Well, the Thanksgiving travel is finally over. Glory, hallelujah. Thirteen hours in a car with four other people is tough. Do you hear me? Tough. Except for Brienne, who got to sit in the backseat all by herself with headphones, watching movies in peace. (I’m not bitter or anything…) Anyway, we survived the road trip and had a great time seeing all of our family.
The kids always look forward to visiting Nanna and Pappy. In anticipation of the trip, we usually make a paper chain, and this time was no exception. Each day leading up to the visit, the kids and I tore a link off the chain then counted the remaining links in order to determine how many days were left. The morning of the trip, we woke the kids up early, fed them breakfast, threw away the last chain link, and we were off.
Throughout my years of parenting, I’ve learned that kids can get excited about pretty much anything. I often wish I had their carefree attitude about life, don’t you? For instance, at one point while driving down the interstate, we passed a large pile of white rocks. Vivi was thrilled. “Look, Mom! Rocks!” I don’t know how you feel about rocks, but I just couldn’t quite reach her level of excitement. I pretended to be delighted though, because that’s what good mothers do.
A few hours later, we were stopped in a traffic jam because a truck had caught fire on the side of the interstate. Now, that was exciting. Mind you, no one was hurt in the explosion (although I’m sure it was no picnic for the driver), but it was pretty cool for the kids to see the fire and black smoke billowing in the air and the fire trucks that came to put out the fire. It was mesmerizing, I tell you.
We finally reached my parents’ house where we spent most of the week. We played in the backyard, went to a couple movies, went shopping, and then on Thanksgiving Day, we drove half an hour to my grandparents’ house. It was a fun-filled, relaxing week with family. We decided to break up the return trip to Valdosta, so on Friday we drove down to New Orleans to visit Peter’s family. On the way, we encountered yet another wreck, which put traffic at a standstill along I-10. It was exceptionally frustrating because, instead of only being about forty-five minutes from our destination, our trip was extended by an additional hour. Any time you prolong a car trip with little kids, frustration ensues. At one point, as we were slowly inching along, Peter yelled, “Quit rubbernecking, people!” And then Vivi shouted, “”My rubberneck!” She doesn’t miss a thing…
We eventually arrived in New Orleans Friday evening. It had been about a year since we last visited Peter’s family and the kids had a great time playing while we adults had fun catching up with each other. We also ate some yummy crawfish étouffée (be jealous!) and some king cake. Gotta love south Louisiana food!
After visiting with Peter’s family, we went back to the hotel to bathe the kids and get ready for bed. It had been a long day (and a long week) and we were all pretty exhausted. After a short cartoon, we turned out the lights and within sixty seconds, Jonah was asleep. Seriously. Sixty seconds was all it took before he started snoring. Peter was in the bed with him and I was pretty jealous, considering I was in the bed with Miss Crazy Sleeper. All throughout the night, Vivi constantly rubbed my face and neck, which sounds really sweet and precious except it isn’t. I couldn’t decide if she was touching me because she loved me or because she wanted to make sure I hadn’t run away. (Which I seriously contemplated.) And the kicking. Oy. She would plant both feet in the middle of my back and then kick as hard as she could. She catapulted me out of the bed a few times during the night. It was super fun. Next time, Jonah is going to be my bed partner and someone else can have Vivienne.
Traveling with small children is difficult and I often complain about the craziness, but I do realize that our modern day travel inconveniences are nothing compared to what people endured in the past. As we approach the Christmas season, I’m reminded in particular of a very special journey made long ago. I’m sure you are familiar with the Christmas story. It begins with a census being issued, requiring everyone to return to their hometown to register.
“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” (Luke 2:4-7)
Okay, so let’s talk about this for a minute. Do you remember what it was like to be nine months pregnant? Can you recall how difficult it was to sit comfortably on the couch or how impossible it was to find a restful sleeping position? Now imagine that you are nine months pregnant and you must travel 70 miles with the only modes of transportation being a donkey, a cart, or your own two feet. I don’t know about you, but I think I would pass on that little road trip.
But Mary and Joseph were fulfilling Scripture as they traveled those many miles. They were bringing to fulfillment prophecy after prophecy which foretold the birth of Christ in the town of Bethlehem. Although Mary was quite young, she must have been a girl of integrity and fortitude.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. While I often feel like some denominations make too much of Mary, I believe that Baptists sometimes make too little of her. This was a girl who exhibited enormous faith in the Lord as she trusted Him on a difficult journey. I am thankful for her strength and her perseverance.
I want to challenge you (and myself) this year: As you make plans to travel and visit family and friends, be mindful of that first Christmas and the faith journey traveled by Mary and Joseph. Reflect on the courage it must have taken to make that trek as a young pregnant girl. And thank the Father for Mary’s willingness to follow His will. She endured much hardship in order to give birth to the baby who would become our Savior. If Mary had been unwilling, God would have obviously found another way for Christ to be born. But thankfully, He didn’t need a Plan B because Mary was willing. Willing to follow His guidance. Willing to give of herself. Willing to sacrifice her comfort so that salvation could come to earth.
Pretty convicting. What a road trip…