Friday, February 27, 2015

When the Sand Runs Out


Vacations are wonderful, aren't they? Arguably the worst part about a vacation is the fact that it comes to an end. At some point the break is over and it's back to reality. In my experience, there are two main ways people tend to handle coming back from a relaxing vacation: 1) they feel so rejuvenated that they feel good about everything and tackle life's challenges head on with a smile on their face or 2) they s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e to get back into their daily groove and spend lots and lots of time wishing they could go back on vacation immediately.

I'd like to think my reintroduction to our daily grind was much like the former - and in many ways it was...until it wasn't, of course. I always try my best to stay positive, but upon returning I suddenly had to deal with the reality of getting our son readjusted to certain rules or practices that were naturally conceded in our absence to help ease the fact that we were gone. Gabriel started excessively whining and crying in order to get his way (which is never gonna fly in this household), had a tough time dealing with me telling him "no, we are not going to watch Blue's Clues right now" whenever he begged for screen time, and so much more. All in all, I thought I was doing pretty well and that the extra Vitamin D from our week in Hawaii (along with lots and lots of grace) was helping me do it all with surprising amounts of patience. However, if I'm being honest this week has been rough for our family. 

Here's a little sneak peek at a photo from my upcoming Hawaii recaps....

After enjoying a blissful week in paradise with my husband, we've found ourselves back in the land of snow and overcast skies, battling excessive toddler whines, and - worst of all - have fallen victim to pregnancy hormones unlike anything we've previously experienced together. I'm sure my husband has been left feeling baffled, frustrated, and worried, because my ridiculous nighttime tears have left me feeling all of those things and more. When I was pregnant with Gabriel my mood swings were never this extreme, so all these recent bouts of hyper-sensitivity that explode into crashing waves of angry and sad emotions (all accidentally sparked by comments from my unsuspecting husband) have left me feeling pretty miserable at times.

I guess you could say that our time in paradise has clearly come to a screeching halt.
Thankfully, though, that's never where the story ends.

As I drove home this morning from a weekly music "class" I attend with Gabriel, I popped in an old Rascal Flatts cd. When the song When the Sand Runs Out came on, I felt a sudden shift in my mood. I'd been praying/begging for many graces the past couple days to help our family find true peace and joy after what felt like some pretty big storms...and the lyrics of that song helped me find some much-needed perspective. After all, the things I'd been stressing over are so minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

Sure, Gabriel and I have both shed an unusual amount of tears this week (thankfully not at the same time - except for one brief instance on a particularly challenging morning) and my husband and I have exchanged our fair share of communicative confusions and frustrations (thanks, pregnancy hormones), but when I sat back and spent some time reflecting none of it really seemed to matter. In that moment I just wanted to thank God for all He has blessed us with. My husband had plans to come home for lunch which meant I would see him very soon and I suddenly wanted nothing more than to give him a huge hug and kiss and tell him not to worry about any of those conversations that had led to so many pregnant tears. Just like that, God had seemingly turned it all around (or rather, helped me see that it never was as bleak as I had painted the picture in my mind).

As I listened to that song, I felt such a conviction to be joyful, to revamp my patience, and to show my husband all the love that he deserves. I wanted to be "running when the sand runs out," just like the song lyrics suggest.

Fast forward a few hours and I've certainly realized that my efforts to live each day to its fullest, most joyful potential isn't going to be without its challenges. Gabriel fell asleep in the car for about 15 minutes, which means my husband's lunch at home with us was anything but the romantic vision I formulated in my mind. Many exhausted toddler tears were shed before I could calm Gabriel down for his real nap and I only managed a quick goodbye kiss before Michael returned to work, but I'm so thankful that God used that Rascal Flatts song to help get me get back to a place of pure gratitude. 

Yes, if the time I was blessed to spend with my husband in Hawaii was captured in an hour-glass that sand most certainly ran out nearly a week ago. However, the sand representing the bigger picture of our lives is plentiful. Our time in Hawaii was beautiful - and even amidst the unusual amounts of tears that have been shed this week I know our time together as a family has also been extremely beautiful in its own way. Life is too short to be caught up in crazy pregnancy tears; that doesn't mean they won't ever happen again (because obviously I cannot control such extreme hormonal changes) - it simply means that when I stumble or fall I need to keep moving. Just like any race worth running, there will be obstacles along the way, but the point is to get back up and ease right back into that run.

So here's to running. May I never get so distracted by the devil's attempts to knock me down that I cannot see clearly the real race worth focusing my efforts on.

How is your Lenten journey going thus far?

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life
I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
And learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here...
I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out"
-Rascal Flatts, When the Sand Runs Out

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