As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Other Plans

Every summer for the past five years we have attended a Catholic Family Camp in Little Harbour, Nova Scotia.  I will never forget how much that first year transformed our family life!  It was so encouraging to be around so many families while ours was so young (the oldest had just turned five) and to take in the wisdom and experience of the other families.  We have made it our goal ever since to attend, no matter what.

Us at family camp last year - so blessed by this beautiful place and these beautiful people!

So you can imagine our shock when, having the van in for some work the Thursday before leaving for this year's retreat (which we had planned to leave for that Sunday), the mechanic came across another problem, which required the ordering of a part, which would not arrive until that Monday - a day late.  A series of events leading up to this news had already caused us to question whether or not we should be going, and we decided to leave it in the Lord's hands.  We messaged the organizers, dear friends of ours, to let them know that we couldn't be there until early Tuesday morning, and that if there was another family looking for a space to give them ours, since we didn't want the opportunity to be lost.  And then we prayed that the Lord would make His will known to us.

Our friends told us to come when we could, and that they would take notes.  And so we adjusted our plans. The retreat begins each day with Mass at 9:00 am, followed by a parents' session from 10:00 am - noon while the kids are at a kids' program.  Then the rest of the day is free until 7:00 pm for rosary.  Sessions are Monday - Friday, and Little Harbour is a four hour (straight) drive away.  We figured if we packed the van up Monday afternoon when we got it back, made it an early night and got the kids up and into the van at 4:00 am, we could eat breakfast on the way and we would still make it for the Tuesday morning session. No biggie.

All of our efforts as a family on Monday went towards packing ourselves up for the week - no small task for a family of eight!  The blazing heat further complicated things.  Jeff called to confirm when the van would be finished, and hitched a ride to town with a neighbor while we worked away at home.  We had all the kids' clothes packed into their suitcase when Jeff called with the disappointing news - they had broken another part in the van, and it wouldn't be ready until the next morning.  They provided Jeff with a loaner vehicle for the night, but we couldn't take that on vacation with us because they needed it back in the morning when our van was done.  By the time we were able to get the van home and packed, we wouldn't have been able to make it to family camp until supper time on Tuesday, at best.  Which would mean we would have missed almost half of the sessions.  And we had no guarantees at that point that our van would even be finished by then.  So we made the difficult decision of cancelling our trip to family camp this year.

Our kids were all disappointed, but my two most sensitive children took it the worst.  They sobbed and sobbed, and while I normally am quick to lose patience with them, I felt overwhelming grace to be compassionate.  I was drawn into their suffering because I was sharing it - I felt sad over this loss too.  And while I am often tempted (and often tell them) to just get beyond it, I knew the Lord wanted us to stay in it, and so we did.  The overwhelming theme of my life these days has been to lay it down - everything I have, the things I hold most dear, the things that bring me comfort, the Lord is gently but firmly asking for those things. I wanted so badly to be able to say to my kids, "We'll go anyway, we'll find a way".  And yet, I knew the Lord wanted them to feel this loss too, and that He wanted to be the one to satisfy them.  And there was nothing for me to do but experience it with them.

We sat around the table for supper that evening, and I lead the kids in a spontaneous prayer (something about asking the Lord to be close to us, and to help us understand what He is asking of us) which normally causes the kids' eyes to glaze over.  But not this time - they were all so earnest.  And then my four-year-old daughter did something I've never heard her do before.  She said, "And please Lord, let us go to family camp next week."  She talked directly to God all by herself.  Her eyes were closed, and I knew it was coming right from her heart.  I also know we can't go to family camp next week, but I didn't bother to correct her.  I figure that's between her and God.  And that's when I realized that maybe losing something so dear to you isn't the worst thing in the world, if it causes you reach out to God.

Our van ended up being ready at 9:00 am this morning, which left me further conflicted. For a moment, I thought maybe we could pull it together enough to salvage the rest of the week.  But we had both prayed for the Lord's will to be apparent, and I can't accept the string of events leading up to today as anything but the Lord's gentle hand.  And so, with heavy hearts, we are making the best of our time at home.  We've made no new plans (though the thought crossed our minds) but have decided instead to take this week one day at a time, being attentive to our children and the opportunities that are before us each day.

Some people pray so hard to know the Lord's will in their lives, that He would just "give them a sign".  I am so grateful for the ways God reaches into my life, even when it is to ask something so dear of me.  Sometimes we cling so desperately to the things we want. Help us instead Lord to cling desperately to Your will.
Stay-cation's not so bad

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