Today it is 29 degrees with 10 mph winds in Texas. The weather app says it “feels like 11.” This is unusual, especially since the previous week was in the 70s and next week will be in the 70s. There is a crisp wind that cuts through many of your warming layers if you are not careful to dress appropriately. Our four-year-old is the only one with gloves, because ours are buried somewhere in the back of the closet, and he wears gloves as an accessory item regardless of weather. We appreciate his creative genius most of the time except today.
Most families would describe ours as abnormal. I don’t understand why moving with 5 kids (including a 6 week old), across the country, with no friends, no family, and no home is abnormal. We’ve been in Texas about all of 6 days now and like the weather, conditions are not ideal. The rental market is almost non-existent in Waco and the rental companies’ customer service seem to want us to buy as well. Johnna is still nursing 3 times a night – 12, 4, and 6 am. However, Johnna did find an awesome workout facility for me to curb my restlessness and I am back in time to cook the kids breakfast.
We have spent most our days driving around Texas, we have refueled our van twice in six days, looking for homes to buy or rent. When we are not looking for homes, we are tackling administrative matters such as the tags, title, and licenses. We both feel a pull to get established and we are reminded of the many blessings a stable home provides. We could have all of our things from storage, we could get back in a routine for homeschool (and life in general), we would not have to live in clutter, and we could make it our own. Searching for homes, while living in temporary campus housing until the end of the month is humbling. There is always the balance between us being greedy, discerning God’s will, and what we can afford. The way God has orchestrated our trip here, we were expecting Him to reveal our home within the first 72 hours so we can close by the end of the month. Well… there are obviously other plans.
Today we were going to check out the public library (a staple for our family), return for naptime, drive some neighborhoods, and then meet with friends from church for dinner. [Side note: We think we’ve found our church! People in Waco joke that there are more churches than there are people. So it is a huge burden lifted that we have found one home we can count on. It is one of our highlights of the week and already working out because we have fellowship with fellow believers tonight.] We were side-tracked by a rental property that just came open and we wanted to see it first since it was out of the way. Usually we take all 5 kids in to the homes with us (we have only broken one item so far) but the babies were asleep so we took turns. I went in first while Johnna fed the baby. After Johnna went in, we rode through two neighborhoods that were close by, stopped by the YMCA to take a tour and check membership, and by now it is almost lunch. The kids are antsy, the older boys are playing tackle football in our van (our van is big but not that big), and then the six week old blew out his diaper. The oldest is now making a thousand demands about what he wants to do next and now we are all stressed. We decide to cut our losses and head home. I see an In N Out and decide we all need a morale booster. It works…smiles at the service windows, milkshakes, and awesome food! We grab the food togo so we can eat at home and everything seems great until our creative four-year-old decides he is not eating.
Our four-year-old is very reluctant to take off his jacket and begs to go back outside. Remind you it is the coldest it will probably be in Texas all year. So we send him out the front door suspecting he will return in a few seconds. Johnna checks on him and he is content but the property does not allow us to see from the window so we call him back in. I feel guilty the boys have not been able to play last night and this morning because of all the neighborhood driving so I promise to eat fast and take him outside. I watch him forego food and wait by the door. I admire his resolve. I finally and reluctantly take him out in the cold weather for what will hopefully be a few minutes. I am triple-layered and I am cold. He has what must obviously be the best and warmest jacket on ever and football gloves from auntie; he is showing no signs of being affected by the cold. Now I’m getting angry, “Why are we out here?” I ask this four-year-old, more curious as to what he could reply as opposed to expecting him to be consciously aware of what he is putting me through, “What do you want to do?”
I recognize that I have two choices. At this point, forcing him to go inside is not an option mainly because my manhood is at stake and I cannot let this four-year-old out-tough me. Doesn’t this guy know who I am? Marine Corps Infantry – Oorah! So I can make lemons into lemonade and try to turn this sour time into sweet memories. Or I can throw an adult tantrum. I chose adult tantrum (and you previously held me in such high regard). I just waited for him to entertain himself or figure something out. Then he went and sat down on a bench. I asked again, “Why are we out here?” He replied, “I just want to watch the trees grow.” … … …
I didn’t say anything back; he was unmoved by my awkward stares. Our oldest finally came out with a football and we all kicked that around for a while because it was too cold to take our hands out of our pockets. A five-year-old saved the day. He was so excited and is always determined to engage in some activity that he inspired us to play. Also, he is very vocal about his feelings, so I knew we wouldn’t be out in the cold much longer. After we stared at a tree that we will climb when the weather is warmer, the four-year-old wandered around in his typical fashion (in his own world). The oldest decided he was too cold and led us back inside. He had me convinced at ‘hello.’ I was very thankful that our four-year-old followed behind. We ended our unspoken yet clearly defined and competitive manhood challenge in a tie since neither one of us caved by declaring we wanted to go inside first.
The four-year-old did not eat but immediately went upstairs to remove his clothes and get ready for nap. I followed him. First I wanted to feel all his clothes to see how he was cheating in our manhood challenge. Second I calmly asked him, “Why did you want to go outside?”
“I just wanted to be alone,” he replied.
“Can’t you be alone inside where it is warm?”
“No. I miss our attic in Maryland where we could just play and I could be alone.”
Silence. “What else is going on?”
We talked for ten or so more minutes before Mom came up. I draw two conclusions from this morning. It is probably time that we slow down, most particularly on the house search. We will go to the library tomorrow, in the morning. I will read to them until they are ready for lunch. Second, I am thankful for all the personalities we have in this house. Our four-year-old’s personality is unique, but it causes me to be sensitive to the needs of our family. I see his desire to be outside as an expression of how we are all feeling. Johnna is feeling inadequate because she cannot find us a home, cannot declutter our current living space and is fighting the temptation to put unrealistic expectations on herself. Our oldest keeps interrupting because he desires to control in what is a semi-uncontrollable situation. The babies cry when they need attention. I want to lead from the front, but can only spin so many plates at one time. This afternoon we will reset. I blog so you can hold me accountable. The deadline for moving out hasn’t changed, but our trust in God must, especially since I start work next week. Praise God I’ve caught it now before the grind starts. Praise God I was humbled by a four-year-old in a ‘manhood challenge.’ Life’s demands remain, but so does God’s faithfulness. This weekend, this year, we will try to live as if that were true.
Matthew 6:25-34 “’For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'”
In other news, our kids make sure they greet you in the morning, no matter where you are!