On Monday my younger two children and I spent a lot of time in the car. An accident on the interstate involving a tractor-trailer and power lines found major backups on our main streets as police re-routed interstate traffic through our town. It happened just before we left for piano lessons. While I know the back roads of our town like the back of my hand, there is no getting to piano lessons without crossing those routes. Needless to say, it was a long afternoon.
We crossed over the interstate on the way, and I could see the accident and the line of cars waiting both directions. Long, long lines. I found myself initially getting frazzled… but I have to get them here, and then how will I have time to grocery shop while they’re at their lesson, and then how will I get them home and groceries unloaded and then how will I get Bella to gymnastics class on time and how… and how… and how…?
Oh, y’all… God’s gifts to me in my children are abundant. Bear started telling jokes. Silly jokes. Then Bella piped up with hers, “Mom, what do you call a bear with no teeth?” She giggled, and I saw her sparkling eyes in the rear view mirror. I knew the answer. After all, hadn’t I been the one who wrote it on her napkin that morning and put it in her lunchbox? “What?” I asked. “A gummy bear!” She giggled again and covered her mouth with her gloved hands.
My heart melted as I looked at her in the mirror… red curls peeking out under a crooked Hello Kitty hat. Not to be outdone, my Bear, whose dimples always get me, grinned, “Mom, what is the green stuff that flows out of volcanoes?” I turned to look at him, and his expectant smile made me laugh out loud, “What, Bear?” “Molding lava.” he laughed at himself, “Get it, Mom? I made it up… molding lava instead of molten lava. Get it?”
Oh, I got it.
But what I got more was time.
Treasured time in the car with my loves. We prayed for the driver of the tractor-trailer together, and we talked about the people whose lives were disrupted by the waiting. And I didn’t mind the traffic so much anymore. And we chatted and laughed and told jokes and then we crossed over the interstate again on our way home, and it was empty. I could see lights flashing in the distance in both directions, but to see no cars was eerie.
We arrived home, unloaded the groceries, and piled back in the car with no breathing room to get Bella to gymnastics. Normally we have some down time to rest and recoup, but not that night. Then, more waiting and 15 minutes late getting to the gym. I called a friend who had our Ash over to hang out with her son, and we strategized on how to best get him home. “It’s a 6 hour back-up on the interstate and a 4 hour back-up through our town,” she told me. I felt the weariness of my day seep into my bones as I stopped for gas and drove home in the dark of the night still having to make supper and fold laundry and get children to bed (I already knew that wouldn’t be on time!).
Then my Bear, my sweet, wonderful, humble-spirited Bear piped up, “I hope the driver of the tractor trailer is okay. It would be awful if he died.” He was quiet for a moment, the said, “Four hours in the car is nothing if a life was lost.”
Yes, I had a frazzled day.
Yes, my bones were achy and weary.
Yes, my neck throbbed and ached.
Yes, our schedule was ruined for the day.
Yes, I am still facing struggle, and hardship and the unknown.
Yes, we are still together.
Yes, no one is home wondering where we are or if we are okay.
Yes, I have a warm home to go to.
Yes, I have family and community and friendships.
Yes, I have frustrations and fears.
I have everything I need.
I have Christ.
I have the good gifts He gives even in the hard times.
And I have a sweet, wonderful Bear to remind me.
(And by the way, the driver is okay.)
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