Friday, June 24, 2011

Contentment

People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be. - Abraham Lincoln

Being content is hard for all of us, I've been doing battle with discontentment quite a bit recently, since the beginning of this month I've struggled with wanting a vacation, a real one.  One that involves leaving this state and going someplace beautiful, outside our space, one that creates adventurous learning, sweet memories and peaceful sleep.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, I have so much to be thankful for and as I've been reminded this week, I don't have to spend money or drive hours away to experience happy moments or God's beautiful creation.  I'm sure some people will not relate at all to this story, and if you haven't been in this place I'm in, that's okay.  If you have, then I'm sure we'll laugh together, I can laugh about it now. 

I haven't shared what I did earlier this month in a state of discontentment, June 2 was Joe's birthday.  I was in a rut, we all were, but I was more dissatisfied than any of us I think.  It was the beginning of summer, Joe was about finished with school for the year, it was just a crazy, life is heavy kinda week.  My parents were on vacation to the beach and I wanted nothing more than to leave my kids and be with Joe, alone.  No glue in the carpet, no more waking to a 3 year old crying from wetting the bed, no more constant wars waging against siblings, you might remember...
Joe called me the afternoon before his birthday and told me he was taking off the last day of the school year. I was excited and desperate to change our chaos.  I wanted to be spontaneous and do something to break the mold we were in.  We didn't have any babysitting options, so I knew we'd have to take the kids, but hoped it would be a fun time for all us, a change of scenery, a reversal of all of our attitudes.  So, I reserved a hotel in our hometown to save on gas, packed everything the 6 of us would need, secretly hid the luggage, made up an excuse to go to Wal-Mart and when Joe came home from work I loaded the pack-n-play and hidden bags into the van without him noticing.  At Wal-Mart I picked up a giant cookie for his birthday and bought swim clothes for those that needed them.
Bethany and Joseph were in on my secret and had kept it quiet until I gave them the word when I finished at Wal-Mart.  They were overflowing with excitement, all three of the kids were, Joe tried to put on a good cover for us, but I sensed he really wasn't into it.
From the moment we checked in, it was all about the kids, who's turn it was to push which elevator button, jumping on the bed Joe tried to rest on, then began the nagging to go swimming NOW, we went swimming only to bring them back and give them all baths, then it was bedtime and there was torturous fighting over who slept where and who hogged all the covers.  Jenna cried and cried, spankings were threatened, there was nothing to watch on TV without our regular DVR'ed shows we had at home.
I laid in bed, the sheets filled with cookie crumbs, sick to my stomach for wasting money on such a miserable night.  Joe and I were both worn out mentally and physically from the evenings rigorous schedule and now we were stuck in the same room with them, prisoners.
Don't get me wrong, we both enjoyed seeing them have fun and laugh and play in the pool.  We both shot glances at each other over cute things the kids had said and done during the night, but it was all about the kids and nothing about Joe's birthday or either of us getting rest.  It was completely the opposite of rest and only enhanced all the feelings we had prior to coming to hotel.  Now we just wanted to be home in our own bed!
We woke at 6 the next morning captive to their hungry tummies, the request came in for breakfast, we went to breakfast and juggled holding Brady and fixing plates and refilling drinks.  Both of us tried to make the best of it, but both of us knew this was the worst idea I have had in a long time.  Then came in the pretty pleases for swimming a second time before we had to go home, which resulted in another round of baths before noon.
We came home worn out and exhausted.  The kids still talk about what a great time they had and Joe and I look at each other and laugh, and I cringe.  The sick feeling is still in my stomach from spending the money, so I don't like to talk about it.  Joe really appreciated my attempt to do something special, he thought it was sweet of me and understood my thought process even if it failed to accomplish what I hoped it might.

It's still been an underlying issue with me, slowly I've had to work on my attitude and patience with the kids and pray for refreshing during housework and motherhood.  I have refocused and rid myself of some unbecoming resentments with the Lord's help.
Earlier this week, I realized I still envied others on vacations.  So, I made plans, not big glamorous plans, just practical get out of the house and enjoy our family plans.  We went a very short distance to a National Park right down the road, we had a picnic and learned about Abraham Lincoln.  It was truly one of the best days ever.  On our way to the park, Jenna threatened us by saying, "This place better have a playground!"
The kids had so much fun learning about our 16th president, they were amazed by what they learned and I was amazed by what they retained.  Jenna later talked to my mom on the phone and told her about the 56 steps we walked up that represented the years of his life and how "he was shot in the head."  Joseph recounted the cabin that we saw inside the memorial and how they made it smaller to fit inside.
 If you go to a National Park be sure to check out their Junior Ranger Program, it is very cool.  The kids received ranger badges and we can't wait to visit another park and add to their collection.
 We visited the Lincoln Museum where the girls got bonnets and Joseph got a set of civil war men.  The girls were so cute and innocent in their bonnets.  They have worn them for three days all over the place without embarrassment.
The weather was overcast and it rained, but always at the perfect time when we were indoors.  The Lord was so good to bless our day by keeping us dry.  On the way home Joseph, Jenna and Brady conked out and Bethany read the brochures about the park and Abraham Lincoln.
 Yesterday we packed another lunch and picnicked at one of my favorite places ever Berheim Forest.  If you are ever on I-65 south of Louisville, you must stop by to enjoy it's beauty.  We really didn't expect our day at Berheim to surpass our day visiting the Lincoln Museum and National Park but it did.
Taking a day to do nothing but explore and enjoy made me realize how seldom we just be.  I realized I wasn't saying, "Come'on!  Hurry up!  Let's go!"  The kids played at the visitors center and the playground, Brady had his first swing ride and loved it!!  Jenna and he are swinging buddy's now.  He couldn't stop smiling as always.
 Joseph was like a free bird, he ran way ahead and waited for us to catch up.  During our picnic a bunch of rowdy teens had a picnic, after they left Joseph saw they had left all of their garbage on the ground.  I have never witnessed someone leaving all of their trash and not picking any of it up, neither had he and he immediately took our trash bag over and gathered it all up.  Bethany and Jenna followed.  Joseph has always hated littering, ever since I told him it's wrong to litter he will talk about it when he sees garbage on the ground.  I remember he used to say, "Somebody wittered!!"  Joe and I jokingly said he's an advocate for anti-littering, we were so proud of his willingness to pick it up.  Bethany said it made her feel good to pick it up, she said it was their job since they are Junior Rangers! :)
After a picnic we let them play in a creek that ran under a road.  Originally, the rule was only wading and they had to keep dry so that we could go see some wildlife afterward.  Soon their shorts were wet and then Joseph lost his shirt, eventually all three of them were soaked thoroughly and I couldn't help but love it.  We all had so much fun wading in the cold water.  This waterplay  was better then any science museum we've paid to visit.  There were two pipes running under the road and the kids kept racing sticks and eventually their shoes from one side to the other.
 The shrill laughter from Joseph each time he raced across the road to watch his shoe or stick come floating out the other side was priceless.  The three of them playing together and discovering was precious.  Brady slept through the entire the thing in his car seat.
Memories aren't only made on beaches far away or high up in the mountains, vacations aren't the only time to turn off the TV, the cell phones and the internet, or to leave the dishes dirty and the laundry in the washer.  Money doesn't buy happiness, moments or blessings.
The greatest moments, the biggest blessings, the truest joy comes in God's simply powerful reminders.  When the breeze blows across my face, when my husband whispers his love for me, when our children find wonder in the wonderfully, magnificent clear cold water, when our baby sleeps under a green umberalla of shade, when my heart questions why I dare ever question His faithful compassions toward me.  I don't deserve any of this, yet He gives abundantly, despite my ungratefulness, my lack of faith, my neglect of Him.  There is no end to learning and growing
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

6 comments:

~Mom~ said...

That is the cutest picture of Abraham Lincoln and his wife I have ever seen! I may have to frame that one.

random blogger said...

real, honest, raw, very good! i can relate to the chase after contentment. appreciate your post.

Eleana said...

Thank-you for your honesty. It helps to see that some of my sentiments are not alone. This month of going back to work has really been difficult and I'm so looking forward to summer. I am glad that you managed to escape the doldrums via the national park -- there are so many places in our neighbourhood that we often forget when we are in search everywhere else.

Sarann said...

The Junior Ranger Program is awesome! I work near a National Monument that did a press release about a girl who earned 235 badges in six years. You can see a picture of her vest with all the badges here: http://www.nps.gov/pisp/forkids/upload/235%20and%20countingWEB.pdf

Anonymous said...

I love Bernheim- wish we had something so pristine here! As you mentioned, everyone struggles with contemptment. I read a blog earlier this week from a mom of two, and both her babies spent some time in the NICU before they were cleared to come home. Both her kids are on different schedules, so she is constantly exhausted- and her husband is recently out of a job. She said that when we feels frusterated and wants to complain she just thinks how blessed she is to have her babies at home, alive, and well. Sometimes I think we all have to think about how good we have it. Sometimes I read your blog and think how blessed you are to have Joe home for the summers, live near family, be so creative...those are things I get disontented about. Anyway, this response is getting long, but just remember how blessed you are, and there will be a day to enjoy the beach. =) ~Erin

Miranda said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Erin. I agree, I am blessed. The responsibilities multiply and grow so great, but it does not change how blessed I am.