Since last Friday morning it's been Ice-ageddon around the DFW metroplex. The night before it all hit I attended a Christmas card addressing party (yes, such a party exists) and the guests joked about how serious Dallas takes ice. How people were freaking out and buying up all the peanut butter and bread.
We woke up Friday to cancelled school and bent over tree branches heavy with icicles. The prospect of a day home with my boys thrilled me. A chance to bake cookies, read stories, cuddle up under a warm blanket and watch a movie sounded fabulous.
Being the first full weekend in December the calendar was loaded with events. But one-by-one they were cancelled...the annual Christmas parade, the Dallas marathon, birthday parties. It was humbling to watch a huge metroplex being forced into rest.
With a change in plans, an idea began to take form. Since my parents were still in town from Thanksgiving and our schedule had been cleared, perhaps Bruce and I could get away for the night. After checking to see if my parents were up for the challenge, I texted Bruce and just like that he found a room at the W hotel downtown.
Entering the lobby I saw a family from my son's school and because of my giddiness over a night away with Bruce I commented, "Oh, how fun y'all are getting away to hotel as a family!!!". To which she responds, "Actually, my friend got us a room because our electricity has been out since 1 am this morning."
In that moment the reality hits of the hundreds without power in the freezing temps. While I had enjoyed a cozy day at home baking, cuddling and watching movies (all things requiring electricity), others have been trying to figure out a way just to stay warm.
Rejoining Bruce, we made our way to the elevators and I shared with him the realization people were at the hotel because they couldn't stay at home. In the elevator a young couple with their 10-week old baby and another couple overheard and echoed my statement saying they had all lost power as well.
I felt like apologizing because our hotel stay wasn't to flee a home with no power but to come and get recharged from a home full of life.
The elevator doors closed and we began to make the climb to the 12th floor when it happened.
The lights went black.
"You're kidding." "This can't really be happening." "Well, we brought a bottle of wine but no wine opener." "We have a bottle of whiskey." Our words of shock and attempts at comfort overlapping one another.
Then a glimmer of light. A back-up generator kicks on. Through the tiny slit of the elevator doors we see floors pass by. Bruce taps the elevator buttons...no response & no floor numbers displayed at the top right corner. But then the elevator stops and the doors open to a dimly lit lobby.
Even when you think you are escaping your life to find comfort, convenience and control, you find those three "C"s are fleeting goals.
We spent an hour chatting in the hotel lounge (wearing coats and gloves). Then headed to a sushi restaurant down the street...electricity out as well. We chose to stay for awhile (another hour) and actually had the best time talking and laughing in the dark.
But at this point we were starting to get hungry. So Bruce looked up another restaurant, within a reasonable walking distance. He and I slipping and sliding on the ice, held hands to find stability. Bruce called out encouragement, "It's just a little farther. Once we turn this corner we'll be there. I promise."
if you're curious if it was circumstances or a great restaurant...check out Stampede 66
Opening the doors to that gloriously bright and warm restaurant felt like entering heaven's gates. When the host asked how we were doing we poured out our story and he sat us next to the fire and heater.
Who knows if I would have felt this way under different circumstances, but we were served the most delicious food I've ever eaten.
And had the best date EVER.
Here's the key...if you only look at the list of events for the night, then you may draw the conclusion we had a horrible time. But the list didn't include my perspective.
The family I spoke with in the lobby gave me a new measuring stick. With their experience in my mind--the discomfort, the inconvenience and the lack of control--our little evening adventure didn't seem so bad.
Also? Bruce and I bonded while we worked our way in the cold night to find food. We were in it together!
Interestingly, the podcast I had planned for today coincides perfectly with this story.
A month ago I interviewed Bruce about his childhood experiences with short-term mission trips.
One feature you'll hear about is how his family bonded on these trips because of their common purpose. And how exposure to an array of cultures and poverty levels gave him new perspective.
My hope is this interview will stir conversations in your family on ways you can serve others in your immediate community or maybe even be bold enough to plan a "big-leap" overseas trip.
How do you direct your family away from "comfort, convenience, & control" to thinking about the needs of others?
If you still haven't listened to one of the podcasts, here is a link to the first one and how to listen on your iPhone (Click here).