Time to smell the azaleas…

Don’t talk to me.

I’m in mourning…

But in the best possible way, I suppose, as Mr. Gore received a good bill of health yesterday at the Spine and Orthopedic Institute of Tulsa. So the good news is that, although he is still forbidden to do anything too taxing such as take out the trash for a few months (thanks a lot, doc), he is allowed to drive once more…

and go to work.

Which explains my mourning.

I held on to his ankles as he walked down the sidewalk, dragging along behind him like a sack of grain, laying in the dirt sobbing as he shook me off of his feet at the driveway and sped off in the car.

Just kidding. That didn’t happen. We hugged (and kissed…shhhhh, don’t tell), and waved and hugged one more time and then me and the kids all clapped and cheered for him as he walked away to get in the car and drive down the hill for the first time in over 3 weeks, his study books and computer piled in the passenger seat next to him. He was smiling. And wearing real clothes. He looked amazing and happy and 100% back to normal.

I looked pretty amazing, too. Well, I had on make-up by 8:30, which truly IS amazing…

But on the inside, I was laying in the dirt, crying.

Our 3-week staycation is officially over.

It wasn’t easy…in fact, I’ve never worked so hard in my life…but it was one of those special times of learning and growing and togetherness that I know in my heart I will never forget; when my memory scans back over the years, these past 3 weeks will certainly stand out a little and warm up my insides and cause me to thank God.

Here in the confines of our home, with Spring breezing through our open windows and azaleas blooming larger than ever by our front porch, we discovered a new path in the journey to living a simpler and happier life.

Much of it, I suppose, had to do with our empty schedule. We had absolutely nothing to do – nothing we could do, even – for 3 long weeks. The result was that we found things to do at home. We found work to do at home. We read books. We mapped out our garden. We planned upcoming events for the church. We watched movies. We made homemade bread. We had picnics. We took walks. We played soccer and baseball. We made goals for readying the schoolroom before Fall. We planted rose bushes and catmint (thanks Brian!). We organized. We nearly lived outside. We got to know our neighbors a little better. We had friends over. We played boardgames. We were a family with more than enough time to act like one and thrive as a result.

We also found great joy in being “stuck” at home. In one of her illustrations, Mary Engelbreit writes “Bloom where you’re planted.” With the temptation to hop into the car and drive to Tulsa or drive to a neighboring town or drive to my parent’s house every other day not even an option, this is exactly what we did. We bloomed. And it made me realize that I spend a lot of time getting us all ready, loading up into the car and driving somewhere, usually to buy more junk to bring home. Once we return and unload ourselves, the house is a wreck and I look around growing more frustrated by the minute by all the things I want to do to make improvements around here but can’t because we’re never home long enough to do them and don’t have the budget money because we keep spending it while we’re out and about and don’t even have the focus to accomplish them because we’re living all over the place. Being stuck here resulted in us tending to what we’ve been given with focus and determination and satisfaction (and we had budget money to spare because we didn’t have any junk to spend it on at Wal-Mart and Target!). We got a taste of what life is supposed to be like…and it was pretty awesome.

And then, of course, I grew up a little during this time, something that always hurts, but something that I always cherish. I love to learn and I love to grow and I love to understand the truths of Scripture a little more clearly, so I am very grateful for what happened in my heart this month…

I learned to be a real grown-up again, driving a post-op patient home through 5:00 traffic. I learned to run errands again, reacquainting myself with the post office and the bank and deposit slips and the UPS place and the gas station and the phone company. I learned to drag the trashcans to the end of the driveway. I learned how to juggle putting 3 kids to bed at the same-ish time on two different levels of the house. I learned how to serve my husband. I learned how to maintain a tidy house (by rarely sitting down). I learned how to work hard with a cheerful heart. I learned that I was growing a little bit lazy and entitled before (the “downside” of having a more-than-helpful man with a flexible schedule and a super-close office).

Basically, I relearned what my roles are and that performing those roles is more fulfilling than having hours of “me time” and all the relaxation in the world. And I learned that you CAN do it all…you can enjoy each one of your kids and teach them and have food on the table and have a fulfilling marriage and have a clean house…but you CAN’T do it all while trying to live for yourself. A little bit more of Mrs. Gore died this month, and as ever, that is a very. good. thing.

And the craziest part of the entire thing was that time went by a lot slower than it normally does. I’ve been looking for the trick to accomplish this for years now, trying to figure out why some days would zoom by while others seemed like 4 or 5 days wrapped up into 1. Well I’ve found the answer, at least where Mrs. Gore is concerned. Stay home. Work hard. Play while you’re not working. Waste time on the computer when you’re not working or playing. Commune with your Creator. At the end of each day, you find yourself marveling that this morning was actually this morning and not a couple of days ago…

The conclusion? Back surgeries are da BOMB.

So are our azaleas.

Mr. Gore's azaleas

Coming soon, I’ll tell you about all the amazing people who ministered to us during this time…it is so good to be a part of the family of God!

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