The Mini-Van Dream

Colossians 1:11-12 (Amplified)
{We pray} that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory, {to exercise} every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light.

(The Message)
We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

A few months ago I started living the dream. The Mini-Van Dream, that is.

Now, I am the oldest of four children and there is quite an age gap between the two youngest and the two oldest. So as a teenager I was riding around in my parents mini-van. Sometimes, gulp, I even had to drive it when my Grand-Am wasn’t running. Smile…it’s a funny memory from my growing up years. I remember calling it “The Carry” short for Caravan. I can still see my high school friend Melanie and I riding in it on the occasion that was our only option. Sweet.

As a married adult I told my husband over and over I am not going to ever drive a mini-van. No, no, no. It’s true that you should not say what you will not do because the moment you do, well you just signed in blood that you will do that very thing. Except for me, at this stage of life, the min-van nightmare is in fact a dream. A sigh. A deep breath finally exhaled. Room! Room for my three children! Until the dream became reality I was still driving my 2001 Jeep. I really enjoyed that jeep! But once we had Leighton, we all looked like a pack of sardines trying to crowd inside. Picture this scenario…

Last school year, in the rain, in the cold, in whatever weather, I would have to take Leah’s seat out of the car so I could then heft Leighton into the middle infant car seat then put Leah’s seat back in and get her buckled because she couldn’t manage the seatbelt within the close backseat quarters. On some of those rainy, running late mornings I distinctly remember giving myself an internal pep talk…You can do this. It won’t last forever.  Just keep going. I would say on one hand I was certainly persevering but on the other it was with that grim, grit your teeth strength on some days. Now, when the girls and I realized the heat was taking 20 minutes to warm up and we only had a two-minute ride, God gave me the grace and glory-strength to find gratitude. Girls, the heat may not be toasty-warm but we can be thankful we live so close to school! We can be thankful we have nice warm coats for the ride! Oh, the growth opportunities to be found in everyday life!

On a more serious note, I kind of feel like God likes to give us enough in life to push us into needing and wanting more strength than what we have. Even with our blessings. As I sat on my porch this morning I was thanking Him for our home and my marriage. For my children and our church. For health and friendships and the love of family. As I did this I realized, once again, how really this is the abundant life Jesus promised. I have more, so much more, than I deserve or even know what to do with sometimes! It’s truly a matter of perspective so often.  I mean I live on a budget. I still want to lose the remaining weight from having Leighton. I screw up in some form or fashion on a daily basis. I over cook the meat more times than not when making dinner. By the end of the day I want to read but I only get a few pages in before I’m giving it up for sleep. My girls are best friends one minute and at odds the next. And you know what? It’s an amazing life. It’s full and overflowing, really. And what I realized on the porch this morning is that even the abundance God blesses us with requires more than our grim, grit your teeth strength to manage and enjoy! Whatever way you go at it, in less than what we need or more than enough, we need His glory-strength to enjoy life. To live life fully.

Even living the mini-van dream, I need my Father to make me strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful He has for me. I get the grim strength. The car seat out, Leighton in, car seat back in and buckle up in the pouring rain grit your teeth days of life. Right in the middle of the abundance and blessing. And I get the more serious pain, the kind that stings and bites with loss. Sometimes we just have to grit our teeth to keep from giving up on our relationships, health, finances and dreams. I believe God values our perseverance as our metal is tested. I believe even when we trudge ahead in our own strength God is cheering us on…offering a hand…ready to invigorate and strengthen us with His power when we finally run out of steam.

I don’t like feeling ill-equipped for managing the blessings God has given me. Honestly, a part of me would really like to feel awesome about my ability to manage hearth and home and all that goes with it. You know, the kids with adoring eyes gazing at a mom who never yells or feeds them instant oatmeal for supper. Smile…sometimes I wonder why, God, did you give me a desire to be a stay-at-home mom when I don’t really seem to be so naturally great at it?! Maybe the answer, regardless of the question, is the same.

Life is lived more fully and with greater purpose when it requires His strength. Grim, grit your teeth strength living leads to burn-out. Glory-strength, joy spilling over like so many drops of rain those mornings, points to our God. His glory. All the joy that is possible, even in our get-it-done everyday life, as we trust Him to make us strong enough to take part in all that He has for us. Mighty inner strength that comes as we offer up all that we are and all that we are not. As we trust His Word is true and He doesn’t call us to a life that He won’t enable us to live to the full with eternal purposes at the center of it all.

Matter of fact, I dare say God always calls us to a life only He can enable us to live.

Now, in wrapping up this post I thought I would share a moment from my mini-van dream life.  Last night, as we are watching a few minutes of the Olympics,  my oldest daughter (turning eight tomorrow!) comments on one of the athletes being “good-looking.”  Okay, this is kind of new.  Smile.  But then she says,  He’s not as good-looking as Fred, though!  Somehow, in my mommy heart I knew who she meant but I could scarcely believe it.  Because she was serious.  I went ahead and asked…Do you mean Fred from Scooby-Doo?  Oh yes! Fred from Scobby Doo is a looker, apparently.

Fred.  I mean yellow-haired Fred with the scarf thingy around His neck driving Thelma and Daphne and the gang around in the van.  Ah yes, this is the dream!  And thank God for it.  Smile…

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