Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wet Vacs and the Red Sea

One of the requirements during the marriage preparation process was meeting with an assigned peer couple from the church.  This is a couple who volunteers to invite the engaged couple into their home for 3 sessions, and go over the  FOCCUS assessment and anything else real-life marriage and family related.   The FOCCUS assessment asks questions about all aspects of the relationship, feelings about the future marriage, etc…everything from “Have you both discussed and agreed upon how you will manage your finances?”  to “Do you think you will be completely comfortable naked in front of your partner?”

You can imagine all of the conversations that came out of these and –literally-165 others .  It was probably my favorite part of the process, though it was also the most challenging as you have to go over these questions in front of somebody else.  No beating around the bush, deciding to just “figure it out later”…it was time to figure this stuff out.

Last night we met with our peer couple for the 3rd and final “official” session, which was basically dinner with their family (all other sessions were just us and them after their kids had gone to sleep).

And let me tell you…it was such a fun, crazy, awesome, messy, real-life evening.  It started off the minute we walked through the door.  I had remembered them telling me they had 6 kids in our first session but for some reason I forgot the details of that.  I walked in and literally counted – with my finger – all the kids.  “3..4..5….6!  Ok..6.  Here we go.”  There was a 1-year old in his dad’s arms just chillin, a three-year-old who started bouncing everywhere he went and interrupted or just chatted about things I could not understand, a shy 5-year-old who just woke up from a nap, a 7-year-old still wearing her school uniform from earlier that day, and the two oldest hanging out on the couch – 9 and 11-year-old boys.

Everyone was hungry so after introductions of names, ages and favorite movies (4 out of 6 said they preferred Star Wars), we started gathering around the table.  Some people standing, some sitting, baby in the high-chair, mom and dad opening the pizza boxes, excited 3-year-old bouncing on and around his chair, other kids waiting patiently for the go-ahead to get some seemed very normal.  And then, in one fell swoop, as if almost on cue, a series of events happened that I am still laughing out loud about.

Joel and I and half the kids have their pizza and are about to dig in.  I’m up getting something, and when I come back the 5-year-old, who is sharing a bench seat with her 7-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother, without warning, casually turns to the side and VOMs.  Chunks everywhere.  The little guy next to her gets up unscathed and heads over to the other side of the table, ominously picking up a container of garlic butter.

Everyone is ordered not to move as the towels and buckets are gathered.  The older girl next to her doesn’t budge…just starts in eating her pizza like absolutely nothing happened.  Mom tells us that the best piece of advice she can give us is to always have a wet-vac on hand.  We kind of chuckle, and as dad takes the little girl to change her clothes, I turn to the little guy and he is fumbling with the garlic butter cup. One..two..three...all over his shirt.  He says something to me (again, no idea) and  I ask him, - oh buddy!, do you want to go change your clothes with your sister?  Naahhh he says.  He smells like garlic for the rest of the night.

In a few minutes, everything has died down and we all sit and enjoy pizza, along with stories about the best parts of the kids day, their recent vacation to Vermont, and so on.  Soon after we finish and the kids all run to the next room and start playing with a singing globe, my favorite scene appears.  All 5 of the big kids are huddled around this globe…the oldest taking charge, the middle ones pushing the buttons, the little ones watching, and the 5-year-old who threw up just 20 minutes ago sits there with her bucket up to her chin…you know, just in case.   Her parents tell us she is very social and probably doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, and we all laugh.  I don’t think we’ll ever forget this night.

Even though Joel and I will probably not go the 6-kid route, the beauty, and the chaos of family life is exciting and overwhelming all at once.  It reminds me of something I just read about Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.

As we all know, the story goes that Moses and the good guys are fleeing Egypt and trying to get away from the bad guys.  Moses takes his staff and slams it on the ground, and the Red Sea opens up for the good guys to get away.

Well, in a certain Jewish tradition of this story, it is thought to have happened a different way.  In this version of the story, the waters do Not part when Moses “commands them to.”  As the Egyptians are closing in on the Israelites, and they are getting more and more nervous, a Hebrew named Nachshon just starts walking into the water.  He wades up to his ankles, his waist, his neck…and just as the water is about to cover his mouth and nose, the waters part and the Israelites escape.

The point of this version is that sometimes miracles only occur when you jump in. 

I have been thinking about this a lot with a life-long commitment to marriage soon approaching, and especially after last night hanging with a family of 8.  I hope I continue to have faith enough to “jump in” to the craziness of life and trust that the miracles will come.  I also hope I remembered to register for a wet-vac.