I know everyone has heard the phrase, “when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade!”
I am not always happy, go lucky, easy-breezy-beautiful type of girl. I am more of an OCD type, everything needs to line up properly type of girl. In fact, all of my immediate family members are type A, control-freak, and orderly type of people. There may be disarray, and messes from time to time, but for the most part, order reigns in the house. Every single one of my kids likes to know the plan of the day (hour, minute, week, and year). We have briefings every morning, and before excursions (especially if Tommy or Katie are coming along).
So, last Tuesday, as we were talking about our upcoming vacation (happening on Friday), imagine the sense of foreboding I felt as Mark’s phone rang at ten thirty. At night. No one calls Mark at night. No one really calls anyone, ever, anymore; we get texts. I knew it couldn’t be an emergency in my family, because they would have called me. I knew Irma was still percolating off the coast of the Leeward Islands, and I knew Harvey had just finished pummeling Texas, and I knew Jose was bringing up the rear off the coast of Africa.
We were already going on vacation with a plan B in place to relocate from the coastal house we had rented to a hotel thirty miles inland. We were traveling still, not knowing how the week would work out because vacation insurance only covered mandatory evacuations. I was already preparing to be in a state of flux. That is hard for me. I like firm plans. I like to know what to expect.
So, of course, Mark is being deployed. I love (love,love) that he is part of a team that does actual work in the face of disaster. I support him, and the team, and the mission of search and rescue. I am all in; our family is all in; we are all part of the team, in a sense. Mark has gone on several missions since becoming a part of Virginia Task Force One. It’s super, super cool.
The very selfish part of me reared its ugly head when that phone rang at ten thirty at night. I very much was tempted to tell him no-you-can’t-go, I don’t care what disaster is occurring or where. We have plans, we have friends and family to go see, we are spoken for. No, no, no, no. I was prepared to have a temper-tantrum. Then the Holy Spirit very firmly told me to be still. He had this. Not so happy about being corrected, but I held my tongue.
“I can say no,” Mark whispered to me as he was receiving information in his ear.
“No, you can’t,” I answered, “This is what you train for. You have to go.”
Mark nodded a few times, mumbled some “mmm-hmms,” and replied, “Yes, of course, wherever you need me.”
And that was that.
Fast forward forty-eight hours later as I’m packing myself, two autistic kids, an anxious child, and two search and rescue labs (Mark deployed as a medical specialist on this trip), dog crates, beach gear, suitcases and snacks into one minivan... I was nearing some sort of cosmic breaking point. We are people of structure. We are a family of structure. It was on the very tip of my mind to just cancel, say no, hide under my bed, and forget the whole thing... And then God worked again.
My phone rang with one of my best friends whom I was traveling to see, “Hey girl!!! You know we got this, we got you, don’t think of backing out, I’ll have to come get you, and are you on the road yet?”
Everyone, including my kids, especially my middle one, has risen to the occasion. I’ve been so very blessed this week. My whole family has been lifted and cared for. I feel slightly guilty for feeling so unhinged in light of all the crazy disasters and persecutions that are rampant around the world. I’m just a gal on vacation with my family while my husband is working. That’s all it is. My house is not under water (I have a house and it’s not under water). I have food. I’m at the beach. The beach is not missing, as people in the path of Irma witnessed this week. My husband is safe. I’m safe. It’s truly all good. I may not like things changing, and plans being fluid and flexible, but I have learned to kind of roll with it. “Roll With It” used to be my theme song, like, a million years ago, but having children made me a bit of a control freak. This has been an exercise in faith- stepping out in faith- and rolling with it, literally. So far, we are having a very windy, rather cloudy vacation, but we don’t have to relocate! Friends and family are safe, too. Mark is working with search and rescue (FEMA) in the Caribbean. Tomorrow, the sun is supposed to make an appearance. I can’t complain. For real.
Keep calm, trust your friends and family to rise up, make some lemonade, and parent on!