As I sat on my bed listening to my 9 year-old cousin (visiting from another state) read to me, her 6 year old sibling sleeping soundly at my side, I tried to make sense of all that had happened. Not hearing a word the sweet child was reading, my mind raced. “Lord, what is going on? How can I make it stop? I just don’t know how to make it stop. What on earth could be next?”
So many bizarre things had happened, in a two week period, that at this point, it had become numbing. Could it be coincidence? Was it Spiritual warfare? Was it a test…like Job in the Bible? I simply could not know. I could only come to the Lord and say, “What on earth is going on, and what do you want me to do about it?”
May I explain? July was the month I was making a big transition. I had embarked on a completely new day-job career move. My old boss still needing me during our busiest time of year, I was in a position where I was needed/expected to not only hold down the fort on my old job, but handle and learn the new job as well. This had been going on for not only the previous month, but would now continue for at least two MORE weeks. It was too much, but I knew it was not permanent. I could do it. With alot of prayer. And I am fortunate to have a GREAT prayer support team.
You see, I had just completed a very long business trip in June, and was preparing for yet another major business trip in July. In the meantime, I was frantically trying to prepare my house for the July visit of family members that I was eagerly looking forward to having and entertaining. The house had been completely neglected over the past year, and my to-do list looked more like a real-estate sales contract addendum, but I was determined to pull it off. There was too much to do in a very short amount of time, but I would make it happen. I just knew that every minute would count.
In the midst of this, my salary adjustment in the transition was not going well, and had actually shifted backwards, unbeknownst to me. Some kinks had not been properly worked out prior to the job change date, and I was concerned, but I would be patient.
Preparing for the next major upcoming business, trip along with all of this, I decided some quick time away to help celebrate my grandmother’s 88th birthday would be just what I needed. I would drive to see her and my family, leave the family after the birthday party, fly out from there for my week long business trip, return back to them and then drive home ( 800 miles). Which would leave me only 72 hours to clean, shop, prepare the house and the meals, work and survive. It was crazy, but again, I knew it was not permanent. You know the saying, “This too shall pass.” I clung to that thought.
I did make it home to the family and had a great time.
The day before I was to leave for the business trip, I thought I would kill a few birds with one stone. I would go to Wal-Mart, get an oil change to keep the car in shape, have my nails done, get the toaster oven grandma wanted for her birthday, and then spend the last few hours with my mother having lunch and running errands. All was going so well, and I had commented as such to my mother after our lunch. Yes, things were going well. Until we got to her drive-in bank and started to make her transaction.
As I rolled down the window, I heard a horrible knocking sound. Knowing it was not my beautiful car, I looked around. But no one was there. Suddenly, the car died. I looked at my mother, in the 96 degree heat, and tried to re-start it. The car started, but died again. After the third time, I knew my car was in trouble. Could I even make it down the street to the Oil Change place? It was now obvious. My car was losing, or completely out of, oil. We didn’t make it. The lights all came on and the car suddenly shut down. In post work traffic.
I looked down only to notice my cell phone was missing. Of course. Just what I needed. I could not even begin to imagine which store I had left it at. I would have to start with the restaurant, where we’d eaten, and then take it from there. Fortunately, my mother had hers with her.
A tow truck ride later, we learned that the car was indeed out of oil, and would require a new engine. Well, isn’t that just super news, I thought.
But that turned out to be just the start of what would become, what I began referring to as, “the adventure!”
The next day, while loading and unloading my bags for my business trip, I felt something odd. When I looked down I quickly noticed that the stone from the heirloom ring my grandmother had given to me had fallen out. Gone in a flash. And here it was her birthday. We were on our way to celebrate this wonderful woman that I cherish and the only ring I wore that reminded me of her was now forever lost. I searched frantically. But nothing. Gone.
Upon returning from my business trip a week later, I learned that my car would have to remain in the state where my family lives. My uncle had been my hero. He battled it out with the parties involved and worked miracles while I was away, but I would be driving a rental car home. And so I did. And am still in that rental as I write this….21 days later. The car is supposedly on its way back to me now.
I finally made the drive back to my home, and through much prayer support and hard work, I got the shopping done, the kitchen trim painted, the lawn mowed, the bathroom cupboard doors painted and back on, the meals planned, the baking done, the house cleaned from top to bottom, and more. When my family/guests drove in the driveway, I was limping my feet hurt so bad. My heart, however, was happy. I was ready for them and ready for some fun. But the fun turned into more of an adventure to remember.
The next morning, the coffee on and the breakfast laid out, I headed down to my office to catch up on some work. Out of nowhere, there was a strange rushing sound of water. I looked up and before I knew it, water was pouring into my downstairs office from the upstairs bathroom. My poor cousin’s husband. All he did was flush the toilet, and it overflowed. It has NEVER done that. I grabbed some plastic and buckets and headed up stairs. We sopped up what we could, tested the ceiling for more water, and then called the plumber. Supposedly all was well. Nothing was found.
That night, my cousin ran into the kitchen. She had been bathing the kids, but when she went to stop the baths the bathtub would literally NOT turn off. The water is still running in a steady stream. Days later.
The next day we had planned a trip to a historic site. We had the 3 kids with us, and it was extremely hot, but we knew it wouldn’t be too long of a tour, we could shop some, and then head home. But no. We landed a very knowledgeable historian that day who gave us blow by blow details in the intense heat, along with a very detailed 30 minute movie to boot, and then the tour. To say the least, it was not what I had planned.
Rushing home to get my cousin and her husband to their dinner reservations ( I had offered to baby sit so they could have a date nite) we ended up taking a terrible detour. One I NEVER take. Again, how did that happen?
Entering the house, all determined to help the couple get on their way, we noticed the lights were not on. There had been a storm. No electricity. Now, my cousins (the couple) had planned a night away, so I would now be with the 3 kids, in the house with no electricity. But I wasn’t too worried. Power outages in my neighborhood NEVER last more than a few minutes. The teenager was in complete PS2 withdrawls and was sure of certain death due to electronic deprivation. But I knew we could make it.
A trip to Starbucks with the dog, a drive through taco bell, a drive to see the lights nearby and then a return home only found us at 10:00pm – still out of luck.
Early in the morning (sleeping in the basement as the air conditioning was off) I jumped up and ran to the store to buy ice chests and ice. All of the groceries for the entire week, that I had just bought, were in that refrigerator and freezer…could I save them? We had never opened the icebox once, and it was packed. But we would see.
By 6:30am I was on the floor playing checkers with the 5 year old, all food safe and sound in the ice chests.
So that next night, the lights back on, everyone showered and ready for bed, I lay there stunned. What on earth more could happen? This couldn’t be normal. What was it? Not wanting to jump to conclusions I just asked the Lord to help me with whatever came next.
There were a few more things that did hit. That I won’t go into. But after that point, most things were fixable and not too serious.
As I write this in retrospect, all I can tell you is this, I still have no idea how and why it all happened. The ring never showed up. The car is still on its way – now coming via St. Louis! I am in my new day job and by God’s grace, the family is fine, as far as I know, the dog is well, and I feel pretty good myself.
So what is the point? The point is, I learned alot! I had to work really hard at my attitude during this entire ordeal. I knew I had a choice to make. I could complain, worry, cry or make it just “part of the adventure”. Which I did. I was determined that the children know we would be fine. Darkness and all. No big deal. Make it a memory. Just an adventure. I could cry to everyone that I was broke, exhausted, plagued etc., or just keep praying that it would all work out.
Some things you can change or fix…others you can not. Like the lost ring and the murdered car engine. Attitude is something we can change, or choose. It is simply a choice. A choice and alot of work.
Was it easy? No. Did it come naturally? No. Was there alot of prayer going up for me? Absolutely yes.
My wish for you, no, my prayer for you is this: if you are going through a really crazy or painful time right now, please know that people are watching you. They are taking their cues on how to deal with life – or not deal – from you.
We need to remember that. We need to work at being the kind of citizens, people, family etc. that encourage and help other people along the way.
But most of all, please know that prayer changes things. It really does. It sustains us. It is powerful.
Perhaps you’d like to revisit a particular passage of Scripture that comes to mind as I write this. It is in the book of James. Which you will find in the New Testament. Read chapter one. It’s a very good little book. Almost like vitamin C for the soul.
Just my thoughts this month. I hope they are an encouragement to you.
Your thoughts are welcomed as well.
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