Here I am, sitting in a hotel room more than 9,000 miles from my home in Tennessee, and I should be spending the evening reviewing and refreshing the material I plan to teach about 50 pastors tomorrow morning.
I recently received word that a friend and supporter of our ministry had died following a brief respite in hospice for brain cancer.
Slightly older than me, he had already lived years longer than the weeks, maybe months, doctors had given him. And while clean brain scans for much of that time gave him an appreciation for life that few of us will ever have, he used that period to tell people about the peace God had given him no matter what the outcome.
We school year-round—three months on, one month off. The shorter, intermittent breaks suit the rhythm of our family well. By the end of a twelve week summer break, all of us were craving structure and weary of open-ended days. Too, we find the heat of the summer in the south exhausting at its peak, and not enjoyable in the “we’re on vacation!” sense. So: three on, one off. The perfect compromise.
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When I was pregnant with my second child, a kind acquaintance farther down the path of parenting more than one child passed on a reading list of helpful titles. I was an eager student, especially given that seven long years passed before I became anyone’s sister. I grew up dreading my friends’ summer vacations and envying families where there was a built-in playmate. My babies, however, would be just thirty three months apart, and society told me exactly what to expect. Competition. Struggles. Drama. Vying for my attention. Jockeying for position. Whining. Tattling. Bickering. Rivalry.
At the very top of the list of suggested reads, I found what I was looking for: Siblings Without Rivalry. I immediately went to the library, checked it out, and dug in.
This is what a real husband looks like.
He doesn’t have a wardrobe of the latest in men’s fashion. His kids needed new winter boots, so in his mind, it was never a question of whether or not he needed that new shirt.
I recently took a trip to visit my parents. Took most of the children with me so that my wife could finish a book project she’s been writing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve slipped away with the children but every time is different as they each get older.
Jude is almost two. Not quite, but almost. Close enough to feel a little silly saying, “21 months,” because really… in twelve weeks? He’ll be two.
Three nights away. Three much-anticipated nights away with Daddy, which would be full of the adventure of visiting Mamaw and Papaw, exploring a much-beloved museum, seeing friends.
Just three nights.
This isn’t a milk and honey season for us. Everything– time, money, the ability to stop and simply be present for a few hours each day– seems to be in short supply.
The temptation, then, is to mourn the loss. To look backwards at those years when the bank account was fatter and we could routinely bless others, to regret that days are no longer spent curled on the couch reading book after book to the children splayed all over the floor. To recall all of the moments that are not now and wish them here, to be lived again and again, forever.
As much as I’d like to escape some of my first-world problems while overseas, sadly I cannot.
Life just doesn’t stop here because I’m there.
There have been trips almost cut short because of fevers so high in one of the children they were having seizures. Other trips have been stopped before I even left the country due to emergency surgery.