Journey Across America: Moving Forward

It's been a tough two days of mommyhood around here. It's the middle of the summer, and my girls are tired of me and each other. Both girls are doing separate sports camps this week, so they're exhausted. My oldest was up with nightmares the other night because she's overtired, and that meant I was tired, too.

From the time the girls got up yesterday morning, they were at each other's throats -- bickering, yelling, crying. I wish I could say that I handled the situation calmly and had some perfect object lesson that made my girls recognize how much each of them loved the other one. I wish I could say that for the rest of the day they behaved respectfully toward each other.

In reality, I lit into both girls and had them both sobbing in their rooms before 10 a.m. By the end of the day, I had a huge headache and was almost in tears myself. It took until about noon today for all of us to get our attitudes sorted out and start enjoying each other's company again.

In the course of all this mayhem in my house, I was getting ready for today's Journey Across America trip to Wisconsin, and God had lots to say to me and, I think, to all moms. Wisconsin's motto is simply "Forward." Our verse for the day is Philippians 3:13b-14, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

In the midst of my misery last night as I was beating myself up about not handling several situations with the girls very well, God reminded me of that verse. When we make a mistake, we shouldn't let it keep us from "pressing on toward the goal." When we have a terrible day, we yell at our kids and handle situations poorly, we need to pick ourselves up, ask for forgiveness (both from our kids and from God) and ask God to help us do better the next time. If we get stuck in our mistakes and refuse to move on from them or let them keep us from trying again the next time, we make it difficult for God to use us to reach our kids.

We talked about this idea on our "trip" to Wisconsin today. Bloomer, Wisconsin is the Jump Rope Capital of the World. Each girl got a jump rope for saying last week's memory verse. We took them outside, and everyone counted how many times they could jump in a minute. The numbers varied from five to 50. I asked the girls how far any of them had gone. The answer was that no one had gone anywhere. We talked about how jumping rope in place is like getting stuck in our mistakes and never moving forward. We can move a bunch, but we don't go anywhere.

We also talked about Paul in the Bible and how if anyone had a reason to be ashamed of their past and let it keep them from serving God, it was Paul. Paul used to kill Christians, yet God used him to reach much of the known world for Christ. If Paul didn't let his past stop him, then we shouldn't let our past mistakes stop us.

We had some fun tasting dairy products -- milk, ice cream and cheese -- because Wisconsin produces more milk than any other state. We had an ugly troll drawing contest because that's what Wisconsinites do when they attend the Norwegian festival to celebrate Norway's independence day. We finished the day by dressing up like clowns because the circus used to spend its winters in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

We had a great time "visiting" Wisconsin, and I think everyone learned something about leaving the past behind. I know I did.