Recalculating Route

Alison, the passenger

Alison, the passenger

It’s true.  I’ve been known to get a little anxiety about being in high-stress situations in a vehicle — these may include bad winter roads, high traffic, or unknown places which is sad because I have also driven lots of places on my own, far more than I ever dreamed I would!

Traveling with my family on my sweet man’s business trips and setting up in various cities with a determination to take my children to see the sights while he conducted meetings, tends to force a girl out of her comfort zone.  When we first started road-tripping as a family, I earned my navigational chops with a rare item — you may have heard of it?  It’s called a paper map.  Eventually, we progressed to a GPS that suctioned to the windshield.  One of those babies guided me, driving on my own with my children in the backseat) through downtown Washington DC (my most challenging driving to date).  I once drove a bit on the wrong side of the road in Australia.  I have navigated my husband through situations so dicey we would never want to repeat them.  In those moments, when tensions run high, I promise, it helps everything when you love your navigator — and he, you.

Ironically, now we live in a place where we are literally the farthest location in the continental US from an interstate highway.  Where we live, two lane roads are what we’ve got, and every route will most likely include dirt-road driving.  With some of the highest snowfall in the country, winter-road-driving is an every day occurrence half of the year.  Might as well settle into it.

Because though the weather might be frightening, it also provides views like this…


Or this…


But there are still days.  There are still times when my stomach is in my throat.  When I have to release my grip from the passenger door.  When I have to tell myself that tears won’t help the zero visibility and give myself a pep talk something like…”Chin up, buttercup!  Just get home.”  Or maybe, “Please, Jesus just take the wheel!”  Haha.

When I look back at the path we have chosen as a family, I see it like those big cities, foreign countries, and unfamiliar roads.  There have been so many that were overwhelming, so many that felt upside-down and backwards, and so many that were so beautiful, they took my breath away.

Around the world, you find a couple different kinds of folks.  You find those that are content to stay put, and those that need to see more than the world around them.  Everywhere we’ve been, we find people who have always been in their hometown and have never ventured out.  And then you find people like we’ve been with an insatiable desire to have our worlds expanded.  I think each has a hard time imagining how the other feels.

Once upon a time, we were doing the thing.  We were living in a neighborhood and driving a minivan and we had a dog and a cat and a boy and two girls.  My husband worked long hours, and I did from home as well.  We went to a church and were working our way up the *life ladders,* whether social, church or corporate. Our visions for our future and our family looked much like everyone else’s.  We had a 401K because everyone did.  We invested more than we had into our home because we were told it was a sound investment.

We made most decisions based on how it would be perceived rather than what was authentic to who we were.

And then, one day, we were told that we were traveling too much and our kids were missing too much school.  An awareness began.  A feeling of unrest took root.  When it was time to send my little precious people out to a freezing cold bus stop and send them to a movie day at school with their pillows and a stuffed animal, I kept them home and we watched the same movie snuggled in momma’s bed, and I realized there might be a different way.  I began to research and it was within a few weeks that we quit school and our precious little people inspired a new path for our family — at home.  We understood (though we had no idea the depth) that we would be different.  That our children would be judged and stared at and commented upon.  But we were willing to pay that price.

That price affected us greatly.  We endured insults and comments and judgments.  But we also road-tripped 48 states and visited several countries.  We also got as close as a family can get, and beautifully, that bond endures.  My children are brilliant (I wish I could take the credit but I can’t) because they had space and time to learn and grow and develop on their own.  And even because of the comments and insults and judgments.

This first route change began a series of route recalculations that we could have never seen coming.  Within a few years, we would be called as a family to buck all of the systems and lay down every one of our desires to be normal and keep up with those darn Joneses.  Each time we got called out of something, we lost friends and areas of community, and each time we gained vast perspective and measures of freedom.

I heard a song recently called Different.  In it, the writer says he longs to be different.  To take the road less traveled, so to speak.  I heard those words and I wondered if he meant it.  We thought that once.  We told God we would be willing to do anything He asked us to.  We told Him we would lay it ALL down.  He listened.  He put one challenge, one obstacle course after another in front of us, and asked if we meant it.  Each time, we felt His smile and His hand guiding our every move.  But each time we had to be willing to lose to GAIN.  Perhaps the hardest part was letting go of what folks would think, but each time got easier and those voices faded into the distance.

It’s like putting a destination into your map app and seeing the shortest, easiest route and instead choosing the route with tolls and bridges and dirt roads and maybe even a ferry ride –through a blizzard.

The harder path changes you.  It has to because the challenges make you dig into your grit, lean heavily into trusting something bigger than yourself even when the way is unclear, yet provides you with views and stories of which you’ve never dreamed!

Our best stories from our 13,000 mile family RV trip 8 years ago are the ones that got us to impossible moments where we reached the end of the road and our own capabilities.  Only miracles could fix the pickles in which we found ourselves.

And miracles abounded.

So here’s a question for you: let’s say you were to begin a road trip of that magnitude today with your family.  Would you prefer to travel in an ancient, untested RV that got 5 miles to the gallon, beginning with $600 in your bank account with winter on your heels, OR would you pick the million dollar motorhome with all the comforts possible, unlimited funds, guaranteed safety, and perfect summer weather?  I’m asking myself right this minute, and I will still say that I honestly don’t know.  I did the first one and guys, it was HARD! And scary! And pushed me to my limits as a person, wife, and mother.  Yet, I GREW!  I left my home convinced that the place on which we had a huge mortgage was the only home I had ever known and I could never — would never — leave it.  I came home from that trip having seen things that made me ready to shuck off anything and everything and go anywhere God asked me to go.  I let go of all of the things I thought were important and was prepared for anything.  In each *impossible* situation, my fingers were pried off of my security, one by one,  and I was asked to trust in a whole new way.  By the time we pulled in to palm tree-lined campground pads next to Prevosts in our Clampett-mobile a couple dozen times, we had decided that our image was something to let go of!

But friends, our dreams changed! Our scope, our perspective, our very vision grew!!  We saw our box and leaped out!!! Our lives would turn upside down, and we would be called to *different* in a way we could have never imagined in a million years.

We sit in awe these days — awe at what God did with our dreams when we set them at His feet.

He took us through storms to train us to lean in and listen through the wind and thunder for the route to be recalculated.

He drove us through deserts so we would not only know what dry felt like, but abundance when we saw it.

He took us on roads so winding that we couldn’t even see the road ahead until we popped out on top of a mountain and had our breath stolen by the view.

I say it often — you can’t surrender a little bit.  Surrender to something bigger than you requires every little morsel.  But when the road you’re on has signs that feel like STOP and DEAD END, it’s most likely that surrendering the route to the Navigator Who adores you, Who can see the view from every direction, will absolutely change your life.

And you wouldn’t go back for ANYTHING.


Momma-isms Part Two

I knew this would happen. I knew I would post Momma-isms and then come up with more as time went on. I just say way too many things around here to sum them up as quickly as I did.
Now, if I wrote a post about the crappy things I said, you’d all quit reading, but since there are a few good things here and there, I’d rather draw your attention, and that of my family, to those. That way, it’s written down for all to see and the crappy things I’ve said are deniable. :o)

Well, I do have to say, in my own defense, I don’t think anyone who lives here would ever say that I insult or intentionally hurt someone’s feelings. I believe much too strongly in the power of words. I might, however, be accused of nagging reminding people too often of things that need to get done or correcting suggesting better ways to do things.

So, back to the things I’d like for them to remember.

1. You’re responsible for you.
That’s it.

You don’t need to fix anyone else,

worry about what they are up to,

or be concerned about their words.

At the end of the day, between you and God, all that you are responsible for is the way you behaved, treated others, and spoke. Despite what others said or did. No matter how much you think you’re justified in noticing and/or commenting on their behavior.

You’re only responsible for you.
Adults may need this reminder hourly. It would help us remember not to judge, wouldn’t it? I also say that you never know what someone else is going through until you’ve walked in their shoes. I say that from experience after having been judged for decisions I made knowing people could never have understood the road I had traveled.
We base our judgments on how our view has been flavored by our own circumstance. Every single person is doing the same thing. No one sees this world through the same colored glasses.

And, we can’t save anyone. This one is tough. We may think we have every answer, but in the end, no one needs our opinion unless they’ve asked for it. No one needs our answers unless they are ready to hear them. As far as saving goes, isn’t God big enough to draw folks to Him without our interference? His job, and He’s awesome at it, is to prepare hearts to be ready to hear what He has to say. Our job is to be available and listening for a chance to share our story. Not to have the answers and cram them down someone’s throat. Most likely they will be thrown right back into our face.
And, that counts for our spouse (and don’t we just know EVERYTHING they need to fix!), our children, and those out there who just don’t have it all together the way we do (insert sarcasm here).

Love speaks much louder than opinion.

And, frankly, I have enough to do to keep track of myself and my own behavior. I don’t even have time to worry about yours!
I’m just going to live out the love I’ve been shown and let that speak instead of feeling the need to go around sharing my opinion.
Except, of course, this blog which is entirely my opinion, but you choose whether or not you want to see it so that doesn’t count.

2. I can’t hear you when you whine.
Haha! That one is still funny to me. I can distinctly remember when my kids were going through that whiny stage that happens somewhere between the ages of four and seven. They would say something to me 497 times in that horrible voice that only a tired, cranky, somewhat desperate child that age has until I finally learned to say, “I can’t hear you when you whine. When you decide to be calm and talk to me in a normal voice and ask me nicely, I will listen.” Then, I set my jaw, bit my tongue almost off, and ignored them until they could take a deep breath and calm down and present me with something worth my time.
It really worked.
And, it makes me wonder how many times God may be saying, in a much better way than I ever could, “Alison, I just can’t hear you when you whine. If you would change your tone and take a deep breath and remember Who I Am, I would love to listen to you. I love you and what you need matters to me, but the way your presenting it is wearing you, and quite frankly Me out.”
Yes, I know all too well that I can’t wear God out. Thank goodness, or He would have had enough of me a LONG time ago. It was for the sake of the point, and I just made it to myself.

3. Friendship starts here first.
Coming from a family in which no one got along–ever–it was my goal to live in a family in which loving each other was priority number two (right after loving God). I learned quickly in this new family we were creating, that a successful relationship needs time and attention and an awful lot of tenderness.

When priorities fall outside the lines of a family, the family relationships suffer. Period.

When my kids would fight and squabble, I would remind them that their sibling is their best friend for the rest of their life. If we can’t succeed at that then we won’t spend time on friendships outside until we figure it out. Sleep-overs and playdates got cancelled until we learned how to get along at home.

It still holds true, despite the fact that my kids are much more grown. The relationships they have built with each other still feel like a phenomenon to me every time I see how closely intertwined they are. It’s a beautiful thing. They are-well, we all are-very closely knit in this home; and because we made that a priority, relationships have been forged that will stand strong.
I’m amazed at what God has made out of so little.

4. Greedy or grateful?
I thought of this yesterday as I felt sorry for myself about a certain situation in which things didn’t exactly go my way. I may have thrown what we call in this house a “baby fit.” Or, I may not have. I’ll never tell the details, that’s for sure. But, I did have a little talk with myself, and those words came to mind.
When my kids demanded that extra thing, and were very sure they should get their way, I would simply say, “Are you being greedy or grateful?”
That stings, doesn’t it? We want what we want when we want it. We really aren’t very accustomed to waiting, or heaven forbid, being told “No.”
Let me just encourage you with this. Look around you. We are blessed. We don’t go hungry. We are healthy and well-provided for. Complaining at all makes us sound greedy. And, I just wrote all of that for my very own self.

5. People will always let you down.
I know this sounds so negative, but it’s really about expectations. Often, we put expectations on people that aren’t fair to them and they are based on our own need. Then, we get upset because they didn’t meet that expectation, and we hold it against them. I still do it–often. I think it might be human nature. But it really sets us up to fail, and to be let down.
No one could ever possibly live up to someone else’s expectations.
We need to work hard enough just to be authentic; to love the way we love, to behave the way we behave and to let that be good enough. Ultimately, though that means we will let people down. There is really only One true constant in this world. Only One Who never changes and is always enough. It would be wise of us to remember that.

I have some amazing friends and extended family. I’m excited to hear some of your wisdom. Please comment here, and share some of your Momma-isms.