I had a bit of a laugh this morning, thinking about the old saying that who you really are is who you are when nobody’s looking. And though I wasn’t laughing in the midst of the situation that led me to think about it, I do think there’s some truth to it. Would you like to hear the tale? Well, good.

Among the happy findings inside the boxes that have arrived from South Africa is the seat that fits into our stroller. I have to explain our stroller for this to make sense. When we were expecting the Bear nearly four years ago (Wow!) the Hubs took on the fatherly duty of stroller research. After a significant amount of reading and googling and reading some more, he settled on the Quinny Zapp. Quinny is a European brand that seems to be gaining presence in the States. This particular stroller (which we found used on ebay for a steal of a deal) was particular useful for its combination of sturdiness and compactness. (Ours looks slightly different from the model I linked to there, but that’s the general idea.)

The two things that sold us on it were 1) it is small enough to fit up into its own tidy little bag and slip into an overhead storage compartment on a plane and 2) you can remove the seat, and with some click-in adaptors, insert the infant carrier into the stroller frame. So this stroller worked for us right from the Bear’s infancy into his toddlerhood.


Mayhaps you remember seeing ginormous preggers me, and Agnes, walking the Bear with our little stroller?

Anywho. That seat the Bear is sitting in was out when we moved, and went into the boxes that would come across on the ship, because we were using the infant carrier for the Tank, popping that in and out at the time.

Now this morning the temperatures were very chilly, but the Tank was very fussy. I think he might still be teething. I knew it would be a good idea to get him out for a walk, but I wanted to make sure he would be plenty warm with the temps in the 30s (well below the double digits in Celsius). The Quinny has an accessory that whoever we bought it from on ebay threw in at no extra charge. It’s called a Cosy Toes, and it straps into the stroller, but it’s kind of like a sleeping bag to keep the little one extra cozy. We thought Awesome…this will come in handy in Scotland! But I can hardly remember using it there.

Even though my Mom has let us borrow an umbrella stroller, I wanted to slide the seat back into the Quinny and snap in the Cosy Toes to take the Tank for a walk and keep him warm. {Doesn’t slide and snap sound like a simple process?} I’d never done it before, since the Hubs assembled the stroller the first time we got it, so I googled the instructions and got to work.

While Tiger Tank crawled around me on the floor, I began a procedure which took at least thirty minutes and left my arms shaking by the end. The instructions were the kind that just have pictures and numbers and lines, but not words, and even if I do have half a PhD, they were dang hard. I was getting really, really frustrated trying to figure out what was supposed to slip in and snap in where and do-I-have-to-slip-all-these-in-at-the-same-time and oh-no-should-I-have-snapped-that-before-I-snapped-this and is-this-the-most-ridiculous-stroller-known-to-mankind?

With the baby whining and fussing and me trying to pass him a few more bites of this or that to keep him happy, I eventually managed to get the seat properly installed, maintaining my cool with exception of me turning my face to the ceiling on one occasion and shouting the only expletive uttered throughout the ordeal: Fart!!!!

That was shortly followed by a Lord, please help! Not long after that I managed to get it done.

I then spent another five minutes trying to figure out how the ginormous shoulder straps were supposed to squeeze through the tiny slits to get the Cosy Toes properly put together with the seat. (Brute force succeeded in that case.)

I eventually squeezed the Tank in, and, praise the Lord we still had time to go for a short walk. My hands were shaking by the end of it and I probably needed to get out of the house for a moment even more than he did. He enjoyed the stroll, and I enjoyed seeing a big woodpecker and watching sun rays stream through tree branches, and the fresh air was indeed a good way to calm my antsy nerves.

I reflected on how easy it is to let frustration bring out the worst in you — for even a simple trial to bring you to your knees and have you crying out to the Lord because otherwise you might get angry and throw the stroller in the trash can, or just give up when pressing in for just a little longer would bring you success.

I remember Jesus speaking faith-words to His disciples, knowing He would soon be leaving them:

“Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” {John 16: 32 & 33, NKJV}

There was never a question about whether or not we would have trials and tribulations in this life. Life is hard, and Jesus clearly told us you will have tribulation — but in Me you can still have peace.

And if nothing else, I think there is a great deal of value in letting those refining fires work like a mirror — giving you an insight into who you are, perhaps how far you’ve come, maybe that you still have a distance to go.

A few years ago I would absolutely have thrown in the towel and decided to wait until the Hubs got home so that he could do it for me. A few years before that, I would not have made it through something like that without using some foul language, and probably then giving up even if I didn’t have a Hubs to come do it for me. But there is something to be said for squaring up to a challenge — a big one or a small one, fighting discouragement and pressing in to achieve something.

Sometimes the race of faith we’re running is one with hurdles on the track. We will gain the strength to make it over the next hurdle by jumping this one, not by trying to run around it. Even if we stumble on this hurdle, we can still learn something that will be useful when we come to the next one.

Can you imagine someone trying to run a 400 meter hurdles by scooting around each hurdle? How much would that slow them down — if it were even allowed? Would they have to go back and go over each hurdle properly before it could be said that they completed the race?

Are you willing to embrace the trials in front of you, trusting that God will not be wasteful with them? Can you trust that God is not slack concerning His promises, and though it may be a mystery, still there is value in a hard time, a tall hurdle, a season of wilderness?

Rejoice at how far you’ve come. Get excited about where you’re going. Trust that in Him – by His divine power – you have everything you need for life and godliness. {2 Pet. 1:3}

This was the end result for today’s efforts, and I can definitely say it was worth it: