kids, and I didn't even talk to him about it.  I forgot to tell him to pray the Our Father, I thought, which is something that brings me comfort when I'm afraid (something my mother taught me).  I started instead saying it to myself as we waited, the other kids oblivious to what I was certain was my oldest son's inner torment.

The dentist came to talk to me about ten minutes later, and advised that the tooth had absessed and needed to be pulled.  I told him to go ahead and take it out, and asked how my little guy's nerves were holding up.  "Fine," he assured me, with his gentle smile that has assured me all these many years since middle school, when my family began going to him.  Not long after my boy came around the corner, mouth stuffed with cotton gauze and a big half smile.  He did it!

On the way home he remarked several times that he didn't feel a thing, and that it wasn't nearly as bad as he thought.  I asked him if he thought it made him a better person, and that sometimes doing something we think we can't do shows us how brave we are.  He said he did, and that he knew God was near to him because he didn't feel anything.

I've often thought about how quick we are to anesthetize our children for things like this.  It's so natural as a parent to want to preserve your child from pain, but we don't often consider the benefits of having a child walk through necessary pain, and teaching them how.  Of course we never want our children to suffer, but we can't guarantee that they never will.  Moreover, would we want to deny them the graces that come from the suffering the Lord permits for them?

I am so grateful for my growing children, and the small ways they are beginning to step out from under my wing, and take steps on a journey that is their own.  I pray that the Lord will always be their guide, and that as their mother I will keep Him ever before my own face, so that I will be capable of steering them in the right direction.

Onward, Christian soldier!

“To suffer is to take the difficulty and to carry it with strength, so that the difficulty does not drag us down. To carry it with strength: this is a Christian virtue. Saint Paul says several times: Suffer [endure]. This means do not let ourselves be overcome by difficulties. This means that the Christian has the strength not to give up, to carry difficulties with strength. Carry them, but carry them with strength. It is not easy, because discouragement comes, and one has the urge to give up and say, ‘Well, come on, we’ll do what we can but no more.’ But no, it is a grace to suffer."  Pope Francis

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Step in Time

I am so grateful for the work God has been doing in me over the past year.  Through different readings that I've been working on and friendships I've been journeying in, God has patiently been teaching me about His divine will in the moment.  For the past several months I have wrestled with the question of how to meet God in the small moments of my life.  And I really feel like He's broken open a whole treasure trove of things for me to discover.  Everything I thought I knew about being a wife and mother, about walking in faith, has suddenly given way to reveal so much more depth that I have only begun to scratch the surface of.

For me, it all hinges on the present moment.  I am so, so very bad for living in the future.  Where I think I should be, what I think I should be doing now in order to accomplish that.  It's so constraining, and I think the root of a lot of the frustrations I experience in my daily life.  As a mother for example, wanting to have a clean and orderly house is such a good thing, but can easily become a barrier to what is put right in front of me, say a little one who has bumped her head for the tenth time jumping on the couch, which you have been tell her not to do for her whole entire life!  It's so, so very easy to let things like that get to you, to get frustrated and miss the opportunity to love and console, because you are too focused on a moment (the end of the day with the clean house) that has not even come to be yet.

I am mostly back to normal after minor abdominal surgery, and am slowly starting to figure out routines again.  It was too overwhelming at first to dive right back into a routine because I didn't even know how much I could push myself, and I didn't want to re-injure myself.  The surgery made it easy for me to not have any plans, to just take one moment at a time.  And I'm finding that when I approach my day that way, things still get done (mostly).  And they get done with a lot less stress on my part.

I'm not saying big picture goals are a bad thing.  But I let them rule me.  I want so bad to be that Mom that has everything together, that makes having six kids look good so that someone doesn't pop in to visit and see my disaster of a house and think, "wow, I'm never doing that!"  Whenever I'm in a "good groove", I tend to think of how well I'm doing things.  "I've finally got it figured out," I'll muse.  "If I just do it like this every day, I'll stay on top of things."  But I'm starting to realize that the best routine is having no routine.  Because the fact is that my life is always changing around me - there is always something (a new baby, summer, school, a surgery, an illness) that calls me to re-evaluate what I'm doing, that forces me to be a little flexible.  And if I fight that tooth and nail, or if I try to take that in without being willing to give way in what I expect of myself, eventually I will crack.  And I do it to myself.

Being pulled in a million different directions isn't unique to parenthood.  I think that's the call on everyone's life.  But I do think that's the reason God has blessed me with such a full household.  Some people are really good at figuring out this stuff on their own, at being attentive to their life around them, and seeking the Lord above all their own comforts.  Me, I need a constant reminder.  I need the gentle but persistent and unrelenting reality pushing me out of my comfort zone every single day.  Because without it, I fear I lack the discipline and awareness to ever get beyond it on my own.  These children, my husband, they draw me deeper into the mystery of life.  They journey with me as we walk together along this path the Lord has laid before us.  When I think of how I think it should be, how far along I wish I was, and look at how far away that is from where I am right now, it can be so overwhelming. But when I slow down and just concentrate on the step before me, suddenly it doesn't seem so far out of reach.  Which is I think what the Lord intends family life to be.  A journey together.  Pointing each other to Him, attentive to His will in each and every moment.  One step at a time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rainy Days

There are things I almost never do with the kids.  Painting and Lego (upstairs anyway) are two of them.  It's so messy, and the kitchen is so high traffic that I almost always shy away when they ask.  It's been raining this week however, and despite my initial resistence I could find very little good reason to say now.  And so, taking advantage of the poor weather to make some memories indoors, I said yes.  And I'm so glad I did.  Sometimes rainy days can bring out the best in us.

Summer rains help the garden grow.  Inside and out.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Darn Little Thing...

Prudent parents keep strict tabs on their childrens' screen time.  We are much the same.  We have tight rules, allowing only a short show every now and then (not every day), and of course the occasional movie.  My oldest is only on the computer maybe once every two weeks or so.  Video games take the place of a TV show, and are controlled as tightly.  No doubt about it, as far as our kids go, we are screen-responsible.

But what about the grownups?  Oh, I would proudly tell you I rarely watch TV.  And the computer, well I can't go on that more than once or twice a day anyway, because the kids circle around me and make it impossible for me to do anything.  The clincher for me?  Its screen is only 2x3 inches big.  Yep, my cell phone.  My crutch.  In my pocket all the time you know, so I can read the news while I nurse the baby, or receive an emergency text from my husband.  Most of the time I don't even know it's there.

Except I do.  And with the summer schedule less rigid (and me spending more time sitting due to surgery recovery and recurring nursing issues) I have allowed that darn little thing to take over more and more of my day.  So often I find myself snapping at the kids because they are causing trouble when I just want to finish that story, or read that blog or (which I never do during the kids' waking hours during the school year) check facebook.

I realized today what a double standard I have, that I control the kids' screen time so tightly and yet am so ruled by it myself.  And so, I have decided to put my phone up and go back to my school year restrictions on facebook.  Meaning that if you're trying to get ahold of me anytime throughout the day, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way - by landline.  In the evening, when the kids are down and I do my daily sweep of facebook, I will give myself the same restrictions I give the kids - a half hour.  And I'll probably check it in the morning when I get up too.  But I'll set the timer, and when it goes off, I'll put the cell phone up.

Starting today, this little thing gets put back into its rightful place.  A small piece of technology so meaningless in the grand scheme of things, so much less derserving of my time and attention than the people that are around me.  Today I live by example, I discipline myself.  Which I suppose is what growing up is all about.

So much sweeter to stare at than a cell phone.  (Photo credit: Melody Mercer)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I am drinking in a rare quiet moment this morning.  Folding laundry, the big kids are playing outside, the little ones are downstairs, the baby is content.  Should I put on some music?  Should I check facebook?  No, I just keep folding laundry.

It hits me how long it's been since I've had a silent moment, and how very much I need one.  Life is busy, and at one time I was the kind of person who always needed "background noise" - a TV show, music, anything.  But now my life is so full of constant noise that those things are a distraction, and more often than not make me crack.  This is what I need, and God knows it.

I got thinking about a heartbeat, and how your heart's always working in the background of your body, even when you can't hear it or don't even stop to listen.  Still sometimes it's comforting to hear it, to pay attention and feel the rhythm of this organ that keeps the rest of your body going.  And I imagine God to be very much the same.  I can't hear him all the time in the midst of all the daily busyness that is my life - screaming toddlers, fussy babies, fighting big kids.  Appointments and chores, places to be, meals to make, laundry to fold, dishes to clean.  Still, always God is here.  The steady, rhythmic pulse that keeps me going.  And still, it's so comforting in a moment of silence to listen for Him.  To feel Him calm and sure, guiding my every step.

In moments of chaos, may I always remember how close You are, trusting that even when I can't hear you for all the noise, that You are the reason my heart keeps on beating.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013 Snapshot

Well so much for my once-a-week intention to snapshot!  We've been busy!  Nevertheless, it's never too late to get back at it and so, while I could never recap the last two months of craziness around here, I can make an attempt at last week:

Last week was a bit of a crazy one.  We thought we were going to family camp in Little Harbour Nova Scotia, but alas, those plans fell through.  We decided to make the best of it and have a stay-cation, doing what we could close to home.  On our first day (which was actually Tuesday, since our van was in the shop until then) we stopped by a local nature park for a picnic lunch.  I brought my camera everywhere we went, even though we were staying mostly in our own city, because I still wanted it to feel like vacation.  Katie was delighted, and asked me to follow her around taking pictures while she posed.  Whenever I ask her to smile she makes this crazy, forced grin where you see all  her teeth and she looks kind of scary.  So I asked her to think of something really sweet and she made her kiss face.  Adorable!

These are my kids, on the beach at the Nature Park.  We played in the water for a little bit, but I'll admit I was terrified!  The current there can be strong, although my husband assures me it's not dangerous unless there's a storm.  But I had just had surgery four weeks ago for a hernia repair and could not do any heavy lifting or straining, so feeling like I couldn't go after one of the kids if they did get out too far was a little nerve-wracking, since my husband had to hold the baby.  I kept a death-grip on my toddler's hand, and didn't allow the kids to go much beyond their calves, and we survived it.  They had so much fun letting the waves crash into them!

On our last day of vacation, we spent the night with a friend in Fredericton.  We've never really spent time in the city, but when Jeff was there for an event last weekend he saw how beautiful it was, and we took the opportunity to visit as a family.  It was raining when we arrived on Friday evening, and we arrived at a gallery we intended on visiting 20 minutes before closing, so we wandered around the city in the rain for a bit, then went to our newlywed friends' house for the evening.  The next day was much nicer, and we returned to the gallery and spent the afternoon strolling the city.  It was a great day.

So far our summer has consisted of a lot of beach and water time.  These guys don't mind a bit!

Jeff and I managed to get away for a date - our first without the baby since she was born!  It was fun to get out.  We went to a movie and while I enjoyed it more than Jeff did, it was nice to be out just the two of us.

My two oldest boys attended a drama camp the week before our vacation.  The oldest had done one last year, but this year he was one of the older kids, and they were the only two boys.  I was so proud of what they had accomplished by the end of the week!  Being homeschooled, they don't get much opportunity to come together with a group of kids and put on a production, so I am grateful for these opportunities when they come around.  They were so great!

This is another shot of our trip to the Nature Park.  The kids were loving posing for me, and I came away with many great memories captured in photo.

After almost four weeks of not being able to lift my baby, this felt like Heaven!  I could sit with her if someone brought her to me, but I couldn't pick her up and carry her around, which was good (so good!) for my husband and both of her grandmothers (who came to help me when Jeff was at work), but a little sad for me because it meant that when she was upset, she wanted them.  Even when I was able to get down on the floor with her, once she figured out I wasn't picking her up it didn't take her long to find someone who could do stuff for her.  It felt so good to have my arms full of her again, but already she is clingy to me.  Perhaps I spoil her just a little bit?   I'm just making up for lost time.

This last photo was taken by my oldest son, and is possibly one of my favorite pictures ever.  It is at the top of a hill near a beach we visited last week, and the kids were having so much fun running up and down.  I love the way the kids are all to one side, and all the clear blue sky.  I think I have a budding photographer on my hands!

Even though we didn't make it to Nova Scotia, and my heart still sinks a little whenever I think of it, I am still immensely grateful for the time we spent together at home.  God is so good, and has given us so many great things to celebrate!  I sure do love this little life.

In honour of Natural Family Planning Awareness Week

It's Natural Family Planning (NFP) Awareness Week, and that has me reflecting on my own family life, and the conversion process that continues to take place after eight pregnancies, six babies, and ten years of marriage.

I've often said that when I exchanged vows with my husband on our wedding day and promised to be "open to life", I didn't really know what that meant.  I always have identified myself as pro-life, but NFP really is a conversion process.  Like many couples, our circumstances were less than ideal to have a baby when we first got married (or so we thought).  My new husband had two more years of school, and so we had prudently decided to postpone a pregnancy until he was finished, so that I could work and we would not be left with maternity leave benefits as our sole source of income.  And so we set about not conceiving - the church-approved way.

Of course we did conceive.  I think possibly on our honeymoon.  And while it had not been our initial plan, we were both thrilled.  Being newlyweds and having a new baby is so very exciting, and we were too caught up in the whirlwind of it all to be any less than happy.  Next time though, we'd do it better.  We'd pay more attention, be more cautious, and watch those charts.  We wouldn't make another mistake.

But NFP is more than just a series of charts that is the Church's alternative to contraception.  It involves the whole person, the whole relationship, self-discipline, and choosing to love each other and potential new life above all.  But the temptation is there to think that because we have all this knowledge of our biology and how it works, now we can control perfectly our family size.  And so when our second child was conceived nine months after the birth of our first, we felt like we had made a mistake.  How could this have happened so soon?  How could we have been so careless?  As time went on we accepted the new pregnancy and became happy about it, but still felt slightly embarassed about telling our friends (especially non-Catholic ones) that we were pregnant again.

And then that pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 12 weeks.  It was such a perplexing feeling of losing something you initially felt sad about, and had not really had a chance to know.  At so young although I had known the life was there, I didn't feel it within me.  I am so grateful for the gift of my oldest son, who really got us through that experience, and for the gift of that little baby, who we named John Paul, that paved the way for us to intentionally conceive our third child.

I should mention that I was working outside the home until my fifth son was born, and that added a whole new dimension of openess (or lack thereof) to my discernment of babies.  I always had a number in mind of how long I needed to be back to work, not just for EI hours (which to be truthful, I didn't want to consider, because I never intended to be that woman who was only working to build up maternity leave hours) but for my own image on the job.  I always dedicated myself as much as I could, and wanted to work with such integrity that my employers and coworkers could not ever be tempted to think I was using the job to pay for my babies.  But I experienced a whole new level of relief when my sixth child was conceived after I was home for good, because there wasn't that same kind of pressure to delay pregnancy for anyone else.

I've had people tease me about NFP, and say things like, "why would you ask them about it, they can't do it."  And I've heard people say things like, "we're doing NFP but it didn't work, because we conceived when we didn't intend to."  But as I look back on my life, on the four of my six children coceived when we were trying to postpone pregnancy, I realize that NFP was working exactly the way it was meant.  Because NFP is not a means of preventing pregnancy.  It is a means of making a decision as a couple, discerning, praying, and coming before the Lord saying, "okay God, here's what we think, and what we're working towards, but we're open to being lead in a different direction if we're wrong."  It is evidence that God does indeed step into our lives if we allow Him to, and correct us if our will differs from His.  And oh, what a joyful correction it is!  If only all of our mistaken ideas could be so generously corrected.  Because when I look back, there is not one of those babies conceived at a time when I was certain I "couldn't have a baby" that I really couldn't have had.  Not even my first, born while my husband still had one year of school to finish when we lived off of our maternity leave benefits and his student line of credit.  God sees the bigger picture, and if we allow Him to have dominion in our lives, He will reward us many times over.

So to anyone who has ever felt that NFP didn't work for you, or felt bad or embarassed that you "made a mistake", I say - kudos to you, for laying down your life and allowing God to do what many couples are so afraid of allowing Him to do.  You have your reward, and God will bring you many blessings.  You are a sign to the whole world that NFP does indeed work exactly as it should.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Martha's sacrifice

This weekend the gospel was the reading about Mary and Martha which, like most people, I've heard many times.  I think every woman (certainly every mother) can relate to the message the Lord is proposing - don't let the daily grind do you in.  Relationships are more important than chores, find Jesus in front of you.  Oh Martha, how could you be so silly?  Just rest a bit.

Listening to the homily this weekend made me look at this story a little different.  Our priest talked about comfort, specifically that hospitality often requires us to be uncomfortable.  And it made me think of last summer, how many times people would show up at our house unplanned, and how grateful I was after such a long time without regular companionship, of friends not simply when it was convenient for them, but who were really invested in me and made the effort to drop by.  I remember a few times wanting to crawl under a rock thinking that my house was so messy, but vowed that I always wanted my home to be an open one, where people could feel free to drop by unannounced and that I would value their friendship over a clean house. It didn't feel at all comfortable to be doing that, it was a conversion.  Something God was asking me to hand over to Him.

I always thought that Martha, once she actually stopped to sit in the Lord's presence, that she relaxed.  It never occurred to me that maybe she wasn't comfortable, that it was a real sacrifice for her to walk away from what she was doing.  She knew that when she was finished, her tasks would still be waiting for her.  She wasn't indulging anything, or trading anything.  Jesus was asking her to make a sacrifice - one that brought a greater good, but a sacrifice nonetheless.  And this is the way the Lord works in our lives.  Any greater good needs to come with sacrifice.  For a busy Mom, for Martha, that sacrifice is our control.  And that's no easy thing.

When I think about where I was last year vs. this year, what strikes me is how little control I have.  This time last year I was baking up a storm, making all my own bread and snacks for the kids, attending family camp, generally keeping things in order.  This year at four weeks post surgery I am still largely limited in the amount of things I can do around the house (only for the next couple of weeks though), very dependant on the people around me, and we missed family camp for the first time in five years. I have also had persistent issues nursing my daughter for the last two months, making something that should be so natural for me into such a work.  And while I've been learning so much about taking one thing at a time during all these small trials (which I am the first to admit are not so huge as they perhaps seem to me), and there has been good, it has not been comfortable.  Even when I submit willingly, when I hand over what I know the Lord is asking of me without reservation, there is still unrest.  Which I suppose is what makes the good something worth fighting for.

I relate to Martha in a whole new way this year.  And I pray that like her, I will always be able to welcome Christ in my midst.  To turn to Him even when it's not easy, even when I am distracted, even when it means giving up control in all the areas that make me feel like a better wife and mother.  May I always look to Him first, and know that I will only reach the fullness of my call when I take my identity with Him, and take each step, however uncertain, with His gentle direction.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Moment in God's Presence

This is the result of a quiet moment with my four-year-old daughter this morning.  She was in the bathroom with me while I was taking a shower.  Sometimes, especially lately, I get this feeling of anxiety that just sets in for no apparent reason.  Kind of just an uneasiness tingling just below the surface.  And I'm recognizing the beauty of these moments, because they cause my heart to long for something more.  They cause me to not be happy with anything less than God's presence in every moment - they remind me He is near.

As the warm water from the shower hit me I exhaled a deep breath and said, "Praise the Lord!" To which my daughter responded, "Why praise the Lord?"  And I said, "because He's here, because He's close."  And she went happily along playing.  And I went happily along in my shower, drinking in this soothing moment of calm, relaxation, and being with my little girl.  The gift that is every day life.  The gift that is unexplained anxiety.  The gift that is each moment.


Lord, You are never far away
The deepest stirrings of my heart
Point to You
So real, so true
Provoking my desire

Anxiety that takes my breath
And makes my heart to race
Longing for your embrace
It's Your face
Which brings me rest

The simple joys surrounding me
Exciting all my senses
Laughter, lullabies
The love in childrens' eyes
Moments so pure and true

In my heart of hearts there burns
A longing just for You
In joy, in pain
Many times over again
Resting only in You

These moments, pure gift
Always provoking my heart
Each step I take
Means to awake
A fire that burns for You

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Other Plans

Every summer for the past five years we have attended a Catholic Family Camp in Little Harbour, Nova Scotia.  I will never forget how much that first year transformed our family life!  It was so encouraging to be around so many families while ours was so young (the oldest had just turned five) and to take in the wisdom and experience of the other families.  We have made it our goal ever since to attend, no matter what.

Us at family camp last year - so blessed by this beautiful place and these beautiful people!

So you can imagine our shock when, having the van in for some work the Thursday before leaving for this year's retreat (which we had planned to leave for that Sunday), the mechanic came across another problem, which required the ordering of a part, which would not arrive until that Monday - a day late.  A series of events leading up to this news had already caused us to question whether or not we should be going, and we decided to leave it in the Lord's hands.  We messaged the organizers, dear friends of ours, to let them know that we couldn't be there until early Tuesday morning, and that if there was another family looking for a space to give them ours, since we didn't want the opportunity to be lost.  And then we prayed that the Lord would make His will known to us.

Our friends told us to come when we could, and that they would take notes.  And so we adjusted our plans. The retreat begins each day with Mass at 9:00 am, followed by a parents' session from 10:00 am - noon while the kids are at a kids' program.  Then the rest of the day is free until 7:00 pm for rosary.  Sessions are Monday - Friday, and Little Harbour is a four hour (straight) drive away.  We figured if we packed the van up Monday afternoon when we got it back, made it an early night and got the kids up and into the van at 4:00 am, we could eat breakfast on the way and we would still make it for the Tuesday morning session. No biggie.

All of our efforts as a family on Monday went towards packing ourselves up for the week - no small task for a family of eight!  The blazing heat further complicated things.  Jeff called to confirm when the van would be finished, and hitched a ride to town with a neighbor while we worked away at home.  We had all the kids' clothes packed into their suitcase when Jeff called with the disappointing news - they had broken another part in the van, and it wouldn't be ready until the next morning.  They provided Jeff with a loaner vehicle for the night, but we couldn't take that on vacation with us because they needed it back in the morning when our van was done.  By the time we were able to get the van home and packed, we wouldn't have been able to make it to family camp until supper time on Tuesday, at best.  Which would mean we would have missed almost half of the sessions.  And we had no guarantees at that point that our van would even be finished by then.  So we made the difficult decision of cancelling our trip to family camp this year.

Our kids were all disappointed, but my two most sensitive children took it the worst.  They sobbed and sobbed, and while I normally am quick to lose patience with them, I felt overwhelming grace to be compassionate.  I was drawn into their suffering because I was sharing it - I felt sad over this loss too.  And while I am often tempted (and often tell them) to just get beyond it, I knew the Lord wanted us to stay in it, and so we did.  The overwhelming theme of my life these days has been to lay it down - everything I have, the things I hold most dear, the things that bring me comfort, the Lord is gently but firmly asking for those things. I wanted so badly to be able to say to my kids, "We'll go anyway, we'll find a way".  And yet, I knew the Lord wanted them to feel this loss too, and that He wanted to be the one to satisfy them.  And there was nothing for me to do but experience it with them.

We sat around the table for supper that evening, and I lead the kids in a spontaneous prayer (something about asking the Lord to be close to us, and to help us understand what He is asking of us) which normally causes the kids' eyes to glaze over.  But not this time - they were all so earnest.  And then my four-year-old daughter did something I've never heard her do before.  She said, "And please Lord, let us go to family camp next week."  She talked directly to God all by herself.  Her eyes were closed, and I knew it was coming right from her heart.  I also know we can't go to family camp next week, but I didn't bother to correct her.  I figure that's between her and God.  And that's when I realized that maybe losing something so dear to you isn't the worst thing in the world, if it causes you reach out to God.

Our van ended up being ready at 9:00 am this morning, which left me further conflicted. For a moment, I thought maybe we could pull it together enough to salvage the rest of the week.  But we had both prayed for the Lord's will to be apparent, and I can't accept the string of events leading up to today as anything but the Lord's gentle hand.  And so, with heavy hearts, we are making the best of our time at home.  We've made no new plans (though the thought crossed our minds) but have decided instead to take this week one day at a time, being attentive to our children and the opportunities that are before us each day.

Some people pray so hard to know the Lord's will in their lives, that He would just "give them a sign".  I am so grateful for the ways God reaches into my life, even when it is to ask something so dear of me.  Sometimes we cling so desperately to the things we want. Help us instead Lord to cling desperately to Your will.
Stay-cation's not so bad