When offered the opportunity of a mountain get-away for only $100, my husband, Jerry, and I rejoiced. I'd prayed for a vacation, which we hadn't been able to afford for some time. It looked like this was God's answer. We couldn't wait to head toward the condo, located in a resort town. I envisioned cuddling with my husband by the fireplace, watching fluffy white snowflakes drift past the window after a day of playing in the snow with our children. The kids checked boots and gloves to make sure everything still fit and asked a zillion questions about the amenities of the lodge.

Then it happened. A deadline changed in Jerry's job and he couldn't afford to be gone the whole week. I moped, prayed, and whined to a friend, "I'd rather just stay here and homeschool them than be in an unfamiliar environment, feeling pressure to have a great vacation without their dad."

The children cried. One even said, "No offense, Mom, but dad's the fun one. I can't believe he can't stay for the whole vacation."

I clung to the hope my husband would miraculously meet unattainable deadlines and take the time off.

Hope was unfounded. The children and I packed for a week. Their dad threw in clothes for a couple of days. I swallowed my frustration as we loaded into two vehicles, separated for the drive into the mountains.

Once at our destination, Jerry took extra care to research activities for us to do while he was away. My heart sunk further. We had a place to stay and cooking in the condo made the week affordable. That didn't mean there was money for activities. We ruled out snowshoeing, skiing, sleigh rides, and most anything else well-wishers suggested the children would enjoy. When hugging Jerry good-bye, I forced myself not to cry.

The days that followed were pure . . . heaven! The children and I checked out a stack of old movies at the library. At second hand stores, we got ice-skates to use on the FREE ice rink. We'd packed swimsuits, roller blades, and sleds. Since we had our own equipment, the YMCA down the road charged us a mere $5 a day to use their facilities, which included a pool, roller rink, and sledding hill. My sister-in-law had surprised us with a S'more maker for our trip and we spent quiet evenings clustered around it, roasting marshmallows while I read aloud from our latest favorite book. Each night I fell into bed happily exhausted, muscles aching from climbing sledding hills--and the children decided Mom could be the "fun one" too.

Why is it so hard to trust God when He offers good gifts? Why is it easy to look at what I don't have instead of what I do? Passing the ski shop in our lodge made me long to take the children skiing and pushed my "left out" button. Yet, spending hundreds of dollars to ski wouldn't have provided any more fun. For $5 the children were more than satisfied. And so was I.

Trusting God to provide these things has been a struggle since first leaving my full-time paycheck fourteen years ago. Faith came (at least most of the time) to believe God would provide the necessities. After all, He called me to be home with my children and pour myself into caring for them. But to believe He understood and cared about longings for rest and recreation . . . well, that was a whole different thing.

Several years ago Jerry and I were given a gold card to a restaurant. We embraced a rare "date night" without concern for finances. We rarely order sodas and only occasionally share a desert if we go out. The cost is hard to justify. But this night it was all free. I ordered lemonade and desert and ate until possibly committing the sin of gluttony. My husband shared his hopes and dreams. God felt tangible.

There was a stirring inside, as if the Lord said, "I'll give you these times if you'll just trust me. I know when you need refreshment."

These types of gifts have come several times over the years, yet the struggle to trust Him continues. However, as I discover more of the Lord's heart of love, I come to understand that He cares about everything, even longings for beauty, fun, and refreshment. God isn't a Santa in the sky who will fill every selfish desire. But He does care for my heart. And sometimes that means a perfect mountain get away.

Jerry rejoined us at the end of our mountain week and we wore him out introducing him to all the fun stuff we'd done. Our family will long remember that week as a special family time. It didn't look quite the way we'd envisioned it, but turned out wonderful just the same.

Next time doubt proclaims that God doesn't see my need for rest or a little fun, I want to remember the feel of cold mountain air as I whooshed down the sledding hill that week. I'll envision the glorious snow capped peaks set against a backdrop of cobalt blue and smell the pines. The sound of my children's happy giggles will fill my mind. And then I'll know. God provides what my heart needs.

--------------------------

A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers home schooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at www.soulscents.us. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.