Yes LORD, You Have My Attention NOW!

2015-06-20 10.21.12Let me set the stage. I was upset. OK, truth-be-told, I was downright mad. Why? We had a fight. The whole family – all four of us were fighting right in the parking lot of the rental car place. Please know that I had a head start on getting angry, because it was just last night when I first learned that I would be my husband’s chauffeur to the rental car place this morning. We talked about his trip to Minneapolis, but I heard that in the context of July, not June – not this week, not THIS weekend! Admittedly, my fault – I clearly missed it – but I was selfish, inconvenienced, facing the reality of unmet expectations – Mad!

TODAY was my family reunion and tomorrow is Father’s Day. How could he do this to me? “I” had plans and even though I was trying to get a grip on myself, my oldest daughter, unknowingly, stirred up all of my emotions and I lost the fight.

To my husband, she says, “Wait a second, where are you going?”

“Minneapolis!” He responds, “I have to work!”

She shoots back, “When was someone going to tell me this? I thought we were going to breakfast.”

“Breakfast?” I darted, “No! Dad’s going to Minneapolis and we’re going up north for the family reunion.”

In further shock and now in an even higher high-pitched tone, “WHAT! Are you kidding me? I’m not dressed for a family reunion, I thought we were just going out for breakfast and how was I supposed to know we had a family reunion? If we’re going to a family reunion, we have to go back home (25 minutes away) because I need to change, I’m not wearing THIS. Are you kidding me?”

[Insert additional drama from, now, four emotionally charged people.]

My husband asks, “What time does it start?”

10:00!” While looking at the clock that reads 9:52, “…And we’re an hour and a half away!”

I think you get the picture… We’re late and I’m upset that I don’t have a husband to join me at the family reunion, he’ll be gone for Father’s Day AND two teenage daughters with really bad timing to add to the dilemma.

As I drive away, the car is silent. I needed that, at that very moment, because my head was spinning. First, I wanted to justify that I had every right to be upset and that it was fine that I vented. After all, I had these feelings pent up for almost 15 hours so I was finding any excuse that I could to rationalize why “I” wasn’t the one who was out of line.

Then my irrational thoughts start moving to analysis of the problem. How did this happen? How did she not know? What do we need to do to communicate better? Why do I feel so angry with this whole situation? I ultimately knew that I couldn’t control any of it.

Slowly coming down from the adrenaline of it all, my attention was redirected to the radio; the Christian “Weekend Top 20 Countdown” was on. I knew that this is exactly what I needed, a song lyrics to help me get re-centered and help me come to grips with this. I was just starting to calm.

Then it happened. I’m stopped at the stop sign and I looked to the right as my eyes followed the car speeding past. Already looking to left and no cars coming, I pull out. Seconds later I hear, “Mom! Look out!”

I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know which way to look. I just kept my eyes forward, slammed on my breaks and prayed, “LORD, NO!”

I no sooner thought the words and a maroon mini-van came speeding, as if in slow motion, from my right. As I gauged its speed and the timing of it’s ability to clear my path in my peripheral vision I actually thought, “We’re going to make it!”


I felt a pressure on my chest; it was the airbag. Not fully grasping that, I looked to my left now, only to see the mini van sliding across the highway with the front-end now facing back at me. My car idled to a stop on the other side, debris everywhere.

People appeared from every direction. I sat in the drivers seat in shock, wondering what just happened?  Am I OK? Yes.   Are my kids ok? As I searched for the answer they were tugging at my drivers door. “Mom, open the door!”

I unlocked the door and my oldest daughter embraced me with a hug. “Mom, are you OK?” That’s when the tears started to flow. “Yes… Are you guys OK?”

That’s when I saw the mini van with it’s back door slid open and I thought, “Oh NO! Was there a baby in the car?” I tried to run, hollow heels were clicking across the pavement, and I quickly approached the van. Shaking, but speaking, she says, “We’re OK! Are you guys OK?” I looked in and there were two beautiful brown-eyed little girls looking at me and a reverse facing toddler playing with his Elmo shoe. They were OK.

“Oh Thank You God!”

So God got my attention and this is what he said, “This is how quickly you could lose them and your life be changed forever. You may be disappointed that the weekend isn’t what you had planned, but guess what, roll with it. It’s not worth the fighting, it’s not worth the hurt feelings and it’s definitely not worth the anger. Inconvenience? I’ll show you inconvenience, now you get to deal with insurance companies, deductibles, collision centers, lack of transportation and a $175 ticket for not yielding to the right-of-way that until now you took for granted. Oh, and by the way, it’s not about you, it’s never about you so you better get your priorities straight.” Love, God

So we made it to the family reunion; five hours late. There was an applause when we entered the room and it felt GREAT! My Facebook page is streaming with praise and relief which in and of itself warms my heart to have so many caring friends. As for the car ride to and from the reunion… none of us uttered another harsh word and we had a very spiritual and God-pleasing conversation about how lucky we ALL were. If I would not have slammed on my breaks, she would have t-boned us at 45-50 mph; it could have and would have been so much worse.

I’ll deal with all of this inconvenience and all things considered – I’m happy to. I have my life, I have my family and I have a God who loves me enough to get my attention and remind me what REALLY is important.

Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

When Commitments Collide

The text message reads, “As soon my son walks across the stage and receives his diploma I will leave for class. He’s graduating high school tonight.”

My response, “No way. You stay until you get that Father/Son post-graduation picture and send it to me, THEN you can come to class. Class can wait.”

What was this father going to sacrifice? A grade, ridicule from fellow classmates, a missed lesson in ethics class, some lecture from me, the teacher, on being a responsible adult? In the overall scheme of things, so what, right? We’re talking about a family milestone and a chance for a Dad to give a huge “atta boy” to his youngest son; something far more important that any of the aforementioned consequences.

What saddens me is two things: 1) There are teachers out there that would have said, “Great! See you when you get here,” and then have some penalty for tardiness with strict academic by-the-book justification, and 2) Adult students who would have made class (a grade, image, etc.) the priority in their decision.

I may have been one of those rule-abiding teachers had I not had my wake-up call when I was in my own graduate program. I missed class for being out of town for a work conference and the following week I was vacationing with my family 3 hours away. As I stripped myself away from my family to “make it in time for class” I knew my life/my choice was out of balance. I contacted my teacher and told him I was turning around and that I couldn’t justify missing time away from my family when I had just missed class (and my family) the week before. He told me I was doing the right thing, but he needed to drop me a full grade for having two absences and he did, I got a B for the class. I obviously didn’t graduate with a 4.0, but I’m more proud of that ‘B’ than any ‘A’ I ever earned. I learned a valuable life lesson from that and still earned a graduate degree.

Don’t get me wrong, when you have responsibilities like school and work, the right thing to do is to follow-though and honor our commitments. I also appreciate this gentlemen for his willingness to compromise; trying to make both work, because I also value his sense of obligation to being in class too. After all, I too am away from my family to teach class. Time is precious and there is no responsibility greater than family and I feel truly blessed to have paid-it-forward.

After class he came up to thank me and thanked me. Sharing that his son was beaming when he saw that he was there for the whole ceremony. What really brought me to tears is that he said his son was fine with the fact that Dad had leave early to get to class, but when he saw that he had missed class and was there for the whole ceremony, he was extremely happy. That is what made this story all the more special and inspiring for me.

I praise God for giving me the discernment that this is where this Dad and student needed to be. I pray that this young man will make the right choice for his family when his adult commitments collide. To me, these smiles are priceless; a life experience that no tuition can teach.

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