The Best Possible Gift

Jack's sister, Becky, gave us the best possible gift this weekend. Time away from our children. Ahhh, the best! Isn't that terrible that time away from our children is considered a delightful gift?

In reality, I end up being such a better mommy when I've had some time away from the little people in my life. My patience tank is filled back up. My irritability tank is depleted. I'm tellin' you, little people take and take and take, and at some point I just need AWAY so that I can be filled up so that I can be taken from again. Anyway, I'm ready to get back at it with a renewed, fresh perspective on the neediness of children.

As we got the kids after church on Sunday and our 'non-kid-friendly' music was turned off and the haunting tune of "Thomas The Train" floated up from the back seat, Jack said, "The kids are back!" And to my surprise, before I really knew what I was saying, I said, "I know. I'm glad!" 24 hours without them does wonders. I wanted to be with them. That's a good feeling. Can't say that I always feel that way.

Becky picked up the kids Saturday morning and I think the minute they were out of sight, Jack and I did the "freedom dance." If you're a parent, you know EXACTLY what that is. It's the throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air, do a little foot movement all the while yelling, at the top of your lungs "F-R-E-E-D-O-M!!!!!!!" It's a bit reminiscent of Mel Gibson's war cry in Braveheart!

Jack and I went our separate ways for the first few hours of the day and then, early afternoon, headed downtown to enjoy our fantastic city. We ended up on Lincoln Avenue, checking out Oktoberfest (which seemed lame in our estimation) so we found a local Mexican restaurant, sat outside eating and people watching. I'm not sure but I don't think it gets much better than that combo. After that we happened upon some used book and clothing stores and then made our way to Chinatown where we found a new phenomenon.

If you're from Chicago, or are familiar with it, you know that come snowy season, local residents dig out their street parking spot and then claim it as their own by placing rusty lawn chairs in their spot, or upside-down big paint buckets or large bricks or really, whatever junk they can find. (We opt for that crazy thing called our garage.)

In any event, as we were searching for a parking spot in Chinatown on Saturday night, in the beautiful, sunny, 80 degree weather, we began to see that this area of our city has broadened the snowy season parking to a year-round parking game. Yes, they were saving their spots with paint buckets and 2x4s with not a snowflake on the ground. Who knew you could even do that? I wonder when the rest of Chicago will catch on. They're trend setting and I'm not sure they even know it. I digress.

We ended up dancing the night away to 80s and 90s music. A little tricky to actually dance to 80s music, but fun none-the-less, to sing at the top of my lungs and bop around like a fool. It felt good to get out there, bust a move and just be together with our friends Kat and Bobby.

As we were leaving, at midnight, we were absolutely shocked to see that the city of Chicago was actually just coming alive. I mean, the streets were packed and people were just arriving on the scene, when normally, we would have been in bed for 2 hours already. I thought to myself, "Am I really getting that old and that out of touch that I had no recollection of staying out this late on a weekend night?"

Sunday morning Jack and I commented on the fact that the ' heavy party' scene all around us was so sad. As we spoke, there were women that were waking up next to men they didn't know and quite frankly, won't know cuz the guy is long gone. There were folks that were so sick from hang-overs that they have no idea where they were, or what they did the night before. There were men that thought that the one-night-stand would satisfy that longing. And in reality, they were all left feeling empty the next morning. Really empty. It was a sad reminder that a lot of the world lives like that. Bottle to bottle. Partner to partner. Weekend to weekend. Party to party. Looking for satisfaction in sex and/or alcohol or a combo of both.

As I've processed what we took in that night, I just had to stop and say, "Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me from a life like that." I really could have been any one of those ladies. I could have easily been lost in the allure of men and alcohol and sex and weekend-living. But by the Grace of God, I was spared from that. And I'm really, really thankful for that. Because of God's grace I have a fulfilling, meaningful life, that is only because of HIM, Jesus. It has nothing to do with me. Trust me, it has nothing to do with me. Just ask my husband! Or better yet, my kids!

I guess that's one of the things I'm learning to love more and more about God. He really is in the business of redeeming people. You know - taking them from their hopeless situations and saving them. Of making radical changes in them. In me. In you. I love that God doesn't give up on us. Now THAT, my friends, is the best gift!


Jill said…
Nice post Alysa....God is good, isn't HE! Thanks for the reminder!
Kacie said…
Funny, Isaac and I went to the Oktoberfest in Lincoln Park last year and we also thought it was lamo-o, so we ended up a Mexican place down the street too! I wonder if it was the same one. It was a gorgeous day, and we loved it.

I miss Chicago!

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