It was just what the doctor ordered—literally. Four days at the beach with sunny skies as the backdrop for a conference about finding your subplot in God’s story. He didn’t know what he’d prescribed was already in the works but when my doctor told me a change of weather would be helpful, I took it as a confirmation I needed to get out of town. The long cold winter had taken its toll.
Leaving his office I was buoyed by the thought, hopeful it would keep me from sinking before I could swim. Between both boys the week’s demands were piling up. I call it the curse of the “Davis Women” because inevitably before anyone in my family goes out of town, some unforeseen obstacle pops up. Never one to be the exception to the rule, that’s just what happened.
Chase got pummeled with homework he needed help with and assigned a science project. Then Luke had a fainting spell and needed to see the doctor to have some tests run. Between Monday and Thursday the normal crazy busy pace we operate at had to be cranked into overdrive to fit it all in. It was exhausting.
She laughed. “Sleep won’t be enough?” she asked.
“No, not after the edible cell project for Chase,” I said.
“Gosh, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have kids. I’m overwhelmed right now I can’t imagine it.”
Our conversation was stopped by separate seat assignments so I didn’t get the chance to say, “No you can’t.”
The beach was wonderful and the conference even better. Somewhere between exploring Balboa Park, walking in the surf, being inspired by Donald Miller, and enjoying my friends the doctor’s order had been filled. I could breathe literally and figuratively.
Teri was telling me she finally understood why her mom had been so picky about getting everything done at home before they went on a trip. She knew that coming back would be worse if she hadn’t been prepared in advance. I agreed.
“Just wait your day is coming,” I said.
“I know—times two,” she said.
Teri and her husband are adopting two sibling orphans from Uganda. When I think about this I picture carrying Chase in one arm and holding Luke’s hand with the other while one of them cried inconsolably over who knows what. My saying about children has always been with one you can travel the world but with two you can hardly get across the street.
I suppose it’s why I followed up her comment by saying, “Teri as wonderful as what I think you’re doing is—I also think you’re crazy.”
She laughed but then I sat down and said, “I’m serious. You can’t imagine how hard it’s going to be. If you could you wouldn’t do it.”
“You’re probably right.”
“I’m not trying to be right,” I said before an impromptu little sermon came spilling out of me.
“I just know it’s going to be hard but I also know it’s worth it and not for just the obvious reasons. What my kids have helped me understand more than any other experience in my life is how much God loves me. Because if He loves me a fraction of how much I love them, as challenging as they are, then I know I’m unbelievably loved. Through them He’s given me the best picture possible of how much He loves me and that’s what gets me through the hard days. The long view—remembering that no other experience helps me understand better His love and commitment to me.”
Preaching done Teri looked at me wide-eyed and said “That’s so true.”
I smiled and adjusted the shoulder strap on my bag and that’s when I noticed Teri had been standing on a penny the whole time we talked. Penny number 64 for the trip. The year I was born.
“You’re standing on a penny,” I said laughing. “I think it’s mine.”
“Wow, how many is that now?” she asked.
In hindsight, I don’t think that pep talk was for Teri. It was God reminding me, before I headed back to reality, that the long view is how we weather the mundane. It’s how we rise above the challenge of being weary and keep pressing on.
Life as a parent is harder than you can imagine. It’s full of twists and turns but in the end what greater gift can there be than a living metaphor for the love God has for us. When the Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God it’s easier to believe that promise when you’ve actually experienced an undying to devotion to someone other than yourself.