His question was poignant, powerful, and pivotal; poignant because his little soul was truly distressed, powerful because he was not really asking who would bring the lamb to school—Grandad could easily step in and would delight to do so—he was really asking “Who will be my mom?”, and pivotal because I recognized the question he was really asking and it haunted me.
The van’s registration expires at the end of January. In Utah, one’s vehicle must pass an annual safety and emissions test; vehicles with lit check engine lights do not pass the test. The van’s check engine lights have been on for a year and a half, except for a brief 3 day period last January when they miraculously went off just long enough for the van to pass inspection. This January did not bring a repeat of last January’s miracle so we took it to our mechanic hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
Justin, our mechanic friend at JP Midland Car Care, called with bad news. “The knock sensor is out and it will take $700 to replace it. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if the catalytic converter sensor is bad until we replace the knock sensor. If the catalytic converter sensor is bad, it will cost another several thousand to replace it. You could easily spend more in repairs than the van is worth.” Knowing my level of automotive understanding, he repeated himself several times, warning me again and again that I could end up with a repair bill that exceeded the worth of the vehicle.
Egad. We do not have money right now to replace (or extensively repair) a van. The van is 12 years old, has nearly 200,000 miles, and has flakes of engine in its oil pan at every oil change, indicating engine damage and warning that the engine could go bad at any time. Should we pay to repair it or should we quit throwing money into a “sinking ship” and let it go? What to do?
Lance and I fasted and prayed about it and, against all odds, both felt right about proceeding with the knock sensor replacement. A sense of peace told us that God would take care of us.
Last week I was offered immediate full time employment; I would teach all day every day, doing all of my preparation and correction work at home. My salary would double. DOUBLE. Oh my lands! Double my money would put to rest the concerns about paying for Chick’s mission that have been plaguing me. Chick will probably leave in July for parts as yet unknown on a two year mission for the Lord. Missions are expensive and Chick has not made or saved any money. It will fall on us to fund his service and we are not currently making enough money to meet our financial obligations and pay for his mission. The money simply is not there right now. But it would be…………if my salary doubled……….
Was the job offer an answer to my prayers? A part of me yearned to take it. Not only would it put to rest my financial concerns, it presented a professional challenge. I seriously love challenges. I longed to put my fingers in that troubled classroom and set things right; I would have been heralded as a heroine and I would have loved it. LOVED IT!
I took the job offer home and presented it to my family. At our family counsel, everyone expressed support. Lance did not like it but recognized the professional opportunity and agreed to support whatever decision I made; Tanah promised she would “step up” at home and urged me to take it; Chick, recognizing his bias because he would be the main beneficiary, was reluctant to express an opinion but, when pushed, said that he thought I should accept the offer; Grace, after acknowledging that she is not home much (she leaves early and arrives home late because she goes to school with Lance), agreed with consensus and said that I should take the job. Miles stood as the lone voice against the change. “Who will bring the lamb?”
Who will bring the lamb? (Who will be my mom?)
We prayed as a family. Lance and I prayed as a couple. I prayed as a mother.
Four years ago, when I was initially offered a job at Ogden Preparatory Academy, I took the question to the Lord, expecting Him to tell me that it was okay to turn it down, that I could stay at home and mother my children. Instead He told me to ask for more money. I was surprised but obedient. I asked for (and received) more money and subsequently accepted the job.
Last week I again took a question about a job to the Lord, this time expecting Him to tell me to it was okay to take it, that I could work to fund Chick’s mission and it would be alright. Instead He told me to stay home and it would be alright. I was surprised but (mostly) obedient. I emailed the people who had offered me the job, expressed my desires to take it and outlined my concerns. I told them that I did not think I was the best fit for their needs and suggested another woman. I ended it with the invitation to contact me again if it did not work out with the woman I had suggested.
The next day God blessed me with a realization of what a wonderful life I have. It was a not-working-at-OPA day for me and I felt a heightened sense of joy, reveling in every moment of my at-home day. Book Club met and I treasured the interactions I have with the ladies, young mothers to elderly matrons, that meet monthly in my living room. I love sharing books and chats with my mother and my friends. I could not imagine having to tell Elaine (80+ years) or Shannon (mother of six very young children) that our monthly gathering would be no more.
It was an early-out day (school dismissed at 1:05 p.m.) for Miles so he and I went shopping for shoes to replace the paper-thin soled ones he was wearing. Watching him prance about in his new footwear was a pleasure I was grateful not to have missed. We ended our adventure together with a trip to Wal-Mart where I found 12 boxes of religious Christmas cards 75% off**. We bought cards together, a task he endured rather than embraced, he helped me find the worms (dinner for the tiger salamander that sits in a tank in my classroom) that my frustrated searching could not locate, and we sniffed scented waxes together, sharing scents and simple pleasures. The day was not spectacular in any way though it felt spectacular in every way. I knew in the basement of my being that God has given me a wonderful life and He will continue to take care of me. I have a peace—“peace of God which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)—that it will all work out, that finances for Chick’s mission will not be an issue. I have no idea how we will pay for Chick’s mission but I do know how we will not pay for it. We will not pay for it by me working full time immediately.
[**NOTE:The “Seasons Greetings” garbage angers me. It is CHRISTmas, for heaven’s (and for our) sake so I always seek Christmas cards that say Christ’s name. It was GREAT to find them at a discount price but a somewhat sad commentary on our society that the only cards left on clearance were religious ones… I bought a year’s supply—if I send out 200 cards again next year which I said that I would not do—and they will sit quietly in my attic until next Christmas season.]
That night, after reading a story together and wrestling until I pinned him and stole a kiss, Miles said, “Are you going to work every day Mom?”. When I told him “probably not” he pounced on me, gave me a huge hug, and said, “Thank you Mommy. Thank you!”
The story continues…..
Early the next morning I was asked again to work full time immediately. It had not worked out with the lady I suggested and I was needed. I was flattered, very flattered, and tempted, very tempted—I really do love grabbing a challenge and meeting it. (I also love being the heroine.) But “who would bring the lamb?” Who would bring the lamb?
I shared Miles’ lamb story and told of his THANK YOU hug. “I’ve always said that I am a mother first and educator second and I must align my actions with my values,” I told them, probably killing any hope of future advancement. Then I added, “I know it will all work out. There is always a way. All my life I have been able to find a solution to problems. We just have to keep searching. There is a way to solve this problem. We just have to find it.”
And then we found it. We found the solution. And it was not that I would work full time. “Thank you,” said the administrator. “We thank you…..and your son thanks you.”
And I thank God. THANK GOD! Thank you, my Great and Glorious God! I thank Thee for my wonderful life; I thank Thee for peace; I thank thee for letting me “bring the lamb”, I thank Thee for sending The Lamb, I thank Thee, I thank Thee, I thank Thee!
That afternoon, as if to send me a divine “I told you so”, Justin, the mechanic called. After calling the Toyota manufacturing plant for specific instructions about the drive cycle, after driving our van (without charging us) 40 minutes to get it mostly through a drive cycle, after cold starting it and driving another 10 minutes (again no charge) to complete the drive cycle, he got the van to pass inspection. “You are legal for another year,” he said, “though I cannot guarantee anything about the catalytic converter sensor. Quite likely, it will come on again soon.” Seven miles later, the engine lights lit up…..but not until after the registration sticker was safely attached to our license plate. God had indeed taken care of our van, as He told us He would. He will take care of our finances too.
Thank you God!!