The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. Psalm 16:6

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Greatest Place on Earth (a.k.a. How To Usher Seven People Through Disneyland Without Losing Your Marbles)

On Monday we visited "The Greatest Place on Earth" to celebrate the birthday of our king youngest. As we were tramping countless miles through masses of humanity, overpriced culinary temptations, and more flashing lights than a normal human being can possibly handle without seizing I though, "This would make an amusing blog post." And here it is:

Tip #1: Plan Your Visit for the Most Random Weekday Possible

We have learned from experience that one has to be an insane psychopath to visit Disneyland in the summer or, heaven-forbid, at Christmastime. During that week between Christmas and New Years they will have somewhere in the vicinity of 70,000 people in the park per day. Yes, you read that correctly. Don't do it. Consider yourself warned. January 24th was a perfect day as all the kids (college included) were back in classes. Yay for homeschooling!

Tip #2: Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Have All of the Children Contained in an Enclosed Environment

Call it a photo op. Call it a chance to pretend you're in a movie. Call it whatever you want. But revel in the few moments of having them in an inescapable position.

Tip #3: Let One Person Dictate What Happens Next

Seven people = seven completely different opinions. You will be quickly driven to insanity if you allow everyone to share their opinion about what to do next. "Pirates! Snow White! Haunted Mansion! Splash Mountain!" Since we usually are celebrating a birthday when we are at Disney, the birthday boy/girl chooses the itinerary. Even if they're 4 and don't know the difference between the Matterhorn and Space Mountain. I am happy to call the Matterhorn Space Mountain, if necessary. 

Tip #4: Definitely Get the Birthday Button

Because when you are the youngest of five you need all the help you can get in the attention department!

Not that your inflated ego needs too much help.

Tip #5: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Pass Up an Opportunity to Have Everyone Use the Bathroom

Seriously, my kids think that I have a problem, but if we pass a public restroom we use matter what. Don't tell me you don't need to go, it will fall on deaf ears. Because Mommy will respond in a less-than-gracious way if you spring on her that you have to go potty when we are 3 people away from getting on the Dumbo ride. Trust me, it is NOT pretty!

Tip #6: Bring Advil

Because you WILL need it and you WILL NOT want to walk all the way over to Magoo's Tattoo to buy 2 pills for $1.57. Trust me.

Tip #7: Pack Seven Water Bottles, the Camera, Sunscreen, Snacks, Ponchos, Sweatshirts, and Sunglasses into One Gigantic Backpack and Give it Your Teenage Male Offspring to Carry

It levels the playing field a bit and slows him down enough that you can keep up. Plus, you don't have to buy seven water bottles at $3 a piece.

Tip #8: Definitely See The "World of Color" Show at California Adventure

Despite the cost of getting "reserved viewing" status, waiting for one hour while sitting on the cold concrete, trying to come up with games to keep the slightly-less-than-enthused under 14 crowd occupied during said waiting period, answering all the questions of the "chatty Cathy" sitting next to you, it was well worth it. Ah-May-Zing!!!!

Tip #9: Let Your Strong, Manly Husband Carry the Conked-Out Birthday Boy the 247 Miles Back to the Car

I offered to empty the stroller so that we could push him back and Gustav said, "No Way. I want to carry him." Yep. That's my man.

Tip #10: Be Thankful That the Lord Has Blessed You So Very Richly.

Because He most definitely has. And I most definitely do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Get Real

               Not too long ago I had the opportunity to gather with eight women from our home Bible study. We were gathering on a Saturday evening to spend some time in the Word, to encourage one another, and to discuss how God uses trials in our lives to draw us to Himself, to refine us, and to make us more Christ-like. We all arrived together, shared some delicious dinner, oooh’d and aaah’d over the little babies who were present with us, and then sat down to have some informal conversation.
                What happened next was fascinating. I shared with the ladies the trial that anemia has been in my life for the past eighteen months. I shared my propensity to become down (I even used the other ‘D’ word – depressed – as despised as any four-letter word in the church) because of my constant lack of energy, my weight gain, and my sadness at having little joy in the beautiful, blessed life God has given me. It was the first time I had shared this trial with these women – my sisters in Christ. I cried. I actually wept at one point and was unable to continue talking.
                As we moved around the circle of women, the ladies shared the trials and difficulties they were experiencing at the time. One woman lamented her teenage son’s disobedience and turning from the faith of his parents. One woman shared her recent struggle with painful physical maladies which led to her being short-tempered with her husband and children. One longing to hold a baby and unable to conceive. One struggling with returning to work after the birth of her firstborn. One watching a strong, godly father slip into the darkness of Alzheimer's. All felt the painful sting of sin in their lives. All desired lives marked by obedience and contentment. All longed for a closer walk with their Savior. With our Savior.
                I had no idea that these women were suffering, just as they were in the dark about my suffering. A new member of our group – new not only to the group, but also to our marvelous faith – spoke with me afterwards. She wanted me to know that she was so encouraged by our honest sharing, because she felt as though she was the only one struggling with sin in her life. We all looked like we had it “all together,” she said, and she was starting to wonder what was wrong with her.

                Shame on us.

                Shame on us, broken sinners saved by glorious grace, dead souls resuscitated by the life-giving blood of Christ,  for having the audacity to act like we’ve got it all under control. How dare we put on airs among our brothers and sisters? Those who share the same Father? The same inheritance? The same miraculous rebirth from the ashes?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

               Sisters, let us not discourage those around us by putting on a holy show. Let us not demean the miraculous work Christ has done in us by refusing to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is STILL at work in us, purifying us and making us more and more like Christ, with each trial, each stumble, and each tear. It is the filthy sin of pride waging war within us that drives us to act as though we are above struggling, above difficulties.

               Above sin.

                Let us love one another by being honest. Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And, dear sisters, allow others to weep with YOU and rejoice with YOU. It makes our walk along this sanctification path all the more rich, when we allow others to stroll with us occasionally.

Be honest.
Be humble.
Be real.