Since battling Teen Take-Out on the name of the fun waitress app on my phone, I’ve honed my skills at Diner Dash.  (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy the game.)  The game’s goal – to successfully serve as many cafe patrons as possible.  Time is of the essence… service with a smile.  Whatever you do, don’t lose potential customers by making them wait too long for a seat or dis a table by forgetting to take or deliver their order.

I’m not a Diner Dash “expert” (a super point grabber), but I did have more time than I would have liked to play when I retrieved campers in Branson.  Since Jack has a major aversion to water activity, we sat for hours inside the air-conditioned Wilderness Club at Big Cedar Lodge while my others were whooping it up and down the lazy river.  Jack played dominoes.  I Diner Dashed.

Not to mention Jack & I had to spend one of our “vacation” days sequestered in the room.  While the others gallivanted about, I nursed a sick child and pined for fellowship.  I was thankful for my diner diversion – I love a good competition.  And, it didn’t hurt that my character was a shabby chic gal in jeans and tennis shoes, sporting a permanent smile, moving to the rhythm of the game’s music.

The game is surprisingly fun.  But as you move up levels, it’s harder and harder to win.  You have to be in five places at once, tending to patron needs.  People raising their hands, wanting to order, wanting their food, needing attention and their tables cleared. When they’re tired of waiting (which is never long), they fume and vacate their table.  The waitress is running her little boody off, doing her best to insure everyone’s happiness.

Hmmmm.  Sound familiar??!!

That’s my life.  Running from place to place, serving a meal here, washing some clothes there, making sure this or that is handled in a timely fashion, the list goes on.  My “customers” hold up their hands, seek my attention and resolution to their needs, fume if I don’t get it right (right away), demand my attention at every turn.

As I was driving home from Branson Tuesday, I felt the weight of working back to back overtime shifts.  Jon couldn’t do the camp run with me since he had a meeting in D.C., so I had been flying solo.  Lack of sleep, lots of bodies, & Jack’s sickness added stress.  Not to mention Slow Walker, who instead of showering us with the normal “I love you – I’m so grateful” honey-moon period after being apart almost 2 weeks, hit us with super whiney, Crabby McCrab… and I mean c-r-a-b-b-y!  Throw in a car-load of kids incredibly sad to see their cousins go east as we drove west, plus close quarters (which lend to “discussions” centering on serious issues like who sits where and what music we’ll listen to)… and I was ready to clock out.

“Can we stop at McDonalds?”, Slow Walker asks for the 5th time since leaving camp.  How many chicken nuggets can a kid eat??!!!
“We just went there!! I want Chick-Fil-A.” retorts Sister Save-A-Lot.
“NOOOOOOOOO!!!” McCrab over dramatizes.
“Mom, you’re going 70.  The speed limit is 65.” (guess who!)
“Hey … Watch it.” TTO warns the sister who has crossed the invisible line for the ump-teenth time. “Quit touching me!”
In response, she moves her leg closer while nonchalantly looking the other way.  A solid punch lands on her arm.  Which is naturally followed by a very loud cry … just to make sure I hear – even though I’m less than 3 feet away.
(We’ve all been there.  It was only yesterday that I did the same thing with my siblings on our long cross country vacations in Old Blue, the trusty Buick station wagon.)

As we drove, I was thankful for my phone that kept me in touch with the outside world.  But even then, I felt the weight of some friends with incredibly difficult family and work situations.  They needed to vent.  Bring it on, I thought.  Until a few of the calls unloaded on me.  Sharing how I had fallen down on the job, had not been as thoughtful as I could, or responsible in ways I should.  They certainly had their point.  In fact, on any other day, I honestly would have welcomed their observations.

But I was at the end of my back to back overtime shifts.  I didn’t want to hear anything.  No more griping.  No more needs.  No more helpful redirections.  I wanted to be in a quiet room (preferably not a padded one!), involving a water feature, soaking my feet in a warm whirlpool, enjoying a fresh pedicure.

As the boys on West Texas oil fields say, “shut her down, boys … she’s pumping mud.”  Stick a fork in me.  I was done.

Until my mind found a break.  Blocking out back seat altercations, I was moved to consider our Lord in heaven.  In my little world that day, between family and friends, I had 8 people leaning on me, pelting me with questions, needs and complaints.  I couldn’t help but consider for a moment the magnitude of people coming to Him every second of every day with the same things.  Unlike me, though, He welcomes every one, every moment, every attitude, every time.  …. How??!!

I looked out over the incredibly beautiful Ozark country side wondering, “How do you do it, Lord?  How do you listen to (not just hear) the billions of people coming to you all day, every day?”

My heart was moved and my thoughts were stirred.  Instead of surrendering to my knee-jerk, gravitational pull toward selfishly feeling sorry for myself, I was grateful.  Grateful to a Father who genuinely cares and receives the countless complaints.  Grateful for the incredible blessings he has given me through family and friends, even though they might try my patience.  Grateful for the physical presence and touch these kids shower upon me every day.


So instead of clocking out, I clocked in for another shift.  Fueled by the One who never tires, I headed to my next table, took their order and served up some ice cold sweet tea.  I know it’s not a walk in the park, this mothering thing … but purposeful grounding makes all the difference.  It’s all about perspective.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

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