February 20, 2006

Three-Day Weekend

This week at church, we are collecting a special offering for Week of Compassion, our disaster relief ministry. Week of Compassion responds to global disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, the Philippines mudslide, and the violence in the Darfur region in Sudan. This winter, our church actually received some money from Week of Compassion, to help with flood relief here in northern California.

On Friday, my wife left to help lead a retreat for high school kids. By Friday night, I was ready to request my own personal grant from Week of Compassion. It started with bathtime. I put my youngest son in the bath; he likes to play, so I kept popping in to check on him. The third time I went in to check, there was more water on the floor of the bathroom than in the tub. I yanked him out, sent him to bed, and began a major mop-up operation.

On Saturday, Ethan had his acting class in Yuba City, and I promised the boys that afterward, I'd take them to see a movie. They chose Curious George. "Are you sure you don't want to see Eight Below?" I asked, but they would not be swayed. We had nearly three hours to kill until the movie started, but unfortunately it was too cold to go to a park, so we went to the one fast-food restaurant in town that has an indoor playland ... the same fast-food restaurant that makes me sick whenever I eat there. All went well, however, but I did develop a headache by the time we left, something that I don't think I could blame on the food.

Later, at the theater, the movie was just starting when some latecomers filed into the row behind us, whacking me on the head as they did. I sank lower into my aisle seat, thinking maybe I could just sleep through this movie, but then the person behind me starting snoring and snorting. My headache was throbbing by this point, but it wasn't until we left at the end of the movie that I saw that the person behind me was a young girl in a wheelchair. Great, a helping of guilt to go with my headache. We came home, and my efforts to nap my headache away did not happen. It was then that I got the text message from the teenage girl who is our church's nursery attendant saying she would not be at church this weekend. Pretty much anyone I could think of to call to fill in was away at the retreat with my wife.

Sunday morning, I tried bribing my kids to sit still in church. It worked ... for about 15 minutes. That was actually about 13 minutes longer than I expected. But when I (the pastor) started chasing my own kids around the pulpit and communion table, a dear church member finally volunteered to take the kids to the other room for a "Bible lesson."

Sunday night I was exhausted. I put the kids to bed, watched the Olympics for a little while, then went to bed myself. No sooner did I start drifting off to sleep, did Tristan start crying. For two hours I tried to console him, asking him what's wrong, but he wouldn't tell me. Finally, well, after midnight, he went to sleep, and so did I.

Three days. 72 hours. My wife will be home very shortly. I hope she doesn't mind giving the kids their baths tonight.

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