Not So Cheap Thrills

I should have known I was in over my head when the woman in reservations asked for my credit card to hold our brunch seating.

But after all my diligent research I figured it couldn’t cost TOO much to celebrate our Daddy in style.
I threw out my old gift giving ways this year.  No ties or sauces for daddy, no sports visors or knick-knack items –this year I wanted to dazzle my man with creativity. 

 My husband Tim adores Bloody Marys so I did a little sleuthing.  I discovered the famous drink was initially formulated by the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, New York.  I also found out the St. Regis in Monarch Beach, not far from our home, offered a three-tier Bloody Mary bar on Father’s day. And the best part…each custom concoction was only a mere $10.

It sounded reasonable, so I called and made a reservation at Motif –the main restaurant at the hotel.

Father’s Day arrived and my hubby was dressed up and amped up for his special DAD activity. After an early breakfast in bed, church, and dropping off the big kids, Tim and I and little Kolby headed over to the stunning hotel overlooking the azure blue sea.

The valet whisked our car away and we entered the grandeur of the St. Regis.  Vistas and views met our every turn and rich people glided and tottered by in impossibly high heels.  We found our dining establishment and checked in with the hostess who handed us glasses of champagne while we waited.  I people watched and played with Kolby who climbed up and down the majestic staircase.

Tim ventured into the restaurant to take a peep at the Bloody Mary bar.  His eyes were big when he came back and he bubbled over with energy as he described the decadent condiments and accoutrements.  Then he casually inquired how much the brunch cost.

“I’m not sure,” I replied.  “The drinks are only $10 so it can’t be that much, maybe $45 a person?”

This seemed like a large number to me.

Tim wandered away again as I downed my bubbly and played with my little girl.  He came back a few minutes later with a giddy and dazed look on his face.

“You must really love me,” he stuttered.

Quizzically, I turned.  “Yes, I do…why do you say that?”

“Because the brunch is a bit more than your highest estimation,” Tim gulped.

“How much is it?” I whispered.

“It’s $115 a plate and the Bloody Mary Bar is on top of that,” he frantically giggled.

I furtively looked around.  “Maybe we can run?”

Then I remembered they had my credit card.  We were stuck.

My eyes filled with tears.  “I’m so sorry; I didn’t know it was so much.”

Tim looked at me with laughter, kindness and mirth.  “I know honey.  It’s ok.  But we are going to get our money’s worth today.”

We stayed for almost three hours and ate and ate and ate and ate.  And truthfully, it was the finest buffet experience of my life.  Kolby even took a nap and they brought her a blanket to lounge.

I’m realizing over and over again, that although I have plans, God loves nothing more than to mess them up.  His ways are mysterious and daring.  He invites me to trust and to lavish love on my husband. 

It wasn’t in my budget.  I had to charge my almost $300 brunch, but my husband felt treasured and esteemed in a different way than normal.  It was extravagant love and maybe that’s reason enough to be a little crazy and a lot of broke.

Oswald Chambers said…

“It is more and more impossible for me to have programs and plans because God alone has the plan, and our plans are only apt to hinder Him, and make it necessary for Him to break them up.”

The Dysfunctional Family

My baby said the word “uncle” today. That’s pretty good for a ten-month old tyke, if I do say so myself.  But, ironically, she didn’t say it to my brother, and my husband only has one sister.  The momentous words were directed specifically towards my ex-husband, now known as  “Uncle Bert.”  Welcome to our dysfunctional family.

If “sin” is missing the mark, than “divorce” is a rupture of the spirit.  No one gets married anticipating an excruciating dedomiciling, but life happens, choices are made, and sometimes the best couples separate.  Our sin nature permeates what God intended to be a beautiful symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  The only problem with this lovely metaphor is that people, in all their flaws and selfishness, are part of the equation.

And so we screw up that which was meant to be Holy. Families are ripped apart.  Children blow out and bitterness sets in.  The lovely bride of Christ is alone, scared and forced to forge ahead into a wilderness of singled exile.

But after the drama recedes, the settlements are fought over, and the custody battle reasonably determined…the fragments of a family must be reassembled.  Two roads can be taken-either the road to more disparateness or the less traveled road to what I like to call “functional dysfunction.”

Right before I remarried, my then fiance and I were urged to attend blended family counseling.  So, off we trotted to hear words that didn’t settle so well in our self-righteous little paradigm.  Because I was the abandoned spouse, my demeanor towards my ex was patronizing at best.  I had anger buried deep in my heart and my hostility was only fueled with every poor decision my ex-husband made.

But the counsel we received forced us to reconsider, reflect and move in a counter-cultural direction.  We were told that our relationship with my ex-husband would determine our relationship with the children.  Our love for their father would be an indirect method of communicating love to them. And that every natural tendency to push him away would only end up shooting us and our children in the foot.

Thus followed a year of moving towards the very thing I wanted to run from.  I stopped arguing, stopped sniping, and moved at my ex-husband with brotherly love.  When he lost his car, my husband and I made a committment to help drive him to our kid’s games and practices so he could continue coaching our son in football.  Leaving work early three days a week to pick up my ex-husband did not come naturally.  Every trip was laced with prayer and surrender, but God was moving and my heart slowly softened.  As my husband drove him home some night’s after practice, their relationship grew stronger as well.

Later that year, my ex-husband remarried and his wife invited us for a shared Father’s Day celebration.  It was a sweet acknowledgement that the war had ceased and two broken pieces were fusing into one reconstructed family, albeit …  larger and messier than before.

Now, almost three years later, we have established what I like to call a good working relationship in the parenting realm.  We think of my ex-husband as our brother, and care for him like he is a part of the family.  Accepting the good and bad as we would any sibling ,and loving the way Christ loves us, without restrictions for our frailties.

I can honestly say my heart has changed, slowly and unwillingly at times, but the process has allowed me to walk free of the burden that so heavily weighed me down for years.  And so our new baby, the child of my second marriage, has a new “Uncle” and a big confusing family that someday we will have to explain.

“Sweetheart, your sister’s daddy is your uncle.” Yeah, I can’t wait for that conversation.

But, in God’s economy it seems to make perfect sense!

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