Yesterday was a crazy day. We had been planning to go to the zoo with some friends from our church. It was the Spring Break half-price day -- big crowds but hey, we'd be saving money, right?
The original plan was to arrive at the zoo as it was opening. Then we moved our departure time back to accomodate a work schedule. While part of me cringed a tiny bit at arriving later, about the additional crowds there would be to fight, most of me knew that this was no problem...this day was not about getting the best parking place or being among the first ones into the zoo. This day was about friends and fellowship.
We were just leaving Burleson, making a quick run through the McDonald's drive-through on our way when I got a call from Bret. He was at the gym and his truck wouldn't start -- and he had a feeling it was more than just a dead battery. Ugggh. I pulled up to tell my friends what was up, and that I needed to go help Bret, I may or may not make it to the zoo. I insisted they go ahead, I would let them know what was going on...and I ended up with the key to one of their vehicles that was just sitting in the driveway for the day. Even if we couldn't get the truck going, there was no reason we would have to miss the zoo. Awesome.
I met up with Bret, we jumped the truck and got it started. He went on his way and I went on mine. Twenty minutes or so later, I pulled up behind the line that was the Ft Worth Zoo Spring Break Half-Price Day Parking Fiasco. (No, seriously. If you watched the news last night, you saw it.) The zoo parking lots were full. There were signs pointing to additional parking, lines of cars followed only to discover that all of these lots were coned off because they were supposedly full as well. To follow the zoo parking signs meant going in meaningless circles, fighting traffic all the way. And all of this while a steady stream of traffic was leaving the zoo -- there had to be empty parking places in there. I could see them everywhere. Why would they not let anyone in?! Was my zoo membership worth nothing on this day. (What a zoo snob I've become!)
My friends had gone on ahead while I was helping Bret, had waded through the meaningless signs, and eventually found their way to the back of the zoo where there were some parking places. I did my best to follow directions over the phone while I was driving, in a part of Fort Worth that I am completely unfamiliar with. Yeah, right. I didn't get lost, I just never found any other way into the zoo except the front entrance.
So after about an hour of looking for a stinking parking place, I ended up parking in a grocery store parking lot. (I found out later that this was .84 miles away from the zoo entrance!) I sat there for a few moments trying to talk myself into just giving up and going home. But my kids, who had been so incredibly patient for the past hour, had their hearts set on the zoo. And I had my heart set on hanging out with friends. We pressed on.
I got out the huge 20-pound double stroller, loaded it up with the snacks and drinks, sunscreened the kids, put the 25-pound baby in the stroller, put the 36 pound 3-yr-old in the stroller (the stroller now weighs probably about 85 pounds), and gave the 5-yr-old a pep talk for the long walk ahead.
We started on our way, and then I realized that we would have to be crossing the street. The other pedestrians were rude, the drivers (understandably annoyed with the traffic situation) were inconsiderate, but we made it across -- to the curb on the other side. I hurriedly got Conner on the sidewalk and did my best to get the 85 pound limo onto the curb. Then I saw a car coming, freaked out, hurried more, fell in the street, and then got everyone up on the sidewalk just in time. Whew! Too rattled to even be embarrassed, I once again considered turning back. But we had already come this far, it would be silly to turn back now. Besides, spending the afternoon with our friends would so make all of this worth it. We pressed on.
But then everyone we met (it was late enough in the day that there were just as many people leaving the zoo as there were coming), met us with, "Oh, honey. Just turn around and go home," and "Girl, are you sure? It's not even worth it." Turning around was now more tempting than ever...
Then Joey started crying and Micah started throwing a fit and Conner was whining. That was it. The screaming children were the straws that broke this camel's back. I collapsed there in the grass beside a tree and desperately tried to talk them into ice cream instead. But they had their hearts set on the zoo, and I felt horrible. I was an incapable, blubbering idiot that couldn't even find a decent parking place or take a little walk. So I called Bret. I knew he was in a meeting, I knew he wouldn't answer...so I called several times right in a row so that he would know that I really needed him. I never do that. And sure enough, he finally answered, he calmed the kids down, he got them excited about ice cream, it gave me a minute to catch my breath.
And as we turned around, it was the strangest thing. Totally unlike me, I didn't feel an overwhelming sense of guilt at having let my friends down, I wasn't overly embarrassed at my failed attempt. I knew that they would be bummed for us, but that everything was going to be okay. When "life" happens in this church and community, we simply take it stride, do what has to be done, loving and supporting each other along the way.
On the way back to the van, we walked an extra half-block or so in order to use the crosswalk, in my hurry my precious Sonic diet coke was spilled in the median, when we got back to the van Micah needed to go potty (I wasn't even getting everyone back out -- I gave him a cup to pee in!), and I was absolutely exhausted.
Then I found out that Bret was right. It wasn't just the battery that had gone out in his truck. It was the battery and the starter solenoid...and possibly the starter. Uggh!
I made it back home, we cancelled our plans and decided to just stay home for the evening, trying to make something a little easier on ourselves. The next thing we knew, friends were in the driveway delivering the parts Bret needed to fix his truck.
Oh. My. Goodness.
This is more than church. This is more than community. This is more than even friendship. This is family. We have only been here for six months. We have had good friends at every church we've been a part of -- but we've never connected with this many families on this level this quickly. There is something different going on here at Christ Journey. And it, like the mighty God we serve, is good. Oh, so good.
PS - To my friends that did survive the Fort Worth Zoo Spring Break Half-Price Day Parking Fiasco...you have bent over backwards letting me know how badly you feel for us, how guilty you feel -- even when it's not at all your fault. Stuff like this just happens. Life happens...and to the watchful eye makes for entertaining blog posts! :)
And to our friends who came bearing the gift of truck parts...thank you. You have no idea...