Saturday, September 24, 2011

Good and Unexpected Gifts

           Once upon a time, a young man met a young lady.  Like so many happy stories, they got married - even though at the time the young man somehow never got around to actually proposing.  (He spoke to the lady's father, who told her mom - who casually said at supper that spring evening, "Well, I guess we have a wedding to start planning for."  Oh.)  They live a real life full of joy, trials, adventures, laughter, tears . . . and eventually five children.

      Our parents celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary this year.  It has been really fun to watch them during this last year: all day mum looks forward to having coffee with dad when he gets home from work; dad has taken to leaving cute little notes for mum on her desk in the morning.  So besides really admiring how God has been working in their lives and how He has shaped their marriage, we just think they're really cute.  :)  And we weren't really surprised when our dad got a twinkle in his eyes about a month ago and confided to us that he wanted to do something special for mum in honor of their anniversary.  He wanted to take her on a surprise trip - and we got to help keep it a secret!  Dad picked the destination and asked Sharpi to make reservations; from then on we researched the area when we could (read "when mum wasn't likely to walk by and look over our shoulders") and would report back when we found something that looked interesting.  Dad also enlisted us to pack for mum.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to pack for your mum?!  (As a side note: ladies, it might be a good idea to have a basic packing list written down somewhere, preferably where your family can find it.  Just in case. )
  We've kept secrets from our dad before, but this was a little different (but oh so fun!) - it is way harder to keep secrets from our mum!  But eventually The Day arrived.  Dad got home from work and invited mum out for coffee  . . . . which was his sneaky way of getting her out of the house so we could . . . umm . . . FINISH PACKING!!!  There are some of us who are convinced that as soon as dad pulled out of the driveway the three of us scrambled in about eight different directions.  Which doesn't add up mathematically, but at the time it felt possible.  It's the only way we can explain the fact that in 20 minutes we:
completely packed mum's suitcase - partly from scratch, partly from what we'd commandeered on the sly
filled the water-cooler
had to go hunting for a bungee cord to strap the water cooler in (otherwise it tips and leaks)
threw as many "might be necessary" items in mum's everything bag as we could think of
put various bags and water bottles in the van
remembered mum's purse
stopped to breathe between closing the van hatch and waiting for dad's phone call to "move to phase 2"

   Whew!  It was a fast 20 minutes.  And wouldn't you know it, when dad did finally call to let us know they were safely in the restaurant, the UPS truck pulled into our driveway.  Ahhh!!  I don't think the very short delay would have frustrated us on any other day, but by that time the adrenaline had kicked up a few notches and we had butterflies on a caffeine high buzzing in our tummies.  Dad had thoughtfully parked his vehicle around the corner from the restaurant's front door, so no matter where they sat it was out of view.  I'm pretty sure that, had the staff taking their break not known who we belonged to and just how weird we already are (since they had seen us kidnapping our dad from this very restaurant last year) they probably would have called the police - wouldn't you if you saw three girls pull up in a parking lot, move a vehicle down five parking spaces and park their van in the recently emptied spot . . . . only to run like mad for the original vehicle and leave??  I have no doubt it was very entertaining to watch.  Right before we left Chickadee popped her head in the door to give a subtle wave to our dad - which mum almost saw - and then (to borrow a quote from our favorite comedian Ken Davis) we, "buggethed out of there". 
      Long story short - and we'll skip the part where mum laughingly called us "traitors" - our parents had a wonderful time at a place that could be considered our state's equivalent of England's Lake District.

And he proposed too:)

   We had a good time too, doing all sorts of sister-bonding things.  Our parents would periodically call us, and we would occasionally call them; they'd send us photos of where they were and the amazing places they were seeing.  And in four short days it was all over and they were driving home.  We girls cleaned up most of our mess (its amazing what a mess writing and editing can make) and figured once they were home and we'd seen the pictures and heard the stories that would be the end of the adventure . . . . . 
      But it wasn't.
      After unloading the van and conspicuously squirreling packages into obscure and forbidden corners in mum's closet they both emerged with grins spreading across their faces and twinkles in their eyes. They had something for us and couldn't wait any longer.
      Our parents had enjoyed their holiday so much that they wanted to share it with us.  So they booked us a hotel room at the lodge they'd stayed at.  They were so excited when they told us we had two weeks to get ready to go on our own adventure.  That moment was a mix of a lot of things: overwhelming surprise, excitement, joy . . . 
  Since then we've been on our grand adventure and are now getting back into the grittiness of "normal" life.  There are stories and photos that we want to share with you.  But for the moment, as we look back, we'd like to say "Thank you" to our parents.  The trip was a very generous, hugely undeserved gift.  What you did for us was a perfect picture of what God does for His children: He specializes in giving undeserved gifts, whether it is the next breath we take, the health we take for granted, the families who love us and the friends who He uses to encourage us - most of all the redemption and reconciliation through His Son's blood that gives us the most undeserved gift of eternal life.

Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Taking joy in the good and unexpected gifts we have been given,


  1. I have such silly daughter's! :) Of course you most certainly deserved that little adventure. You do SO much for us at home. Such a small adventure compared to the joy you bring to our lives.
    The mum )

  2. You have very special parents!! May God bless you all.
    Elizabeth M.