"I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people: to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth during the few days of their life which God has given them, for this is their reward." (Ecclesiastes 5:18, NET)

July 28, 2015

A birthday not according to plan

It's my birthday and it's going to be fabulous, just like last year. That was my first conscious thought. It made me smile even before my eyes were open. But then I looked at the clock.

"Crap!" That was my first word of the day.

It was after 8:00. The plan was for Angy, Mom, Rex and I to meet in the HomeGoods parking lot at 8:30, then take my car to La Madeleine. I called Angy to see if she would pick up the others and wait for me at the restaurant. My phone call woke her up.
Like mother, like daughter (Ezekiel 16:44).
With plan B shot down, I considered just throwing on my clothes and taking off. But when I called Rex, still mumbling in a disoriented panic, he calmly said, "Take your shower. You'll feel better." Then I heard Mom in the background: "Tell her to put her eyes on too." So I said I'd be there by 9:15.

It was almost 9:30 when I whipped out of my driveway. Speeding and weaving around traffic, I yelled to unsuspecting motorists, "Don't you know I'm late for my birthday breakfast!" (Confession: sometimes I enjoy being horrible as long as other people don't know about it.)

Finally, we were seated at La Madeleine, having coffee and a good time. My plan was to eat a light breakfast so that after a little shopping I would be ready for brunch at Down House. But the others talked me into ordering a hearty breakfast, which turned out to be a good thing, as you'll see later.

The gracious stranger taking our picture said to make a crazy smile.

We had such a nice time, and I received some lovely gifts. So although my birthday had a rocky start, it was now going more like I had envisioned.

We returned to the strip center where the other cars were parked. It's one of my favorite shopping spots, and I planned to hit HomeGoods, then Barnes & Noble, then Office Depot. My plan was soon thwarted. There was a power outage in the strip center and all the stores were closed. Huh.

Angy and Mom decided to go on home. I told them I enjoyed our breakfast so much that even if I didn't do anything else, it was already a great birthday. (Later, I would wonder if God tested me because of that statement.)

Rex and I soldiered on. We were determined to replicate the full day of delicious eating and fruitful shopping we did last year (see The birthday, part 1).

As we were getting in my car, I realized I had grabbed Robert's keys instead of mine, and the automatic door opener for my car was missing from his key ring. Uh-oh. It must have come off somehow at La Madeleine. We went back to search, but it was nowhere to be found.

I learned later what a waste of time that was because it came off of Robert's key ring years ago. I must have neglected to lock the car at the restaurant, then just thought I unlocked it when I was actually using the door opener for Robert's truck. I tell you this boring incident only because it's indicative of how the rest of the day went.

We browsed at a couple of stores along Highway 6, but didn't find anything to buy. As we drove in the direction of the Heights where we planned to have brunch, Rex and I talked about how there's never a reason to get upset when things don't go our way because God is sovereign and His plans always trump ours. As my pastor's wife, Cheryl, has said, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans."

Because of freeway closures and stalled traffic, we stayed on the back roads all day. And goodness gracious, we traversed an awful lot of them. I don't know what it was, but if we should have turned right, we turned left. If we should have gone straight, we went in a big circle. If we should have made a U-turn, we didn't. Much of my birthday was spent driving around, lost and confused.

We finally located a shopping center with a HomeGoods and an Office Depot way, way out on Eldridge, which we discovered is a world apart from North Eldridge. We also discovered that not all stores of the same name are created equal. These were quite awful, and we left them empty-handed. So even though it was afternoon by then, my trunk was still bereft of packages.

Badly needing the solace of food and drink, we headed for Down House (via an indirect route). I was glad to get out of the car, but it wasn't easy. I was wearing shorts and had been driving so long that my legs were stuck firmly to the leather seat.

We walked in at 3:30. Brunch ends at 3:00. So I had to cross off the chicken and waffles part of my plan. Instead, Rex and I had a Bloody Mary and split a burger, which was exactly what we had last year, except last year it was at a different restaurant and tasted a whole lot better.

Afterward, we drove to Montrose and found yet another shopping center with a HomeGoods and an Office Depot, but left empty-handed again. Hope, however, was still alive. As planned, we were going to finish our shopping at a place that sells custom silver jewelry. Each of us would surely be walking out of there with a little drawstring bag of goodies.

We pulled up 20 minutes after the shop had closed.

My spot-on gifts
Apparently, I wasn't supposed to buy myself a birthday present. Nor did I need to. People gave me the type of things I would have picked out for myself. (Good job, people!)

Not shown in the gift photo is my "FootMate System," and not clearly visible is my electronic callous remover and my foot cream. Just me mentioning recently that my feet were getting past the point of repair was enough for Mom to circle the wagons and rally the troops. I can just imagine her announcing, "We've got to get Paula Kay some foot care products!"

The last item on my birthday plan was eating Mexican food at Cadillac Bar. We weren't all that hungry after our late non-brunch, so we just had appetizers and a margarita. I was so full afterward, it annoyed me to see other people eating. How can they stuff themselves like that when I'm so full? Do they not care that it's making me sick to watch them?

For a full 12 hours, my brother and I tried to replicate a great day we had before, but nothing much went according to plan. Even so, we enjoyed our adventure and appreciated it for what it was—time spent together and somehow always finding things to laugh about.

We managed to stay in a good mood throughout what could have been a frustrating day. It's all about knowing the One who's in control.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

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