Going along in daily life: work, school, chores, laundry, dishes, dinners, planning, preparing, helping however we can, just doin’ life. (But somehow I found it surprisingly CHARMING!- another post.) Then one of the best surprises ever came along!
A weekend we look forward to very much every year was coming up: our niece’s high school play. She’s EXTRAORDINARY!!! And so is her high school!! And she’s been a light in our life these 18 years now! We love her very much, so you can imagine this is a big, happy deal for us!
Only when we talked to two of her closest friends, our daughters, Emily and Anna, thousands of miles away at college, we all felt sad. We all struggled with some tears, hurting to be together at this traditional, happy, blessed time. Thousands of miles away was not realistic for making it home for this very quick weekend. Though by Tuesday, I wished we had foreseen it and bought airplane tickets months ago for this occasion. I told them to just hold on through this part of the semester, through being away from our family at this time.
We prepared for the weekend, packed up and were off and on our way by about 5 pm Friday evening (a 3 hour drive). Only our Ford Excursion with 300,000 miles on it, (which I am SOOO PROUD OF!) started smoking with the most terrible, terrible burning smell before we even reached our barn. We were stopping there to load up hay bales and saddles to take with us in honor of “Oklahoma!”, the production in which our niece was Laurey. We went forward in faith, loaded the bales and started the car again to drive on – horrible, choking smoke came gushing through the dashboard into the front seat, me and the girls screamed and jumped out, worried something was about to explode!!
Mike wanted to drive the beast back up to the house to get the other vehicle (which was not big enough for all of us, but better than nothing) but I would NOT let him!! I didn’t want any fires, or explosions, especially no hurt husband! Considerate of my feelings, he jogged instead. All of the girls and I hung around in the barn, trying to keep warm while we waited for him. I was super glad he’s been running consistently as he took the big hill, no problem, and returned shortly with “Shiney” to reload with all of our things and us.
We were over an hour late picking up our daughter from the high school as planned, but grateful to find her safe with her awesome band director waiting by the glass doors for us. She had to sit on her sister’s lap until we picked up the rental Mike had already arranged from the airport nearby. No big vans available, so we would take two cars. A little bit of a rough start to our exciting weekend, but now we were off!
The next morning we were all, and that means our family, my sister’s family, my parents, my brother and his wife – all – gathering in around the kitchen for breakfast, I was on the phone with Emily and Anna who longed to be there, chatting away. Just as we were about to say a blessing on the food I put Em and An on speaker so they could say hi to everyone really quick. Their voices on skype with us seemed so right, they belonged with us that morning. They said ‘hi’ to everyone, then talked directly to Marisa, “Oh, Mis, we wish sooo bad we could be there with you!!” Marisa tilted her head to the side with a sad sigh of gentle remorse, feeling the same, “That’s so sweet of you guys” she answered. “That’s it,” Emily stated, “we can’t take it, we are coming!” Marisa laughed with all of us, yes, how we wish they could.
“We’re coming! We’re coming! We’re coming!!!” they happily yelled and suddenly their voices were not just on speaker but much more present, like resounding above us in the air! And here they came down the stairs, vivacious and real, beautiful and rejoicing!!! Everyone stood in shocked silence, trying to grasp was what happening, and Marisa’s face, “Wait…. WHAT?!!!” She squinted and covered her mouth in stiff shock, her brain trying to comprehend that this was real!!! (She said she actually thought she was really hallucinating and trying to get a grip on herself because she had never hallucinated before!) And then she broke into absolutely shocked and overjoyed TEARS!!!! Just like her mother, my precious sister, had the night before when she, the only one left up past 1 am, had found Emily and Anna arriving in her kitchen! Grandma came and cried with us! SoOoOoOoooo Happy!!!!
How??!! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!! At least with Heavenly Father’s tender mercies, there’s a way!!! Hurray!!! Mike and I had been discussing finally purchasing the headboard we had promised each other for our last anniversary (months ago!) – we’ve never had a headboard – lol. It’s never a high enough priority, like how we had folding chairs around our dining table for the last seven years, waiting for the day we might get the ones I wanted – talk about surprises, MIKE got them for me FOR CHRISTMAS this year!!!! so neat. They look really beautiful, but they haven’t changed one thing about dinnertime together – we’ve found it’s the food, fun, conversation and LOVE that count! So here we were discussing a headboard we both really liked, and side-tables, and dressers to match – cool. But as Mike asked if we should go for it I said ‘there’s something I want a lot more’.
As I shared with him the idea of flying the girls out that weekend, I was pretty sure he’d agree, ‘it’s impossible’. He actually looked up the tickets on several different airlines but they were all more than $1,100 each. I said, “If there was some way we could spend $1,000 or less for both girls to come, I would do it in a heartbeat, this is that much better than Broadway!” 🙂 My husband is indeed amazing, and he went to work. Just when I thought some 1/2 or more later that he was giving up, he paused and said, “It’s done.” That meant there was no going back on it, he had tried Priceline for airline tickets for the first time and worked hard on it until he found 3 airports and 2 days he could work with to pick the girls up and drop them off again. We wouldn’t know what airline or times they were assigned until he hit ‘accept’. All in all, once he clicked the button to accept, it looked perfect!!!! Under $900! And we would pick them up in Baltimore on Friday night and return them on Monday afternoon. We skyped Emily and Anna to let them know and they collapsed in happy sobs on their floor. That’s when we decided this would be the best surprise ever!!!!
And you know the rest the story…
Life’s amazing. There are surprises in life, good and bad, happy and hurtful. If you are going through a bad one, please hold on, and remember there are many, many good ones up ahead, ones that you wouldn’t think possible right now. The best surprises ever are waiting for all of us up ahead!
“May we remember…[to] hold on a little longer–even when things look bleak. Know and remember this: the Lord loves you. He remembers you. And He will ever sustain those who “endure in faith to the end”. It may be hard to see that at times, but hold on a little longer, for “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” and wait for Him (1 Corinthians 2:9; see also D&C 76:10; 133:45). (Elder Uchtdorf’s “Hold on a Little Longer”)
And one of my favorites: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Happy Surprises to All of You!!!!
Love, The Hoffmans
P.S. The surprises didn’t stop there for Marisa! Another beloved cousin, same age and good friends with our Emily and Anna, also showed up for the play that evening, all the way from UT!! Life can be AMAZING!! Marisa’s performance was indeed worth far more than Broadway!! What a wonderful production from the whole CAST and CREW of Oklahoma! at her high school. What a treasure to share such an awesome memory together! Have fun surprising YOUR loved ones today!!