Thursday, July 26, 2012

TBA Day 5: Surprise Relief

If you're just catching up, not only am I going on and on about our trip to San Antonio for Eric's convention (yes, with all the kids), but I'm behind on posting about it.  I know!  I can hear the shock in your voices.  But if you'd like to catch up you can click on these guys...

TBA Day 1: Advocating

TBA Day 2: Providential Reunion

TBA Day 3: Everybody's favorite

TBA Day 4: Over the Rainbow

Ah, that's better!  If you didn't read those, it's cool.  I still love ya!

Now where were we...

Oh yes.  Going home.

We don't go shopping for fun.  We just don't.  That is due in large part to financial decisions, but it's also very much because it's hard.  It's not fun.  Shopping with our family takes great effort.  We have to be ready to deal with the meltdown that will likely come.  The disturbance of routine.  Bleh.  The very thought makes my stomach churn.

So I sat in the fast-food joint in the parking lot of the giant outlet mall, waiting for Eric to get our food, half entertaining the kids and half dreading.  The restaurant was packed to the gills, and the thought of the crowd that would surely be in the stores plagued my thoughts.  With the boys too big for the double stroller, we only had the single pink stroller with us.

We couldn't bail.  This wasn't scheduled for recreation.  We really needed shoes for all the kids, and right before we left, I noticed that a lot of Ryan's shorts are too small.  I kept telling myself we had to do this.  We had to do this.  It'll be okay.  It'll pass.

The first store was a bit shaky.  We got what we needed, but it was shaky.  The next store, after we'd found Ryan's shoes... the only ones that last more than a week before he drags the toes out... we gave him the iPod and his headphones.  Off and on, he'd stop playing and shop with us.  Eventually, he gave it up entirely and just walked around for the last few stores.  Maelynn got out of the stroller and shopped with mommy, babbling in her sweet way about this shirt and that skirt and how they were just so beautiful, mommy!  We found everything we needed, amazingly on sale.

We were there for hours.  Only at the last store did he have a meltdown, and it didn't last.

If that weren't enough, as we waited for daddy to pay for mommy and Maelynn's shoes, Ryan got into his giggly wiggly noodle mood. At this point it was past time we'd normally have dinner, and we were all exhausted.  Then it happened.  The thing that just blew me away and I've been talking about it ever since.

Ryan JOKED with me.

It wasn't a joke, but he told me he'd call me a name from one of his favorite cartoons. I laughed and called him another character from the same.

He joked with me.  He laughed with me.  We giggled and poked at each other all the way back to the van.  It was GLORIOUS.  Simply glorious.

I was sure this was going to be a disaster.  I was sure that we would leave nearly in tears.  We were both ready to chuck it all and run.

God had other plans.

Sometimes we have to step out of the ol' comfort zone.  Sometimes, when it's not a safety issue, we have to take a chance.  We have to trust that if it doesn't go well, there was a reason.  We have to step out, because if we don't, how will we ever have fun as a family?  Who will teach them to behave in these settings if we don't?  All of them have to learn, and they need to learn with their parents.

This time, even with our minds screaming that we've taken a giant leap from our good senses, we did it.  We were flexible as we could be, remembering what we were asking of the kids.  While it wasn't perfect, it felt incredible to be out as a family, doing something families do.

So instead of clambering to the van in a panic to escape the glares of the ones hearing a meltdown, we strolled across the parking lot, laughing and promising a great dinner for the kids who had been so great.  If you tried to tell me, sitting at lunch, that this was going to be the best shopping trip ever, I'd have laughed.  I was not excited.

Instead, as we pulled away, Eric and I turned to each other, thanking God for the wonderful family time we'd experienced.  It was an amazing relief and such a blessing to say the least.  We started the three hour trip home with more to be thankful for than we had when we started, and in even better spirits.

Hang in there.  Relief and even blessing can come in the strangest places.

Thanks be to God for his plans and provision!

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