Everyone should give Christi a HUGE "Way to go!" for holding down the fort the first week of January. I was in Orlando from Monday morning to late Friday night for our national sales meeting. Christi got the kids to school, got them to practices and games and scouts and youth group and art club and who knows what else without anything but a "Good luck, hon!" from me over the phone each night." That was on top of the everyday tasks that keep us both busy during a typical week but are insanely crazy when one of us is gone. Bedtime, mornings, meals, homework, keeping the house clean, etc. I really am proud of her. She is amazing.
While in Orlando I read her post, "We Can Relate," during a short break in our meeting. I also read the beautiful post she linked to. I'm sure a couple of my coworkers wondered why I had tears streaming down my face as everyone else came streaming back to our meeting room. Oh, can I relate to the "After the Airport" post. What a wonderful description of our lives. For the bulk of the post I kept thinking about our fun, crazy, overwhelmingly challenging family. I thought of how many tears we have shed, how many fun moments we have had, how much we have prayed for help and how many people the Lord has sent to give us that help. But as I finished the post, the author's powerful challenge turned my heart outward. I was enlightened with the thought that we are all living After the Airport in some fashion or another. We all need to be loved and served by those around us. I felt a great desire to look for those whom I could lift and be an answer to their prayers. (That's a lot easier to think when one is all alone for a week at a meeting and living in a hotel room where the lights can be shut off, earplugs put in and a good night's sleep virtually guaranteed!:)
Saturday evening we had an experience which, while small, was an example of one of those angels in human form that Father in Heaven sends to do His work. After Taylor's basketball game (10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals in a winning effort!) we decided to brave a restaurant as a family. This is only the second time in the last year we've taken everyone out to eat. Well, it actually wasn't everyone. Parker and Graci were at friend's houses, but not having them there actually added to the workload for Christi and me. We walked into IHOP, one of the kids' favorite places to eat. "Table for 9 please." The hostess took us to a section where nobody else was seated. It was kind of nice. We were far from our nearest neighbors and felt it a bit less mandatory to keep everyone talking in restaurant-friendly tones. We got about halfway through the meal and everyone was doing great. At that point, another family was seated near us. Mom and Dad and three or four kids. Christi's and my ears started to listen more intently for loud or impolite voices from our kids, but I must say they were all very well-behaved. Sophi gets pretty animated and loud from time to time, she's so doggone cute she gets some leeway. After finishing our meal, the waitress brought out the check and I gave her my credit card. While she took it to the register, Christi escorted all of the kids out to the car so she could get them loaded while I finished paying. Once the waitress came back, I stood up and started to leave. The father of the family that was seated nearby said to me: "Dude, you have an awesome family! That's just fantastic!"
Such a simple act of kindness. Two small sentences. But I had to fight tears as I exited IHOP that night. In conjunction with the kind words uttered in passing by this father, the Lord spoke to me: "How lucky you are to live a life that lifts others simply by being lived. What a blessing to be able to share joy and inspiration simply by going places with your family. What a blessed calling you have, to brighten the lives of disadvantaged children and to brighten the lives of so many who meet them." He added some words of counsel: "Don't forget what a blessing this is. When the hard times threaten to overwhelm you, remember that I have called you to this work. Glorify me by doing it with love, laughter, smiles and patience. And most of all, remember that you, your wife, and all of your children were first my children. I love you and will lead you through."
A thousand thanks to the gentleman from IHOP. And thousands more to all of you who continue to lift and support our family through our incredible journey. Our road would not be nearly so beautiful without all of you.