When there’s a fork in the road, eat croissants

 

when theres a fork in the road

 

Don’t you just delight in the sweet, sweet taste of summer family vacations, where joy and laughter are generously slathered over every moment of the day and sprinkled with children playing happily together, their delightful voices adding perfectly delectable notes to each and every deeply satisfying day?

What’s that? Are you saying that sentence doesn’t describe the reality of your family getaways?

No worries—I suspect there are few family trips that truly measure up to that pie-in-the-sky description.

In actuality, our vacations may be marred by over-scheduling, under-funding, and circumstances beyond our control: forks in the road that may take us where we didn’t plan to go.

 

That does not mean we shouldn’t ever schedule fun time.

Instead, it just means that when we hit those forks in the road, we need to find gratitude and joy along whatever path we take.

For example, several years ago my oldest daughter was in Paris for her junior college year abroad, and I went to visit her for a week.

Being a little country mouse who hadn’t traveled very much, I was very excited about seeing the fabled City of Lights with Alexis as my personal guide and translator.

She met me at the airport when I arrived, and got us onto the train to get back into the city, where we checked into our hotel. My daughter was raring to go, to sight-see and take photos all day long as we had planned. I, on the other hand, was surprised at how exhausted and nauseous I felt from the long trip.

 

Fork in the road:

We had a choice to be irritable and angry, or be grateful to be in Paris together and to just take a little nap in our elegant hotel room just steps away from the Eiffel Tower. I settled my tummy with some sleep, woke up with enthusiasm, and off we headed to explore the city.

 

The first stop, I quickly decided, was to find some delicious, caffeinated, morning brew.

“What?! They don’t drink regular coffee with sweetener and French Vanilla creamer here in Paris?” I asked with just a wee bit of panic in my voice. Alexis, not a coffee drinker, did not fully comprehend the gravity of the situation: a morning without my java.

 

Fork in the road:

I could be as bitter as a day old cup of vending machine brew, or be a hopeful explorer whose day is not made or broken by Folgers in my cup.  Alexis was a trooper, and we set off in search of something that resembled the mild coffee I liked. Not only did we find it, but we had wonderful croissants, too. Mmmm!

 

One of our later stops was the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile. After spending time admiring the outer architecture, we paid our entrance fee and made our way inside up to the top. I had just begun to photograph the view down into the spiral staircase when—pop!—darkness enveloped us. A scratchy, disembodied intercom voice apologized for the power outage and asked us to immediately leave the Arch.

 

Fork in the road:

We could be irritated and angry and go verbally blast the attendant, or be grateful to have seen the amazing view from the top of the Arch. We shrugged our shoulders, laughed and joked as we made our way carefully down the stairs, and moved happily onward to the next item on our itinerary.

 

Have you heard about how lovely Paris is in the springtime? I had to imagine it was, even though we were there in mid-April. It was the coldest, rainiest spring they had had in years. Alexis had arranged a surprise trip to Normandy as a highlight to my trip, and now that was under consideration due to the weather.

 

Fork in the road:

We could skip a lot of our intended destinations, including the battle memorial, and whine for eternity about how awful our week was, or find a way to take best advantage of all the circumstances. We rearranged our list, and did a little happy dodging in and out of museums and landmarks as weather necessitated. Although the week was pretty chilly, the weather did clear somewhat.

 

To take our big day trip to Normandy, we first took a train to Caen, where we then picked up our rental car. The incident with the public bathroom occurred there as well, and you can read about it here if you missed it. Arriving at Normandy and walking the grounds was so humbling, realizing the large number of lives that had been lost there. We came away with a greater and sobering awareness of the tremendous sacrifice made on our behalf.

On the way back, we stopped to top off the car with gas. As I just began to pump the fuel, a nearby gentleman lost his cool. He was wildly gesturing at me, and ranting and raving and screaming. Puzzled and a bit disconcerted, I quietly asked Alexis what he was saying. She looked panicked, and said, “Mom! I think he said the car is going to explode! We need to stop pumping the gas right now!” I immediately stopped, and we quickly determined the issue: I had mistakenly pumped regular gas into a diesel tank. Oh, dear.

I will admit that my stomach did several flip-flops and my heart fell to the floor as I made a frantic call to the rental agency, during which I did my best to sound reasonably calm as I worked to find out if I had done permanent damage, what my responsibility was and what it might cost. I had visions of coming home from the trip many thousands of dollars poorer, having purchased a car that would never run again and certainly would never make the trip to the states.

 

Fork in the road:

This was our biggest opportunity for recrimination, for me to blame Alexis for not stopping me, for her to blame me for not being more observant.  We could have held a screaming match, or turned in unison on that gentleman who was just trying to save us all. I could have let the rental agent have it the moment he came on the phone. When the dust settled, and I had picked my heart back up off the floor, there was no problem. Apparently there was enough diesel in the car to offset the little bit of regular I pumped in. Thank goodness for the screaming Frenchman stopping me when he did!

 

There are several lessons I’d like you to takeaway today.

First, when I started looking for and listing everything that went wrong on our vacation, I compiled quite a long list. I had no idea so much went wrong on our vacation because I have such wonderful memories of that trip. This goes back to looking for the good we talked about here.

Next, getting to the gratitude point of view is often not immediate, so be patient. When you fall down, just get back up and look for it again. The more you do it, the more natural a response it becomes.

Last, and certainly not least, behave happily, wisely,and gratefully in spite of your circumstances. You are not only building a new habit for yourself, but you are also setting an example for your children.

And remember the benefits of this gratitude: You won’t have to eat crow because you behaved badly at those forks in the road. You get to eat croissants instead. :-)

 

James 1:2 My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble. (CEV)

 

Questions: Have you ever been on a family getaway that almost got away from you? What vacation tales can you share when you chose to change to a more positive perspective? Please set your shyness aside and step into our conversation. You never know who you might help by doing so!

Sharing at NOBH, Better Mom, Finding Heaven, Things I Can’t Say, Mommifried

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Comments

  1. Love it. I know this in my head, but my heart often makes the wrong choice. That “be crabby about this” path is, by default, easier to pave. Your post encourages me – and what a wonderful example you set for your daughter by choosing to eat the croissants!

    • Becky, I love your analogy of a path that is easier to pave. If we have paved, though, we have to remember it will take more time to tear it up and replace it with a different kind of path. Glad you are encouraged today, and thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Hi Kim, very nice lesson. In moments like these it is best to take a moment and ponder. Too often we choose to be crabby just because it is easier somehow and we don’t realize that it could be just as easy and much more delightful to take the other road.

    • Very true, Mariella. I agree that being crabby just seems like the immediately easier path, and also that it is just as easy to “take the high road”, because we don’t have to go back and fix any problems and hurt feelings we caused. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  3. France?? That’s awesome, Kim! And good for you for making good choices in how you responded to the forks. Alexis will remember that and want to emulate it when she has a family.

    I had a fork in the road on a beach trip when my car wouldn’t start. After several calls for assistance, a jump start, and two hours waiting to replace the battery, we decided it was a divine detour from God to keep us off the road when traffic was most hectic.

    It really is all in how we look at it. Thanks for sharing!!
    Susan

    • Hi Susan,
      Hope your world in VA is settling back to normal!
      Oh, my, I hope you don’t mind me laughing at yours and other stories that have rolled in of vacations gone awry. I know that other folks doing the telling are laughing about it now. I can’t imagine being at the beach and waiting for so long for a new battery. Your perspective is a great one. Only God knows what you missed on the highway by being at the beach! I just love when you stop by and add more food for thought for everyone.

  4. This one is just so so good Kim!
    Thank you…
    We packed up the van last Tuesday to head out for our only family vacation this summer and the battery was dead.
    Ugh.
    Thankfully it was a pretty quick fix, but there definitely was that point of “fork in the road”
    How are we going to respond to this?
    Love this post!

    • What is it with dead batteries and summer vacations? That is two of you in just this line of comments! I am glad it was a quick fix for you and assumed you headed out and had lots of fun. Thanks so much for your kind words, Kara; you brought sunshine from your vacation back for me!

      • We did have a WONDERFUL time and maybe the key factor there is little kiddos “helping” load up cars…I think we had a light bumped and left on and our loading-the-car-process took several hours :)

        • Oh, my. Kiddos “helping” can often add hours to a task, but they just beam with joy at being able to help mom & dad! Loved that you had a wonderful time anyway!

  5. How do I follow your awesome blog? And if you are interested in getting healthy and fit this month, follow me back?

    Where is your follow this blog button?

    • There are two places at the top of the blog on the right. One is an RSS subscription button. The other is a box in the upper right that says, “A FREE bonus-Subscribe today!” Sorry you had difficulty finding them, and I am glad you asked.
      I am getting fit, thanks. I just got back from a mountain hike of 4.5 miles.
      Thanks for coming by, Terri.

  6. Oh, how I wish I had read this blog before our vacation from . . .! My mom always told us to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. I should have paid attention! Thank you so much for this post. Words of wisdom. Truly!

    • Moms are so wise, aren’t they Diane? I imagine you’ve found that the older you got, the smarter your mom got! :-)
      So glad to be of encouragement to you today. Thanks for coming over and sharing. I know I always find lots of joy and laughter at your blog!

  7. Kim, I admit my heart fell into my stomach at the part when the regular-got-pumped-into-the-diesel! I’m right there with you. As time goes on in marriage and mom-hood, I see just how often my “plans” fall short of perfection! But with that mindset of gratitude that you describe, the mess-ups can turn into something lovely. Thanks for bringing home that vitally important point today. And thanks for sharing your springtime in Paris with us!
    Blessings,
    Ann

    • Good point, Ann! When we have young children at home, we have lots of mess-ups, but they can become marvelous memories if we just tinker with them a little.
      You are welcome, and I am always grateful to have you stop by my happy corner of the web!

  8. Such an amazing post, Kim! I love the series of mishaps you had strung brightly next to your “rejoice in the Lord” attitude! I had a day like that yesterday, but did not choose as good an attitide as you did here. I needed this reminder! Thanks so much for this colorful and thought-provoking tour through Paris under stress! :)

    • I’d like to say I am able to rejoice every time, but that just wouldn’t be true, Beth. There are still too many times I make the choice to just complain. Just keep on working at it, though. :-)
      Sorry to hear yesterday was tough, and am glad you got an encouraging reminder here. Thanks for adding your voice!

  9. As my family does a lot of traveling I have come to love forks in the road as there is always an other adventure to be had…ok maybe not the gas in the diesel engine That one might have done me in:)

    • Your travels seem to be nothing but fun adventure, Anna-Marie! I just love reading about the places you go.
      I wouldn’t recommend the gas adventure, though. Not good for you because it’s heart stopping. :-0

      A person who read this post shared with me that they did the opposite here in the US-put diesel in their gas fueled car while they were on vacation. They, too, ended up being fine because the wrong fuel was “overpowered” by the correct fuel. There is a small bit of consolation knowing someone else made the same mistake I did, I suppose. ;-)

      Thanks for jumping into the chat!

  10. Love. This. Our attitudes so impact our lives…whether home or away. I need to check up on myself.

    • Thanks, Pamela. So true-our positive attitudes often help our family “ship” navigate smoothly through the day.

  11. Traveling abroad would be so amazing and is on my “To Do” list. The actuality of it pretty much terrifies me and I have no idea why. So lovely to read about your travels!

    • I’m with you, Ducky! I don’t think I ever would have ventured to France with just my hubby, since neither of us speak French. Knowing I was with someone who was familiar with the city and spoke the language tipped the scales for me. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip to Paris through me!

  12. I try hard to choose the more joyful path, but sometimes it is hard. Thank you for the reminders, I needed it today!

    • You are welcome, Rachael! I, too, need to be reminded regularly. It’s just one of the many things I love about you lovely ladies who come to chat!

  13. What a lovely post and such an excellent reminder of “choice.” I’ve read the post I needed and now I can go to bed. Thank you. I’m glad you had the right spirit to enjoy France even if it was cold and rainy. It’s an amazing, breathtaking, delicious country and getting off the tourist track is often the best way to travel it.

    • Tamara-thanks for the smile. I love your description of France as breathtaking and delicious-it so reminds me of being there!

  14. It’s about attitude for sure- and expectations. No vacation is going to go off perfectly. We have to look for the good and try to focus on that!

  15. I think it was a Beth Moore study I did once. Not sure which one, but she said something that I will always remember. “Choose Joy”! It’s a choice.

  16. Be glad, even when you have a lot of trouble. Your most is more reassurance that we choose the way we react to things – and even better, we don’t have to ‘react,” but we have the choice to “respond.”

    Thank you for the reminders that we have a choice!

    • Similar words, but very different meanings, Ilene! Wayne Dyer used to say being responsible meant that we responded with ability. That sounds so much more inviting than “reacting”. Thanks for joining in!

  17. Kim: I wish I had read this post before all my family holidays–out loud–to the whole family! We do have choices and I will take this with me in a few more days as I spend some time away with my husband. Invariably, we will come to some forks in the road! Thanks for linking up with us at NOBH :)

    • I am so glad you found this helpful , Kelly! We found that regular reminders over the years helped the lesson become really anchored in our daughter’s attitudes. None of us are perfect, but I can say that the default is almost always to look for the good, and to find some way to laugh about the situation as well.

  18. You certainly flesh out the teaching, “In everything give thanks.” What a delightful story. This attitude of course, colors all your memories of the trip. The dark moments seem much less important than the joy and thanksgiving of sharing the trip with your daughter. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  19. LOL, loved the post and so true! Not many things in life go as planned but our attitude definitely determines our time and memories!!
    Thanks for giving us new ways to look at things!
    Lisa recently posted…Two weeks at a time….My Profile

  20. I have yet to go on vacation as a family of four, and I have my apprehensions. It won’t stop me from doing it, though. Our last vacation to San Francisco was a bit of a disaster for many personal reasons – too numerous to list here. My then one-year-old got out of the glorious hot springs in Calistoga and had pooped her bathing suit and wouldn’t stop crying. I had one of my few parental freak-outs and I stalked away to catch some fresh air while my husband took care of her. Later that night we left wine country for the familiarity of the city and stayed with a close friend instead of at an unfamiliar hotel. I think it was a thoughtful choice!
    Tamara recently posted…There’s a Disconnect.My Profile

    • It sounds like you made the right choice to move your home base. I think that willingness to be flexible can keep a vacation on track, or at least from going completely off the rails. You will do just fine when you choose to head out with all four of you. Perhaps some “toes in the water” trips—day long, to a weekend getaway—would be helpful practice in getting away for a joyful vacation.

      When our girls were around 2 and 5, we stayed in one room in a hotel in Boston for a conference, and Keith and I took turns attending. What a TERRIBLE idea that was. We were cooped up and had to turn the lights out early because of the girls earlier bedtime. Ugh. We did the best we could, but we never, ever did that again. We put them in a position that was untenable for children their age, and expected behavior of kids who were much older and more mature. :-(

      Oh, my, Tamara. Your hot springs story will be funny one day, trust me on this. :-) In the meantime, I send you empathy and hugs! <3

  21. {Melinda} I LOVE this post! You are so right … Last night, we went to a beach about an hour away to spend the 4th. We planned to frolic on the beach and then go get something to eat at one of the nearby seafood restaurants. Except it took more than an hour to get over the bridge to the beach, by which time it was pouring down rain! We had to put on ponchos and run to the closest restaurant. This was not what we planned, but we made a concious choice to make the best of it. And we had a great night. We confront those types of situations all the time, don’t we? I can get seriously grumpy without the power of the Holy Spirit empowering me to be grateful. Such a powerful post.
    Mothering From Scratch recently posted…the trouble with joy: how it shows up in sufferingMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Melinda. Life is really what we make of it, isn’t it? Although your weather certainly did take a turn for the worse, you didn’t allow it to dictate whether or not you enjoyed your time together. Not only did you have fun, but you set a terrific example for your kids!

  22. Such good lessons here!! Things that go wrong can ruin a trip if you choose to let them…it’s far better to just roll with it and be flexible! Glad your car didn’t explode though!! Thank you for linking up this post with LOBS!
    Michelle recently posted…What We Can Learn About Life From Running with our DogsMy Profile

    • Thanks for coming by Michelle. You are right: just roll with the punches, the rain, the wrong fuel, etc., and find joy where you are. Thanks for hosting LOBS!

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