Getting away from the routine of life is soooo good for the soul, isn’t it?
We left last Sunday for General Assembly in Dallas, Texas. Our intention was to leave Monroeville and drive to Houston, spend a couple nights with Michael’s sister and family there, then drive on to Dallas Tuesday morning.
We got about 15 minutes down the road when Michael got a call – both Marissa (his sister) and her oldest child had a stomach virus.
Now, if you don’t know much about the MacCaughelty kids, know this: if there is a stomach bug or some other creepy form of germ within a 12 mile radius, they will catch it…oftentimes all four at once.
We turned the car around.
I really didn’t want to go back home because I had prepared the house for the carpet cleaning that would take place in our absence, plus the kids were really psyched. We made a couple calls, found a place to stay in Birmingham and reserved a room in Dallas for a night early.
We hit Birmingham around dinner time, and we were able to make the most of it: dinner with Roger and Lynne Means (Lynne is like my older sister), Herbie and Ashley (another one of Michael’s sisters) and family, then a visit with Steve and Tracy Whitner & family at their house. Finally we made it to Michael’s mom’s house where we visited a while and then hit the sack.
We were up at 5:30am the next day, packed and on our way out between 6:30am and 7:00am. The day was great. The kids did great, the weather was great, no traffic, etc.
We stopped along the way at a Walgreen's becasue I had to pick up a few things. Sunglasses (since I evidently lost mine somewhere in Birmingham), hand sanitizer (our car bottle was nearly empty), and lysol (to spray the hotel room with before we descended on it. I know that probably sounds crazy...it's just a thing I do. We don't want any of those nasty bugs, now do we!?).
We hit Dallas about 8pm, easily found our hotel, sprayed the room down and settled in for the night. Tuesday morning we took the shuttle to the Hyatt, where GA was being held, and the fun began.
The kids had a great time! The first afternoon they went to the Aquarium, then saw an Imax movie. The second day was VBS, followed by the Dallas Zoo, then Thursday was VBS followed by the Science Exploreum thing-a-ma-bob. They saw all their friends from last year, made some new ones and absolutely loved every minute of it.
While Michael was in seminars and meetings, I entertained myself. The Hyatt sold Starbucks, so there ya go. I also was able to meet up with some pastor’s wives from GAs before, and met some new friends as well – Hi, Rae!
The Hyatt was right there at Dealey Plaza. I took a picture of the “grassy knoll”, got to see the Texas Schoolbook Depository, and the big white “X” on the street where JFK was shot. It was very surreal.
The seminars I went to were wonderful, and the conversations I was able to have with other women in the same “place” as I am were refreshing and inspiring. I learned, again, that the things I struggle with – as a pastor’s wife and regular old “sinner” – are not particular to me. I heard lots of stories this week, and I was reminded that every church is flawed (because they are made up of selfish, sinful people like me), but that God has blessed our family with a healthy, wonderful church who loves us and cares for us so well, is patient with our mistakes and faux pas, and is very supportive.
Our evenings were spent in the pool or just hanging out in the room. Good times.
We loaded up Friday morning for the ride back home, our souls refreshed, our children tired from a week’s worth of fun. As I sat sipping my coffee in the breakfast area of the hotel, I said to Michael, “this has been the best, easiest trip we have ever had as a family…”
Dum-dum-dum-duuuuh! (That’s supposed to be foreboding music). Cue the dryer! It’s time for a little opportunity for sanctification!!!
Driving along. We hit Jackson, Mississippi at about 5pm. Not a good plan, but what could we do? The Friday evening traffic was horrible. I was driving while Michael took a nap. Ethan started to get whiny, but I just figured he was sick of sitting in his car seat. He was sick all right, but not of the car seat. Let’s just say this: in our experience, “Jackson” will now be referred to as “Yack-son”.
Let me back up and interject a bit of info here: Michael and I politely disagreed about where to stop for lunch. (Actually, he was more polite than I, my having called his idea “asinine”.) He wanted to go to Wal Mart where we could pick up a Lunchable, eat it in the car, and also grab some snacks, since we were out at this point. (Another aside…we packed our snacks instead of stopping at gas stations. Hmmmm. I didn’t get one gas station snack to tide me over. Well, except for that one I bought during a bathroom stop while everyone else was in the car. I kept that knowledge (and those m&ms) to myself.). My idea was to stop at a Wendy’s or something and let the kids run around a bit. I have an aversion to lunchables after a not-so-lovely experience as a kid. We went with his idea.
As I said, the whining started when we hit Yackson. I am driving in bumper-to-bumper Yackson traffic when – you guessed it! We get to see the Lunchable again!
And yet again.
Michael yells at me to pull over, but I see a turn up ahead that will get us off the road. A battle of the wills ensues, during which, Ethan is crying, Caroline is crying, Molly wants to know when we’re stopping for dinner, and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” is blaring in the background.
I submit (let me be clear: only outwardly. Inside I was reveling in my perceived rightness. Sorry, Honey. I know now that was not the time to argue).
We clean Ethan up as best as we can. We are still a good 3 hours from home. Maybe it was just something he ate? We really just don’t have much with which to be able to clean him. Michael used his T-shirt…then his undershirt. He was standing on the side of the road, in Yackson, during rush hour, with a bare chest. We looked like “country come to town” to passersby, I’m sure. Beach towels…pillowcases. You cannot believe this scene, I promise you. Between Yackson and Monroeville, Ethan has on 3 different sets of clothes, Michael had on 4 different shirts. If my baby hadn’t been so sick and pitiful, it would have been comical. I’m trying to set it all up for you and be descriptive, without being too gross. I hope I’ve done my job.
Needless to say, today I’m spending most of the day doing laundry.
As we were pulling into Monroeville, I commented to Michael how funny it was that I had just remarked to him that morning about how easy the trip had been. He then reminded me of a couple of things: One, Ethan didn’t get sick on the way TO Dallas, but rather on the way HOME. God’s grace to us. Second, Ethan got sick in YACKSON rather than in SHREVEPORT. God’s grace to us. Third, no one ELSE got sick, just Ethan. God’s grace to us yet again. We had a safe trip, a fun trip, a refreshing trip, and we get to come home to a place we love and want to be. I also learned that no matter how much I try to make things go my way (i.e. Lysol in the hotel room...Ethan probably picked up that bug from being in the GA nursery after all that spraying I did of our room) The father is ultimately concerned with our hearts and teaching us to depend on him when things are tough. Even a little bit. That's his grace to us, too. God is good!