A couple of weeks ago Katie and I escaped to a cabin in the mountains on the western side of the state. Anyone who has children under the age of five, or I suppose anyone who has children at all, can relate to the need for escape. It was really the perfect weekend to get away. It was a calm before the storm for both of us. The busy testing season was about to begin for Katie in her job with the schools, and I was about to begin my new job coordinating a grant for a local prevention coalition. The drive across Virginia proved to be more calm before the storm than we expected. Under beautiful blue skies, the weatherman on the radio was calling for up to 8 inches of snow the following day where we were headed. I began to dream of being snowed in for an extended escape. Nothing drastic, mind you - a few weeks - or maybe a month – tops. Just a small reprieve from wrestling matches over Legos and dinner conversations limited to the happenings in the lives of the Mario Brothers. I would discover later that grandma and grandpa, who were keeping the boys for the weekend, began cursing my dreams the moment they started dancing in my head.
When we arrived at our cabin, I knew we had picked a perfect place to relax:
We settled in. The Shenandoah River was 50 yards behind our cabin. The Mountains jumped above the fields in front of it. Perfect. It’s the kind of serenity that can get you to thinking deeply about life. The kind of place where you can hear God’s voice so clearly. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say. So as we enjoyed each other and had uninterrupted conversations, and watched the skies for signs of the first flakes, I listened.
What I heard first was that very quiet curse from grandma and grandpa. It came in the complete absence of snow. Not a single flake. So much for our blame-it-on-mother-nature extended stay. Oh, the snow arrived - everywhere else. In fact grandma and grandpa played in several inches of snow with the boys back home in central Virginia. To add insult to injury, five minutes into our drive back home the ground was covered with a fresh, white blanket. Our consolation was that, other than that first five minutes of our drive home, the view was gorgeous.
And oh yes, the voice from God. It ended up coming from an author, Don Miller. I was catching up on his blog while I was there and discovered that he had quit drinking coffee. Of all of his posts I have no idea why I became fixated on that one. I suppose because I found it hard to believe someone I liked would quit drinking coffee. I wondered if I would ever be able to like him again after I had discovered that he was capable of such insanity. I actually felt angry. I googled “why on earth would someone quit drinking coffee?” And Google, clearly unaware that I was being sarcastic, answered me:
Something told me he wasn’t an idiot, so I gave up coffee. Cold turkey. And for 4 days I walked around running my hands over my head searching for the vice that was surely clamped against it, threatening to squeeze my brains and my caffeine weakened bones right out my ears. I took aspirin and drank water and googled “how stinkin long do caffeine withdrawal headaches last?” And the answer was about 4 days. And sure enough on the 5th day the headache went away. And now, on the 13th day, I think Don Miller is my hero. I have more energy than I ever had after any 12th cup of coffee. Maybe because I sleep several hours a night. I don’t know. But I am thankful I heard the voice.
My caffeine-free life couldn’t have started a moment too soon. Keeping up with Elliott and Ian these days is no task for the weary. Elliott is getting ready to start his second year of baseball, and Ian is actually signed up for a 3 year old soccer league (after watching Elliott’s 4 and 5 year olds league play, I can hardly wait to see what happens when Ian and company take the field).
Little Ian is hardly little Ian any more. He is going on play dates and getting invited to birthday parties. I find myself holding him and hugging him a little longer and harder these days. I know it’s any minute now that he’ll no longer be a baby, and if I can just be holding him when that moment passes, maybe I’ll be able to keep just a piece of it forever. I’ve noticed Ian actually hugs me harder than usual lately, and I wonder if he isn’t trying to steal my moment. That would, after all, be just like Ian.