messy fruitful

There are a great many Restaurant Disaster stories I could tell you, but I’m going with this one because it’s the most recent. As in, today.

After church Brent got my hint that I needed some meat and wanted to treat us all to a good burger. We tried this new joint, {It rhymes with SLIP, as in, it was only by a complete SLIP OF THE MIND that we chose to eat there.}

The moment we walked in, we should have turned around and walked right. back. out.

But we were starving and it takes a lot of effort to get everyone into and out of the truck, so we stayed. And I needed to go potty really badly and they had a bathroom.

The restaurant screamed STERILE. CLEAN. NO KIDS ALLOWED.

By the time I was able to figure out how to make the uber-modern faucet work in the bathroom, everyone was being seated.

Anyway. The waitress, bless her heart, acted like she had no idea what to do with us. She chuckled and seemed a bit intimidated by our crew. Clearly, she had never seen a child before. I started to wonder if we had accidentally stumbled into a gay bar. Honestly.

I thought out loud, “What do you call this kind of music?” I’m not sure who it was, but Arwen or someone spoke up and said, “Bad?” I’m going to go with electronicmetrofusion. Going outside does not escape the background music, just so you know.

There was no kid’s menu, but she did say that they had grilled cheese sandwiches for kids.

Before we even ordered, Ezra stabbed a hole in his cup with his knife and a fountain of water ensued. Everywhere.

Evie cried and thrashed about and it was at this point I noticed the coffee stain on the front of her dress. Brent fessed up to giving her coffee during the church service. Do you know what happens when you give a toddler coffee? Ask Brent.

Arwen chirped loudly to the waitress how she would like her lettuce extra crunchy and she can’t have gluten because it makes her itchies worse.

We also managed to set off our car alarm about 5 times. Someone was playing with Mamma’s keys.

And I continued to feel bad for the people sitting around us because we were disturbing their sterile environment. Big time.

The menu was a s t o u n d i n g. My crunchy lil heart was doing leaps as I read the words GOUDA, TEMPURA, GOAT CHEESE, CHOCOLATE SALT, LOCAL LETTUCE, GRASS FED BEEF. And the prices for these delectable burgers were reasonable when you consider you were getting real food and not a cheap chemical cocktail made to look like food.

We got the tempura battered sweet potato fries, served with chocolate salt and a side of yummy creamy dip. We all fought over the last one. And they had their burgers available as lettuce wrap style for those of us that can’t have wheat. So thoughtful.

The milkshakes will blow your mind. And your wallet. And they will not allow three people to split one, only two. Ask me how I know.

So, we paid them our next week’s worth of grocery money and left quickly.

This is the end of my review. Long story short: it’s a good place to go for a date or with your girlfriends, but not your family.

Why am I telling you all this? Perhaps I am really enjoying destroying the perfect image that you may have of large-ish homeschooling families. Perhaps it’s because this was more than a “we’ll laugh about this one day” experience. We typically laugh about our Restaurant Disaster experiences as we are experiencing them.

Before we got married, we were subjected to a rather lengthy examination by our church’s in-house counselor. He made us take lots of tests, and we learned all sorts of things about ourselves.

Like the fact that we were Ideologically Disillusioned.

Rose colored glasses, ya’ll. We thought that just because we were courting and planning to homeschool and not use birth control and we go to church every Sunday that life was just going to fall into place and everything would be hunky dory.

“What if one of your children has dyslexia?” “What if you find out you can’t have kids?” “What if you can’t find work but she can? …What if… What if?” The counselor made an attempt at helping us see that we were not seeing the fine print to this lifestyle we had chosen. He wanted us to read it before we signed on the dotted line.

We gave a casual shrug in the direction of the fine print, did a little skimming, and we signed that dotted line.

And here we are, learning that just because you are “doing everything right” does not mean smooth sailing. Just because you feed your kids all organic food, all on schedule, does not mean that one of them won’t ever have health issues. Just because you train them to obey, does not mean that they won’t stab a hole in their cup at a restaurant and make a mess everywhere.

It’s messy. Fruitfulness, the opposite of barrenness, is messy. Barrenness, the synonym of sterility, it sounds so clean. And we usually associate cleanliness as a good thing… especially when you’re in the business of making soap. 

But I’m here to tell ya that messy is great. I’m not going to package this lifestyle up in a pretty little box, tie a ribbon on it, and offer you my tips for $4.99 in a neat little e-book. For free, I’ll tell ya that it’s hard yet deliriously delightful, it’s messy in the  most beautiful way, and it will not look at all to be the perfection that some have been led to believe that it is or that we appear to think we are.

So, while I had this ideal in my mind of what our life would be like at this point. Me, almost thirty, mother of four. Homeschooling mother of four. Work At Home Homeschooling mother of four. Did I have any idea when I just had teeny little Arwen what this would consist of? The grunge of the everyday?

Not. a. clue.  I really thought I was perfect and that my life would be perfect and I would bake bread every day and sing hymns all morning and never yell because my children would perfectly obey since I followed all the formulas and trained them according to the books I read.

No thanks. Life has surprises at every turn and God is glorified in our mess and He is glorified in our struggle and He is still on the throne even when I can’t school my children perfectly like I want to.

9But 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 gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10)

So when you hear a Mamma talking candidly about how she hasn’t slept in eleven years or recounting the disastrous restaurant experience she had with her family, or maybe even saying “Hey. I don’t know what in the heck I’m doing here. I could use some help.”… Please don’t think that it’s because she hasn’t read the books or followed the formulas or even that it means that she hates her life or thinks her kids are preventing her from having the life she really wants.

And on the flip side, when you read the books by the mothers of ten that make it sound like their life flows in perfection and they always get good sleep because they sleep trained their baby and their house is always clean because they joyfully hum hymns all day while they keep their home and their kids walk single file behind them in matching outfits… you get the picture, ad naseum. No one has that life. Even the Duggars. In the very least, they are at least 2 hours late everywhere they go.

It doesn’t look like that for any of us. Most of my friends are homeschooling large family mammas and none of them live perfect lives, but all of them love Jesus and all of them are doing their best and all of them breathe a sigh of relief when they see my mess on occasion. We still clean, we still train, we still love and pour out and do our very best by the grace of God,and we even hum hymns while doing it, but that does not mean easy and it does not mean perfect. What it means is wonderfully messy. It means that our weakness has a proportionately larger chance of being displayed (after all, it’s hard to hide a screaming two year old in the grocery store). And God’s grace should also be displayed in our lives to the same measure.

Yes, God is glorified in our mess. Even in our mess and our weakness. It doesn’t have to make sense. The Bible says it and it’s true.