My first trip overseas was to England and France with my sister and parents to see my brother Luke, who was studying in Paris.
We toured the Tower of London and it started to rain, prompting some enormous Americans in t-shirts and sneakers to shriek, “Should we duck into one of these attractions?” — a line that can still be drawled to produce amusement between Hannah and me now 15 years later.
I bought a cuff bracelet in the tower gift shop that said “Life is Beautiful” in some dead language. I had just finished my first year at Texas A&M and was abroad for the first time, seeing how life is different, and—like a garden—more beautiful for its variety.
Sometimes I forget life is beautiful. Sometimes life feels like a slog of sickness, isolation, screaming kids, poop, loneliness in the smack middle of deployment and failure. Last year at this time I would say now I was pretty depressed. When I slept, I dreamt of diving into dark water and staying submerged. That was such a time of despair. Obviously I had post partum depression.
But now I am not depressed. Yet I was letting circumstances propel me into hopelessness. I realized I didn’t want my kids’ memories of Virginia to be all “mom was super grouchy,” (even if all my memories of Virginia include wailing kids). I repented of my bad attitude. I asked for forgiveness, from God, my kids and my mom (ha ha, sorry Mom). Shockingly (to me), changing my attitude, or even just verbally stating a desire to have a good attitude, has made a huge difference in my kids’ attitudes already.
I wrote a post for SpouseBuzz about losing self pity for the new year. So I’m doing that. Sometimes circumstances are overwhelming of course, but I don’t have to feel hopeless. I am taking responsibility for my feelings and not letting them be dictated by circumstances.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
This isn’t a “pull myself up by my bootstraps and have a good attitude” adjustment. It’s more a confession of how sinning with my attitude was bringing down my family and clouding my eyes to the beauty and blessings of life, even during flu season.
We went to the zoo twice last week when the weather was above freezing. Winter is a great time to go to the zoo. The landscaping is all cut back for clear views of the animals frolicking in the cold, it is not crowded, and it’s mostly protected from the wind. Did you know you can buy emu and ostrich eggs laid by Virginia Zoo birds? We got ourselves an emerald emu egg. Life is beautiful. And so are emu eggs.