Survival Guide

As I write this, my husband has been gone for nine days on a mission trip to Peru. By the grace of God this has been the easiest and most do-able time of separation we've ever had. I am SO thankful for this and wanted to share some things I've been learning and have learned about managing not just myself, but our family and coping during his absence. In no particular order, here are some early morning thoughts. I hope to get it all out before Mr. O demands attention.

1. Penitence.
In years past when T had to travel, particularly to Peru, I complained and groaned and rolled my eyes and generally resented the entire country of Peru (or CCCA, or whatever had called him away). The key phrase to all of this is not "whatever had called him away", but "who had called him away." See, God in his sovereign wisdom was calling my husband to go to Peru (or wherever) and my complaint wasn't so much against Event X, but against God. Conviction hit on so many levels. I was being selfish, self-centered, and dependent on the wrong things. In the week leading up to his departure, the Holy Spirit really convicted me and began changing my heart to embrace Tuan's calling to do this and be a truly (not fake-smiling-teeth-clenched) cheerful helper and supporter of my husband. Not that I've got it "down" by any means!

2. Perspective.
Nine days seems long to me, but I have friends whose husbands are deployed or soon will be. Nine days is NOTHING in the big picture and I have been chastened and motivated to pray mightily for those who are going through such times.

3. Proper Preparation.
I enlisted several folks to pray for me and the kids during his absence, because this is still an incredibly challenging and lengthy time. The prayers of the saints have been felt and manifested in a mighty way. Thank you, friends, who have prayed for all of us! I also prayed for T, for my own heart, and the kids, and made plans. LOTS.OF.PLANS.

4. Planning.
Knowing my weaknesses, I recruited folks to stay with us and also made plans to visit friends during the time. The first day, we had a baby-sitter while I ran errands and that night, we had overnight guests along with pizza and a movie on the living room floor. Then, we traveled to North Mississippi to stay with very dear (and accomodating) friends for several days. Driving alone, it took almost five hours to make a three and a half hour trip (I'm still confused about this), but I reckoned it ate up ten hours of the week!

Over time, I've learned that for us there has to be a balance of order and chaos in T's absence. Being away is good, but the kids really need some order and familiarity. Traveling the first part of the week, then staying at home and having company seemed to work well for us. Choosing wisely where we travel and who we stay with also makes a world of difference in how well our family thrives.

So, we've been BUSY. My own tendencies are to solitude and introspection, but it has actually been good that I'm yearning for some instead of drowning in the solitude. My sweet mother, in-laws and grandmother have all stayed with us and helped at some point this week.

5. Prudence and Play
I'm running out of appropriate "P" words. Basically, we've enjoyed some fun out-of-the-ordinary indulgences this week (cookies, movies, video games, outings, tacos for multiple meals), but are sticking to the routine and housework. Keeping a sense of normalcy for myself in the midst of all the "fun" has been a lifesaver and the house is not quite falling apart. However, today we are cranking up the prudence and getting a LOT of work done so T comes home to a nice and welcoming house.

6. Personal Time
T's parents gave me a day away on Wednesday as I had two meetings in town. It was such a blessing and so restorative! The next time we do this, I plan to at least hire a baby-sitter or two during the week for that purpose.

7. Prayer. It all goes back to throwing one's burdens at the cross and depending on Jesus.

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