Thoughts from the Front Lines: Come Out From The Whiners!
It was definitely the best Sukkot yet.
Now, for anyone who doesn't celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles...or Booths...or Sukkot...doing it the way we do often sounds nuts. We take four children under the age of 6 and camp outside in a tent for a week. Or ten days, in this case.
Right up front: the only reason I persevere in celebrating Sukkot is because I'm convinced it's important to God and also to my husband. I've had so many people say, "Oh, you're camping in a tent? Yeah, that's just not my thing."
Well honestly...it's not really "my thing" either.
This comment ranks right up there with, "Oh, you have such easy children! Mine would never sit like that." People who have children who sit well did not just pick them up on the side of the road one day, nor were they born like that.
Likewise, mothers of young children choosing to camp in tents during Sukkot are not necessarily in love with camp cooking and the sight of mud covering their childrens' bodies. Though the children certainly seem to enjoy that, given the amount of mud.
An Act of Faith
For anyone who wonders...Sukkot can be hard.
It can be uncomfortable, frustrating, occasionally frightening and always, always a tremendous amount of effort for what seems like a very long period of time.
It can also a very special time when you often meet special people, it can be filled with many pleasant and comfortable experiences, there is an excitement that comes from following God's directions and walking in his ways and there are lessons to be learned that could change the rest of your life.
It's up to us to choose what we embrace.
When God set apart the week of Sukkot, he said right up front that the purpose was for his people to live in tents so they could remember what it was like to be in the wilderness. One thing that characterized the wandering of God's people was complaining.
I never really understood that. You know, you've got this new miraculous freedom from slavery for starters. And God Himself was leading the people through the wilderness, providing water and food as needed, keeping the surrounding nations from destroying them, making sure their clothes and shoes didn't wear out, and providing a straight pipeline to his direct will through Moses. This is a situation most believers would pretty much dream of.
Or so we think.
Leaving The Comfort Zone
Try imagining this: a young mother on the Exodus trek had just left the only home she or her mother or her mother's mother had ever known.
She might or might not know how to properly maintain a wilderness cooking fire instead of one in a hearth in a house. Getting fuel for the fire required new effort. It's uncertain how much of her familiar household supplies made the journey. She and her young husband might not be too familiar with how to set up a tent to keep the family warm and dry. Her children would've lost their familiar home and schedule, making them weepy and difficult. There was a whole new (boring) food source that needed to be gathered from the ground every single morning (except Sabbath). Instead of rivers of water to keep things clean they had strange new water sources they had to learn to use. If she were pregnant or constantly nursing a very little one, the stress level would go up exponentially. And let's not forget the desert is full of dangers for toddlers, from scorpions to sunstroke to fires.
The mothers of the people of Israel would have been tired, scared, hungry, distracted and disoriented.
And when mothers become stressed, fathers are put under plenty of extra pressure.
Is it any wonder there was a very deep temptation to complain and murmur?
A Refiner's Fire
What the people went through was hard. And God knew it was. He was testing and hardening them, forming them to be a hardy, resilient, capable people.
For me, the biggest shock of Sukkot has been learning just how much I would've been among the whiners. I'm ashamed of this. But I'm not willing to accept it. The challenge of Sukkot is learning how to gracefully accept the curveballs, embrace the time as good, and not get so caught up in maintaining a camp that I lose the opportunity to have good conversations with the other people present.
I realized two years ago that for me, the challenge of Sukkot was not learning how to camp properly. It was to maintain a good attitude regardless of circumstances.
This year I think God maybe decided to test my resolve. It was the year of accidents, from a flat tire to one of us getting so many bug bites they ran a fever.
It was also the first year we really ate well. One family brought a huge smoker...which really made for a FEAST of Sukkot!
We had beautiful weather (even though we pitched camp in a downpour), there was great camaraderie among the other folks present, we had some really good conversations, our kids went peacefully off to bed every night at sundown and slept deeply (WOW!!!), Ben and I were able to sit out in the evening and visit and play games and we did not get home at 2 AM like the last time we went.
Attitude Really Is Everything
Because my resolve was to have a good attitude, this year was more enjoyable than it's ever been. Sukkot is giving me a real opportunity every year to practice faithfulness instead of whining.
I think maybe that was one of God's reasons for having us remember this time.
Image Source: Sukkah
Image Source: Bedouin Tent
Image Source: Water From The Rock
Image Source: Gold Refining Crucible
All other images original.
It sounds incredibly harsh, but fun with the right mindset. Mostly harsh, hahah. I bet it gives you a new perspective on the everyday little annoying things. Maybe they aren't so annoying anymore. Or are they?
It's not as harsh for us as it was back in the Exodus - we know we have home to go home to that doesn't require a war to clear the land first! But yes, Sukkot is a big challenge, especially to parents. There is plenty of fun involved but it would be dishonest to say it doesn't have it's share of challenge and work. Picture Christmas for most parents and then add camping.
The everyday things can still get under your skin, but you are correct that it offers a whole new perspective every year. I feel so much more at peace being home after Sukkot because I am reminded just how easy my life normally is.
Not for me.
I don't know if you're proud of doing that every year, but you should be!
Hm...harsh? I'm sorry - I really didn't mean to be! I was thinking more that for many parents Christmas is a whole lot of work but they do it anyway because they just really enjoy that tradition with their children. So in spite of all the time and money and effort, they dive right in again next year because of the happiness they also get out of it.
Lol...not proud. But satisfied, certainly. Task completed, task completed enjoyably, etc.
How awesome! I was sick almost the whole time. It was very hard on me emotionally. Very difficult to be joyful. Still so much to learn. So glad you all had a great time!!
Aw, I'm so sorry you were sick. That makes for a super tough attitude challenge. I hope you're feeling better now and the next Sukkot goes much smoother. It does certainly make your own bed feel mighty good, doesn't it?
We were sick the last Sukkot we went out and I've never faced something quite as conducive to complaining as having three tiny children running fevers in a tent with 40 degree weather. That is just...awful. I was so grateful for our usual solid walls and warm beds and access to lots of supplies for caring for them after that.
Looks like a wonderful experience with trials of course as well thanks for sharing with us
I used to hate it when people said that about our girls as well, I so wanted to leap down peoples throats sometimes for saying that or similar
Ack, I agree that comment is one of the most infuriating ever! My violin teacher used to tell a story about Yasha Heifitz, one of the greatest violinists who've lived. One time a woman came up to him after a concert and said, "Your violin makes such beautiful music!"
He held the violin up to his ear and said, "Hm. I don't hear anything."
Parents are the same way. If you see a whole family of very pleasant, peaceful children...you see some really dedicated, hardworking parents' work. I aspire to be one of those parents and I'm so appreciative when I someone else who's "gotten there". It reminds me this is possible.
Yes it is so frustrating, your story reminds me of a Photographer who an exhibit of photo in an exhibit hosted by the Queen, She spoke to him and said I have a Cousin and he takes great photos also, the photographer replied, what a coincidence I have a Cousin and he is a queen also
NOt sur eif it is true but I love that story
LOL! That's like when you do anything people admire and everyone has the urge to come up and tell you how they or someone they know can do the same thing...
And it's rude to just look at them blankly and say, "Um. So?"
True but someyits just so tempting to be rude lol
Absolutely...though not as tempting as when people come up to me in the store and look at my kids and then say, "You really need to figure out what causes that."
Every single response that comes into my head in that moment is just too wildly inappropriate to say, so I just stare back speechlessly...
Sometimes saying nothing is the best way to go saying what first comes into my head would and has got me in trouble
Plus silence doesn’t acknowledge their stupidity
Yes: "Least said, soonest mended" isn't a bad philosophy, eh?
howdy there Iturner! You guys are great. What wonderful parents and role models for the kids, just awesome. God bless you all!
Thank you for the blessings, @janton! There was a family from Texas (the ones who brought the giant smoker) this year and the dad really reminded me of you - he even looks like you with a longer beard. He taught the rest of the camp a whole lot about hospitality because he made it a point to cook up a huge breakfast every morning and offer coffee and hot breakfast to anyone just crawling out of their tent early. Somehow I think you'd be that kind of Sukkoter!
haha! yay for my fellow Texan representing us in a fine way! Yes Ma'am that would be so much fun to do it like he did, great for him! What a blessing...well we say all the time that we are blessed to be a blessing!
Your trip sounded wonderful.
That's a good saying!
howdy lturner! Yes Ma'am isn't that good? that's what we live by. I mean the only reason to be wealthy
is to build a strong financial base for your family and then help others whether it be through the local body or individually since we are God's delivery system of His blessings in all forms to the world.
This is true. And one of the things I've enjoyed about Sukkot in particular is learning more about how to be hospitable, how to be a source of blessings. For some reason, everyone camping together like that brings out a lot of situations where you can see how to be a hand when someone needs it or even just to be welcoming or inviting while seeking out good conversation. Blessing other people actually takes practice. Both in noticing when someone could use the blessing and then understanding how to gracefully carry it out.
howdy again lturner! well that camp ground sounds like a wonderful place to practice your faith. This wasn't for Sukkot was it? I mean everyone there wasn't celebrating like you guys were right? they were just people on vacation?
Oh no, they were all there for Sukkot. It was held on @mericanhomestead 's homestead. So it was a big ol' Sukkot celebration!
So beautifully written Lauren! What a unique perspective. And it is true. We don't realize how easily we fall into that grumbling and complaining attitude. I love camping so it isn't a challenge. Of course our Sukkot, as it is in Israel, is at the start of summer. I think it's far easier camping in the heat than having to celebrate in the freezing cold. I love that you say you don't simply pick up well behaved children. Despite the very hard work to have those well behaved children it is a blessing when you are in a challenging situation and they aren't running amuck! Your Sukka looks so inviting. I'm delighted yours was the best yet. Ours was the worst ever. And we are extremely challenged at the moment but pressing on and trusting ABBA. Grateful for your honest post @lturner!
Aw, I'm sorry to hear you had such a rough Sukkot. Things are pretty tense where you are and I imagine that's not helping, plus situations with your 13 year old. :( Maybe next year will be better and you'll have a chance to really enjoy it.
I really like this Sukkah, but I have to admit it isn't ours (I think I linked to the site I found it at down at the bottom of my post...?). Ours looked more like a plain canopy this year. I brought some things to decorate but all the rain at the beginning to the trip kind of derailed the decorating plans. Maybe when the girls are older we can split up duties more and there will be more decorating and less simple utilitarian. It would be really nice to have a warm, inviting Sukkah space someday!
You are right Lauren. Having a warm, inviting Sukkah will make such a difference. Some of our friends really go the extra mile! Although I have to admit, when we camp, my husband takes everything except the kitchen sink! I just miss that fellowship with others over the Feast time. The most unforgettable was, of course, when I lived in Israel.
Yes, our home situation is challenging. My stepson is 23 ;) We started him on a new health protocol two months ago and the regression is dreadful. We are hoping that it is only an indication of radical improvement because I don't think we (or the rest of the farm) can take much more
Wow, for some reason I had really underestimated your step-son's age.
That's discouraging to have such a regression, for sure...:( I'm so sorry. Is there a plan for what to do if he still doesn't improve soon?
I think I'm the one who would want to bring everything and the kitchen sink! I'm still experimenting with what makes sense to bring and what just weighs us down.
The lack of fellowship really can make a person feel strange at Sukkot especially. We weren't meant to do a celebration like that alone.
It is very discouraging @lturner. And exhausting. My husband and I are taking strain. It's like being in the ocean. Just when you surface and try to gasp for air another wave slams into you
You may appreciate the post I wrote last night. It's about Sukkot in Israel! A special memory which comforts me after this past horrid one
Ugh, I have been there in the ocean (though not with any of our children). It is truly exhausting on all levels to care for other human beings sometimes.
What was hard for me to realize at the time was that there really was going to be a rescue from the ocean. I have no idea what your future with your step-son will be, but I continue to hope and pray that you'll all be pulled from the water soon.
I'll make sure to read the Sukkot in Israel post!
Thank you Lauren. May it be so. And soon. Blessings. Tracey
This was such a difficult Sukkot for our family. It was a challenge to not complain like the Israelites. It has been a rough year and we greatly looked forward to getting away for Sukkot. However, with my poor health and a sick baby, it was definitely not all fun and games. We are SO glad we went and loved all our new and old friends. Even though it was hard, it was still a wonderful time. We look forward to next year. :)
I felt so badly for you guys! It really was a rough year for you all the way round.
Though I have to say you and your husband provided one of the most inspirational moments of Sukkot, one that really had me pondering the mothers of the Israelites. It was 3 am or so the night the baby was really having a hard time and I was awake with Daniel. Your little one sounded so miserable, but you started singing to her and eventually so did he and it was such a gentle, patient sound. I was so relieved for you when she quieted and went to sleep. I know you probably felt like tearing your hair out. But you really did come through and there will be another Sukkot to hopefully be much more peaceful for you next year.
I have a picture I'd like to send through to you if there's a chance. And if there is any way at all that you are still making that wonderful drawing salve which was so helpful when I ended up treating my feverish one for all her bug bites, I would really like to buy some from you!
I don't ever remember seeing this comment, Lauren. Maybe I have already responded and forgot. Ha! I haven't been on Steemit for awhile. Thanks for your encouraging words. Sukkot was definitely a major challenge physically, emotionally, and spiritually this past year. I now I understand why the Israelites complained despite Yahweh providing over and over. I SO wanted to complain and sometimes I did a little. But you know what? Yahweh 100% provided for us financially for Sukkot due to unexpected gifts from 3 friends. Just enough to cover our gas and hotel on the road each way. I kid you not. And we didn't even have Sukkot plans until a week before we left. Yahweh completely provided and there I was sitting there grumbling!
We are still trying to sell our house so not much has changed in our life situation. My mom passed away Feb 11 only 24 days after diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. I went down to FL with my girls to care for her the last 2.5 weeks of her life. Another life challenge where I had to learn to trust Yahweh.
Hope you all are well. I am out of stock on my Drawing salve right now, but it is top priority to get back in stock again after we move. You can check out my Etsy store at www.themyrrhmaid.com although the selection is sparce right now. I have sold out of almost everything!
Thanks for sharing your story! I believe Yah is pleased when He sees His children trying!
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You're welcome! I believe it too, just as I'm pleased when I see my children doing something special like putting silverware away for me or making little gifts or cards even if it wasn't what I would normally think of as a job well done.
Hope your Sukkot went or will go well (I know a lot of people are celebrating in October - as one friend teased last week, "Yeah, cuz we're on the RIGHT calendar"...one of those jokes you can only make to close friends -grin)
Ah that pesky calendar...well besides that yes I DID have a good Sukkot this year. Good weather, good friends, and of course good food!!!
Can you believe the debates on this? It seems like every year it gets just a little more tangled, to me.
It really was the first year I felt like we really ate well - we had a cooler, thanks to some friends who were local and saved a big one for us to use when we got there. So we got to have things like raw milk, real eggs, butter, perishable vegetables and so on.
Now of course I have my opinion on the calendar but in the end it does not seem worth debating about! Soon HE will return and put us all on HIS calendar!
Glad to hear about your food situation this year!! :-)
Amen. And I'll be really relieved when it happens!
I think most everyone will be! I have a suspicion that some will truly be disappointed when they find out that what they were doing was not right!
Well, I'll be disappointed if Messiah comes back and I find out we were completely wrong on what we were doing.
But if it turns out we were wrong on the calendar, I have to admit I won't take that too hard. I would sort of be thinking, "Well, that's not too surprising we got that mixed up!"
As long as we actually recognize Messiah as he comes, we have enough oil in our lamps to be invited into the feast and he's not sending us out with the weeping and gnashing of teeth, everything else is learnable.
So do you gather together with others to celebrate Sukkot?
I can confess to being another who doesn't enjoy camping. My family love it, yet they are the whiners in day to day life! XD
Yes, we were able to gather with others this years. Most of our Sukkots have been alone, but as we have gradually met more people thinking along the same lines we have found gatherings to join. This year it was with @mericanhomestead 's family on their property.
We have also identified places where we are whining in normal life. Funny, how Sukkot highlighted those for us! Gotta stop...
LOL - I remember one lady once saying, "Wow, my children would never do that!" when all they did was walk over and pick something up that I asked them to. I was thinking, "Wow Mom, you must be a huge shameless failure. Failure because your children will not obey you and shameless because you mentioned it."
Another case of reaping what we sow.
Ack...I tell you, I do definitely feel like a failure when I say something like, "Abby, go make your bed" and I find out twenty minutes later she's lying on the floor playing with her pillow.
Teaching obedience is no happy accident, that's for sure!
I have a friend who used to say that when he was younger he was surreptitious about watching people in stores when he was curious about their strange behavior. And then as he got older he would just go ahead and stare because he realized they had no shame in what they were doing.
One of the most difficult thing about our society is how many things we should know to blush at - such as not being able to get our kids to obey - and yet we have no clue we should even be embarrassed!
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