Thursday, February 25, 2010


Wow. It is one of the timeless philosophical questions; like free-will.
I'm more of an arm chair theologian than I am an arm chair philosopher. Probably because I'm older.

When I was younger, I liked to argue. Plus, I had the energy and time to philosophize. Plus, philosophy lends itself better to open-ended, unsettled questioning.

Now, I'm too busy and need to conserve what energy I have. Theology tends to provide systems of thought and final answers that one can either accept, deny or spend time debating.

I believe in providence. I'm pretty radical in my belief that God controls everything. Sometimes, I get a real, down and dirty glimpse of it in the details of the Button family. And it's usually comical. I also believe that God delights in our joy and that this is often humorous.

Marty is in Ethiopia. I am here. She and our good friend Lisa have had in their "possession" two little girls for the past week, as they've waited for an embassy appointment. I, alone, have had in my possession, five relatively big and complicated children (one of whom needs an ever constant and steady hand while peeing) for the past week while we've waited for mom to return home.

Knowing that this time without mom would be great at first and then become like a wagon with its wheels falling off, I did some pre alone-with-dad preparation. About a month ago, I looked into taking the kids to the big water park/hotel down by the mega mall as a way to break up the week and fill up our time. It turns out that this water park is only open on the weekends, and only until 5pm. I needed something mid-week.
So, I changed plans and booked us in the Embassy Suites, a place near and dear to us all. I scheduled our night out for Tuesday night.

In the meantime, Marty and I were also preparing stacks of papers for our embassy appointment, to be on Thursday at 2pm in Addis Ababa. At this meeting, the consulate officer would be deciding whether to grant the girls entrance visas into the U.S. We spent hours filling out forms, checking the forms and then scanning and making extra copies of the forms.

Several days before Marty left, I realized that there was a scheduling conflict in my week-without-mom-survival-plans, and so I switched our hotel night to Wednesday. No big deal as long as we made it home before fiddle lessons on Thursday afternoon.

Marty and Lisa took off for Ethiopia. Emails haven't worked, and besides two hard-to-hear, always-fading-in-and-out telephone calls, the only way to communicate has been through Facebook. Who would have thought?!

This morning at 5:40am, the silence in our Embassy Suite hotel room was shattered by Marty's ring-tone on my cell phone, which, by the way, obnoxiously yells and then screams, "Message, message, messssssaaaaaagge!" In crystal clear clarity, Marty screamed that she had just left the embassy and it went well. Visas granted, mom will not need to stay in Ethiopia another two weeks to solve an indiscriminately determined important-to-the-consulate detail, and the wheels on this parenting-alone wagon will not completely fall off. We chatted a few more minutes, then I went back to sleep, glad that none of the kids woke up.

About two hours later, I told the kids of the good news. Visas granted, mom is COMING HOME!! After the excitement settled, Emma said, "Dad, we were all in an embassy at the same time."

I was stunned. The change in hotel nights, the 9 hour difference between us and Ethiopia, the particular chain of hotel that we ended up in. Sure, it's coincidental. But my theology says that God is so concerned about me and my family that He literally moves the world on our behalf. There are about 5 more stories like that from this week. I'm guessing that Marty will have several dozen to tell when she arrives home.

1 comment:

Helen said...

What a great story Joel! I completely believe that everything happens for a reason. Most of the time we just don't connect the dots.