Adventures in traveling

Today kicked off our first of three family vacations of the summer. My cousin is getting married in St. Louis this weekend. He is on my dad's side, many of whom have never met my children, with the exception of Monkey when she was a baby. Preparing for long trips with children is always a challenge for me. This time proved especially challenging because the Dude left Sunday night on business leaving me to do all the packing and preparing on my own. I like to pack, I think I am pretty good at it too! However, it is a bit more difficult while trying to entertain and care for the kids at the same time. I found myself folding a piece of laundry in between zooming cars, donning princess hats, and replacing pacifiers. It was a bit hectic but looking back I have to smile. Will I ever be this blissfully busy again in my life? Another detail that made preparing for this trip special was the exterminator. Last week we found our third black widow spider of the year. {I have pictures, but not with me.} I have spotted them in door jams and in the garden hose caddy, but this time it was in Monkey's bike helmet, which is just a little too close for comfort. So we thanked the Lord for his provision in keeping Monkey from putting her helmet on, and called the bug guy. The only open appointment was this morning at 8am which worked out great in one sense: he could spray and I could get the kids out of the house for a week, and bad in one sense: my house had to be decluttered and all the toys had to be in the middle of the rooms. Yikes. These challenges and a few annoyances {a newly potty-trained toddler, broken sunglasses, no time for coffee} had me zapped of joy by the time I finally got out of town on our should be 3 1/2 hour trip.  I knew my heart was struggling so I said a quick prayer thanking God for the obvious blessings of the morning. But with a caffeine headache on the horizon I knew I needed grace for the day, and the trip for that matter. I have been learning a lot about finding my joy in the fact that my heavenly Father loves me abundantly. And the way that love is manifested is not in making my life easier, prettier, more organized, less hectic. Those are all the things I would selfishly hope for. True joy comes when I feel most loved by God when he enables me to make much of him {John Piper}.  How can I make much of him? Remember him! Remember how I was totally depraved and God rescued me through the killing of his own Son. Preach the gospel to myself over and over and over. {Matt Chandler}. That pretty much puts everything else in perspective. Pray for grace, come to God as a child and ask for his help to be joyful. Not to merely act joyful which is hypocrisy, but to trust him in his ultimate love and care for me. {Paul Miller, A Praying Life}.

 Six hours later we made it to Kansas City, our halfway stopping point to meet up with the Dude. No worse for the ware I might add. Kids are so resilient and awesome!

I'm going to bed tonight thanking God that he loves me enough to not make things so easy on me that I forget him.

Good night!

Elizabeth Ann