After a long week – everyone was looking forward to “Movie Night” Friday. Usually we watch no movies during the week, except for educational purposes, or if Mommy needs a nap. This week, however, Daddy had been home from work. We had all been working hard during the day, and watching fun, action-filled family movies in the evenings together.
Ever since MovieGuide had given Bella its top rating of 4 stars, I had wanted to see it. When more positive reviews were publicized, I knew it was a movie we would add to our collection. While waiting for the price to drop, Bella slipped from my mind.
The movie entered my life again when my friend had her 10th child, and named her Isabella — Bella. In her post about why they chose that name for their child, she mentioned the movie – so I found a really good deal on Amazon and ordered it right then and there.
My family knew the movie had arrived, and knew I was excited about it – simply from the rave reviews from trusted friends. But it sat on the shelf for 2 weeks. Everyone knew it wasn’t going to be a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat kind of movie — I think, deep down, no one wanted to cry. We all remembered how it was when we saw The Ultimate Gift, Facing the Giants, Flywheel, The White Handkerchief, and others.
But I was anxious to watch it. And I wanted everyone to watch it with me. Suggestions from me were met with mild curiosity and less-than-enthusiastic responses.
So this particular Friday night, I had decided to lobby for it one more time – then leave it alone. I gently asked my husband, telling him I really really would like for us to watch this movie. “We’ve been watching plenty of fast-paced stuff — I know this will be good.”
I believe his exact response was, “Fine with me. I’m indifferent.” In other words, he would support whatever movie I chose. The kids saw the look on my face, and knew. “Do we HAVE to watch it?” There were even a few groans.
You have to understand — the smallest hint of a movie usually causes shouts of delight and a massive stampede towards the family room. We all love wholesome, thought-provoking movies that strengthen our faith – even if they’re on the quieter side of the movie spectrum. Most of the time.
In retrospect, I realize there was an intense spiritual struggle happening right there in our family room that night.
We sat down, started the player, and the room settled into a strained silence. The previews were… interesting. Thoughtful.
Feeling the negative vibes in the room, just before the movie began, my resolve cracked. “Fine. We don’t have to watch it. Y’all don’t want to anyway, and I just can’t take it.” I teared up, ejecting the DVD from the player. The room was utterly silent now, and the children squirmed uncomfortably.
My husband gave me a glance that said, “Don’t back down. You’ve started it – let’s do it.” Sniffling and sulking a little, I re-started the movie. The storyline was a tad slow to build and a little confusing — at first.
Then it reached out, grabbed us by the hearts, and yanked us into the drama.
The scowls left the children’s faces and were replaced alternately by consternation – thoughtfulness – sadness – joy. My husband and I reached out to clasp each other’s hands, smiling through our tears. Our hearts were tender again.
After the movie ended, everyone just sat for a bit, slightly subdued. “THAT was a great movie! A little confusing in parts, but… wow.” We answered a few questions from the younger children.
Then the memory began.
There was still daylight outside and the children asked if they could “run off some energy” – looking pleadingly at Daddy while their legs danced in anticipation. He nodded. “Sure.”
We went outside and played – rain sprinkled ever so slightly and gray clouds loomed. I informed the children that we would run around for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the clouds, and go in when we heard thunder. Besides, it was almost time for bed.
The thunder never came.
The rain increased to a shower, and 18 eager eyes glanced at Daddy, questioning without words, daring to hope. “Can we play in the rain? Pleeeease?” We looked around at the clouds and suddenly realized they weren’t thunderclouds. I softly told my husband that the children had been waiting and waiting for a non-thunder storm to play in the rain. It doesn’t happen often here.
Daddy said yes.
The screaming, cheering mass of 9 children swarmed all over the yard, jumping and leaping for joy, whooping and hollering. Everyone’s eyes were shining — not just from the raindrops. Delightful words leapt from their lips.
“WOOHOO!!! We get to play in the rain!!! Yeaaaahh!!!”
“Wasn’t that the BEST movie?”
“I just LOVE our family!”
“Mommy, would you cry if I died?”
“Aren’t you so glad you have all these kids?”
“God is SO great!”
I was still crying here and there, but for a myriad of very different reasons. So thankful for my patient husband and precious children. So sorry for being needlessly upset with them over little things. So humbled and in complete awe of how God worked in our hearts that evening.
So happy for this gift of rain with no thunder.
It seemed magical. I’m confident that God gave us a tiny taste of heaven, right then and there. No sorrow or pain. (Well, one child did have a minor fall ) Only joy and laughter and love.
We held races up and down the soggy driveway – and everyone cheered. Without prompting, big kids slowed down so little kids could win. Non-racers cheered madly from the sidelines. The rain reduced to a mere sprinkle again, and I didn’t want the evening to end. Nighthawks appeared and we watched them make their fluttering ascents, followed by daredevil dives that ended in a thrumming vibration of wings.
Daddy gave the word to go inside, and no one complained. We got towels and dried everyone off, smiling warmly and reminiscing about the rain romp. The tiny spats and bickering that can happen – didn’t, hardly. Any minor reproofs were met with a smile and an instant change of heart. Everyone helped. Everyone went to bed without a hitch.
I want to remember that God’s warming sunbeams are always behind the clouds and struggles of this life. I want to remember that rain is not always harsh and thundering, but often gentle and cleansing.
This is my memory. I write so I won’t forget.