Aloha, we are back from the shores of Maui! The fears from my last post were unwarranted. Surprisingly, there were no tsunamis or earthquakes the week we were gone and all the children made out great. Mac Powell and his wife seemed completely lovely, but I was unable to make the one-on-one connection I was hoping to make to seal my romanticized notions of becoming best friends. Our trip was an incredibly restful time for both my husband and me, but God, as always, was hard at work teaching and revealing things to me along the way.
I need to show myself some love. While on vacation, I showered every day–and I enjoyed it. Are you thinking that is ridiculous? Well, say what you will, but life with six children has made me into an every-other-day showering type girl. My typical routine consists of Nick Jr. (the channel) babysitting the younger kids for half an hour while I speed shower and shout at the child who has lost interest in the television and is now using the bathroom door as a climbing wall. Using the papaya-scented shampoo given to me at the resort by the lovely housekeepers and finding no hands groping under the door cracks trying to be closer to me was wonderful. I might even classify it as relaxing. My legs were the smoothest they’ve ever been and never grew their typical version of a five o’clock shadow. Taking the time to enjoy a shower made me feel great and was a nice way for me to show myself that I am important. When I can admit that I am important, I am recognizing that I love me. Over and over again in Scripture it tells us to love others as we love ourselves. Love ourselves! Makes you even more uncomfortable than when I mentioned my prickly legs, huh? I confess, it does me, too; but what this means is that for us to love others in the way God intended, we need to love ourselves. We need to do things for ourselves that benefit us! When we do, we will be better equipped to live the second greatest commandment. Maybe for you it’s not hydrotherapy that shouts adoration, but you need to figure out what does and then show yourself the love.
My husband and I need to date more. Seven days of dating made me realize that my husband and I need to spend some more one-on-one time when we are stateside. We occasionally go out for dinner, but mainly our “dates” focus around appointments or errands. Christmas shopping and dinner, tax appointment and dinner, dentist and frozen yogurt. You know what I’m saying. It’s most likely not romantic and it’s really not intentional–it’s more like a by-product. Proverbs 5:18 talks about, “rejoicing in the wife of your youth.” Nothing zaps the wife of youth more than to-do lists, fighting children, and chores. When we got away from the “everyday,” I caught a glimpse of her and her youthful husband. I liked them. They liked each other and it was good to have the reminder of who we are underneath it all. There were times on our trip that I felt lazy and not very youthful. The thought of swimming in underground caves or exploring roadside lava tubes, like my husband was suggesting, did not sound as appealing as the front seat of the car and a huge piece of banana bread from a roadside stand. It was in those moments that I had to make the choice to be the wife of my husband’s youth or the tired wife that would talk him out of what he wanted to do. I may not have performed a cannonball into the water or led the spelunking charge, but a timid jump into freezing water and a shirt tail-holding explorer said a lot and meant even more to my husband. Maybe we can’t always afford the dinner out or vacations to Hawaii, but we can be intentional, courageous, and creative about our time together.
For my children to hear my voice, I need others to speak into their lives. I think most of us are aware of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” made popular by the release of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book It Takes a Village in 1996. Or maybe you are more familiar with the t-shirt, “I homeschool because I have seen the village and I don’t want it raising my children.” I believe there is truth in both of these statements. I want others to be a part of and impart wisdom in the lives of my kids, but I don’t want just any villager. We expose our children to like-minded adults who share our family’s core beliefs. I believe that these people reiterate the values and principles we want our children to embrace. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” When others whose physical look is different than ours, whose home life is different than ours, and whose testimony doesn’t match ours, have Christian convictions that are the same as ours, it delivers a powerful message. It demonstrates to our kids that this life we have chosen with Christ is for everyone and not just for our family. Individuals, like our sweet friends who watched our six children for seven days, invest their time and show our children that the things that our family esteems are important to others, too.
Wonder is a key component to life. Because our children weren’t with us, I tried to look at everything through their eyes. I wanted to take pictures of things that would interest them. I wanted to share with them every day on the phone the things I thought they would love, and try to describe it in detail. I was googling unknown fruit trees off our patio, splitting them open, smelling them–all so I could tell the children about it. We were sending pictures of geckos and their rounded toes and macro pictures of volcanic black sand. In doing this, we continued to learn even while apart. Not only is wonder vital to learning, it’s imperative to seeing God. Romans 1:20 says, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” When we marvel at what He has created, we are catching a glimpse of His eternal power and divine nature. That’s exactly what happened, too. Trying to share and connect with our kids, I found myself in awe and connected to the Creator of it all.
Jesus said in John 5:17, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” Even in laid back Hawaii, God was at work. He was laboring in the resting and pampering, in the adventures, in the separation, and in the awe; moving in my heart and the hearts of my family. The Father and Son are always hard at work, teaching us what we need to know to draw closer not only to Him, but to one another as well.