Categories
Addie Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth

A Tale of Two Snow Days

 

It was Monday morning, and I breathed a sigh of relief as my boys boarded the school bus. After pouring myself a cup of coffee, I wrote a to do list for my day; work, a quick trip to the gym, errands, meal prep, more work.

 

“Go, me! I’m so organized and efficient!” (Insert self-congratulatory pat on the back here.)


I was just starting to hit my work stride, when I received a message from my sons’ school; school is canceled for the day, due to a gas leak. Come get your kids…like, right now.


Maybe some moms cheered for extra time to spend with their little angels; I’m not that mom. While I love my little men more than I can express, I had a to do list that was going to get done, darn it.
So, while my boys had a great day playing in the snow and watching movies, I spent the day in frustration. I couldn’t seem to concentrate on my work, as I had constant interruptions to help with building a snowman. But I also couldn’t concentrate on having fun because I was beating myself up for not getting enough work done. Can anyone relate?


That night I had a massive headache; I prayed that God would help me to be more present the next time my best laid plans needed to be laid aside. Three days later, He provided just that – six inches of snow in central Illinois – another mid-November snow day.


I was determined this day would be better for all of us. I drew some parameters – the boys could play video games or watch television while I did a couple of hours of work – then I would be present. I asked them to make a list of non-screen-related snow day activities, and we would do them when I was finished.  Later, I cooked a special brunch and we got busy crossing things off that list, rather than my usual to-do list; snowball fight, board games, drinking hot cocoa. I must admit, their list was a whole lot more fun than mine!

 

As the Bible teaches, The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (Proverbs 16:9).  Like an unforeseen snow day, sometimes our life plans change; perhaps an illness robs us of our independence, or a job loss forces us to forge a new path.  I pray that God will help me remember the lesson of the second snow day; to surrender to new possibilities and blessings that come from the unexpected.

 

Categories
Amy M. Ink Slingers Parenting Vocations

Spring Break

Spring Break… Answering the Challenge

   Spring Break 1

 

   As Spring Break approached, it seems the talk of the school and even the city, centers around where everyone is going.  Florida, Mexico, cruises… they all seem to be popular answers. Those of us “stuck” at home feel caught up in still “making the most” of the week. When I asked the children what they wanted to do this year during spring break, two things won out.  

   The first was a major bedroom switch. Four bedrooms, seven kids in five days. It was no small task. Amazingly, it went well with even the attic being reorganized! Most of the kids are enjoying the new arrangement of rooms.  Our “Felix and Oscar” (think “Odd Couple”) no longer share a room, which will hopefully preserve their relationship in the long run! The only one who may have gotten the short end of the stick is our oldest who is now sharing a room with his much younger brother. He’s adapting though, so life lesson built in!

   The second request was a trip to the Dunes to go hiking. The plan was to go on Monday. It was cold and raining.  Tuesday, and more of the same. All week our plans to go to hiking were thwarted by cold, wet weather. It seemed maybe we would have to be satisfied with the room change as our only spring break adventure.

   Saturday dawned bright, chilly, and breezy. We decided to make a go of it, packed a cooler for lunch, and made our way to the beach. The balmy 45 degrees nearly deterred us when we arrived, but the horizon was bright. After a stopSpring Break 2 at the nature center introducing us to many different birds, we chose a trail. Our only criteria before choosing was that we wanted a moderate or easy trail. We figured relatively short was probably best given the low temperatures and short legs and wanted to end up on the beach to walk back to the parking lot..

   We chose a trail we’ve walked many times, climbing one dune and then heading straight to the lake. However, with the older kids running ahead of us, they wanted to try a “new” path. We veered off from our original plan to trail 8. We figured we would just climb the one extra dune and then meet up with our original trail back to the beach. Reaching the peak of the dune we enjoyed the beautiful view. The cold temperatures and the breeze were much more tolerable while moving. After a quick break, we headed back on the trail toward our original trail. It’d all be downhill from there, we thought.  Spring Break 3

   It was, for a while. Then, we started to climb again. Spring Break 4 Hmmm…. Reaching a second peak, one of our daughters pointed out that we had now completed two-thirds of a 3-Dune Challenge the Nature Center advertised. Not ones to back down from a challenge, what could we do but continue and complete the challenge of the dunes.  Spring Break 5

   The third dune was all stairs. Easier than sand? Um no. But we did it! From the top, we could see the waves breaking and the shoreline for miles. It was breathtaking. The challenge trail looped back to the Nature Center where started.  

   It wasn’t the adventure we planned. It wasn’t the easy trail or even a particularly short trail. In fact, it was the only rugged trail on the map we learned on our way home. We didn’t end up leisurely walking back along the beach to the parking lot. 

   As Lent comes to a close this week, I find myself reflecting on my plans on Ash Wednesday. The prayers, fasting, almsgiving all have helped me quietly reflect on Jesus’ Passion.  I feel myself resetting as I often do during Lent. The purposeful slowing down chips away at the barriers that grow during the year. Busyness, plans, commitments that seem harmless but in reality are walls building up between God and me, pulling me away from God’s plan for my life. Lent is the time each year where I refocus, which breaks down those walls.

   Getting off the merry-go-round of keeping up and doing more, I can see that the simple, the best, things come when we just let go and let God. 

   God has a plan for each of us. The plan tends to be so much bigger than we can comprehend. We can only see a little ahead of us so that we don’t become discouraged. If we had known what we were going to be climbing, it’s likely we would have chosen a different trail, afraid the one with all the dunes would be too much for our little ones to complete.  

   In the end we would have missed out by doing that though. We would have missed the camaraderie, the sense of accomplishment, not to mention the beautiful views. Asking the children if they had a good break was met with a unanimous “yes.”  God’s plan is bigger and better than any of us can imagine. We just have to take the first step in faith. He will do the rest.

   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm
   you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Spring Break 6

Categories
Amy M. Ink Slingers Marriage Motherhood Vocations

Thanks for the memories …

 

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     For longer than I can remember, I have had trouble as seasons change or things come to an end.  I tend to start focusing on “this is the last time I/we will do…”  As a school year ends, this is the last time we will have children in these specific grades.  With my sixth child, I spent much of his babyhood thinking about the “lasts” we were experiencing.  Last child to see start to walk, last time nursing a baby.  Then came baby number seven, and we start all over again.

     Our oldest daughter decided to stop playing softball this summer.  This decision was not reached quickly.  We knew she was ready to take a break most of the year.  Many times I approached a scrimmage or game as the last time I would ever see her play. She played in the Nationals, came home and said she was hanging up her cleats.  We’ve seen her play her last softball game.

     It’s easy to get caught up in the lasts of life.  It’s easy to dwell on what we are losing and what we will never have again.

     As the summer winds down, I find myself beginning to get bogged down with lasts again.  The last few days of sleeping later, the last chances to go the beach, enjoy a day of nothing, fit in the bucket list.  The pressure begins to build up as time winds down.  We must pack as many experiences into these last few times in order for it to be “successful.”

     However, what if we focus on a different perspective.  My mom corrected my sister recently when she was saying that she was sad that she was heading to her last dance practice.  Mom told her to change her focus.  She said focus on the memories she has with her dance group instead of it ending.  

     My sister mentioned this conversation to me in passing, but it has stayed in the forefront of mind ever since she said it.  Why do we focus so much on the ending when we know that we miss the opportunity to keep making memories, to live in the moment?  We start to worry so much about what we will be missing, that we miss what we still have.

     What happens when the last time comes unexpectedly?  An injury, an illness, an unforeseen obligation or opportunity that changes the plans we made?  Without even knowing it was coming, we suddenly only have memories.

     As much as Jesus talked about how He would be put to death, His disciples were still caught by surprise when it happened.  Then, they focused on having seen Him for the last time instead of on their memories and what He had taught them.  They lived in fear of the unknown.  

     Life is going to keep moving whether we focus on memories, focus on the last time looming all too close, focus on the future and what we think it should hold, trying to control the outcomes of our lives.  Another way to live is to cherish our memories, knowing that our previous experiences help to shape us into the people we are becoming.  Memories help us to see the progress we are making.  Living with each experience possibly being a “last time” can help us to cherish and to learn even more.  Then we can move past the fear of the unknown future to the next experience and create the next memory God has planned for us.  

Thanks for the memories