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Traveling with toddlers, not the most fun. Traveling with a sick toddler? Even worse.
Now you’ve probably read the title and are thinking, “Isn’t this about holiness?” I’ll get to that, but let me start at the beginning. I was with my sister for a week because she just had her first baby and I wanted to come and help her around the house see the baby. I flew alone with my 20-month-old daughter, Aletheia.
The day we were supposed to leave and come home we stopped for lunch on the way to the airport. Upon getting back into the car, my sister and I hear coughing in the back seat. I get out and, to my surprise, my daughter is covered in vomit and still throwing up more. I quickly get her out of the car and start changing her clothes while my sister cleans the car seat.
Fast forward a few hours and we’re on the first plane ride home. Everything seems to be fine, my busy toddler is looking out the window, saying “hi” to everyone boarding, and making friends with the wing of the plane (yes, she “gave” it some of her snacks and water and even asked what its name was). Well, we’ve made it through the 45-minute plane ride and I think we are scot-free, must’ve been just a one and done sickness (or just lunch not sitting well). But I was wrong.
As our plane was taxiing to the gate… throw up everywhere. Thankfully the seat next to us was empty and I happened to be holding her knitted blanket which quickly became a “puke bag” of sorts.
We were still being taxied to our gate, so I quickly throw on yet another set of clothes and stow the vomit-covered blanket and clothes into my wet-dry bag.
At this point I pulled out my phone to see where our next gate was only to find that I had already received several text notifications saying that our next flight was boarding and they hoped to see us soon. Great! As soon as it was our turn to get off the plane, I grab all the baby paraphernalia and dash to the jetway to wait for the stroller (ha!). Then off to the next gate!
As we pulled up the flight attendant said, “Are you heading to LA? We’ve been waiting for you!”
She had to check my suitcase, so before she did I grabbed whatever I could out of it. I had already used up my extra baby clothes in the diaper bag and I knew I might need something to catch more throw up in. All I got was my Nike shirt and baby sweats/onesie for AJ.
I left the stroller on the jet bridge and quickly stepped onto the plane.
And, let me tell you, I was a sight.
Just picture it, a flight full of people, then in walks a young mom, ponytail half undone from the previous flight, the arm of her jacket covered in puke, with a tall, somewhat gangly looking toddler in a carrier on her front, a backpack diaper bag on her back (yes, with the straps crossing over the carrier straps), a neck pillow (which is always used for my elbow when nursing said toddler) hanging from the back of her backpack, holding a bag of her daughter’s vomit-covered blanket and clothing along with a stuffed animal bunny and a handful of extra clothes she just pulled from her suitcase.
I’m sure this was the one moment when everyone on the plane was happy the seats next to them were full.
A quick thought entered my mind that I could just turn around, but we had to get home, throw-up and all. So I kept walking down that aisle, accidentally knocking several people with my daughter’s feet along the way. We get to our seat and we were off. Poor Aletheia threw up several more times and I finally decided that I had to stop changing her clothes until the flight was over. I didn’t have enough.
But in the midst of all this chaos of traveling with my daughter, she fell asleep and I actually had a few minutes to read via the Kindle app on my phone. Here are the simple words that struck me from Spurgeon’s book on Psalm 119, The Golden Alphabet:
“Holiness is happiness.”
Not exactly what I was expecting to read after this whole ordeal with my toddler. But, in that moment, the statement felt so true. I often think that I can make myself happy. I’ll say, “I just need my coffee every morning.” (Don’t they make mugs to verify this claim?) Or “I just need a vacation to relax.” I’m sure you’ve felt this way too, even if you are not a mom of a toddler. Maybe you think you need a new car or better friends or [insert whatever came to your mind here].
Even though I try hard, those things that I get will not make me happy.
Sitting in that window seat on the plane, I realized that my true happiness was never going to come from my circumstances or what I have in this world. Even if everything had gone smoothly on our flight, no sickness or irritations, I wouldn’t get true happiness from it. Even if everything goes smoothly in your life (which it won’t, thank you, sin) and you got all those things, you would not be truly happy unless you are serving and obeying the one true God. That is exactly why the Psalmist said:
“How blessed are those who way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.
They also do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways.” Psalm 119:1-3
My priorities had shifted and I had placed myself in the number one spot. And not just in this scenario of my worst travel day ever. I had not been seeking God’s kingdom in my day-to-day life. My Bible-reading was always pushed to the back burner, I couldn’t remember the last time I had prayed for more than just a meal, and I definitely had spent way too much time worrying about my own problems instead of giving them over to the Lord’s care. I knew that I needed to seek the Lord with all my heart, pursue His righteousness, that is the only way to find happiness.
How do we do it?
And what does that look like in my life? Putting God’s kingdom first? Pursuing holiness everyday? I see it as getting back to the basics of Bible reading and prayer, then letting God put the other areas of your life in place.
Reading the Bible
For me, it starts with reading His Word. God has given us such a gift in the Bible, it is His letter to us and we are fools not to read it! I understand that taking time every day to read the Bible is difficult, but so important. It will set the tone for your heart and remind you of God’s grace toward you. (I have a whole post about Bible reading with practical tips here.)
This is why the Psalmist also encourages us to meditate on God’s Word day and night (Psalm 1). We need to immerse ourselves in the Word of God so that we can know the truth within.
Reading the Bible is how God communicates with us, so the next step for me is to communicate with God by setting aside time to pray.
I’ll admit, this is hard for me. There’s so much going on in my day with lots of plates spinning, but having a quiet time to focus on prayer has helped me so much. Even starting with just a few minutes and working up to a longer period is helpful.
Jesus set the perfect example in everything including prayer. In Mark 1:35 it says that Jesus got up early and went away from His disciples to pray.
Seeking God’s Kingdom
In my experience, when I’ve got those two things down consistently, reading the Bible and praying, I am much more keen to follow God’s ways and seek after His righteousness. It is as if everything else falls into place. Fighting sin becomes easier, loving others less difficult, and sharing my faith an adventure.
Granted these two practices are not a cure-all for your Christian life. There will still be hardships and difficulties, times of spiritual dryness and uncertainty. But by following these two steps, you are, as the Psalmist said, “walking in the law of the Lord” and “observing His testimonies.”
I think that is why Spurgeon goes on to say in his book that “we are wise to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).”
So when my little kingdom was falling apart, I had a sick daughter, I had to rush through an airport, I looked terrible when I boarded the plane, I, I, I…
God reminded me that it is not about my little kingdom after all. There are much bigger stakes every single day: seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
I don’t know about you, but I needed that reminder, throw-up and all.
As the New Year rolls in this week, I hope you take some time to think about how you can seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness in 2020. Happy New Year!
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