“Mommy, I’ve never been to an amusement park; will you take us to one? Will you take us to Canobie?” my daughter asked as she batted her eyes and stuck out her lower lip in the biggest put-on pout she could muster. My 13-year-old was getting really good at this. She and I exchanged smiling looks that said we both knew the cute act was a bunch of baloney. After all, she knew the drill. Our money had been super tight for so long she could barely remember a time when it was different.

I could also see that though the desire to go to an amusement park was real, she didn’t dare to hope. After all, how many times had she wanted something and simply couldn’t have it because of lack of funds? The list was getting exhausting. She was being a good sport about our financial situation, but I could sense a resignation to certain disappointment in her and that alarmed me. Learning delayed gratification is a good thing; learned hopelessness is not.

Hating to say it for what seemed like the gazillionth time in the last few years, I hesitated and exhaled slowly before saying “Sorry honey, I just don’t have the money”. There was a loud silence and the air hung heavy between us. I thought for a moment and said “….BUT….how about if you pray about it and I’ll pray about it and we’ll see what God does?”. She gave me a wan smile and said “Sure” in a tone that said she was anything but. I watched brokenhearted as she turned away, shoulders down in defeat.

“Lord,” I prayed with my heart in my throat, “only you know what it would mean to her to be able to go to an amusement park. If it’s the right thing for her, please provide a way.” I left it at that and went about my business.

Barely a week later, the phone rang at 9:30 on a Saturday night. A friend from church, the secretary there, called. “Sorry to call you so late at night but this is time sensitive. Peter’s company outing is tomorrow and we don’t want to go.” I was a bit confused, not really understanding where this was going. Did she need me to do something at church for her? “The passes are only good for tomorrow but Peter and I were wondering if you and John would like them. They’re for Canobie Lake Park.”

My mind went blank for a minute as I processed what she had just said. I stammered a bit before asking “How many passes do you have?” I was quivering inside. If she only had four passes, we still couldn’t do it. There are five of us in the family and even one pass to Canobie was too much for us.

“Six.”

Pause.

“You have six passes to Canobie Lake Park for tomorrow only and you want to know if we want them?” I repeated aloud for the whole family to hear. There was an instant hush and the room grew still as everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me wide eyed.

Blink, blink.

All at once, pure cacophony broke out in my kitchen. Arms were flailing, feet were dancing, and voices were rising in uncontrollable chatter. It was deafening. It was daunting. It was delightful. The votes were in and the results were tallied; we were going to Canobie!

At the end of the following day, as we ate ice cream after a satisfying day of roller coasters, water rides and bumper cars, I silently shot up a prayer of the deepest gratitude to a loving God who cares not only about our needs, but also our desires, even a trip to an amusement park.

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