It was Wednesday evening and we were leaving in the morning, early. If I had one outfit I had a dozen on the bed or draped over the footboard because I was beyond stressed about what I should wear when I see people, some of them I haven’t seen in too many years to remember.
I decided on a skirt that I knew no one else had a copy of, because that, for some odd reason made me feel lovely. What wasn’t so lovely was the fact that the two pounds I had gained stress eating for this trip really made this skirt tight at the waist. I was uncomfortable, but who needs comfort when you have college friends to impress??? I was bringing support hose....bam. It was in the bag. I messaged a friend that next morning and literally sent her four or five outfit options JUST for the traveling. :) She saw past the sweaters and spoke such truth into me. “Just love on the person in front of you. Forget the crowd.” Got it. Wow. Ok. I can do this.
A little less than a quarter of the way down the road we blew a tire. Poor Joel had to hoof it to a service station on the freeway while we watched some Duggar goodness on the ipad. A few minutes turned into an hour and some and I could imagine that even my cool as a cucumber husband was even to begin to unravel a teensy bit. He came to rescue us with a tow truck, but we had no place to seat all the rest of the family. A friend came to our aid and met Joel with the kids on the side of the road, while Isaac and I loaded into the tow truck for parts unknown. Joel and I were not only totaling up the time we have left to make it to our destination, but also the hefty price tag that would surely be attached....
A sweet Italian mechanic allowed me to park the van at his lot until we came back on Saturday evening and the church allowed us to graciously take their van to complete the trip. A few cheeseburgers later we were on our way again and I wasted no time plucking my eyebrows in anticipation of the evening ahead.
We arrived, changed clothes and I was taming my hair for the last time when Joel called me over. “Stop curling your hair and come here and sit with me.” He was wrapping up his study time and we just looked at each other. He calmed my spirit in the same way my friend had and just told me that we were going to be “us.” It didn’t matter what we wore, what we said, it was all about Christ. It was none of us. It was so sweet and lovely to come together as a family and pray for God to use us in some small way if it be His will. That He would have preeminence and we would just be instruments of His grace that evening. We were a family and we loved the Lord and that was the bottom line.
Out we went to face everyone. I kept repeating to myself, “Love on the person in front of you. Forget the crowd” I looked into the eyes of each person in front of me and tried to love them as God would if He was speaking to them. Joel opened God’s word and I felt the arm of my oldest son creep around my neck. It.was.perfect. We were together, and we were just instruments to use. People who had invested in our lives in college filed past and we thanked every one of them. We brought small tokens of our appreciation for them and the littles had fun delivering them.
With the tow bill hanging over us, we went to bed that night and wondered if our plans for a big Chicago day with the Littles was stalled. Allll night our youngest wailed that her ears hurt her. Now this may come as a shock. Prepare yourself. We have never had a Little with an ear infection. Nope. Never, ever. So this was a predicament of vast proportions in my eyes. We had just had a looong good day, and were utterly and completely exhausted. I rocked, I used a hot compress, I took her earrings out, I massaged her ears and throat, I prayed over her and asked the Lord to bind Satan’s attempts to hinder us and discourage us. The Lord reminded me that I had brought some oils with me that might help. I put a drop of theives oil in each ear and prayed some more. I’m not quite sure what time she finally settled down, but it was well after three.
I had made previous plans with some old friends for coffee that next morning at ten. I fell asleep on the floor, because she was asleep on the bed by Joel and I was not about to wake her, and wondered if every plan we made had just gone up in smoke.
Two VERY zealous Littles who are way too big for their britches wanted the college breakfast and devos experience so they woke us at seven. Flashbacks of roomies who were too happy in the morning for their own safety came flooding back to my mind.... It was a wonderful blessing that I was too tired to even blink.
They went merrily on their way and to our amazement our youngest woke like she had never seen a better morn in her 4 years on earth. With one eye opened I began to wonder if this day.just.might.work. after all.
Coffee was just blessed. It just was. It was a bunch of thirty-somethings bearing each other’s burdens and laughing over life we shared 30 pounds ago. It was good to reconnect, encourage one another and realize we are all just trying to stay one load of laundry ahead of the mess. We love our husbands, our children, and our Lord.
I met Joel and the kids and he showed me an envelope he had been given that morning. It was just a white envelope and the words on the front read something like, “Joel, you did work for me years ago and were a blessing. I want to be a blessing to you and your family as you enjoy a day in Chicago.” Joel opened the envelope and I opened my mouth in disbelief.
Only He can touch a man’s heart to give from a gracious heart, for a job completed 15 years ago.
Only He can take a weary mess and bless two little ears and our hearts and make eyes with bags under them wet with tears of gratitude.
The kids have just had the weekend of a lifetime. The train ride into the city, the sites, the foods, the stores.....They giggled when we pointed out, at their pleading, where we met for the first time, where we ate, where we walked, where we each lived, and where God began to mould us into what we are today. It was fun introducing those we owe so much gratitude to, to our Littles. It was more fun remembering that we are a family. We are perfect because we are who God made us to be and support hose cannot even contain all the blessings that God has for those who give themselves back to Him to be used in whatever way He deems good.
We are on our way home.
The whole family