Community · Limerence · spiritual growth

Disney Dads and Discontentment

I look at this unframed black and white photograph of my Dad, my brothers and myself every day. It’s wedged on a shelf near my sunscreen on my bathroom counter. It reminds me that in as much as life is ever changing, some things will always remain the same.

These days, the Sailing Ship Columbia, is docked in Frontierland, and those aboard won’t see 12 flying elephants during their voyage, nor are guests of the Magic Kingdom likely to have a Disney Day with small crowds reminiscent of 1969. These are some definitive changes. But those brave enough to face the stroller-wielding families in Fantasyland will still witness Daddies nestled beside their littles in miniature mammalians while Mommies capture the moment on film.

And on the faces of many of these men, in the picture before the picture that will be posted to social media, there will still be that look of discontent. Throughout time, there have been people who have struggled with being content.

From the day of my first memory, which was around the time of this photo, my Mother has whispered to me, “You and your father are just alike..”

I’ve often wondered if Mom could really see that, or if she created the similarity with her whispers. Either way, she was right. I see it when I look at this snapshot of him with his children. It’s those uncaptured thoughts plummeting the heart downward when everything is–in actuality–just  fine. It’s struggling to be content with the same things we will one day long for; he and I cannot be alone in that one.

We aren’t bad people, and this trait isn’t a flaw incapable of being used for good. Inasmuch as the lack of contentment can lead to wandering and depression, the struggle to acquire contentment is also the core of desire and creativity. My father wanted more, and he allowed this hunger to drive him to build and create things for our family. Being discontent also leads us to the cross, time and again. It’s the desire to have the ache fulfilled from the inside that draws us to the only One who can. Thankfully, that never seems to change either.

Despite the anhedonia-like undertones that could be ascribed to this post, I’m not trying to be disrespectful; I love my father fiercely. I just don’t know how to write honestly about my parents, my childhood, or my life and not acknowledge the good, of which there was much, without also remembering the hard. I have to write what’s true, it’s that part of me that’s just like my dad.

spiritual growth · Uncategorized

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

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.

imagesRecently, 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.

IMG_9492-2From 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…”

IMG_9427-0I 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.