Thursday, July 14, 2011

Satan's Minivan

Ok, so here's the deal...I absolutely, positively thought I was a cool kid. Then, the older I got, the less cool I thought I was. But, then you go to college where it is all about fitting in by not fitting in. Be your own person. Wear whatever you want. Date whoever you want. Drive whatever you want. It's all good.

Not for me. Somewhere along the line, I grew pretty concerned borderline obsessed that not only was I not cool now, but Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! what if I was never cool, like ever? (insert ahhhhh! from  the depths of my soul)

Fast forward to just a few years ago. Now, I thought I was a completely mature and self-confident chick in her mid-twenties. I had the husband - check. I had the college degree - check. I had the new cookie-cutter home – check. I even was one of those ridiculous people who stressed over whether or not “lulled beige” was the right color for the interior walls. It’s beige people, seriously. And what if the color we chose for the outside trim and fascia board yes, I had to google how to spell that matched the brick or if it had too many "rose tones" in it. And yes, I loved using "homeowner words" like fascia board...and mortgage loan...and the fact that our house had good "bones". Oh, goodness gracious. Someone should have shot me.

But, let me tell you...I was still desperately hoping to be cool. I still said things like, "Me? A minivan. Um, no. In fact...heck no! There ain't no way. No how. I'll drive a Toyota Seqouia if we need a third row. And yes it'll have leather and a DVD player and blah, blah, blah." Clearly I was smoking crack pretty unaware back then since my husband and I were both public school teachers. And we would be committed to me being a stay-at-home mom domestic goddess cutting that whopping income in half. And last time I checked, teachers don’t get any monetary help ever incentive bonuses that include a fully-loaded SUV. Once again, thank you for not shooting me goodness gracious.

Fast forward a few more years and now I am a chick that is still in denial about being in my early-thirties and I have some shocking news for you. Are you ready? I mean really, are you sitting down...and not drinking anything that you cold spew from your mouth and/or nose once you receive this shocking news? Ok, good. Deep breath...





I’ll give you time to recover from that one. Ya, I know you don’t need any time. Humor me.

I mean it. I'm just not cool, dangit. I drive an 11 year old car with a windshield crack across the entire driver’s side. I have ugly feet with unpainted toenails and a bunion. My teeth severely need whitening. jana, are you reading this? :) And although I’m improving, I can still on my best day only cook about as well as a newly married twenty-something who hasn’t unpacked all her wedding serving dishes. Some of Mine are unpacked, for the record. Used yet? Maybe not, but they are unpacked.

I wear normal undergarments that never match each other. I have one earring hole in each ear, at the normal part of the lobe, and normal sized. No quarter-sized, floppy holes here. (Sidenote: how in the world do they think that is going to look in another twenty years?? It ain’t gonna be pretty. I mean seriously!?! Ok, sorry)
I can't name any artist on the top 40 list lately. In fact, I don't even know for sure if they still do a top 40 list. Is Casey Kasem still around?

I can't pull off the cool new trendy bow/flower/feather phenomenon that is sweeping girl's hairdos and hats and lapels across the nation. Shoot - I just found out what "jeggings" were like two months ago. By the way – jeggings: leggings that are jean material. That’s for the rest of you kids out there that are repeating the word over and over in your head like I did, as if you should know it.

Ugh. Pathetic.

Or maybe not? It doesn't matter either way to me, to be honest. I am what I am. But, I'm telling you what, friend...not too long ago, I would have been wearing jeggings...while driving in my late model SUV...listening to p.diddy or fergie or that chick with the weird gaga. See? I can hardly even make the reference to sound funny!...but man, I'd have been blaring that music with the windows down, wind whipping through my highlighted hair tucked under my blingy hat with coordinating bow I hurried from getting my teeth cleaned to my mani/pedi appointment...all before my roast was done in the crockpot at home.
Not now. Not me.

But, that's just it...none of that is bad. Some of the people I love dearest and envy the most rock those trendy bow thingys...or get manicures...or love top 40 music...or could be on Top Chef...and darn near all of them every single one drive cars newer than mine. I will repeat...those things aren't bad...for some. But, for wouldn't be real. It wouldn't be me.

But, we all have something...don't we? I mean, I used to 100% kinda wish I could pull off some of that cute stuff other chicks wear. I used to sometimes pretty much always wish that a lot of things were different about me. Sad, isn’t it?

We all have that "thing" that we do truly wish was different about us...or our home...or our lives. For some of us pretty much every woman, it may be that we desperately wish we were taller or thinner. For some women all who are married to teachers, it may be that we wish our husbands made more money. Still, others may just want to be noticed and appreciated more by their friends and family. Maybe it isn't so "deep" for you...maybe you just wish that they hadn't ended your favorite TV show Gilmore Girls for no good reason. I don't know. But I think we can all relate with the "if-onlys" in life. Because I know there are a few of you, like me, out there that think that things would be so much better if only I was...married...or a mother....or in ministry...or out of ministry...then....then surely things would be better. Surely.

For me, over the past year or two, my “if-only” has been a little ironic, really. I do believe that God is laughing uncontrollably with me about it right now because of the years I spent promising up and down that I was not going to do this. Not me. No way. No how.

What is my "if-only"??

Cool kids, thanks so much for reading! brace yourself.





SHHHHHHHH!! Yep, that was the sound of my last chance at being cool flushing down the toilet.

Ironic, isn't it? The one thing I knew I would never do was own a old lady minivan! Once again, I think God laughs at the "nevers" we announce. Therefore, I'm convinced that I must keep Him just flat out rolling!

That's right. For me...this has been my deal. Crazy, isn't it?? I mean, it is not like I wanted liposuction or a vacation home in Italy. (Don’t judge, these are just examples!)

I wanted a stinkin’ minivan. Period.

Not too outlandish is it?

And, it didn’t even have to be new. Used was fine, I just wanted a third row for our three small kiddos to sit on so that I didn’t want to curse when I rub my skin raw squueeezing my hand in between the three carseats that were sardined in our backseat every flippin’ time we got in the car.

Silver colored cars are the coolest make me happy. Keyless entry would be great.

Oooh… and leather would be a huge bonus for the inevitable spills and daily bodily fluids that come along with motherhood.

And one of those fancy automatic doors would be like icing on the cake. Hmmm…I’m hungry.

But, really. Just a third row in a used vehicle with good gas mileage was fine with me.

It was fine.
Then, it was incredibly important.
Then, it became borderline obsessive compulsively crucial.
And, then it sort of became a little ultimatum in my head to our completely Sovereign God. (I know, I’m awful!)

My thoughts about it went something like this but sometimes not as polite

Lord, could you please just DO THIS for us? I mean really, we have had quite a difficult couple of years. We deserve this. You know this would make our world so much easier. We have faithfully given to our church and our dear missionary friends throughout all of these trying times. We do not live lavishly. We don’t even live “normally”. We don’t have debt. We have paid off more than enough medical bills over these last few years to pay cash for a luxury SUV for each of us. Are we really asking for that much? What is the problem here? Every single time we even begin to save up a bit of money – something happens – and there that dream goes, further and further away. Why can’t you allow us to have this one thing. “If only” we could just get this minivan – then, Lord, then we’d be satisfied.

Ugh. Disgusting, isn’t it?  The answer is yes. 

My prayers didn’t start off that bitter. Ya they did. Regardless, months and months went by and literally every single stinkin’ time we saved even just a few hundred dollars to put in our “Van Can” (which, by the way, was literally a V8 can with sliced hole in top so we ok, so that I couldn’t get the money back out) – something would come up. A medical bill. I tell myself I got voted Most Popular by Blue Cross Blue Shield this year, by the way. Some sort of drama with our thirty year old falling apart house. It. Was. Always. Something.

Meanwhile, I kid you not, lots of people every single Mom of small kids in the free world that had previously not had a minivan before, got one. And they all moved to my town. Every single one of them.

Even some of my friends got minivans. Two of them hated having a minivan  – and they had silver, leather, 2 automatic doors, keyless entry, DVD players  were brand spankin’ new. I was completely and 110% not too jealous, though.

Ya sure. Ever heard the expression “salt in the wound”. Yep, I was feeling wounded, sitting there holding my empty salt shaker, for sure!

Am I babbling endlessly here or can you actually relate to this? Yes to both questions, eh?

So, maybe you are a cool kid please friend me on facebook and don’t want a minivan, but is there something that “if only” you had it, then life would be good? Then, you’d be really satisfied?

A bigger house?
A bigger income?
A smaller waistline?
Something that so-and-so has that you don’t.
Maybe just an attitude or personality trait change for you? Or maybe your spouse?
Yes, Lord, then we’d be satisfied. No we wouldn’t.

Friend, have you ever heard of the Israelites?
Take some time and read Exodus Chapters 13-16. Did she just suggest I read four chapters of the Bible. Ya sure. I know it’s a long read, but I promise it’s a humbling one. Yes, you need it just like I do.

The Israelites sounded a little something like me
“If only we had freedom…”
“If only we had a leader…”
“If only we could cross this sea…”
“If only we had water to drink…”
“If only we had meat to eat…”
“If only we had a different leader…”
“If only we had never left slavery…”
“If only we weren’t lost…”
“If only those giants weren’t so big…”
“If only we had a minivan…”

Ok, so I added that last one. But, good gosh, I would have fit in there quite nicely. Sad, but true. Would you fit in with me? I want you to really stop and think about that. Think about your “if onlys” and see where you heart is about them.

Being that I’ve had a lot of “down time” over these last months and months, twenty three months, to be exact, not that I’m counting I’ve also had a lot of time to really evaluate my heart.

And often, every single stinkin’ time it wasn’t even close to pretty.

Satan will take your innocent desire and turn it into an sinful “if only” quicker that you can push the button to open your automatic sliding minivan doors.

You see, this had become satan’s minivan. That stupid, relentless, crafty, evil enemy can get a hold of anything in your life if you let him. Anything.

Thankfully, after way too much time kicking and screaming God got a hold of this issue in my heart. He got a hold of it and He wouldn’t let go. I, however, did.

I let go. I gave up. I flat out told God that if we had to drive the eleven-year-old 4Runner and the twenty-year-old Celica for years and years, I’d just be fine with it. I had to choose to be fine with it. I had to give it up and just trust Him.

I think it is interesting so wacked out by the way, that I can trust God with my family, my safety, and my eternal salvation, but not with our flippin’ mode of transportation. Oh geez.

Anyway, friend, I am beyond excited, now two years after I began pouting to announce that I am now the proud owner of a minivan. (insert Hallelujah chorus)

I mean it – I wouldn’t lie about something that serious. :)

And in true God fashion – He totally outdid Himself.

To make a long story as short as I am physically capable ya, go ahead and get comfy
I now own God’s minivan. And its name is “Grace”. Yes, I name my cars. All the cool kids do.

We could have rushed through it. We could have gone against our personal convictions and just accrued some debt to make this happen. We could have. But by the grace of God alone, we didn’t. And I am so happy, because now, on this side of it, I know we would have missed His blessings.

First of all, we would have missed out on an amazing opportunity to own a van that we bought from some of our dear friends. Grace has been my sweet friend for years and years. She held my hand during these last few years and helped remind me of the foundation I was, in fact, standing upon. She and Tom have been in our home group for a while. They are salt of the earth kind of people.

And they were moving to Austria. (insert weeping) I have had no choice but to come to terms with her leaving. But, then to find out she was trying to sell her minivan before they left. No way! Another dear friend already had “dibs” but in true Dianne form she was happy to allow us the chance to purchase it first. (I love you Dianne, thank you!) And then (yes, I’m not done with the blessings yet!) someone anonymously gave us some money to help put towards it. (Thank you, someone – I hope Grace gave you the note I wrote you!) Then…we were able to sell the twenty-year-old car within a week, giving us exactly what we needed to purchase it.

And by the way, in true God form – my van, “Grace”, is silver, has two, that’s right, two automatic sliding doors, leather and has been driven, immaculately cared for, and even prayed over by one of my dearest friends.

Does it get any better than that?

Well, I guess free would have been better. But, not really. After all the fussing we’d ok, I’d done we needed to sacrifice some money to make this happen. It needed to hurt a little. We’d, ya, ya, ya, I know…I’d earned it.

But, before you get to thinkin’ I’m sounding pretty proud of myself about this – be assured that I am incredibly selfish and ridiculously prideful enough to have more than one hundreds of “if onlys” in my life. So don’t think I’m sitting here all cool and pretty and self-righteous.

Remember, I’m not a cool kid.

And don’t get me started on my waistline.

Friend, would you please give it up? Are you willing to just let. this. thing. go? Pray about it often. Search Scripture to help you with contentment and joy. Look around at all the blessings you do have and soak in the thankful bath tub for a while.It's great for the skin.

Our gracious God wants to take care of us in every way. He knows what we need and He knows what we want incentive bonuses for teachers.

Don’t miss out on the blessings He is anxiously awaiting to give you.

If you do, you may not fully take ownership of the “Grace” He has in store for you.

By the way, I totally rock that minivan. Hey, I’m just sayin’.:)

Psalm 37:30-34 “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip. The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives; but the LORD will not leave them in their power or let them be condemned when brought to trial. Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Deserve a Free Slurpie

My sweet husband, Ryan, has an even sweeter grandmother. She is 94 years young and as sharp as a tack. We love visiting her. In fact, we’d enjoy seeing her quite often; the only problem is that she lives 700 miles away. Seven hundred loooong miles.

Because of the distance, along with the fact that she has decided she’s “done traveling” -  it is only about once a year that we get to see her. Of course, it doesn't help that we have three children under the age of six. Yep, I would say that is also a major factor, friend.

Thanks to some generous gifts from my parents, we were blessed to have enough money to make the loooong drive to see her. I'm not sure who was more excited, us or her.

Ryan, myself, and the kiddos were all pumped up about our trip. This was a very big deal for us for more important reasons than simply looking forward to a little family vacation. For Team Holzberger, this was a true milestone. My medical drama has all but robbed us of these types of "normal" family outings for a couple years now. And remember, my kids are little. So, that is a big chunk of what their little brains can recall. I am quite sure they can’t remember the last major family trip we took four years ago when Mama was healthy and “normal”. In fact, they’ve grown accustomed to a family meal at Wendy's as being a big deal.

So, this, friend, was flat out a miracle! Not only that we could go, but that I could go! (We are so thankful, Lord!)

So, I switched on my (very small) anal/methodical side in order to get us all ready. Packing for five people for six days takes much planning and orderly list-making. Two things that don't exactly come naturally to me. So, I channeled my inner Ryan (my uber organized hubby!) and got us ready.

We set out early in the a.m. and pointed our minivan due east. Even the kiddos were unusually cheery as our trip began, despite the morning sun sleeping in later than we did. Shortly after we got on the road, Ryan asked if I could take over for a bit and drive.

This was big. I mean really big! It’s only been a handful of times that I have driven farther than where the Mama carpool takes me in the past couple years. Even as I sit here and type, I can’t remember the last time I drove on the highway! And here I was going to drive a leg of our loooong trip like a real-life, normal, grown up. (Again, God you totally get credit for that one!!)

So, I climbed into the driver's seat of our new (to us) minivan and tried to calm my giddiness as I set out. (Don't worry, an entire post is coming about that glorious van, aka "Grace")

Ryan settled in comfortably in the passenger seat with the five pillows I brought. He put in his earphone thingys and escaped into the world of random classic songs his iPhone provided.

I gotta be honest... I rocked it.

I drove for five hours!!! Friend, that is not a typo...FIVE HOURS!! It was unreal. I jammed to the local Christian radio station and just flat out enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The kids were perfect. They were so busy with their books and coloring pages, it was pure bliss. I must admit, there were times when I would look in my rearview mirror to change lanes and surprisingly see a little face smiling back at me from the back row.
Oh yeah, there are kids in this ride. What do ya know?

Eventually, my time as the big girl driver ended and I came back to the passenger side, aka "kid duty".

I wasn't too worried about having to "manage" the kids because they had been so obedient and quiet so far. I was so impressed, and I'll be honest, a bit shocked, at their minimal issues.

That is, until now.

Once again, Ryan got one step closer to recapturing his youth via his iPhone and I closed my eyes to "rest" like Ryan had done most of the time I drove. But, I kid you not, Ryan wasn't even midway through his first 80's classic before it began...

(Keep in mind, Jacob is six, Benjamin is four and Abigail is two…going on sixteen! God help us.)

Jacob: "Mama, Benjamin said I don't get a turn with the colored pencils!"

Benjamin: "No, I didn't, I just said it could be my turn first."

Benjamin: "Maaammmaaaaa, can we listen to my songs instead of your songs."

Abigail: "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, I want Dora pleeeeaaase!"

Seriously, who are you people?

I look at Ryan. Nothing. His eyes are fixated on the road and his thoughts are with Enigma.

Daddy had been on “kid duty” for hours and I hear nothing. Not a stinkin’ peep. Now, all of a sudden, it is my turn to rest and everyone has a crisis.

Me: "Hey guys, it's ok, you're fine. Just calm down, we will stop again soon.”

Two minute pause.

Jacob: "Mama, when can I play a game on Daddy's phone?"

Benjamin: "I thought I got to have the phone first."

Abigail: "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama I want Dora pleeeeaase!!"

Me: "Ok, listen up. Daddy has been here to help you guys for hours and nobody asked him one question, not one. What is going on?"

Jacob: "But Daddy was resting."

Me: "Well Mama is resting now, ok?"

Jacob: "Ok."
Benjamin: "Ok."
Abigail: "Ok."

Three minute pause.

Jacob: "That's not fair Benjamin, you got to be the red guy last time. You need to share."

Benjamin: "You always get to be the blue guy, all the time!"

Abigail: "I wanna be red and blue and orange and pink, Mama! I want Dora pleeeeassse!"

Sigh. So much for sleep.

Have you ever noticed that mothers are never off duty? Like, never. The whole family can be in the living room, and someone wants a drink, and who do they ask?


We are all outside playing and someone needs a Band aid; who is supposed to go get it?


Who then, is tearfully begged to go back inside for a different kind Band aid because Jacob has a Star Wars one and how come I can’t have one too?

I’ll let you have time to think about this one. Oh wait, no I won’t.


You might as well go ahead and stamp 7-11 on my forehead. Cause, friend, I'm open 24 hours.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not complaining really, because as someone who has been forced to temporarily shut down her 24/7 hour duties as Mom, I am happily taking that role again. But, as my twenty-one-year old single friend labeled it, after playing with my three kids for a few hours..."I'm beat. I mean it, totally wiped out! I mean, your kids are great, they behave very well. I just can't get over the ‘never-ending-ness’ of it. Someone always needed something. Always."

Ya, no kidding. Welcome to 7-11.

Ya wanna slurpie?

Yes, I’ll go get it for you.

No story displays this better than that of my dear friend, Angie. A couple years ago, she went on a mission trip to Romania. Her parents serve faithfully in that country quite a few times a year, and this time, she joined them. All while her two boys (age 8 and 10 at the time) stayed home with Dad.

Despite her not having any kids actually with her on this trip, she recalls one particular moment during this trip was especially memorable. Or should I say, “Mom-orable”.

Angie was relaxing with her Mom as they gazed out at the Romanian countryside. It was beautiful! Peaceful. Quiet. Serene. That is, until a blaring noise coming from her purse jolted Angie from her postcard moment.

"Oh my goodness," she thought, “Is that my cell phone??”

It had been a few days since she’d heard it ring, causing her to almost forget it was even with her. Obviously she took it on the trip just for emergencies, because clearly it would cost at least $29.99 per minute to call the U.S. So – emergencies only!

She quickly fumbled through her purse to find it, anxious as she wondered who could be calling her right now? As any Mom would, flashes of fear rushed through her thoughts.

Oh no, something’s happened to the kids.

Then thoughts of her husband at work as a police officer jolted her worry in whole other direction.

Oh God, please let them be ok!!

Finally, she found her cell phone and quickly looked at the caller I.D. before opening it.

The display simple read: Home

Oh no, I knew it! Something has happened at home!

"Hello!?! Hello!? Hello!?!"

"Mom?!?" It was her ten year old son.

"Yes honey! Oh my goodness, are you and your brother ok? Is Dad ok?!?"

She held her breath for what seemed like an eternity until she heard her precious son say,

"Ya sure. We’re fine. I just wanted to ask you something...

Can we make eggs?"


"What did you say, son?"

"Can we make eggs? You said we can't use the stove unless we ask. So, can we?"

"Buddy, where is your father?"

"Uuuummm, I don't know, in the other room, I think."

"So you called me long distance, on my cell phone, in Romania when your father is ten feet away from you…just to ask me if you could make eggs!?!"

"Um, ya. Should I just ask Dad then?"


Just call us 7-11.

Our job never stops. Rain, sleet, snow...anytime of day and night. We are there.

It kind of reminds me of another parent; a much more perfect One of course.

Friend, do you know that our God never sleeps?

Psalm 121:3 assures us that “He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber;”

I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in that. Great comfort.

2am - When your teenager is late for curfew, not answering their phone and you pray to God that they come home safely and in one piece.

3am - When the baby is screaming again (again!) and you seriously question why you ever wanted to procreate in the first place.

4am - See 3am

5am - See 4am and 3am…again!

9am - When the boss sits you down and explains how this downsizing is necessary and commends you for your hard work. In one fell swoop crushing your pride and your family's stability.

11am - When the phone rings and it is the doctor himself calling to tell you that the lab results have come in and it would be best to talk about it in person.

2pm - When you get a call from the principal’s office wondering why your student hasn’t been at school all week. All of a sudden, you realize you don’t know your kid at all anymore.

5pm - When you rush through a stop sign to hurry and get your kids to practice, only to see the other car too late.

9pm - When you crawl into bed and once again roll over onto your side without so much as a "Goodnight, dear" from your spouse, or should you say, your roommate.

Each time. Any time. Every time. He is there. He is never too busy for you. He is never annoyed by you coming to Him over and over and over and over. He knows you best because He carefully made you. (Psalm 139)

Friend, He wants you to turn to Him first. And last. And every time in between. He died a humiliating and excruciating criminal’s death so that He wouldn't have to be separated from you. He deserves devotion from you. And He desires it.

Come to Him. He is there.

Just call Him 7-11.

But, for the record, I do think I deserve a free slurpie after this trip. Can I get an Amen? :)