Good morning from New England…err, I mean Dallas! Sorry, but with 4 inches of ice on the roads and a wintery mix of snow and sleet covering the ground, it’s hard to tell whether or not we ever left The Woods. Well, that’s not completely true, because in New England school wouldn’t be closed for the third day in a row, long haul trucks wouldn’t be stuck on the 35 for 3 days, grocery stores wouldn’t be out of meat and for goodness sakes, people would actually know how to drive in this mess–oh, and there wouldn’t really be a mess because they have something called snow plows and deicer (I think I am remembering a similar post…).

But today is supposed to be almost the last of it. The sky is clear (finally!) and with the sun rising the last of the ice (it’s still 17 degrees outside this morning) should wither away and hopefully the night will not bring more. This probably wouldn’t be so disruptive to our little family of 5 if we didn’t just roll into town Thursday night as the freezing rain was coating our car like an ice coffin and we have yet to receive our moving truck full of our things. All too familiar is this feeling of a cold and empty house, sleeping on the floor, sitting on the floor and praying for some reprieve. But this time, we don’t have a refrigerator. Tyler broke down and bought one of those dorm room ones where we squeeze in a gallon of milk, eggs (when the stores still had them), butter, yogurt and a sippy cup. And maybe one more thing…the washer and dryer that was advertised for this house was also broke. We don’t have one, so we had to buy one. Just what we wanted…

Now about this surprise purchase, I have to say this has been one of the grandest highlights of this little adventure–anyone buy a brand new washer and dryer lately?! OH my! I cannot believe how A-MAZING they are now. I use to put my laundry in the our washer and it would take over 1 hour & 1/2 to wash–100 mins is what would show on our reader screen. And that was rather ambitious for the 7 year old machine that was bought used and suffered through 6 moves. And if the machine actually drained the water (and usually it decided to take a brake from such luxuries when I really need one of the boy’s blankets cleaned or a nuclear meltdown would ensue) then our poor little drier that couldn’t would take 80 mins to dry most of what it chose to. But these new modern inventions are nothing short of a housewife’s realization of a dream where heavy loads are perfectly cleaned in 40 mins and and dried in 30–and if by chance you need to sanitize a pillow throw those suckers in your dryer and BAM you’ve got some pillows that are cleaner than when you bought ’em. Serious.

Ok, as you could imagine my goal of this post was not to incite large mobs of washer/dryer envy but to share a bit of us :) And of me. And really, the Lord. There are almost innumerable situations and just plain ole “no fairs” that have come across our path as we struggle to find our way in a foreign city…like don’t even have a tree yet–I know some of you had them before Thanksgiving!…but what’s been amazing has been my realization that just because all of this nonsense is buzzing and swirling around us, we can still hold fast to the promise that the Lord loves us and protects us, and though these circumstances that create extremely trying and frustrating moments, the reality is it doesn’t change Him. And most thankfully, He is still in control.

You see, a couple years ago in the same circumstances, there would have been a rush of cold fear coarsing through my veins and as soon as it reached my hot head–the moment I stub my toe on ice, find my house filled with dead bugs, or even hear the kiddos fight–I would explode into a thousand pieces all over my family. Attractive, I know.

But this disaster waiting to happen is rooted in pressures uncontrolled. Your hear me: uncontrolled. And for me, a control freak,the scariest thing to realize is: I cannot do a single thing to control the acts of others or for goodness sakes, the weather. And let me add to that, I cannot do a single thing on my own to be kind, generous, self-controlled, joyful or loving (I think you’re getting the picture found in Galatians 5:22-23). So how do I live with kindness and love and all of the rest of the fruits of the Spirit: the Spirit Himself. I must live day to day asking and seeking for Christ’s grace and mercy, and for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable me to walk as He walked. Without that, I would be and am one big explosion of selfishness and sinfulness.

Living in The Woods my eyes have been opened wider than they ever have before to the extent by which I live a fairyland existence of control and self-discipline. If you’re anything like me, when you explode out all of the frustration or anger of trying to control when nothing is going how you planned, you see it too: it’s just a facade. You never had control. And it is painfully obvious once you erupted. It doesn’t matter if you think you are controlling your weight, your money, your job; the cleanliness of your home or the behavior of your children or husband; your own moral code or knowledge of the Bible; what house you have or will have or place you live or will live–you aren’t controlling anything. God is just allowing you to live with this illusion, and until you give it up you will spend countless days, months, years of your life kicking against the goads when Jesus is just waiting for you to give it up to Him.

…I can only list most of those examples because I have spent the majority of my life living in a charade of sorts believing I was in control and finally landing in a pit of despair when none of if works out because I believed the lie that God love me only if those things happen for me…Yikes! One of the greatest lessons I have ever learned was to truly know God loves me no matter what I am experiencing or facing down here on Earth–through birthing 2 sons 15 months apart, living with chronic pain for 2 years, having a very difficult 2nd born, and moving every year we were married–none of that had to do with God’s love or lack of love for me. He does not change. (I will write more on this in the future!)

But back to subject!

Of course because of our sinful nature we will always have mega failures–and you can count on that–forever. For example: when I was outside trying to tighten a tiny nut on the battery of my Suburban in 17 degree weather while my husband is Face Timing instructions to me as he is trying to make it into his first day of work–kinda lost it, not gonna pretend. But praise God we are forgiven and we can start over right where we left off with His forgiveness! And by living with the knowledge of, standing firm on the truth of Jesus Christ, circumstances DO NOT have to determine whether or not you are able to love your children, be kind to your husband, smile to complete strangers, or be grateful for the grace and mercy that has been shed for you. Even when you don’t have a Christmas tree :)

Because you were never in control to begin with. And God loves us. AMEN.

There you go. Our family, me and the Lord. Continual training. Not just a year, but a life time of training. And it will continue here we are in Lantana, Texas, some where in the midst of the massive Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. We’re in there. And once the tundra recedes from our landscape we might actually find out what this place is all about.

Best!
–dani

(OH man that was long! And yes, I started this post in the morning and I am just finally hooking up to internet, so just go with the whole “good morning” thing :))

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