Change of Plans
I took this selfie during a short break between groups, as I led 4th & 5th graders in afternoon field games in the Louisiana heat last week. The shirt I'm wearing is from The Global Gathering of the Church of God, which took place in Anderson, IN, a few years ago.
The significance? At the exact same time that I took this pic at Camp Pollock, LA, the Global Gathering was once again taking place, this time in Orlando, FL.
When it was announced the Global Gathering would be held in Orlando, I doubt there was anyone more excited than I was. The Global Gathering of the Church of God is a wonderful event that I never want to miss. Orlando is my favorite city in the world. And the dates of the event coincided Shelly and my 29th wedding anniversary. I immediately began to dream and plan on how we could attend the Global Gathering, and then tack on a much-needed family vacation as an Anniversary gift to ourselves and our boys.
Financially, this would mean cutting even more corners and saving, saving, saving! Something which is difficult to do with an active family of 5, where expenses keep popping up. There was also the challenge of convincing Shelly that this was a wonderful idea - she doesn't care for large crowds, and couldn't reconcile taking unpaid time off from her job.
Her job. That's where the change of plans began to take place. Very early into this year, she got word that the office she worked for remotely, based out of Arkansas, was shutting down, and she was being laid off. She filed for unemployment and began to search for a new job. Thankfully, the search for a new job was brief, as the Unemployment Office turned out to be a circus, only less entertaining and not funny at all.
For the first time in over a decade, she was working at a full-time job without the benefit of a flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely. Our youngest boys are 9 and 7. Mom has always been available, even when she was "at work," because she was at home (or they were with her at the church office). We're blessed that my vocation in church ministry allows for a lot of flexibility with the 50+ hours I put in weekly.
So... change of plans.
With the new job, there was zero chance of time off for Shelly. Vacation time takes a while to accumulate. With the responsibility of two young boys in tow (one of which is autistic), attending the Global Gathering was no longer a possibility, even just for me. Orlando would have to be awesome without me. The beach would have to keep on missing me. And yet another year would have to go by without a real family vacation.
But, because of the change of plans, I was able to volunteer my week at 4th & 5th Grade Camp. My 9 year old was able to attend camp for the first time, and he absolutely loved it! My 7 year old got to spend the week with the grandparents, and he had a blast! My wife was able to work on a project in the evenings at home that she's been holding off on. And for our Anniversary, we did what we've done every Sunday since October 1, 2017 - get up early, go to the movie theater where Awaken Church meets, set up for the worship gathering, kids ministry, and hospitality area... have church - I preach, she leads the kids... and take it all down and put into storage for another week. After a nice family lunch at Chili's we went home and just spent the rest of the day chillin'.
On the one hand, I feel like I missed so much by not being in attendance at the Global Gathering. But, on the other hand, had I been there, I would have missed the amazing experience of being at camp with my son and a great time with my family. A change of plans can be a God-thing. I'm learning.