The day began when golden sunlight filtered through the plain, dirt colored blinds whose ribbed countenance reminds me of an accordion. There’s a bird I’ve named Circus that sings like clockwork every, single morning. I stretched, arching my back and snuggling under the covers. I lay very still, only my eyes staring at the windows, my mind registering first that the heavy, cream colored blackout curtains were not draped over the blinds. Odd, that I forgot to pull them over the blinds last night. It’s odd for a number of reasons. For one, my room needs to be pitch black for me to sleep. After spending a lifetime of being terrorized in the dark, you’d think I’d want light so I could see any bogeyman trying to sneak up on me, but my need to be utterly invisible is stronger. If I cannot see my hand in front of my face, the bogeyman can’t see me. Secondly, I am a creature of habit. Change makes me nervous and I’m typically pretty predictable. Still, the blackout curtains are open, so I clearly forgot. Proof that there’s a lot on my mind, a lot going on.

I blinked, reached for my phone to see the time: 6:30. Last night, at exactly 9:52, I’d opened the airline’s app. I was 3 minutes too early, but I am always early. It is important since one of the first rules I learned was not to make anyone wait on me; my job is to make others’ lives easier. At 9:55, I refreshed the app and there it is: “check-in now.” Months of planning, of sacrifices, of excitement, of disbelief, of fear led to this moment: checking into a flight bound for Europe. My heart fluttered: we actually are going, we really are leaving the United States for an extended adventure across Europe! And sunlight was beginning to seep around the edges of the blind, signaling that the time is even closer.

In well produced movies when there’s a character awakening in a sunlit room, there’s a sense of expectation, of anticipation. The viewer seems to feel the promise of the day; the viewer imagines all that will happen even without the character speaking at all. That’s kind of what I felt: the to-do list in my head was mighty: fill up with gas, clean the car, quadruple check the packing list, check again that all paperwork, euros and passports are accounted for, go pick up some last minute things (those ancient headphones that are not USB – they are usually the only kind that work for the screens on the airplanes, new socks, hair “pretties”, extra USB chargers because Apple is notorious in our family for chargers that last all of two point five milliseconds) , make sure the house is cleaned and secured, trash set out early (sorry, HOA) , enjoy the Easter celebration for kids at church.

One child laughingly joked that closing her suitcase was “a WWE competition: [she] was bear hugging the bag, rolling on the floor, using my teeth to zip it.” Electronics spent the day charging, time was devoted to downloading songs and movies so that we could have entertainment while on airplane mode, and ate McDonalds and Subway because it made no sense to buy groceries when we are going to be gone for a month.

Tomorrow, we will rise early and make the 4.5 hour drive to the airport. It will be Easter, and since we won’t be able to attend church, we’ll take Communion instead together, pray that it is a safe and fun trip and then we will drive. We’ll watch a movie in the theaters, find a restaurant for dinner and then make our way to the airport. We’ll sit in Rows 18 and 19 (which include window seats!) , prayerfully depart on time, change flights in Casablanca and land in Rome, Italy the next afternoon.

Easter is the Gospel, the foundation, the core of our beliefs. The story of Jesus means that there is a new beginning if we chose Him. New beginnings are real. Hope is real. Dreams are real. And, on this Easter, we fly to see a greater piece of the world, a different piece of His creative canvas. Romans 1:20 says,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been observed and understood by what He has made…” (ISV)

I’ve told the girls for weeks that our travel verse is Deuteronomy 31:8: “The LORD goes before you and will be with you…” because it reminds us that He is preparing the way: the people we meet, the sites we see, the food we eat, the invisible memories and lessons we’ll bring back are all ready for us. I hope that one of those lessons and memories forged this month will be that dreams, no matter how big, do indeed come true. 

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the sun won’t filter in brokenly along just the edges of the blinds: it will pour in. I cannot wait to hear Circus sing.