A friend of mine gave me a great suggestion when we relocated to another state and would no longer live near our toddler granddaughter. She suggested I get a children’s book and read that same book to my granddaughter via FaceTime or Skype whenever I had the chance.
My friend was spot on in her suggestion, and from the first time I read the book, Grandma and Me my granddaughter was a captivated audience. Whenever we would visit her, I would surprise her by pulling the flap book out of my suitcase and reading it to her LIVE.
Recently, I tried a new book and introduced her to the “If You Give” series. There are many to choose from: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Pig a Pancake and several others, as well. The original book in the series, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie describes the potential trials readers will face if they give a mouse a chocolate chip cookie. It was the literary success of this rodent’s post-cookie adventure that led to sequels and spawned the franchise.
The story starts off fairly harmless, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk to go with it. When you give him a glass of milk, he’s going to ask for a straw…” Through the progression of events, the cookie-giver ends up following the discontent mouse throughout the house meeting his needs until they end up back where they started. The few times I read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to my granddaughter via FaceTime she was captivated. I was Moses and she was an Israelite watching me part the Red Sea.
Three days ago my husband and I made a spontaneous trip across the state line to visit our children and spend time with our granddaughter, which means I have spent the last three days reading the same book over and over.
From sunrise snuggles to bedtime, the toddler who holds my heart repeated, “Mouse. Cookie.” She had no problem communicating her intentions. She wanted to read and reread and learn what happens if you give a mouse a cookie. This morning, when packing to leave her home and head back to my own, I knew I couldn’t take the mouse-cookie book with me. Her fascination with the story was too intense to disrupt. Now, as I am riding shotgun with the man who leads me well, I am struggling in a big way.
My heart breaks when we leave California. Every. Single. Time.
The pain of leaving my children and my granddaughter is made worse by lingering guilt. As we drove onto the onramp, my inner thoughts condemned me saying, “This is your own fault. You are being punished for what you did. You reap what you sew.”
It was paralyzing for the first hour of the drive, and I found myself wishing we hadn’t made the trip at all. I found myself wishing I didn’t have short reminders of what I no longer have everyday–or even once a week!
Visiting my granddaughter for three days: eating, hiking, bathing, and reading the mouse-cookie book LIVE was no longer good enough. I became a discontent rodent.
“If you give me three days with my granddaughter, I’m going to want a week. If you give me a week, I’m going to want to move back to California. If you move me back to California, I’m going to want…”
I have never posted a blog from a car as it traveled eighty-one MPH through the desert, but once I recognized the lies in my head and the seriousness of the battle I am fighting, I knew I needed some reinforcement.
Contentment with cookies and granddaughters and matters of the heart is serious business. I am not alone in my struggle. A lack of contentment is the root of an inconceivable amount of problems and sin in our world today.
So, what’s a mouse to do?
When I finally found my voice and shared my internal struggle with my husband, he asked, “What are you wanting to happen?”
“I want these feelings to go away. I want to be content. But I’m not,” I answered him while looking straight ahead.
And then he reminded me, “I know your not. I’m not either. But you can’t make your feelings go away. They have to be replaced with something.”
And there it is.
Unpleasant feelings of discontent always lead us to replace them with something. Terrible regrets are equally demanding. Remorse begs to be replaced with something far more satisfying. The question always comes back to what we choose to replace them with. Emptiness, disappointment and brokenness owned can actually lead to freedom if we recognize those emotions and deal with them.
However, dealing with them looks different for everyone. For me, rather than spending the next few hours in a car, wishing it was speeding towards California, I allow myself to feel sad while simultaneously asking God to use this time–this travel time–for His glory.
I cannot change our situation, but I can change how I respond to the situation. If I pout and promise to be happy once the situation changes, my mouse-like behavior will form frustrating habits.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” Jeremiah 29:11
Our reliance on scripture is not merely prophetical. God’s plans for us to prosper are not only in the future. We are living His plans in this day; We are living His plans in this moment.
When we stop half way through our journey (and half way through this blog) to top off our tank with gasoline, my husband runs inside the convenience store to buy a pack of cookies.
It seems that my half written blog has had an effect on my man. I can’t help but smile, and I realize that, once again, God has ministered to me where I least expect it.