spon·ta·ne·ous/spän?t?n??s - Performed or occurring without premeditation or external stimulus: "spontaneous applause".
re·demp·tion/ri?dempSH?n/ - The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil: "God's plans for the redemption of his world".
If you've been following along you know that despite the joyous arrival of Lucas and the move into a new home in December, 2012 has not been extremely friendly to the Damato family. We have lost a loved one, we have learned hard lessons in relationships, and we are standing beside Matt's Mother as she continues her courageous fight against the return of ovarian cancer. We are tired, worn down, and worn out.
All of those things are hard enough on their own, but when you compound them together with the daily struggles of balancing work, marriage, and child rearing, they are even harder. When life gets hard or too tiresome to handle we have to push through, we are here in Montgomery with no immediate family near by. We don't get to call Lili or Bebe for a quick rescue when we need a break from the terrible twos or sleepless nights during an infant growth spurt. We have to plan ahead to get those breaks, we have to schedule date nights around our babysitter's schedule. We don't get weekends away when we feel like it. There is no lake house to retreat to on the weekends, and the closet thing to a beach vacation is my Mom's home which is 31/2 hours away - not easy traveling if you have to wait to leave at 6:00 or 7:00 on a Friday night only to return on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, we have learned to be planners, organized doers. If we don't have a game plan, chances are we aren't doing it. Locked away in the filing cabinet of my mind are many weekend getaway ideas I have yet to fully organize and plan. Some involve an hours drive, some involve jumping on the nearest SouthWest airlines plane, and others involve gathering the family for something special - the one thing these all have in common are that none of them are a reality! We either can't truly afford them, have time to do them, or the resources to pull them off successfully. Let me give you an excellent example, in March I dreamed up a fabulous family Christmas/birthday celebration to Walt Disney World. After hours of research, comparison, and begging, Matt finally agreed we should do it! We booked the trip for the week of Lucas' first birthday (the week before Christmas). We were going to go all out for this trip. Stay in an official Disney resort, visit every Disney theme park, even prepay to eat all Disney food! But being the careful planner I was, I was sure to invite some granparental help so we could fully enjoy this vacation of a lifetime. I also took into consideration that things don't always go as planned, so I purchased vacation insurance. I began making monthly payments to Disney for this dream trip, only to realize by July that there was no way in reality that we were truly going to be able to afford this trip. I was heartbroken because it was my job to get it paid for. At one time there were funds to cover this trip, but I poorly managed them and now there were no funds. I tried to convince myself we could just "charge" it, earn points, and pay for it with a Christmas bonus or tax return money, but the planner side of me said "No!". So I had Matt call and cancel the reservation and get all our money back. I was so embarrassed about not being able to go (I felt it was my fault) that I told none of my friends, I didn't want to explain that I made poor financial decisions causing my family to lose their vacation. I literally walked around sad and depressed over this for a few weeks. Now, I realize at only 2 and 8 months neither of my children would remember this grand vacation, but Matt and I would remember. We would remember the look on AK's face when she saw Mickey and Cinderella come to life, we would remember her first ride on Dumbo the flying elephant. We would remember because this would have been our first family vacation.
I've explained how hard our year has been personally, but I've not told you how hard this year has been professionally for my husband. He has worked so hard this year, working late hours, long weekends, and pushing his mind to think harder and wiser as he and his co-workers have accomplished and succeeded at installing several massive mechanical/electrical engineering projects at manufacturing plants around the country. He has learned how to program and install robots, first kicking and screaming at the depth of knowledge and time it takes, and now hoping he can do more. This past month of August, he literally had one weekend off (that's two days people) for the entire month. That one weekend we spent helping out his Mom with a massive project of her own. When the Dad doesn't get time off, neither does the Mom; we were beyond exhausted, on edge, and anxious. Thankfully with Matt's work there is opportunity for overtime pay to be earned, but not always. Because of his hard work in August he earned some good overtime, and some awesome comp time. Last week we began thinking of a little getaway we could take to escape our reality. The plan started with a trip to Atlanta to visit Stone Mountain, then a "quick" drive to Orlando to see Shamu. By Friday morning we still had no idea where we were going, just that we were going. Matt got off work early on Friday, and called that morning and said "Let's go to Disney...tomorrow". I spent all day Friday packing, booking a room, and doing laundry.
We spontaneously jumped in the car and drove 8 hours to Orlando to visit "Mickey's House" as we explained to AK. We escaped our reality of the terrible twos, tight budgets, cancer fighting, anxiety, daily duties, and work to go have some fun at the "happiest place on earth". You may be thinking that taking a 2-year-old and 8 month old to Disney sounds more like a nightmare than a dream come true - but let me tell you - my God is amazing, my children are amazing. The Lord redeemed my poor financial management, and we took almost the exact trip with a few tweaks for nearly $2500 less than previously planned. We had more fun being spontaneous that I could have ever imagined. From the start of Saturday morning we agreed, no agenda, no schedules, no planning. We didn't even go through the parks with a map in hand!
AK was in awe and wonder of the greatness of it all. The Lord removed the weight of guilt from my shoulders, something He has been teaching me about these last 2 weeks. He redeemed all the lost time as a family in August. He redeemed the financial situation, providing additional funds through overtime to pay for the spontaneous trip, and of course He provided the time for us to be together as a family. All of this amounts to what I am now calling "Spontaneous Redemption". When is the last time you've been spontaneous? Have you felt the Holy Spirit urging you do so and ignored it? It was the greatest escape we've had in a long time. AK had not one terrible two fit, Lucas was a perfect angel, we just rolled with the punches, and no one argued, not one cross word was spoken (which we know can happen so easily on a trip like this). There was no heavy traffic or traffic incidents on the way down or back. It truly was a trip ordained and blessed by God.
When life gets hard, God is standing with His arms wide open to receive you, to comfort you, and walk with you. He does not want us to be alone. He wants to redeem the past, and give you a new future. He wants you to walk in the freedom of his love, salvation, and forgiveness. Will you please let him do that for you today? My focus has been on Ephesians chapter 1 and 2 these past few weeks. Promises of my identity in Christ. It was like this trip was a gift from God reminding me of some of the many truths in those chapters.
My prayer for you is that you will live into those promises, and truly grasp the magnitude of your identity in Christ. You might find yourself living in spontaneous redemption if you do!
Until next time, Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!