“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
A few weeks ago I lost my debit card, along with my Target debit card. This is a somewhat regular occurrence (maybe once or twice a year) because I don’t always keep them in my wallet. I carry a fairly large bag because I carry my calendar and notebooks around, so if I’m just running into a store I’ll put my debit card in my back pocket and occasionally it then travels to the laundry or other points unknown.
When I realized I didn’t have it on Monday, I started my search. I looked on my dresser where it should have been, I looked in drawers and I looked through the laundry and the pockets of all the pants I thought I had worn over the course of the week. Nothing. I looked in the car – maybe I had put them in the center console and they had fallen down. Nope. I looked in every nook and cranny of my bag in case I had tossed them in there casually. Nope. Where were they?!
By Tuesday I had to purchase incidentals and gas on my credit card, which I really don’t like to do because I’m trying to pay the credit card off, not add to it! Plus, to add insult to injury, the credit card was turned down because it had expired, so I had to have that purchase suspended, run home to grab the new card, activate it and run back to the store to complete the purchase! By Wednesday I had to purchase a birthday gift on the credit card and by Thursday when I was swiping my credit card for a $5 parking garage fee it really started to bother me again!
While losing a debit card (or two) is not one of life’s great tragedies, it is one of those annoying little inconveniences. I would have to order a new one from the bank and wait five days or so until I received a new one, which would have a new number. So every time I would go to make a future purchase on Amazon or another online retailer (OK, just Amazon) I’d have to enter a new card number. I was already anticipating the inner shame of an email informing me that my debit card was rejected from places that automatically draft from that account. And there was no way I was stepping foot in Target without my 5% discount!
No, I simply had to find those cards. On Saturday morning I was having a quiet, restful prayer time. That is a rare thing, as I’m sure it is for most parents – I am usually interrupted somewhere in the course of that time. Teaching my kids how to just wait if mommy is sitting in her chair, surrounded by her Bible and prayer journal and has her head to her hands as if she may be talking to God is something I have yet to master. I pray consistently and fervently about the bigger matters in life, but at the end of this particular prayer time I just sighed and said, “You know what God? I’m sorry, but can you just help me find those debit cards?! I just know they’re here somewhere.”
I looked in my jeans pocket again, but they weren’t there. Then I looked in my swim shorts, remembering that we had gone to the pool right after I used the cards last. And while I was looking in those shorts, it was as if God just said, “Oh, the debit cards! Sure, I can help you with that. Don’t you remember? You tucked them into the front pocket of your beach bag at the pool last week. Here, I’ll give you a clear mental picture of yourself doing that so you’ll remember. See? Remember, you even thought that you’d probably forget where you put them as you were putting them there. You were right – it was a safe spot.”
And that was it – I immediately go the beach bag out and got the cards. Relief!
Answers to prayers aren’t always so immediate, but wow, it is satisfying when they are. I just had to ask. It reminded me of when Little Miss Sunshine asked me last week, “Have you seen my glasses?” and I said, “Yes, they’re on the kitchen counter next to the bread box.” She just looked at me for a minute before replying, “I thought you’d say you’d help me look for them or something – they’ve been missing for a week!” I hadn’t considered them lost – that’s just where they were, so when she asked I was able to just tell her.
When Princess woke up that morning (oh, now I remember why I had that quiet time), she saw the card on the dresser and said, “Oh, you found them!” I had asked her about the cards in case she had been using them to play store or something. I happily responded, “Yes! I asked God where they were, and he showed me.” She replied with wonder, “God was here?” (The things one misses during a nap…) Yes!!
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7 (NIV)
From the archives…While Little Miss Sunshine was in one of her final days of preschool I gathered up the documents I would need for kindergarten registration – birth certificate, doctor’s records, etc.
And then I thought, “the hot dog place”.
The hot dog place was a quaint little restaurant in our “downtown” historical area. My daughter and I used to go there after preschool once a week. We would sit at an outside table, enjoy our simple meal and chat about her day at preschool.
Those trips had fallen by the wayside, partly because we got out of the habit, and partly because at $10 an outing, we just didn’t need to spend the extra money.
However, as I gathered up her documents to prepare for registration the next day, the thought suddenly hit me that I would not be able to take her to the hot dog place the next year. Our lunches would be over. Even if I did take her to lunch on a day off, her brother would be with us and it would just be different. It is not the place I’ve made memories with her and her brother – it’s the place I’ve made memories with her.
So on that day, we happily headed to the hot dog place after preschool. It was a beautiful day and we sat at our usual table outside, enjoying the sights and sounds, our conversation and our time together.
I’m not sure what her memories of her preschool years will be, but lunch at the hot dog place will be clearly etched into mine. Small moments can make a big difference.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
For about a week now my daughter has reminded me that she needed a white leotard for her performance in a local theater production. She’d remind me, I’d forget, she’d remind me, I’d forget, and on and on our dance would go.
Finally, the other night she reminded me that she really needed this for her dress rehearsal the next day, and for the performances the following three days. Ok, I said, I would take her to the dance shop that evening after theater camp – she was going to need it for dance later in the year as well. So around 7:00 we finally ventured out to seek out a white leotard, and a huge white hair bow the size of her head.
“You mean a ribbon that goes around your head like a headband? Is that what you mean by the size of your head?” I asked.
“No, I mean a bow literally the size of my head.”
“You mean a bow, like Minnie Mouse wears, only white and larger?”
We arrived at our nearby mall where one of her dance teachers mentioned there was a dance shop. We circled. And circled. And circled. I knew I had never seen a dance shop in my six years of living near this mall, but I tried anyway because I had never really looked for one either! No dance shop. Ok, where to find a white leotard? That is not really a piece of clothing one can easily find in a department store, is it? I knew that our nearby Target focuses on tiny dancers, not almost-middle-school dancers.
I called a friend of mine, whom I was sure knew where the dance store was. The good news was- he did. The bad news was – I was nowhere near it. There was one about 45 minutes away and another one about 45 minutes away in the other direction, but it closed early. Little Miss Sunshine was now getting overly anxious and Princess was asking why we just didn’t go to Barnes and Noble if we didn’t know where to go? She was just about to talk me into it, too.. No, focus! White leotard!!
My friend gave me a few helpful hints on how to work around this dilemma, which involved pink leotards, scissors and bleach (well, I did just sign up for Pinterest. It would make an interesting DIY pin!). It just might work..
I got back in the car (I had stepped out to look around while I was chatting with my friend. Really. I don’t even know why. I literally kept scanning the five stores that have been in the same place in this exact spot for the last six years while chatting, waiting for a dance store to appear before my eyes as if I had parked in spot 9 3/4 and just had to grab the kids by the hands and walk straight through to glitter, glitz and glam). But I digress.
I got back in the car and explained the whole DIY project, and Little Miss Sunshine said, “have you been talking about a white leotard this whole time?” “Yesss….” meaning this whole week. “No, I don’t need a white leotard,” she explained, “I need white tights.”
1..2..3 I am repeating my mantra in my head. Wait, I don’t have a mantra. Need a mantra!
“White tights?” I verified.
“But we can just get those at Target.”
I re-buckled Princess as chaos had ensued in the car during my 90-second chat (it’s really better not to detail chaos), and we were off to the other side of the parking lot towards Target. Then Little Miss Sunshine asked if we could stop at Payless to look at ballet shoes. Well, why not? This was a girls outing that has so far gone nowhere – of course, we must randomly stop to look at shoes!
We entered into Payless with the girls racing one another for the front door and stepped in. And there, on the accessory rack, was a white bow as big as Little Miss Sunshine’s head. Whoop! High five! Two seconds after I had just told them I was not buying shoes during a non-BOGO week (I have my Payless standards), I was telling her to grab both bows from the rack. And tights? Of course! Plain white or textured white? Two packages of tights were added to our purchase. And, confession, one pair of $7 sandals for me. (I deserve them, I swear!)
One more headband later and we were happily skipping out the door. I hadn’t even prayed about white accessories – God just took pity on me and led me randomly to Payless, the land of glitter, glitz and glam.
I would talk about Little Miss Sunshine’s first experience putting on tights after a lifetime of living in Florida, but that’s a story for another day…
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 (NIV)
From the archives…It was a beautiful day as my Little Miss Sunshine and I headed to the playground for lunch and some playtime after her morning preschool. She was excited about having a real picnic lunch and chatted brightly all the way there.
In the picnic area we started unpacking our lunch. A few of the other tables were being used by a mom and her children, a professionally dressed woman who looked like she was on her lunch break, and a dad working on his laptop while his kids played on the playground and occasionally ran back over to him for drinks and “watch me’s”.
As I was about to bite into my sandwich when Little Miss Sunshine said, “Shouldn’t we say grace first?” At that time I was not comfortable saying grace in public. I’ve gotten better with it thanks to quite a number of lunches with an awesome Bible study group, but it took awhile!
Now my daughter was looking at me expectantly. “You’re right,” I said, and prepared to quietly race through the quickest grace I knew. My daughter, though, folded her little hands together and very loudly, and I mean they probably heard it blocks away, started to sing clearly, “God our Father, God our Father (everybody now!), now we ask, now we ask…”
I felt my cheeks going red with embarrassment, quickly followed by guilt over being embarrassed by this!
“for your blessing, for your blessing, A-men, A-men”.
She finished happily and began munching on a cheese stick. I marveled at her uninhibited joy in the Lord and in her day and hope to carry that with me in the future.
(My apologies for those who know that blessing, sung to the tune of Frere Jacques, and will now have it in their head the rest of the day.)