The air is crisp and cool. Brightly colored leaves crunch underfoot while a handful still cling to their homes overhead. It was almost time to pack for the trip home for Thanksgiving. Warm hugs. The sound of little running feet and giggly cousin laughter. Muffled laughs after the littles have been tucked in. Too many cups of piping hot coffee. I love the fall. I love family. I couldn't wait.
Then I got the call at work last week that the baby was throwing up. I almost cried right there in my little office. We have so generously shared the stomach bug with our family the last three years at the holidays. I just couldn't believe it was happening again. Sure enough, the kids began to fall like dominoes, and I knew we couldn't bring this gift home again. What are the chances of this timing!? And then I remember... In the words of John Eldridge,
We have an enemy who is hunting us. And as Priscilla Shirer says in her book, Fervent, it almost seems as if there is someone scheming against us. Because there is! The bible says our adversary roams the earth looking for those he may devour. And one of his favorite strategies is to isolate us. From God's love and the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers first of all. But if he fails there, then he sets out to isolate us from family... both natural and spiritual. And to steal our joy. And our peace.
And for a little while I forgot all this and had myself a good pity party. But then the little nudge of the Holy Spirit and the wise words of my husband came. Why not make lemonade from our lemons? So we did. We waited a few days after all the stomach action had subsided and headed to a lodge in North Carolina. It's only two nights, but it saved us from the little girls' tears and disappointment.
As I was chasing the baby around the lobby at 5am this morning so the others could sleep (let's get real about what family vacation looks like at this stage of life), I was reminded that in all things we have a choice. To roll over in defeat or maintain with a white knuckled grasp our perspective and the joy that He gives. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. Thankfulness for this beautiful lobby that celebrates the nature God made for us to enjoy. Thankfulness that it had a Dunkin Donuts that opened early! Thankful that I could be up early praying before my other kiddos have opened their eyes (chasing a toddler and praying... Who says it has to be done kneeling by a bed?). Thankful that I live in a country where I feel safe and where I can freely blog about the life inside me that Jesus has given. And thankful most of all that I have little girls living and breathing that I can clean up after when they are sick or sneak out of the room with in the predawn hours.
Breath prayers. I exhale the thanks and inhale the peace.
Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear what is really going on around us. May we not take our loved ones for granted or waste a minute of this precious life. Surrender. May we let you in. Our hearts and our thoughts, continually, Holy Spirit. May you fill us with the joy and peace that only comes from you. And may it make those around us feel hungry for what is Real. Thank you that you also are chasing us. With your love. Perfect love. That casts out fear. That conquers even the grave.
From our 5:00 am adventure aka lobby exploration...