Have you ever had an experience where you notice – this is healthy me, and that is unhealthy me?  You know the difference. And the people around you can tell the difference too. I am not talking about body health, I am talking about soul health— when you notice how healthy are your interactions with others, and if your words are words of life, and if you are happy with the way you react to situations. This weekend I went on a little trip, and it turned out to be a comedy of errors— keys locked in car, forgot something and had to go back, took a wrong turn and ran late. It could have been a tragedy of errors, but it was a comedy. What made the difference? The difference is that I responded with God in my head and soul, instead of shame, fear and failure.

School is back in session, and this year ALL FOUR of my kids are in school – including the youngest in preschool. He’s with his big brother, who is in Pre-K, and they get to do some activities together, which I think is awesome. Meanwhile, I have about 3.5 hours per weekday to DO THINGS WITHOUT INTERRUPTION and in SILENCE if I choose, or my music, with no one complaining that they don’t like that song, or that I shouldn’t sing along. My husband is so wonderful and said if I just sit around all week he wouldn’t even care because he knows what a break I need! However, that is not only not my style, but it is also not even close to possible, because we are FINALLY MOVING. Well, at least by the end of the month. We did find a house to buy after all! Before we even found this house I felt like God told me we would have one by the end of summer. The technical last day of summer is September 21, and that is right around the date we should close, so I think that is pretty interesting! Maybe I do hear God correctly every now and then.

So, we began the week with not only the back-to-school chaos, the kids-were-home-all-summer-and-the-house-is-a-mess chaos, but also the moving chaos. But in the midst of the packing and cleaning, and an unexpectedly urgent project that came up mid-week, I was very intentional to make sure I was spending time connecting to God in my do-things-without-interruption time period. Because if any project or person deserves my undivided time and attention, it is God. So even though I have a lot of things going on, my soul was happy and healthy despite the chaos around me.

This past weekend we had a Girl Scout campout with my daughter’s troop. I help with the leadership of her age group, so I was looking forward to being there too. They went up on Friday, but I had some other commitments and came up Saturday by lunch. After I’d been on the road 20 minutes or so, finding myself out in the countryside, I realized I had almost another hour to drive and that I could spend that time talking and listening to Jesus! Because really, how often am I in the car with out kids? Not often! But I have found solo car time to be a great time to hear Jesus and think. It’s like the shower – I don’t need to give a ton of mental energy for what I am doing, but I can’t do anything else, so I think and pray.

It was amazing to me how quickly after I switched off the radio and reached out to God, that I felt God’s presence strongly. I am kind of funny this way, but sometimes I pretend he’s actually right there. In Jewish Sabbath traditions they will sometimes set an extra place at the table that remains empty, as a reminder that we are inviting Jesus and expecting him to be Immanuel – God with us. So in my car all alone, using my divine imagination, I almost felt like I could have reached over and held Jesus’ hand. I prayed, I listened; it was really good.

I got to camp just in time for lunch, and after lunch I went back to my car to get my water bottle. I had a cup with ice from my drink on the way up, so I set the keys down on the seat, stood up outside the car to carefully pour the ice from the cup to the water bottle, screwed the bottle lid on, placed the empty cup back in the car, locked the door from the inside, and closed it. Out of habit. Because when in remote locations with no one but Girl Scouts, you really ought to lock your car. (?!?) And if you are going to lock the car, you really ought to pick the keys up from the seat before you lock and close the door. Two steps away from the car door, I realized I had missed that very important step. You also ought to bring your AAA card whenever you drive in remote locations. Forgot that part too. Of course, if I had remembered it, the card would have also BEEN IN THE LOCKED CAR. But I did have my cell phone! And no cell service. (Remote location… yeah.)

Now, in certain times when unconnected to Jesus, my inner dialogue would have been something like, well, I won’t try to say it, but you can insert your favorite negative statements and imagine I was thoroughly berating myself with words I would NEVER speak if another soul could hear me, especially my children because if they ever said those words they’d be in big trouble. However, that was NOT the dialogue in my head this time. My head was laughing. Because Jesus was in my head, and Jesus laughs in the face of mistakes. Not laughing at us. It’s a laughter that says, “oops! I guess that wasn’t in the plan! Oh well, we’ll figure that out together.” He’s unphased. Because he has faith it will all work out.

So, I went back up to the lodge, asked around to see if any of the Girl Scout skills anyone had learned was how to break into cars (it wasn’t), and found another leader who let me borrow her AAA card, and the park ranger who directed me to a landline. And after we went canoeing (because I didn’t want to miss that!!), I called AAA. I made duct tape bracelets and watched squirrels while waiting for them to reach our lovely remote location, I did push-ups for my #22pushupchallenge, and I didn’t once shame myself, think “failure,” or fear admitting my stupidity to all the other leaders and girls. The first-grade girls were great. “Well next time just don’t leave the keys inside, or roll down a window first.” Yes dear, I know that already. Thanks for trying to be helpful.

The very friendly AAA person did finally arrive and was wonderful. I found out my type of car is one of the very hardest to break into… great for most every day, bad for the day you leave your keys inside. And after a lot of trying different things and setting off the alarm twice, we finally got it open. At one point a friend said, “the devil’s just trying to get you down and you’re just laughing in his face!” And yes, yes I was. Also, I am pretty sure the AAA people were Christians. They didn’t say so, but when my friend and I started talking about prayer and Jesus, they smiled and, well, sometimes you can just tell.

The rest of the weekend was great. After we left on Sunday, just my daughter and I in the car (since I had come up late we didn’t have carpool partners), we talked and listened to fun music and sang in the car… and halfway home realized we had left something at camp. Something that was enough to go back for, so back we went. But my daughter had such an amazing attitude, and we noted all the cows and horses and sheep we passed, and kept singing songs (a mix of Disney and Christian pop and worship songs… kid priorities, you know!).

IMG_4703.JPGWhen we returned to camp we retrieved our items, stopped and ate brownies that were left from the previous night, and my daughter showed me a few of the areas she had seen before I arrived. We spoke words of life and focused on the positive. No mean self-talk, no frustration over the situation overwhelming us, just enjoying being together and connecting our hearts with Jesus, and life was good.

And yes, we made a wrong turn on the way home, and yes, for every unexpected thing there was something that we missed as we had to take time to correct the error. What did I NOT miss? The mean voice. The me-without-Jesus voice in my head. Is it the devil trying to get us? Or are there just things in life that we forget… because we are human… and that’s okay. Is it the voice of Satan lying in our heads with all the negative talk? Or are we just humans that have some unhealthy patterns of thinking that need God’s redemption? Whatever the case, I have seen unhealthy-me. Kind of a lot lately, actually, with the stress of moving, and four kids at home for summer with not enough to do and too much time to argue and fight over toys, noise, and space, and not enough me to go around. But I believe God made us limited on purpose, and that is good. We need God, and we need each other. And sometimes, we just need some quiet time to connect with Him. We need to recognize the opportunities. I wonder, how would that trip have been different if I hadn’t had a good week of connection, and a good drive up to camp, when I chose to turn off the radio and tune in to God instead? I don’t know, but I do know this:

I know me without Jesus, and I know me with Jesus. Me with Jesus showed up this weekend. That’s the me I want to see more often. Jesus, thanks for being with me. Help me remember you are there, and keep seeking you out too.

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