Someone once told me I was going to live my dreams. I had come up to the front of my small church to be prayed over during a time of waiting in my life and one of our elders said, “You’re going to live your dreams!” I believed him, he was prophetic and I could tell by the look on his face he’d just heard that straight from the source. He then asked me with excitement, “SO, WHAT ARE YOUR DREAMS?!”
Inspiring posts and speakers always ask the question, if you could do anything, and not fail, what would you do?
And there are your dreams, waiting on the other side of fear of failure.
My dreams have always been to have a big family. To be married to the guy who had all the checks next to the list I made when I was 13 and very boy crazy. When I met Davin, I knew. I think that list was more to keep me AWAY from all the other boys until we met, rather than Davin fill it out. He’s always been better than the list. I dreamt of knowing the Lord my whole life, raising our kids to know and love him too. To be a safe place to land for others over a lifetime, an encouraging friend, and to have a home open to our kids friends who need to know what real love looks like, and hopefully introduce them to Him. To show others that a real life lived fully comes from fully being known by God himself, the creator of the Universe. I also dreamt of writing, because I can’t physically be everywhere for everyone, but if I can write it to you, be your friend in the night when you feel alone and wonder who God really is – if I can be there, and encourage you through the hard times, to say it and mean it and you know that I’ve lived it too and we’re not alone. To spur you on like so many others have spurred me on in knowing Him. Well, then I’ll have lived out some of my dreams.
We went to Colorado, Yellowstone, and The Grand Tetons over the summer. I am a little surprised to say that my highlight of the year was spending 14 days in a car and tiny trailer with our family of six.
This is one of my favorite pictures because it instantly takes me back to the last night of our trip. We ate at this fancy Grand Tetons restaurant that smelled like my grandparents house (and had the same type of music). My grandparents loved taking their trailer all over the US, so it felt special to end the night here, in this beautiful restaurant overlooking the Grand Tetons with our family. This was our first ever trailer trip and my Gramma D gave me my Grandpa’s old travel journal to fill out, and it felt like my Grandpa D was with us in spirit. Love you Grandpa D!
On this trip I realized a few things about myself. We have four little kids. I know this, and people TELL me all the time how full my hands are, but it became very different traveling and touring part of America with them.
I honestly didn’t know how much the dangers of Yellowstone were stressing me out until we left, and drove into the Tetons. It felt like a rocket was just lifted off my shoulders as we passed the park line. Yellowstone is beautiful, incredibly diverse in it’s geographical landscape and SUPER dangerous for little kids. In my mind we were always just a few beautiful steps from death. Many of the sights are boiling hot and will kill any living thing that should fall into them… hence my apprehension.
On our last day at Yellowstone or as I like to call it, “Day Five of Yellowstone Strong”, (remember I said, Davin planned this trip?), I had a meltdown. Friends, this was no leisurely trip like I would have planned. We were going hard ALL day long to see all the things.
We’d been up and at it most days at sunrise and didn’t get home to prepare dinner in a trailer until the sun was setting. Now, I LIKE the outdoors, but I don’t thrive in an outdoor all day environment with four children. I just don’t want to squint for 12 hours and feel like I and my kids are covered in dirt. Almost none of the bathrooms have hand soap. HAND SOAP. It’s BYOS in Yellowstone. So, on day five of our kids going all day not properly washing their hands, squinting at the sun and taking our little family just steps from death I was done. I was over it. I saw a lady in her 90’s and envied her and her quiet husband because if they had kids, their hands were probably washed in some clean house right now and no one was almost dying of accidental E. Coli on their watch. They’d done it – parented and made memories successfully AND now they had quiet time to read ALL the plaques, and stare at all the sights and no one was talking at them, pulling at their leg, they weren’t carrying anyone or keeping someone from almost falling in a geyser, mud-pot, waterfall, volcano, hot spring, or getting trampled by a buffalo or breaking up a squabble.
So there we were in the parking lot, and I said to Davin, “just take them to bathroom, I need some time.” I stayed in the car and pouted/moped, where it was stupid hot and just stared out the window questioning my life. I stared out of my hot, dusty, grimy filthy dusty, dusty young body and envied the elderly.
Davin returned smiling, “they have hand soap.” Inspired by the fact that my children’s hands were now finally clean, I lunged from the car and jogged to the bathroom to regain some sense of hand cleanliness control over my life. I washed my hands in warm water for like five minutes. Luxury city all up in there! Upon returning I found the kids running, laughing and squealing as Davin timed each of them on an obstacle course game he’d created. They were still dusty but at least their hands were clean for now.
The elderly woman approached me.
“I envy you” she said.
I had the tenacity to actually say, “WHY?” (I’m laughing now, but I still blame Yellowstone Strong and I told you, it was pity party city).
“Look at them, so much zest for life, this is the life, these are the moments. We came here when my kids were little, we have four. Those were the best of times.”
I was so tired and exhausted and covered in dirt and honestly just wanted to run away, I wanted to be alone, in quiet for at least a half an hour… but convicted, I felt her truth pull at me.
These were the best of times, and I knew she was right. These were my dreams and I was living them
I could see it that way now or see it through the lens of later. I wanted to tell her, but your car… right now… is SILENT. You hear that breeze? You can enjoy it! Did anyone just ask you for something just then? Nope. I’m thinking my, “best of times” meter may be maxed out. Someone may have jammed too many quarters and a loaf of bread in here and it’s just a little to FULL.
But it wasn’t like that. That’s just how it felt in the moment, based on my expectation of what the best of times should look like. And I was just really exhausted, but that didn’t change the truth. I wasn’t there to read the plaques. Davin and I were there to make mostly happy memories with our kids. (I say mostly because of the Timed Showers of the Tetons – see below) We were there to show our kids the beauty of God’s diverse creation. To spend time with them. And, yes, the best of times were currently covered in dirt and rocks, dust, sweat, occasional arguments, tiffs, impromptu games, long hours in the car, giggles, smiles and deep nights of rest under the thick darkness, but they were there for me to categorize on my own plaque under, “The best of times” or “the worst of times.” Honestly, the way I was feeling it could have gone the other way and certainly did for the half hour or so of my wandering thoughts as we drove to the parking lot and I sat in the car pondering my dusty, grimy life.
However, she was right. These were the best of times. And I was living my dreams.
I had a choice to make.
I thought to myself, I’ll probably come back here one day, when my kids are hopefully grown with clean hands in their own houses and I don’t want to watch another family and wish I’d enjoyed it the first time, I need to know that I enjoyed it THIS time. This is it.
These are the best of times. I am living my dreams.
I hope I carry this truth into this next year. It seems that God often brings elderly woman into my life to teach me these great lessons on perspective.
Nostalgia is easy, but enjoying it fully the first time can be really, really hard.
And, for the record, it’s okay to have an occasional pity-party meltdown and pout in the car. After that pep talk, I looked at my family. I watched the elderly woman walk away and push her husband on his wheelchair down to another lookout point. I stared at Ellie, smiling and laughing full of life and energy. I watched Evelyn pick up rocks and taste them. I picked her up and as I saw Eli round the corner of the tree, with Dani cheering him on and I realized I could join them. I didn’t have to sit there and pout and slowly move from frustrated, to sad to okay to sorta-smiling to happy again. I could just skip all that like my kids do. I could get over it.
So I swallowed my non-pride and joined in. I set Evelyn down to taste the rocks and I ran down the hill, around the tree, back up the hill, around the bush and to the plaque that I never got to read. 17 seconds. Then we drove to Old Faithful (even though we had already seen it) because it has the best ice cream in all of Yellowstone and we weren’t vegan for Evelyn just yet.
Apparently soap, the indoors, ice cream and the elderly can settle me down enough to feel alright about life again and remember who’s dreams I’m living.
For those of you who want to walk down another type of memory I give you:
The Timed Showers of the Tetons. An autobiography of motherhood.
Why are showers in camp sights timed? Who invented this non-lack-of-water? What does that even mean?
We were blessed enough to snag a sweet camp site at Signal Mountain Campground. IT WAS GORGEOUS. However there were no water hook ups but at least we had power in one of the most beautiful camp sites on earth. Cue the camp site showers.
Rocks and dirt call to my children in quiet whispers and loud shouts, they are incredibly creative and imaginative, so they will literally play in rocks and dirt for hours. This is great and all, but it makes for messy children.
As night approached and we were all full from our breakfast for dinner, we decided to haul our dust covered kids, all the shower stuff, towels and our clean pj’s up the hill. I had bags on bags people.
And here is where being married to Davin brings excitement to my life.
Davin ran on ahead to get our shower coins. He returned with one coin.
One coin is five dollars and lasts seven minutes.
He came back proud and thought this was just enough time to shower everyone, and a good use of our funds.
I did not see it the same way however, the coin distributer was far and now here we were… the six of us.
I graciously replied, “Seven minuets! That’s not enough time, what if someone needs more time?! I’m going last, what if the time runs out? Are you crazy!” I think by now I was yelling, but unawares.
Evelyn at this point had her lips in a straw positing and was trying to drink the leftover shower water from the previous patrons off the floor.
I grabbed her.
Davin, ever upbeat replied, “It will be like a fun video game – a challenge babe!”
One of my other children had already stripped bare and was now dipping both butt cheeks into leftover patron’s water with impeccable balance and just enough silence for me to notice only after it was too late.
I was now internally adding up the different illnesses at least two of my children may have been exposed to. I fully recognize most of this materializes from spending 19 days in the PICU with our baby last November and watching her get close to death, but at the time, none of that added up.
The clean towels I had worked so hard to protect on our walk had been knocked into large puddle near the door.
Davin put THE coin in and the shower turned on. I started yelling out orders, “Get in the water, get in the water!! QUICK!”
My kids yelled back, “It’s too cold! It’s too hot, I’m scared!”
“We don’t have time to be scared, get in that water!”
By the end of it, all kids were showered yet shaken, and I had exactly one minuet and thirty seconds left over for a rinse. As I washed the shampoo out of my hair and bubbles filled my flip flops a buzzer louder than a fire engine started going off.
One started screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, another began sobbing, Evelyn was still trying to get into the water with her clean pajamas caring less about the sound and the last was attempting to claw to safety at me IN the shower. It took Davin and I almost all thirty seconds to convince our kids that it was just the shower buzzer and everything was going to be okay.
All in all, we left in glory. All showered, all mostly still clean. And as our wet flip flops kicked up all the dust back onto our only momentarily clean feet, I looked around to see if anyone was staring at us, because we’d all just been screaming in the bathroom like it was the end of the world.
Cheers Grand Tetons, Cheers to your seven minuet showers.