That's what I said to Don this afternoon. I had intentions of making pasta (that means spaghetti for him and whole wheat noodles for the children and me) with meat sauce and asparagus, but my head hurt, and a nap sounded much more appealing than washing the breakfast dishes that were still in the sink. The thought of defrosting the meat (which I forgot to pull out of the freezer last night), making a big meal, and the clean up that would follow was daunting - and I usually like to cook. (Though honestly, I can't claim that I usually like washing dishes, especially when it involves scrubbing cooked-on sauce rings out of extra large crock pots.) Randomly, I remembered that when other people don't feel like cooking, they order pizza for dinner. Since I have not been able to eat dairy products (like mozzarella cheese, for example) for over a year, and we haven't wanted to spend money on pizza for longer than that, I had all but forgotten that instant meal preparation in the form of pizza delivery exists. Then, after a moment of wishing I had a similarly simple solution for my dinner dilemma, I remembered that we had a gift card to the Longhorn Steakhouse leftover from Don's birthday last year. We had no plans and were still dressed in our church clothes, so Don agreed to go, and soon we were off.
Believe it or not, tonight was actually the first time in our three and half years of parenthood that Don and I have taken our children out to a restaurant . Because of our limited budget and now my restricted diet, dining out has never been a frequent event for us. We usually receive a few restaurant gift cards each year, which we save for special occasions so that we can enjoy a "date" while one of the three sets of adoring grandparents watches the children for us. In recent months, the same adoring grandparents have also taken our entire family out to eat several times, so it's not as if our children have been deprived of the joys of casual family dining. Today's event was unique in that it was just the four of us. Of course, Grammy and Grampy were still there in spirit, since they gave us the aforementioned gift card that inspired the trip.
Unfortunately, I was not entirely clear when I informed our eldest that we were going out to eat. Donny (who, incidentally, has never liked pizza, won't touch meat sauce, and only likes asparagus named Junior) translated "going out to eat" to mean that we were going to the nearby Chinese restaurant. Despite our attempts to persuade him that the Longhorn would be more fun (not to mention that our gift card would not be accepted at any other restaurants), he insisted he wanted to go to the Chinese restaurant - even when Daddy threatened that the restaurant owners would make him wash dishes if he couldn't pay for his meal. Being three, and having a limited understanding of money, his typical reply to, "You can't pay for that; you need money" is informing us that he does indeed have money in his dinosaur bank. On our way out the door, I attempted to give him a quick lesson in finances and how foolish it would be to spend one's entire life savings on a single meal, but I'm not sure he was convinced. He did, however, reluctantly agree to go with us and have fun.
And we did have fun. The children sat relatively still at the table, and were quiet enough to earn a compliment on their behavior from a kind elderly gentlemen as he was leaving the restaurant. Of course, he left before Hayden started his musical chairs antics and Donny refused to eat anything on his plate that may have been touched with a speck of pepper. Overall, though, I really can't complain. I remember that when we went out with relatives a year ago, one person would have to pace the restaurant with a fussy Hayden while another rushed through her meal in order to relieve the baby-walker. Now that our boys are older and more practiced (though far from perfect!) at restaurant etiquette, we were blessed with an enjoyable family outing.
As we were driving to the restaurant, Donny randomly announced from the backseat, "I changed my mind about Chinese." Don and I laughed. Um, it's a good thing, because we passed the Chinese restaurant ten minutes ago! Now I'm wondering, though - is this what I do to God? Things don't go the way I expect them to, yet I stubbornly push to get my own way, thinking I know more than my Father. Then somewhere down the road, I suddenly realize that I since I can't change things anyway, I might as well accept them with joy. Maybe I even catch a glimpse of His wisdom and realize that He truly does know the best place for me to go. And maybe I am foolishly pointing to all the fast food places along the way, insisting that each one must be the destination, not realizing that I am actually on my way something far better: a feast He has prepared just for me. Parenting is truly humbling when I realize that the flaws and follies I see in my little lambs are the same ones the Shepherd sees in me - and yet He loves me unconditionally!
And speaking of God's wisdom, I think the Lord really know what He was doing (imagine that!) when he instituted the Sabbath rest. Once in a while, everyone needs a day off from cooking.
He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.
Song of Solomon 2:4