I woke up just a few hours earlier. I had been up most of the night fighting side effects of a medication. Sick again and worst . . . headache . . . ever. Twelve hours of a cold washcloth on my forehead had done nothing.
Last day of summer. Oh, Lord, this is not the day I imagined.
No energy = no fun. Now what?
I texted a friend at 3 AM to see if she was taking her kids to the movie morning. 7 AM, I drag myself out of bed to check for messages. No reply.
She calls by 8:30, busy day. She feels bad. I don’t want her to feel bad. I understand.
Everyone is getting ready for school tomorrow. Mommy friends are running around school clothes shopping, buying school supplies, going to the pool, having fun with their kids.
I shower. Rest. Put on makeup. Rest.
“What are we going to do today, mom?”
“I don’t know, hon.”
Maybe Target. Knee is working today–so far. Do I risk it? What if we get to the back of the store and my knee goes out again? My son still needs a new lunch box and a few school supplies. The nearby Carl’s Jr. has a play area. Perhaps there will be children there even though it is over 90 degrees.
We leave for Target. I lock the door to the house.
Lord, please let this work. I don’t want today to be a bummer day for either of us.
“Can I get a toy, Mom?”
“No, we are just getting school stuff, okay? We are not buying anything else. We are not even going to go to the toy section, and if you fight me on this, we will not go to lunch. Do you understand?”
I sound tough, but he somehow talked me into a Monster truck at Walmart days earlier when we went for weed killer.
He gives me his best puppy dog look, “Okay, Mom.”
I drive to the store praying I can get through this errand.
Lord, please don’t let me get overheated or dizzy, please don’t let my knee go out, please help me relax and make this a fun outing, please help my son stay calm and not cry about a toy.
Psalm 31:14 says,
“Desperate, I throw myself on you: you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me. Warm me, your servant, with a smile; save me because you love me.” (The Message)
Target is remodeling, nothing is in its place. My son insists I am going the wrong way. He says I will get arrested for taking a shortcut.
We finally locate the school supplies aisles. Empty, trashed. A lone Scooby Doo lunchbox sits on a shelf. “This is just what I want,” he exclaims. “It’s cool, right, Mom?”
I think to myself. . . Third grade, I think Scooby is cool in third grade. I don’t want him to be teased. Last year it was all about not having licensed characters. “It’s very cool,” I say.
We get tissues, sanitary wipes, the odd things on the supply list. We head to check out. I did it, Lord. Thank You. Oh, thank You so much.
Lunch. Let’s sit inside and eat. His idea. We have chicken nuggets, sodas, and chat. He’s nervous about junior high, about finding his classes. . . except he’s only in third grade.
“Don’t worry about that yet, honey. You still have a few years before you have to think about that.”
We go outside to the play area. Two kids arrive. After 20 minutes they leave, but another child arrives. It’s “dude this” and “dude that” and spaceships and cowboys and flying angry birds in the play structure. Parents are relieved my son is organizing the playtime so their siblings don’t fight.
It is time to go. Everyone is leaving so we all leave at once. There are no arguments, no bargains, no pleading, just satisfaction.
We get in the car and I buckle up. From the backseat I hear, “Thanks, Mom. That was the best day ever.”
The best. . . day. . . ever. . .? Why? Or may be the question is How?
For him there was joy, kids, food, unforced conversation, laughter, pretend play. Contentment. Sweet contentment.
For me there was answered prayer, his forgiveness for where I lack or am limited.
There was delight in being able to provide, sweetness in talking to him about real life.
Illness is surely a thorn in my life, yet I see God use it in the smallest ways each day for “hour by hour I place my days in His hand.” There is no other way to live. Putting my hours into God’s hands is not a choice, it’s a necessity.
I tell others this and I try to live it. But I am guilty of expecting God to just get me through. I have low expectations. I don’t expect God to give me joy each day, just survival skills. Why do I limit myself so?
If God can turn a trip to the store and lunch for my son into a fabulous day, what could He give me if I just asked?
If, rather than just expecting Him to warm with a smile I waited for that huge hug?
What would my day look like before it was turned it into the best day ever?
I was just looking for something to do to “waste some time,” but in my son’s simple words I realize God told me, “Look closely, daughter, for even in the mundane things of life you can find the best . . .day . . . ever. Stop expecting so little from Me.”
“Mom, this was the best day ever.”
Thank You, Jesus.
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.