Yesterday could have been one of those no-good awful very bad days.
As I was waiting on my cream of wheat to gel in the microwave, I noticed anew the sad state of a burner on the stove that had been spattered with bubbling potato soup a few days ago, and thought, “I really need to clean that up.” As I took my half-formed cream of wheat out of the microwave above the stove in order to stir it, I bumped the microwave and the cream of wheat spilled onto the burner pan in question and its neighbor, looking, honestly, like someone had thrown up on them. So I took that as a sign to clean up that burner pan now.
The next several hours were fine except that I got out the door to go visit my mother-in-law later than planned. I have to pass through three school zones to get to her place, and at the wrong times of day that can be a nightmare. Plus I like to be home when Jesse gets home. He’s capable of being home alone, but I can remember the difference in my teens between coming home when Mom was there — warmth, interest, communication — and coming home an empty house when she was working to — lonely and desolate. This is Jesse’s last year before college, and I want his memories to be of mom being there when he gets home from school.
So on my way to Mom’s, thinking I should make it past the one school zone that lets out earlier without too much delay, suddenly traffic came to a grinding halt in both directions. As several cars made three-point turns to go back the way they had come, I inched forward. It looked like one of those big construction vehicles had stalled (it looked like a truck in front but had a large long crane-type arm on the back), and from what I could tell, had been hooked to a tow truck. Hooked because evidently it was either too big or too heavy to be on the tow truck. But the tow truck, in making a wide turn onto my road with that unwieldy beast tethered to it, had swung too wide and almost went off the slope on the other side of the road. I was almost at the last turn to Mom’s place, so I hated to turn around and try to find another route when I didn’t know the area well (and the GPS wasn’t giving me any better ideas). I kept thinking about it, but every time I was just about to, I’d see some movement with the stalled vehicles and think we were just about to get going…and then realize we weren’t. I ended up there for about 45 minutes to an hour. Thankfully with all of this study about the sovereignty of God in Job, the Lord enabled me to take it all much more patiently than I might have otherwise, but I still stewed over the waste of time for all of us involved and prayed for the situation while listening to some nice classical music on NPR and occasionally flipping through the mail I’d picked up on my way out.
Finally the vehicles blocking the road got mobile and we were all on our way. I visited Mom a while and then, on the way back, felt my blood sugar slipping a bit and decided to pull into a fast-food drive-through for a little snack. But the line wasn’t moving. The guy parked where orders were placed looked like he was having a conversation rather than placing an order, and no matter how much he talked, he wasn’t going anywhere. I assume he was talking to someone in his truck while waiting for someone to take his order. Finally I decided to forget it and head home for a snack, saving money and calories and any more waiting time.
And then I got stopped in backed-up traffic again, this time for a passing train.
I finally got home, a little rattled, harried, and hungry, glad I had an hour or two to unwind before dinner and wouldn’t have to wait in line again for the rest of the day.
Elisabeth Elliot has a devotional I can’t find just now about how even little things that don’t seem to have a major purpose can be taken as the Lord’s will for the moment, and Amy Carmichael has written about God’s grace for disconcerting “little things.” I thought, “Well, Lord, I don’t know what purpose you had in all of that. But thank you for helping me not to get as frustrated as I could have.”
Later in the evening I was sorting through coupons, flyers, catalogs and such while watching The Biggest Loser. I decided to clean out the file folder of restaurant coupons and discovered in it an envelope my mom had sent some time before she died containing several pages from a desk calendar that she thought I’d find interesting. I had glanced at them before but I am sorry to say I had never gotten around to reading them, and I felt bad that she had taken the time and care to send them to me and I had neglected them.
I kept the envelope out and went through it this morning. The desk calendar was evidently a compilation of different Chicken Soup for the Soul books. One particular story was about a lady whose daughter was in the children’s ward of a hospital after surgery and who made friends with a bright cheerful six-year-old boy named Adam receiving chemotherapy for leukemia. One rainy, gloomy day, this woman remarked on what a depressing day it was, and Adam answered, “Every day is beautiful for me.”
Wow. Every day is a gift. For a middle-aged lady stuck in traffic as much as for a six-year-old leukemia patient.