Sometime between our 9th and our 10th anniversary, I started praying. Okay, that sentence came out all wrong; I've been a praying girl long before my 9th year of marriage. In fact, some may credit the length of this here marriage so far to a few of those prayers.
What I meant to say is that I started praying for something specific. And every time I prayed, it would start out with a disclaimer. Something like, Lord, I know there are many more important things in the world, and I know this seems kinda selfish...but...
And then I would go on and ask God for a grand 10th-anniversary adventure. 10 years felt like such a milestone, like a reason to really go all out. And yet our budget and our lifestyle didn't really align with all-out vacations.
So I gave that desire to God, disclaimers and all.
Sometime along the way I shared this silly prayer of mine with Darin, and he joined in praying. And he had a few conversations with folks at work. And I couldn't tell you exactly how it happened, but a beautiful home in an exotic location was offered as a blessing to us, FOR FREE.
God answered that silly prayer in a really big way.
Sometime in early 2013 Jen sent me an email and said she and her hubby had been talking about our 10-year anniversaries (we both were wed in 2003) and had an idea for a fun vacation to embark on that summer. The idea sounded fabulous, but I shared with her that there were some conversations in the works about the possibility of us getting to stay in a house in Belize as an anniversary adventure.
Great, she said. Sounds awesome. Let me know when you have more details.
And just like that, Jen and Joe were in.
(And whether or not they were actually invited, or cleverly and unexpectedly invited themselves along, we all agreed the trip was better because there were four of us.)
It was a long flight between Seattle and Miami. Darin and I had never done a red-eye before, and it was pretty brutal. We managed to curl up for a few hours on the floor in the Miami airport (why don't airports have benches?!!) before a breakfast of Starbucks and one more flight to Belize City.
Upon arrival we breezed through customs, waited forever for our bags, and then stepped outside to the pouring rain and heat. It took a bit of doing, but we got our rental SUV and hit the road. Only, we missed a turn and ended up driving through Belize City instead of around it. Thankful for the daylight and the chance to stop at a grocery store for some snacks.
It took us a little over three hours to drive to Placencia, and despite the lack of sleep in the past 24 hours, we were both wide awake. Anniversary trip! New country! So much to see and experience and share and talk about.
I love car trips with my husband. We always have the best conversations.
At some point, Darin remarked at how he could see the blessings of this trip in direct correlation to two ways we had been obedient to God in the past few years. And while it seemed strange to acknowledge, and talk about, I could see it too.
We don't serve God to get stuff. We aren't obedient to him so that we can receive some blessings. We serve God because of the gifts of grace and salvation he already gave us, when we certainly didn't deserve them. But our God is a good God, who continues to pour out blessings on his children. And His Word is full of promises of blessings to those who serve him.
Most of the time we talk about those blessings in a more spiritual sense. Blessings like hope and peace and joy and security. But every once in a while there is a tangible blessing, a real knock-your-socks-off, completely undeserved and humbling blessing.
That was this trip.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."
There are a lot of stories and pictures and things to share. Moments of magic I want to remember. Moments of quiet and awe and beauty and friendship and love.
But you know those dear folks who lent us their sanctuary for the week? They spent the week praying for us. They prayed our time would be restful and encouraging and deepening for our marriages. They gave us an unimaginable gift in letting us use their home, and they continued to give by praying. It just blows me away.
Now there's a good gift from a good Heavenly Father.