Friday, August 28, 2009

Art of Flexibility and Discovering Eastern Oregon

I have not always understood it. I liked things to be predictable, I did not always know how to act appropriately when surprised. I did not like to be caught unprepared or off guard. That was until I married the love of my life who was completely opposite than me in that sense. He grew up in a big (more like humongous) family where life happened and children were used to adapt to whatever happened and everyone was expected to go with the flow.

When we first got married, we would often have friends or family over for dinner or tea. Being a young wife, I enjoyed learning how to cook and serving (though nervously) our guests. I had the time to get prepared to do the best I can as dinners were planned ahead of time. However, I soon understood that members of my husband's family like to stop by each others places often without prior notices. When they would show up I would become a nervous wreck thinking about what I am going to feed them and whether my house was tidy enough for me to receive such important guests as in-laws. Truthfully, I did not enjoy such surprises. I think this was because I was too insecure back then and did not want to create a bad or wrong image of me.

But as time went by and we got busy raising small children, working and going to school, I relaxed about their visiting. Now when they show up and my house reflects the presence of small children, I don't blush a bit but welcome them in and if I don't have something great to offer them, I offer them what we do have. Often times we drink tea with whatever sweets we have. I enjoy conversing with them and seeing their children. Our most interesting and valuable time with friends and family often happens when their visits are spontaneous. The focus is not on food then, but on fellowship. I love meaningful fellowship.

Another thing I had (and often still have) a harder time to adapt to is the constant unpredictability in our life as a family. Because my husband is self employed, we never know more than a month (sometimes a week) ahead if there is a paycheck on the horizon. I often don't know what time he will come home. More than once he had to cancel our evening plans because of work or church related issues. Just today, he called from a choir practice asking me to come and play for the choir because there was no one to play the piano. I had to cancel all of my plans and work I was in the middle of and rush to church. Though I returned home to the work I left behind, it felt good to serve others.

Another aspect of our life that is unpredictable and requires devout flexibility is family vacations. Because of the nature of my husband's job and its instability right now, it is hard to plan family trips that last more than one day. Every phone call is a matter of a paycheck now and to leave somewhere far away from home for a period of more than a couple of days, can mean a loss of a valuable costumer. So I am usually given one, maybe two days if I am lucky, to prepare the family for say, a camping trip. The last little camping trip we took really tested my flexibility. I had a morning to get everything (including my husband's not so clean truck) ready as my husband surprised me in the morning with leaving for work. My sister in law generously offered us their tent and food and I was happy to offer her money for the food because it meant that I didn't have to go grocery shopping and come up with a menu. By the time Peter got done with work ( about 2pm) I wasn't sure if I wanted to go anymore. I am glad we did.

We have discovered a small but gorgeous part of Eastern Oregon. The campsite was right on the river front. Tewilliger Hot Springs were a short twenty minute drive.

These mineral waters are so cleansing and the setting is gorgeous. If you go there though prepare to meet an Eastern European or a hippie who is happy that


Clear Lake whose waters are truly clear and compare to blueness to the waters of Hawaii only much colder and where fishing is abundant is also pretty close to the campground. You can rent these boats for only $30 per day.

There are also beautiful waterfalls close to the lake which we didn't get to see because we only stayed there one night. Though this trip was short, it was worthwhile for us to enrich our lives if only a bit with this beauty.
This is why I find flexibility to be an art. Unpredictability and risk taking often gets you places you never even dreamed of. Flexibility prevents conflicts. It is about putting aside "me" and attending to the needs of others.
It is true that because of the lack of sufficient planning time, we are often not too well prepared for our trips. It is not unusual to forget something or to get lost going somewhere. These things can be frustrating, especially because we are dragging three little kids with us. But it only challenges us to make do with things we have and overcome obstacles. I remind my self that family time is about being together not about being together in perfect circumstances.
Life happens and sometimes its nice not to be prepared for it.

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