Here is how my weekend was supposed to look…my sister arrived on Thursday evening from her home in NC. We would send the girls off to school on Friday morning and then spend the day together. We would chat and have lunch and go shopping and drive to meet our mom and sister-in-law at a women’s retreat up near Gettysburg. The fact that the best outlet mall in the area was absolutely right on the way to the retreat was just a bonus to a day with my lifelong best friend talking and laughing without any of our 5 kids!! I had called on dear friends to take care of my girls on Friday afternoon as their dad was going to be home late from a business trip. All the details had been worked out. After a wonderful time with the ladies over the weekend, I would rush back home early Sunday morning to take over the homefront before Steve left on another business trip.
Here is how my weekend ACTUALLY went…my sister did arrive on Thursday evening and we were excited about our upcoming weekend. Early Friday morning, I woke up sick…really sick…stomach virus sick. I spent all day Friday in bed while my sister sat quietly on my back porch in the sunshine reading (she has a 1, 5 and 6 year old; this is not something she gets to do much!) I laid in bed all Friday evening while the girls and their Auntie played football in the backyard, went out for dinner, talked about what life is like for a 9 and 12 year old. I crawled out of bed Saturday morning to wish my sister well as she drove alone to meet our mom and sister for the retreat. I then accompanied my eldest and her daddy to watch her sing in a festival (something I would have missed.) Saturday afternoon, the girls and I napped and read books while daddy got a chance to play golf in the middle of a CRAZY month of work…it was sunny and 75 degrees…a gift for him that wouldn’t have happened if I had been gone. The best part of the weekend was Saturday night when my family of 4 built a fire in the pit in the backyard, grilled some steaks, ate on the back porch and toasted marshmallows for dessert. The girls and the dog rolled around in the yard while Steve and I caught up with each other’s busy lives. When we were toasting marshmallows, my youngest struggled to find the patience to really toast the perfect marshmallow. Finally, she did it! As she bit into the lightly browned, sticky sweetness, she sighed deeply and said “This is what God eats all day!” The weekend ended with a visit on Sunday afternoon with my mom, sister and sister-in-law for a few hours before Karen had to go to the airport.
So, my perfect weekend was ruined by me getting sick…or was it? As I laid in bed on Friday, feeling sorry for myself, I thought about how hard we had worked to plan this weekend. And now my sister was sitting by herself in my yard while I laid in bed. Poor us! But as the weekend unfolded, I kept getting glimpses of God’s hand at work in unexpected ways. Perhaps my sister needed a quiet day to herself more than a day of shopping and laughing with me. Perhaps my girls needed an evening with Auntie, without me or her kids around. Perhaps my mom, my sister-in-law and my sister had some special times to share, just the two and then three of them. Perhaps my husband needed that beautiful day on the golf course in the midst of his high pressure month at work. Perhaps my life would have been infinitely less beautiful without hearing my 12 year old’s sweet, pure singing voice and my 9 year old’s wisdom about the perfection found in a patiently waited for, flawlessly toasted marshmallow.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God MADE me sick. But perhaps…just perhaps…He allowed the stomach virus to rearrange our weekend a little. Our job was to find the unexpected blessings…mine for the unexpected treasures. And, in this case, it was pretty easy to find those blessings and those treasures. We have a choice, I guess, to focus on what we missed or to be grateful for what we found…this time, I choose to be grateful.