Sunday, September 23, 2012

there. and back. and there again.


(this is what you think a road trip will be like with kids...BEFORE you have kids:) 

in five weeks we traveled from:

okc to bellevue, kentucky 
from bellevue, kentucky to grand rapids, michigan 
from grand rapids, michigan to okc again 
and then from okc to grand rapids, michigan again 
and finally from grand rapids, michigan to bellevue, kentucky.

this was a lot of road tripping.  my kids don't particularly like road trips.  my kids rarely, dare i say, never sleep on road trips.  we even did one 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. drive and there was no sleeping involved.  the picture above was taken because it was such a rarity.  and lasted five whole minutes.

i never articulated this feeling, but i always operated under the assumption that if i provided enough DVDs, enough DS games, and enough fruit snacks, my kids should just ride in peace.  of course this assumption never proved true.  and of course in light of that, i got angry.  all of these factors made road trips not very much fun in the varela-mobile.  

this time around i decided to take a different approach.  i tried to start viewing my role as helping the kids pass the time.  maybe even entering into enjoying the time.  rather than my usual "do the least amount possible to make sure they're quiet" routine.  the results were amazing.  now of course i was not living out of this attitude during every minute of the trip.  but i did make some big changes that helped set the tone.  #1-i didn't bring anything for me to do.  that means no podcasts, no itunes playlists, no knitting, no nothing.  i was there to be with my kids and when they requested something or needed some assistance, i was available.  and therefore not annoyed.  and the end result was less anger, huffing, and general ugliness.  #2-i brought lots of stuff for them to do.  this was different than just loading them up on all the electronics and mind-numbing options i could think of.  i am not opposed to these on road trips, but have found over the years they only last so long.  my kids need more.  need to interact.  to get their wiggles out.  in a vehicle moving 60 mph.  we colored.  we played travel games.  we blew bubbles.  we sang to their music playlists.  we even had a family dance party.  rather than just isolating ourselves and trying to pass the miles, we actually like had fun and were happy to be on the road for some of the time.  

this is a fun story and even has some great tips for your next road trip.  but what i want to record and remember is this part of the story God has been writing in our family over the past few years.  this kind of shift is just one way i can communicate and remember the changes that are happening at a much deeper level.  we are choosing to be together.  not just be a collection of individuals that are in one family, but to be a family.  to see my children as my work.  not an interruption to my work.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

thoughts on putting your life in a truck

in one weeks time we decided to move.  traveled from michigan to oklahoma.  packed up all our earthly possessions.  prepared a house to sell.  said goodbye to all the rich relationships we had built.  made a dozen trips to the dump or thrift store drop-off and sold a half a dozen items on craigslist. and then drove back to michigan.

it was quite a week.  it was 110+ degrees.  my face was dripping with sweat.  or tears.  or both.  at all times.  i didn't think i was going to make it.  at all times.  we took a major, unpredicted financial hit during that week as well.  more sweat.  more tears.  in one of those moments where i was immobilized by my fear and just sitting, doing nothing, sonny reminded me that this is our condition all the time.  we are completely and utterly out of control and a total mess.  at all times.  we just create lots of illusions of security.  mirages of stability and cling to our hope of predictability.  all these paychecks, schedules, mortgages, and events i lean on can vanish in an instant.  at all times.  so why i let them give me such comfort is really a mystery.  

the way i felt and the way i lived during that one week was more true and more real than the weeks before or the weeks since.  i was raw.  at all times.  i was grateful.  so grateful.  for the things that mattered.  i was dependent.  i couldn't do it alone.  and i didn't want to do it alone.  nothing was more clear in that week than the fact that i do not have my stuff together.  and i never really did. 
 people swooped in to support.  others were gracious when i dropped the ball.  those who seemed important but maybe really weren't, revealed that about themselves.  things became clear.  

in the weeks that have followed i've been struck with how a simple session on facebook or a blog perusal will bring me such a sense of comfort.  like there is peace in the world.  and i am o-kay.  facebook and blogs are fine and i plan to continue using them, but to rely on them for a sense of rightness is very very wrong.  may my soul find rest in God alone.  may my family and those i've chosen as family be the ones i surround myself with and lean on.  may i live like i did that one week.  at all times. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

where have you been?

{Ari, Noah, and Judah in front of our new house}

well, here we are.  bellevue, kentucky.  
did we ever think we'd be here?  umm, no.  did we think we'd uproot our family and MOVE here?  definitely not.  as of a few months ago, were we anticipating anything but another start of school year in oklahoma city?  the closets full of freshly pressed uniforms, new backpacks, and stacks of paperwork filled out would suggest not.  so how did we get here? 

it's a long story.  and it happened in a short time.  so there were no spare moments to tell the story along the way.   i have been unable to find the words, the clarity, the precision necessary to communicate the story in under ten pages even though i've tried on many occasions.  since my linear thinking cannot post pictures of us settling in, exploring our new surroundings, or beginning to homeschool without first telling you we've moved i've decided to post this and allow myself to move on.  i hope to be able to tell our story in a concise and meaningful way one day, but for now, i think it is of more value to forge ahead and share our current voyage even with a piece "missing".