My husband and I recently got a chance to go on sortof a second honeymoon.  It’s not exactly that because we didn’t really get a first one.  However, there was a catch with this second, all expenses paid, 5-star luxury condominium dream vacation of ours: my parents had to go to.  But that’s alright.  We had a large, two bedroom condo that was just glorious and we all enjoyed it.  But it took a little bit of effort, and not because my parents were there.

Let’s start with Christmas.  My husband and I didn’t really do much for Christmas because we knew we’d be going on this wonderful vacation to Sunny Arizona over the New Year holiday.  We wanted to save our money for tourism.  So, Christmas was pretty small, but we spent it with my parents, my sister and her two children.  We all had a good time laughing over old times and remembering the ridiculous traditions we had as children each Christmas.  We invited new traditions with the addition of my husband into our family and we learned new philosophies.  The two children were engulfed in wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, after opening their respective mounds of inexpensive, but delightful gifts.  My mother and father were thrilled to open their simple homemade gifts from us.  Simple, but thoughtful.  My sister enjoyed her gifts, but more enjoyed watching her children.  My husband and I went home with half filled stockings and one gift each, yet joy filled us regardless.  How much fun it had been this simple holiday to spend time with our family and truly remember and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.

Well, that holiday passed, and it was onto packing and preparing for this glorious vacation that was going to be our “real” Christmas gift.  Stress came with the hurrying and running about checking to be sure we had everything.  By the time we were ready to go, both of us were frustrated and nearing our limits.  So soon after Christmas had this darkened spirit entered our hearts, and how quickly it spread!  Thankfully, we made amends and shortly after arriving back at my parents house, we were calm and ready to begin our long drive.  All was well in the first two days.  The drive was fairly uneventful, though I’d forgotten a few desperately important things, we were able to purchase them on the road.  On the final leg to sunny Sedona, we landed in a little bit of a traffic jam.  It seemed it would be a setback, but nothing too strenuous.  Little did we know that there had been an accident on the road.  Not just any accident, however.  We were supposed to be in seventy-five degree weather, but still it snowed and rained on us ceaselessly.  Every five miles or so, we would see another car that had slid off the icy road into the ditch below.  But that wasn’t the problem either.  As we sat in the traffic jam, we began to hear bits and pieces of information from other drivers who’d had radio transmissions.  Some miles up the road, a semi truck had jack-knifed and was now laying horizontal on the freeway blocking all three lanes of traffic.

What should have been a thirty minute drive turned into seven long hours.  It could have been a nightmare….  It could have been absolutely miserable and horrid to even think about.  My mother and father, my husband, and myself all cramped into a small Toyota Camry, along with one week’s worth of clothing and food for the four of us….  But, instead of complaining, as I would have normally considered, my father suggested that we play some games from a book he and my mother bought some months ago.  I was a little cautious of it at first, as they were games meant to be played by married couples in an attempt to better get to know each other and understand what each person needs, but I was willing to do it anyway.  It turns out that once we got started, we simply couldn’t stop!  We learned so much about each other!  My husband and I learned a great deal about my parents’ relationship and have been more able to improve ours because of it.  The games we played included one where we had a list of sixty items and we had to decide which ten we would choose to keep, had we been trapped in an RV with no gas, and no way of immediate rescue.  We each had to choose ten items from the list and then between the four of us, we had to bring them all together and come up with an agreement on ten items.  We learned how to compromise and how to work together, as well as how to think critically.  Another game had a list of activities, and each person had to choose the three activities that they wish their spouse would do with them more often.  Then, each person would decide on one they could agree to from their spouse’s list, and set a goal to make it happen.

That seven hour traffic jam became the most enjoyable part of my entire vacation and definitely the most memorable.  The rest of the vacation went on as planned, except for the fact that we managed to hit the coldest week on record in Sedona, Arizona.  We had planned, and packed for seventy degree weather, so none of us were properly equipped for how much snow we got!  But, instead, we chose to stay indoors and relax, watching the beautiful LCD TVs in every room, snuggling up on the couch or the king size bed.  Definitely not the vacation I planned, but it turned out to be just what we needed!  My husband and I had the chance to really get to know each other in a tight situation and we got to spend time together that we might not have otherwise been able to.

I’m so grateful for the unusual opportunities that the Lord sends our way when we are least expecting it!  I hope we can all learn how to make the best out of the change in plans and learn to love the chance to grow.