"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." -- Man in Black, The Princess Bride

I'm not sure how you'll feel about this evening's post. It might not sit well with you. It's an uncomfortable subject. It is not lightly said, however, and I hope that you'll prayerfully consider my point of view.

Pain is the background of life. It is ever-present and unavoidable. It touches every one of us. Look around and you. Murder. Betrayal. Rejection. Insecurity. Look at yourself. Abuse. Dishonesty. Loneliness. Hopelessness.

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now." (Romans 8:22)

Nothing mind-blowing so far, right? Here's where I might step on your toes. . . . It's supposed to hurt. We were never meant to live in a world like this. When we are surrounded by such brokenness, we should feel our hearts break!

God intended that we should live in the kind of world where we look around and see Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Where we look at ourselves and see Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. That is what we were created for.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12) 

Sin has messed it all up. It started with one bad choice and snowballed. Sin entered the world and God is allowing Satan to roam free for a time. There will come a day when everyone who will choose life has done so.

When that time comes sin, and it's accompanying pain, will be utterly destroyed. No trace left. But for now... every day, pain trickles (or floods) into our lives like seawater into a leaky boat. A weight of sadness pulls at our soul.

"As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42) 

And here's where I might step on your toes again. If you don't allow yourself to feel the pain, you will never be able to fully experience happiness. Even Jesus stopped to consider those He loved and to weep for them.

Some of us are expert at pretending that we don't feel the sadness. Many of us try to hide it because we think it's somehow wrong to admit that we feel sad, especially if we can't say exactly why we feel that way.

"And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

The idea that life with God means you no longer feel pain is a LIE. God himself grieves for his hurting children. If we are to reflect the heart of God, then shouldn't we grieve as well? However, God would never ask us to grieve without also offering us comfort.

I spent most of my life either wallowing hopelessly in pain, allowing it to consume me, or trying outrun and hide from it. It's only in the past few years that I've learned something infinitely valuable. I have to let myself feel sad. And that's okay.

"And I don't look at you when the light is shining
And I don't feel warm until the water's lapping
Against my feet, around my knees, around my waist"
-- Throw Me, by Chasing Furies

Think of the leaky boat. If you ignore it, or put a pretty pillow over the leak, you'll be okay for a time. But eventually, the water will be around your ankles. Then your knees. Then the whole boat is going down. Avoidance does not work.

If you acknowledge the leak, if you confront it and bail out the water, it could save your life. It's not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. In our lives, the leak cannot be repaired. Only God can do that, and He decides when.

"God is always late, and always on time." -- Brad Thomas

But if we sit with God and face the pain, He will comfort us. He will bail the water out of our boats and enable us to sail another day. And with the pressure of that sadness lightened, we can more fully experience the peace and joy which God also so abundantly offers.

I'll stop talking now and ask, what do you think?

- - - - -

My first version of this post ended rather abruptly, didn't it?

That would be because my husband came up behind me and started playing with my hair. For anyone who doesn't know, touching my hair turns my brain off.

I haven't gotten much feedback on my thoughts (i really would love to hear from people), but what I have received makes me think I'd better clarify something.

I experience joy every day. And I experience happiness nearly every day. The pain that I allow myself to feel is in no way prohibitive of experiencing joy. Rather, joy comes more easily because God has lifted some of the weight from my soul.

That was part of my original intent behind sharing these thoughts and I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. :)



Alas, the end of school means less time to play with doodles.
For a week now, life in our family has been a tornado. I don't believe that the transition from summer to fall (such as it is) has ever felt this violent before! I think that we so successfully kept ourselves diverted this summer, we never had a chance to look forward to the start of school.

Both kids finished up their swimming lessons last Monday. They have each been in lessons since they were babies, but it's interesting to see how different they are. Lila can swim well and she knows it. Eli has a good base of swimming skills, but lacks confidence in the water.

At any rate, they've both decided to move on to different interests for the fall. Lila started horseback riding lessons on Thursday. She has been so looking forward to it! I will not lie; I am downright jealous that she gets to ride every week, and I don't.

Eli will begin gymnastics classes on September 5th. I hope that goes well. He has taken gymnastics lessons in the past and he refused to participate, half the time. He has assured me that will not happen again. I have assured him that we will not continue to pay for classes, if it does.

Somehow, in the midst of all our activities, I managed to get the kids ready to go back to school. I acquired all the necessary books, uniform pieces, school supplies, and lunch goodies. We even squeezed in a haircut (so Eli didn't have to go to school with hair he'd recently cut himself).

The first classroom day was Wednesday. There was much excitement, all around, and I got a couple of good photos. They are still on the camera, however, so you'll have to wait to see them. I celebrated my first day of "freedom" by being alternately slothful and productive.

The first homeschool day was Thursday. Unfortunately, I was the only genuinely excited to participant in that activity. The kids started their day off with grumbling and defiance. It was discouraging to have my enthusiasm greeted by such resistance.

Thursday, as mentioned in my prior update, was also Lila's 9th birthday. She experienced a fairly spread-out celebration this year. Birthday dinner on Tuesday, birthday breakfast on Thursday, a grandparent birthday visit on Saturday, and her birthday train ride on Sunday.

Friday, as also mentioned in my prior update, we went to Schlitterbahn. I actually started my day by praying that God would enable me to enjoy myself, even though it was not something I wanted to do. Despite my ardent desire not to go, I had as much fun as the rest of the family. Thank you, God!

Saturday was probably the slowest day we've had for some time. There was still some errand-running in the afternoon, however. By the time we all got back home, I had not the least desire to cook dinner. We declared it Family Movie Night and ate various frozen foods of dubious nutritional value.

I will post pictures from Lila's birthday train ride, the Princess Flyer, at a later date. Those, too, are still on the camera. The short version is that we had a lot of fun, even if our train car did become unbearably hot near the end of the ride.

And that brings us all the way up to today, which was as busy as all the rest. I got a sunburn on my back at Schlitterbahn, which is starting to fade. Today, I got a sunburn on my shoulders during recess duty at school. It's been years since I got a real sunburn and now I've had two within a week!

Speaking of which, I forgot how badly sunburns ITCH when they are healing! Gah!



My family is going to Schlitterbahn tomorrow. Yay! I (the opposite of) can't wait!

I mean, sure, we just spent an entire week at the beach. But going to a waterpark is in no way redundant. And, yes, this week is packed to overflowing with lessons and school and birthday activities. But what can it hurt to pile on a little more exhaustion, right?



*grin begins to slide off face*

Gypsy and the Birthday Girl
Aaaaanyway... My daughter turned 9 today. She is officially halfway through childhood (as defined by our culture). I'm pretty sure that I'm not okay with that. It's hard to believe that the chubby baby in those old photos is now this tall and gangly thing.

The way her birthday fell this year is a little unfortunate. Yesterday was the first day of school for Veritas, today was our first homeschool day and Lila's first horseback riding lesson, and tomorrow we're going to Shitter Schlitterbahn.

That doesn't leave a lot of room for the extra pomp and circumstance that I like to give my family members on their birthdays! And, I realized this evening, I didn't even remember to take Eli out to buy a gift for her. Oops!

BUT, Lila did get to start the day cinnamon rolls, both kids got all of their homework done, and Lila loved her first riding lesson. Now they are merrily disobeying our requests that they shower and get ready for bed.

In fact, I think Doug's about to put them under the running water with all their clothes on...