So thinking back for a bit.... The first night of our trip, I slept very little. This is never ever good. Especially during pregnancy. I hadn't slept the night before we left because my stomach was full of knots. I knew the trip was going to be hard. very hard. But there was no turning back. So after two nights of very little sleep and a body that was building a new life, I began to break down. down. really down. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, in the RV outside of Wal-mart, I said, to my present sadness, in front of all my children, "I HATE THIS". I felt very very nauseous, the RV was in disarray and we had no time built into our itinerary for cleaning and organizing all of our luggage, fixing food in the miniature kitchen seemed just horrible to me, and I was just plain exhausted from travel and lack of sleep. It felt like getting anywhere in the RV took two times longer because it was so SLOW. I mean, it did get up to 70, but it just took a while. We were late and had already missed our first stop, Arches National Park due to several reasons.
2. Burny. I'll back track just a minute to give you an idea of the intro to our trip. So we arrive in Denver and the Road Bear RV shuttle comes to pick us up. The driver was from Switzerland. Apparently the whole company is owned and run by Europeans. No problem. Cool! So, we chat for a few minutes and then he says he has to pick up another couple. I asked Steve in the back, "how many seats are available back there?" To which he responds, "None". I look to my right and there is only ONE empty seat. Long story short, we get to pick up the couple, despite the fact there is only one seat, and he tells me that I have to take one of my children out of their seat belt and hold them in my lap for the duration of the drive to the RV rental facility, which wasn't nearby. We would be taking the highway. I proceeded to let this man know, in no uncertain terms, that I WOULD NOT be taking ANY of my children out of their seat belts. He ended up leaving one of the passengers that he had with him when he picked us up at the hotel and taking the couple. When we arrived at the RV rental facility I went in to start the pick-up process and an older gentleman, Burny, proceeded to tell me off for not taking one of my children out of their seat belt for the duration of the drive. Apparently, the person who put together our rental papers put at the top of our paperwork that we were a party of four, yet included that we needed 7 camping chairs, 7 convenience kits, etc. etc., so Road Bear made a mistake, thus they overbooked the shuttle, and then Road Bear yelled at me for a good 5 minutes due to their mistake. I finally went and got Steve, in tears, and well, you can all imagine how that went down. We ended up not having to pay for our convenience kits and camping chairs because Steve called the regional manager. To be fair, in all of our experience with Road Bear RV, EVERYONE else was very nice. So I don't share this story to discourage people from rental through Road Bear, but just to share what a traumatizing experience our trip was just to start with. Literally my children were in shock and so was I. I have never been treated so poorly as a customer before in my lifetime. And to top it off, during his tirade, his dog was running loose and it snarled and snapped at Samuel. I'm telling you, it was a one of a kind experience. And it put us behind. So Burny and traffic on I-70 caused us to not make it to our first stop and we missed Arches.
Missing things we planned to do became a very general theme. But more on that later. Back to about 24 hours into our trip, maybe a few hours after declaring my hatred for my situation... I was sitting in the front seat and I realized, all I had been thinking about for probably that whole day was myself, how miserable I was, how tired I was, how much I hated everything, how much I wanted to go home. I, I, I, me, me, me. I don't think I had given a second thought to God ALL day. I was, as far as I can tell, completely walking in what I'll call, the flesh...my sin nature. I had not once called on God to forgive me for my attitude, or to help me, or to give me strength. Not once had I thought about Scripture or what God's perspective might be. It was all about me. And I was miserable. But Someone came. He didn't condemn me for feeling so sorry for myself. He didn't condemn me for abandoning my Savior and walking in the flesh. He had compassion for me and so he came and helped me. Not by lifting me out of my circumstances. Because those just continued and grew in many ways harder. But he reminded me to yield to His Spirit. And I asked, right there in my seat, in the quiet of my heart, for God to take over and reign in me. I asked him to help me not walk in my flesh, but to help me live by the power of His Spirit. And all of a sudden a heavy weight lifted. A dark cloud passed over and sunshine filtered into the recesses of my heart.
And back to today. Today is hard too. Today is physically taxing. The work is great. But the work is also great. What is wrong with having a hard job? What is wrong with really hard work? I'm so thankful that God taught me today that there is NOTHING wrong with hard work. In fact, the hard work that I'm doing is really awesome. I love the hard work I'm doing. I have wanted to do this hard work since I was a child. I'm living my dream. Now my dream and what reality is, are really quite different. But that's because I'm so small, and my dreams are small, but God is BIG. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and he dreams BIG dreams. And he brings his big dreams to fruition in real life. And they involve hard things. But the hardest things turn into God-sized accomplishments that He brings about with His strength in the midst of our weakness. He truly is an awesome God that I really love.
But he said to me...."My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power my rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9
Now, I'll share some pictures! (I think the children did have a really great time! For which I am so thankful!)
On the way to Mesa Verde, what seemed like the eternal drive, we drove regretfully past Arches National Park. To our delight we ended up also passing a road side arch, Wilson Arch, and although it was nearly dark, we pulled over and let the kids hike up it. This of course, lead to an even later night, and we ended up setting up all there beds and putting them to bed before we even got there, much to my dismay. So another night of dismal sleep. But nothing could be as bad again as my pity party the day before.
Our day at Mesa Verde, poor Andrew woke up with vomiting and diarrhea. He hung out with me or Steve in the RV all day while Steve and I traded off doing stuff. Micah and I got to see these Native Americans doing a tribal dance and also walk through a Native American Art festival they were having. This is a once a year event which we were very thankful to get to see! There weren't many magical moments for me, but our time at Mesa Verde was one of them. I really enjoyed it.
At one point we asked Andrew if he wanted to get out of the RV for just a quick minute and he said, although his legs were "weak", that he would. Poor guy.
Micah and I took a really neat tour to "Cliff Palace", the largest cliff dwelling. This again, I really enjoyed. I think Micah did too. :)
This bunk over the cab held all the boys quite a few times....not to sleep but they would get up there and watch TV. My boys watched more TV and played more games on Steve's i-pad than probably in their whole lives. I definitely let go of all my "restrictions" in those areas to just do whatever worked best, to keep them quiet and occupied during all the driving we did.
Of course we have a zillion pictures of everyone at Four Corners, but I'm just sharing this one of cutie pootie Andrew who was feeling better by this time. Yeah!
And after a long drive through Navajo country we made it to the Grand Canyon.
Thankfully we got there early enough so that I could see the "first views" of the Grand Canyon upon arrival in the very big park, before waking up in the morning with the dreaded stomach virus. :)
We saw these, oh shoot, what are they called? Moose? Anyway, they were super cool.
The morning of our one day in the Grand Canyon, when we were going to take the boys on a bike ride along the rim (very safely back from the rails and cliffs), I awoke with the unmentionables. And with tears. A flood of them. I went and got Steve and I must have cried buckets sitting there on my bed. I really didn't feel well and I just knew I couldn't handle anymore. I was certain life had come to an end and I had the tears to prove it. I'm sure Steve just wanted to cry too. But he held it together. And we decided that we would just have to stay the whole day at the Grand Canyon and one more night instead of driving half-way to Sequoia. This was going to be our longest drive (11 hours), and once we realized that driving in the RV is not any easier than driving in a regular vehicle with the kids, they still get antsy, they still want out of their seats, etc., etc., we had adjusted our plans to drive it one day to driving it in two days. But when Steve called the RV camping facility we were staying in, they said that when we canceled that night someone else had grabbed it up. We had to leave. So Steve took the boys on the bike ride alone (which caused me to sob tears into my Savior's shoulder, asking him to please please keep them all safe) and I geared up for a drive, while sick and doubly nauseous through the desert. The above picture was my view out the window as I laid in the RV's rock hard bed, bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, along terrible highways, with the virus. It was one of the hardest days of my life! But we eventually did make it to our campground in nowhere. More on that later....
(side note...and for the record, yes, I have days that feel endless at home, and the task feels very overwhelming, but there are lots and lots of very precious moments, where that rascally 2 and 4 year old give the sweetest hugs and kisses, and giggles turn to glee, and it's wonderful and all worth it. It's not all hard, it's lots good, and the good and the joy all outweigh the difficulties in raising a large brood of boys. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Just wanted to make sure that was clear! I want to share the hard and the good on my blog, so that God's grace is magnified and so no one can look at my life and make wrong assumptions, ie, 'wow, they have it all together, why don't we?' Boy we don't, but God is so, so good! Truly, Great is His faithfulness!)