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  • Katie Smith

Mary Poppins Pride

If you've ever met someone who always has the very thing you need in the very moment you need it, then you've met my mother. Whether its a toothpick, a ruler, antacid, or even a tiny glue gun, she is never underprepared. Everyone knows her for this giftedness--her natural girl scout/navy seal tendencies have been passed down through multiple generations.

My amazing mom has always given me a sense of security because of "Mary Poppins" preparedness. If I forget or misplace something, she'll find something in her Poppins purse to solve my problem. As such I aspired to be like her-- someone others could ask anything of, and I could be counted on to assist, pulling out hair pins, nutritious snacks, or crossword puzzles at the drop of a hat.

However, like a parasite gaining nutrients from its host, I realized my own purse has been a place of pride. For the first time in my life, I had to give up my bag. I have either misplaced or thrown away much of its contents in the chaos of this new lifestyle. As such, it hit me: my preparedness is the apple of my eye. My security was wrapped around my self-sufficiency and others perception and appreciation of that giftedness.

As always, humility will offer a different view of wisdom. The real gifts are opened when we have to "make do," when we have had to adapt or adjust-- not having the thing we thought we needed in the moment we needed it. It's opened my eyes, but it's also hurt my pride. I have felt useless, helpless, and more vulnerable without my bag. Yet, I'm tempted to make excuses for why my bag is the better option.

Still, I can't deny the voice calling the problem to my attention. I want to depend on myself. It feels safer with my bag, and let's be honest, I also get the glory for having the tweezers that pulled out a kid's splinter at the playground or the matchbox car that distracted a toddler's meltdown in the checkout line. God, on the other hand, doesn't receive much in that transaction. He would rather I trust Him each day for my daily bread and others as well-- not just mentally assenting to His provisions, but literally living out dependency on Him.

Otherwise I am no different than those who hoarded manna in the desert. I'm keeping things for myself. "Moses said to them, 'No one is to keep any of it until morning.' However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell" (Exodus 16:19-20). They, like me, wasted effort and energy trying to prepare for everything. More than that, the splintered child doesn't receive the gift of tougher skin, and the crying toddler doesn't learn to self-soothe. Perhaps someone else doesn't receive a boost of encouragement for pulling out their own tweezers or toy from their own purse.

There's nothing wrong with offering gifts, but we have become such an overly-secured society, that we can't see the maggots in our food anymore. Our prayers have shifted towards safety and security, rather than our growth and God's glory. If I kept my Poppins purse, I wouldn't have seen the miracles that have occurred thus far in our journey. All of us have something God-given to share, but we must only keep what we need for the day, and let go of the rest.

After a week of driving or dry-camping, we were a little worn down. I know that we are not in the wilderness of Africa. I know that we are not being persecuted or starving to death, which is a reality for many families all over the globe. However, be encouraged--weariness from giving up the easy road and seeking the narrow path has made 2 Corinthians a reality for us.

"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair" (2 Cor. 4:7-9)

Even in our tired tears or cumbersome annoyances from RV-living, we are not crushed. Hard pressed on all sides? Yes. Struck down by sewage, electricity, water, or weather? Yes. Perplexed by nothing working the way it should? Yes. Persecuted for parenting and homeschooling? Sure. But we are not in despair. The painted skies, magenta mountains, and double rainbows speak too loudly of joy. We give up our Mary Poppins bags because the jars of clay are so much better!

Onward to Mexico... Keep those prayers coming as we see what God shares with us there.

Bagless, Carefully and Carelessly

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