Real Life

Never again will we get to relive a day gone by. I will not have a real, live pack of wild animals to accompany me on every day excursions forever. They really are the cutest, most unique little boogers whom we love and are so thankful for. God uses them to shape and change us daily, even on Target runs.

I went to Target to return something and look for things for a baby shower later that weekend. We pull up in the goldfish-sanded minivan, and the two oldest pop out of their seat belts, eager to devour their treat from the bulls-eye place – $1 POPCORN.

The crew floats in, literally hanging from the red shopping cart. You see, I am so thankful for a mobile, belted seat for our 19 month old. Not only does it confine his busy, busy self, but it serves as a handle for the other three. Their knuckles are white from gripping the cart so tight because sometimes it’s easier to ride than to hold Mama’s hand.

We line up at the return counter, and the circus begins. “Can I go play on the computer over there?” And I have to say no because a while back a worker said they could mess up their Baby and Wedding Registry system if they played on it. So, the oldest commences to play limbo with the line dividers. Did you know they can be taken apart and configured to resemble a spider web? That’s not exactly what he did, but waiting in line often provides ample imagination-extending exercises.

Before getting the party started with shopping, we have our big time with snacks. Walking up to the Cafe our children go wild. “Can I have this juice box? “How about this cookie?” “What about this bag of chips?” “I want all the flavors of the ICEE!!” Unfortunately the ICEE machine was down. So we all split two bags of popcorn and settled for Nesquick and three figurine juice bottles.

I actually gave the baby, who is nestled into his red, larger-than-life stroller, a half a bag. The other three and I poured ours on a napkin. And this little three year old of ours was not in his chair. I look at his napkin and most of the popcorn is gone. He had knocked the popcorn off onto the floor and was so graciously on the floor, picking it up. I was so proud. But then I noticed instead of picking it up to either put back on the table or throw away, he ate EVERY SINGLE KERNEL! My thankfulness for his cleanliness (he gets it from his daddy) far outweighed my horror of him eating off the floor. Immunity from other germs is great, right?

We cleaned up and headed out to finish the job at Target. Walking the aisles and window shopping in the toy section was pretty uneventful which is always a real treat.

While checking out, Caroline signals a dire need to go to the restroom. I had unwisely let the baby out of the containment seat, and things were about to go wild really quick. Cole, of course, chimes in that he needs to go with Sister, too. So, since the restroom was about 20 feet from the check out, I let them both go. I finish the check out, and Caroline comes out without Cole, who found it the perfect time to go #2. I park the buggy directly beside the restroom door, put the baby back in, and ask Cole to hurry up through a cracked door to the restroom. I don’t know why I didn’t just take the rest of them inside with me to retrieve him, but we wouldn’t have had a heart-to-heart in the next 20 minutes.

A little girl was sitting in the Cafe, which is directly beside the restroom. She told Carter and Caroline that they needed to get back to their Mama. They both said, “You don’t tell me what to do” and probably a few other not-so-nice things. I found this out as we are all walking out. We have had such a hard time with being kind with our words with each of the older kids. I was so crushed and sad and upset to see again that both are still struggling and disobeying in this area.

At the car, we get Cole and the others buckled in, and I am standing, putting the baby in and hit my knee like something fierce. One of those you want to throw up because it hurt so bad. Then with the weight of the aforementioned situation, I began crying. Carter asks, “What’s wrong, Mama?” I wasn’t quite ready to speak, but I did anyway. I told both of them that they continue to hurt others with their words, that all I want for them on this earth was to love God and love people. My passion for this, coupled with my extremely painful hit to the knee, brought on a flood of tears and intense words. We all cried, we all asked forgiveness of each other, and I prayed. I mean I haven’t heaved and cried like that in a minute. But, God reminded me that training can’t stop, won’t stop because, just like me, these kids are still sinners in a fallen world. These kids of ours, they are a gift from God. They need salvation in Jesus.

Man, life is crazy. No matter if we have children or not or if we are married or not. Things are hard. God orchestrates our lives for us to wholly depend on Him. Whether we live in the mountains thousands of miles from our families or in a cozy home in a small town, we are there to live and love those people and neighbors and strangers and church members and family.

Titus 2:12-14 says

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Jesus came to make us like Himself. He came to make us a people who LOVE OTHERS, who are zealous for good works. We must work. We must not get tired of repeating the same lesson over and over to our children (oh don’t we grow weary of this oftentimes)? Do not give up! Be zealous for good works! Love that neighbor. Encourage that missionary. Train those children in love. Thank that police officer. Bring a meal to that discouraged momma. Love. Do. Trust. All because He came and died and lives forever. We are cleansed from our sin, and we are oh so loved. Pour out daily what we have had lavished on us.

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