What’s Better: The Gift or The Gift Giver?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything.  To say I’ve been busy would be the understatement of the century.  March was Kevin’s leg surgery, and much of that month was spent tending to his needs while doing my best to keep the house, kids, school, and work running as smoothly as possible.  April was our family vacation to Florida, which was fun, but also a lot to manage essentially solo.  Since then I was a six year old soccer coach for Logan’s team and the equipment manager for a 12 wk season (Since Jesus DOES love me, ~6wks got rained out), I’ve coordinated 2 massive birthday parties one for all the kids, and one for Kevin, and another for a close friend, while also trying to be ‘fun’ mom for each of their individual days in between.  I packed the family up and enjoyed Memorial day weekend in Pennsylvania with friends, and hosted a family of 5 at our house for the better part of a week.  I’ve hosted at least 10 other dinners at our house, enjoyed a beautiful wedding with friends, had my mom, Kevin’s brother, and friends from Texas in town for visits.   Selah is now walking, and is fearless as ever trying to navigate stairs, and unpacking any drawer, cupboard, or closet she can find, and the boys are…. boys.  All of this with Kevin either in a cast or rehab boot as he is just NOW getting back to 100%.  We also stepped into a leadership role at our church helping to manage the Guest Services team, because at the end of the day I do ALL of this insanity because, to some degree, I can’t help myself.  I love people a ridiculous amount, and truthfully I want to spend as much time with ALL of them as I can.

But I have a confession to make, something of a cautionary tale to tell you, I confused my source of strength along the way.  Back in January my girlfriends and I booked a trip to St. Lucia, and the bonus kicker was my little sister making the trip with us!  When that confirmation email came through with our itinerary, I tied that carrot on to the end of a stick and started my sprint toward the finish line.  It became something of a singular focus, my peace and rest was going to be found in St. Lucia so if I could just push through, everything would be o.k.   I realized mid-sprint that things were out of balance, but rather than stopping to course correct, I dug in deeper.  I could feel God trying to tap me on the shoulder asking ‘where is your peace and rest?’….. and I would brush it off saying its coming…. I’ll get it soon.  I knew it wasn’t the right answer but I got a little confused, I was loving people, this is what I did…. but my peace and rest were slipping away into chaos and exhaustion, and that began giving way to resentment to these little people that require SO. FREAKING. MUCH……   And still I JUST. KEPT. MOVING. because my peace and rest were coming.

And suddenly they weren’t.

Apparently there is this little rule that the well traveled are aware of, but the mother of 4 who hasn’t left the country in 9 years did not know.  Your passport must have 6 months validity remaining prior to travel outside of the United States.  Mine expires on 10/26/2016, just over 3 months from now for those counting.  I discovered this on Monday night, I’m supposed to depart in 9 days.  Normal Passport processing is 5-7wks, the post-office ‘expedited’ service is 3 weeks.  I alerted the masses asking for help, and they directed me to the Passport office in DC, I went and was sent home because ’emergency appointments are only granted 24/48 hours before travel’.  I begged to not have to wait until the last second for peace of mind, and it fell on deaf ears but she ‘guaranteed me’ I’d be fine.  These day’s I don’t find a lot of peace and rest in the word of the U.S. government.


Don’t force a wake-up call is my cautionary tale, they ARE. NOT. FUN.

In a second I was WIDE awake that the ONLY way to get peace back in this insane situation was to repent, which I did in the car with a whole bunch of tears, as I drove here there and everywhere trying to find someone to take pity on my situation.  When I got home I called Delta airlines to get their stance on my situation as they will be the ones checking my passport and letting me on the plane or not.  The woman I talked with said their internal systems said I needed a minimum of 3 months from the date of my arrival.  Our arrival date is 7/23, my passport expires 10/26.  3 months and 3 days to be exact.   Because I analyze things to within an inch of their life, I could not ignore the significance of a 3 day window between hopeless and hopeful.   I don’t believe in coincidence, I believe someone wanted to make a point I could not ignore.  God absolutely blows my mind in the unique details only He can orchestrate to speak directly to a person’s heart.

Tuesday night, after my crazy day, my basement flooded.  Again.  Same mess that occurred the first month we moved in.  Pergo floor ruined and ripped up, and exposed cement slab our basement floor once again :(.  Medical bills we did not expect from Kevin’s leg continue to show up, because THAT is what medical bills do, and OH MY GOD reform our medical system because it makes ZERO sense that a rehab boot should cost over $7000?!?  My kids are no less crazy, and I’m no less exhausted, but repentance has a funny way of working.  Even if your situation doesn’t change, when your heart does, so does your outlook.  Peace and rest are not in St. Lucia.  I am no expert in absolute faith.  I would LOVE to tell you I’m at complete peace that this situation is 100% DEFINITELY going to work out, I don’t know that, and I HATE that.  The control freak in me absolutely DOES NOT WANT TO WAIT until 48 hrs before travel to go back into the Passport office and see if I can get a new one, and even less do I want to show up at the air port at 5am on 7/23 for our 6am flight with the one I have believing my 3 day window will suffice.   However, I also refuse to live in a state of absolute anxiety for a solid week, so I will fight for faith, and the truths I DO believe. God is good, He IS working this together for my good, it IS building my faith, and if I don’t get to go, none of that changes.  Will I be disappointed, absolutely, but I will have only lost the gift…. the gift giver is still ALWAYS capable of giving great gifts…. He just likes to make sure we don’t confuse the gift as better with the gift giver.

It is pretty funny looking at it now.  I was fighting for ONE WEEK of peace.  Killing myself for ONE WEEK.  The gentleman God is tried tapping me on the shoulder a whole bunch of times, whispering in my ear ‘Hey, you do realize your choosing to give up peace and rest available EVERY DAY if you stay focused on me, by focusing on this ONE WEEK, right???’     My response was basically, ‘not right now God’, and He’s all like…. OK… have it your way, but this might hurt a little…. and WAAA BAAAAM  2×4 out of left field upside the head is about what I would equate this 6 month validity rule too.   So yeah, I think I’ll take peace and rest every day, especially while I wait out this next week!

I’ll take all the extra prayers I can get that the next post I make can include pictures of as close to Paradise I think I can get this side of heaven!

St. Lucia


    • Julie Alspaugh says:

      I added another blog update…. almost entirely based off your comment 🙂 I check your’s periodically too, how’s your crew?

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