Neil Diamond belted out, “America” as Ken navigated the website to our timeshare.
“Hey babe,” he called. I looked up from my steaming cup of tea as I heard Ken convey to me that we had a thousand points left over that were about to expire. “We should use those before the end of the year.”
I explained how the five weeks of being off work have really negatively affected his judgement as he shared with me a mid-week special that he found in Palm Springs.
Soon after, seven-year-old Clare was crying because it was not going to snow in our southern California neighborhood for Christmas. Five-year-old Sara Lynn then bawled because, although it wasn’t going to snow it was still winter and mommy was not going to let her go out in her bathing suit to romp in the sprinklers. Next thing I know, two-year-old Aaron, whom everyone calls Beb, was en pointe at the fridge, cup in hand, helping himself to water from the spigot, only to land on his tush, a lake of water surrounding his island of a body.
“When can we leave?” I called out.
So, a week before Christmas, with the cards still sitting on the kitchen counter, multiple presents still left to purchase, and even more presents needing to be wrapped and jammed under the tree we took off for the oasis in the desert, remarking how much we were like Jesus, and planned to construct our own personal retreat.
Our trip was lovely. We dined in “The Purple Room,” where the essence of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. resonated the once smoke filled room. We marveled at the intricacies of the plot line while watching, “Knives Out” at the local cinema. On top of that, we managed to squeeze in some shopping for the family as I pointed out a few items that I would need to add to my own Christmas list when we got home.
But, laying out by the pool is my favorite memory. The sun had just dipped behind the backdrop of a hill. The air was crisp, yet the sky was a crystal blue. With book in hand I drank it all in. For a moment I closed my eyes and just listened. There was a makeshift waterfall rushing toward the pool below. Behind it, a hot tub, offering warmth and comfort to its guests, their low voices rising above the bubbles. In the distance I heard the melody of Christmas music bringing cheer to the upcoming season.
Peace…I felt peace. No stress, no worry, no anxiety. The peace that surpasses understanding.
Ken and I took this opportunity away to consider the future. Certainly, there would be homeschooling, sporting events, and home improvement projects to keep us busy. But, also for us to contemplate was our life as a couple and as a family. Ken reflected on his new job that will begin January 2nd. I thought about my commitments to family life and how to incorporate my loved ones in my growing business. We discussed a ministry project that has been on our hearts for some time. We planned out the calendar for the upcoming months and reviewed which events would take place when.
Ken paused for a moment, took off his glasses, and gently placed them down on the table. “You know, babe, this whole trip was providential. I really felt God calling me to check our timeshare to make sure we had banked our points. What a blessing it was for us to have the points to use. And, I really felt God giving me the push to not lose them. He really wanted us here.”
So, God was calling us to the desert after all. And we surrendered.
“I’ve got it!” I jumped up and slapped the table. I was giddy with excitement. “It’s so obvious what our word for the year should be!” He looked at me in anticipation. Surrender!
We had been discussing some good ones-consistency, patience, persistence-but surrender fit us to a tee as we have been recently praying the novena together.
Oh, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything. Yes, that was it. That is why we were here. To surrender to God our upcoming year. Jesus would take care of everything.
I sat down, took a long sip of iced cold water and expressed gratitude for the clarity.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You.