Take the Trip
During the first week in December 2017, Chris and I were fortunate to have a trip just the two of us. There were several times we almost canceled the trip. The logistics of asking people to care for three kids, school, homework, and extracurricular activities almost felt not worth the effort. We are fortunate that both of our parents were able to help with the kids which afforded us the gift of time away together. I tried to recharge more than I ever have on a trip. I was almost a recluse and spent my time reading and enjoying my surroundings.
He Was Preparing Me for What Was to Come
One night, I stayed up past midnight to finish a book I could not put down. Chris was quietly sleeping, and I was bawling my eyes out reading a book about a daughter who lost her mother to cancer. The book focused on the time they were able to spend together before her passing. I read another book that week that also involved the death of a parent.
That night with swollen eyes, my prayers changed from just praying for our parents to asking God to help us have more time with them. I had a strange feeling come over me almost like God was preparing me for what was ahead. Chris even noticed my demeanor changed the next day and I couldn’t describe or shake the feeling. Over the years I have prayed to God for various signs in my life, but I struggle to tell if something is a sign or if I’m just trying to force a fit. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty and looking back, I feel without a shadow of a doubt that God was giving me a sign with the books I read and emotions I felt.
The Gift of Time
I have some comfort in knowing that we gave my Dad the gift of time in his last few days. In reality, if Chris and I had not gone to Mexico, chances are my kids would not have seen my parents that week. On the other hand, my kids each had some time with their Papa.
My dad turned seventy on the day we flew home. My mom carefully planned a small surprise party for him the day after his birthday to fit my schedule. On his birthday, Amelia and Maggie enjoyed a special steak dinner with him. Little did anyone know that would be dad’s last meal. He opened the card that Amelia made him and proudly told her that it was the only card he received for his birthday. Little did he know that we had a small party planned for the next day.
Nolan spent the night with my dad the night before his birthday so he could duck hunt the following day. The week I was gone, my dad changed my youngest daughter’s diaper for the first and last time. As he was getting ready to put on a new diaper, Maggie jumped off the bed and ran through the house. Maggie thought this was super funny and proudly told the story about Papa chasing her through the house. We never got to have a birthday party and gifts remain ungiven. The cake stayed in the freezer for over six months because I couldn’t bear to eat it or throw it away.
Things Come Full Circle
The next morning, I got “the call” that my dad had a stroke and was being airlifted to a regional hospital. At that moment the feeling from Mexico came full circle. I knew something was going to happen, I just had no idea what, how or when.
Isn’t it ironic that no matter how much money we spend, all people truly want from us is more time? Maggie frequently asks me to play with her even if just for a few minutes. She wants my time. I’m guilty of saying, “in a minute” or I need to do _____ first.” Doesn’t God want our time too? How many times have I not made the time that God deserves?
“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9. Looking back to my time in Mexico, I truly believe God was preparing me for what was coming. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”- Proverbs 3:5. As we enter the holiday season, I encourage you to give the gift of time. It’s probably the best return on investment you can make!