So the past few weeks have been a little extra crazy at our house.  My husband is in the Reserve, and he had a two week training to report to, so that means two weeks with me flying solo.  Now, I am a full-time stay at home mom of six littles, so I am well aware of the daily needs of our family and home.  And to be honest, I do most of it because I’m the one home more.  But I also know that parenting really takes two, especially when there are six kids in the home.  And I also know that everything always goes haywire when he’s gone for military.  I’m not kidding.  I’d bet that other military spouses would back me up on that one.  Things that were working perfectly for the last year break the day he leaves, kids turn into insomniac creatures you don’t recognize, technology quits working, kids start puking, you name it.  Haywire.

This time, I’m not sure it could’ve been much crazier though.  The day after he left, I took the kids out for a drive and to go grab some french fries.  We occasionally do this, as it’s a “break for mom” trip, gets us all out of the house, and the kids are thrilled to get a little “treat” along with it too.  As I’m driving, the van starts acting strange.  Haywire, you might say.  I just didn’t feel right about it at all, so I turned around after a few minutes of driving and went back home, fry-less.  My poor kids were bummed, but could tell something wasn’t normal with the van, so I think they understood.  My super-awesome-helpful dad came and got our vehicle and took it to his mechanic to check it out.  There was definitely an issue that needed to be addressed, so they were keeping our van, our only mode of transportation and assistance in “break for mom” trips, for the rest of the week.  So two weeks with husband gone, one of them with no transportation.  

After all of those days, we get our van back.  Hallelujah!  What do we do with our new found freedom?  We take a “break for mom” trip, of course.  It’s been a long week!  As I’m pulling into the place to order some fries, the power steering on the van goes out.  This is not a good feeling.  I’m a little freaked out, but since we’ve made it this far, I’m determined to finish the trip.  We order the fries and as we’re waiting for them, the temperature gauge starts to go up on the van.  Not good!  I am slightly panicked at this point, but it’s me, flying solo with six kids with really no back up plan.  The car starts to jerk and dies a couple times.  Again, more haywire.  But I have to get my kids home!  So I start down the road, then the temperature gauge goes all the way up…. I know better.  I turned immediately into the next place I could.  A gas station.  

My poor van…

Now I have to be honest, I was unbelievably overwhelmed.  I had a vehicle that was not going anywhere anytime soon, a van FULL of kids, and a husband out of the state.  And anyone I could think of to give me a ride at that moment surely couldn’t fit SEVEN extra people in their vehicle!  So I called my husband crying, just because I didn’t know what else to do.  Poor guy.  He immediately called some amazing friends of ours who had a van large enough for all of us and were so kind and helpful that it made the whole situation so much less stressful.  So thankful for them!  Bonus, my kids adore them, so it was an extra fun adventure and at one point in the day, my oldest even remarked that it was the “best day ever!”  Kids can be great for providing perspective sometimes.

The van sadly made its return on a tow truck, where my super-awesome-helpful dad was able to fix the totally unrelated new broken pieces and get us back to driving again.  

And this was just one of quite a few crazy adventures that I endured over those two weeks.  

Things broke….

Kids that are NEVER sick were sick literally the entire two weeks…

Now I could sit here and tell you that I was so happy and joyful during all of this, but that is totally not true.  I could pick out all of the positives through the crazy, how my kids joyfully ate fries and played “I Spy” while we were stuck at the gas station waiting for a ride, how we were able to get groceries and food at just the right time before we ran out, how the repairs weren’t nearly as bad as I was expecting, but that’s not what I felt I learned the most from in all of this.  

Over and over, these past few weeks, the Lord has continued to bring to my attention these verses, which I’ll be honest, I really struggle with sometimes:

James 1:2-4 says,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Consider it pure joy?!  Are you serious?  How can I be joyful that all of these frustrating, stressful things are happening? And yes, I know, these are small trials compared to many others, but still trials.  I often feel like considering it pure joy after my trials are over or if I can somehow avoid the trial altogether.  But to be joyful while facing them is a challenge for me.  I believe that the answer is found in the “why” though.  It’s not that you’re thrilled things are tough, but that you begin to see those tough moments as an opportunity for growth.  That you can and should become stronger in your faith because of those trials.  In my crazy past few weeks, some moments I’ve stopped to notice God work through the situations and some moments I’ve not handled well at all.  I’m grateful for the grace of God and how patient He is with me in those moments.  So my challenge to myself is to see my struggles, whether it be stresses about a vehicle, my house, my kids, whatever it is, as opportunity to rely more on God and grow in my faith.  For that I can be joyful!

Oh, and if anyone knows of a great deal on a big reliable van, let me know.  We just found out more is in need of repair on ours. Considering it joy!