Seth has recently been studying thankfulness in his guys bible study. So at home he keeps trying to find ways to be thankful in everyday small things, hard things, etc. It is completely a perspective changer when you can find things to be thankful for in the normal or find things to be thankful for in the difficult or any situation. I've found that it often takes the focus from a selfish "why me" way of thinking to a way to find God in all things- maybe this has something to do with how are commanded to rejoice always- so we don't lose focus on Him.
Well about a week ago God gave us some opportunities to choose thankfulness. (not always an easy decision and not usually a decision I usually make right the first or second time around). We headed back to Little Rock from our week spent in IL (more on this trip later). Leaving has never been easy for me and this time saying goodbye was really difficult- I think partly due to the fact that next time we are there we will have a baby and everything will be completely different. A good different, but still very very different.
I didn't feel like choosing to be thankful. As we are heading down the interstate and i'm crying Seth keeps rattling off things that he was thankful for about the week. All I could do was absently nod my head while thinking that I wished he would stop being so optimistic for just a second & to just feeeeeeel the emotions with me. The truth is, though, that is what I needed. He was speaking truth about the week and after getting over my overwhelming emotions and urges to turn around and stay I realized he was right in what he was listing. I think I sometimes tend to miss the beauty of things when I let the pessimistic part of my heart rear it's ugly head instead of sitting grateful in the goodness of what God has and is doing. (I'm guessing this is one of those lessons i'll learn a few more times in life :)).
So after the tears subside for a bit, I decide to lay back and rest for a while. I'm trying to recline my seat and it won't go back. I see one of those reusable grocery bags in the way and so I try pulling on it to move it. I guess either i'm stronger than I thought or the bag was weaker than I figured (most likely the latter) and with a swift jerk back I punched myself square in the nose. Yes I said that right- I punched myself in the face. Embarrassing to admit. A mix of shock, pain, frustration, embarrassment, and unbelief hit me in less time than it took for tears to be rolling down my face. As Seth looked over at me holding my nose and crying (he didn't see this happen) I wasn't sure if I should bawl because it hurt so bad or laugh hysterically because I seriously had just punched myself in the face- who does that?! Try to find something to be thankful for about in an-almost-broken-nose. Thankful point- that my body can feel pain and react to it & that it gave us a good laugh...eventually.
After I recovered from this and we were driving along for a while I decided to try resting again. I had just gotten comfortable (slightly difficult at times when 30 weeks pregnant), eyes closed, and ready to rest when I felt something change. We were slowing down, drastically. And not because anyone in front of us was slowing down or that we needed to exit, but just stopping on the interstate. I look at Seth trying to figure out what's going on and I can't tell if he's going to laugh or cry or what. He had one of those "this is not good" looks on his face. This is how our conversation went:
Me: Are we slowing down?
Seth: yes. (as he glides the car onto the shoulder of the interstate)
Me: Are we stopping?
Me: Is that our car that smells? (as I smell a terrible odor once we stopped)
Me: Is that smoke coming from our car? (as I see steam/smoke/something come out from the hood)
Me; Are we going to blow up??!!
Me: Can you tell me what's going on?!
Seth: the temperature needle is above hot and the car just shut off. I'm going to go look at it, you can start praying :).
Thus began the unexpected interruption to our trip home. We were almost exactly halfway between here and there. In the middle of nowhere. On the side of the interstate. Pregnant. Car loaded with baby shower gifts and other miscellaneous items. Too far for anyone to come meet us. Times like this i'm very thankful for a level headed man who doesn't get frantic (like I would) in this situation. After his assessment of the car & talking to our dads and a couple good friends, it was very clear we would not be driving this car anywhere anytime soon. So we called for a tow truck and waited. Something else I realized I was thankful for= that Gracie was inside of me for this moment and not outside crying at all the loud cars going by. The tow truck came and we piled in his cab. At this moment I wasn't sure if I was going to breakdown and cry from exhaustion and unknown or laugh that we were squished in the cab of a very kind tow truck driver with a thick southern accent. I figured the best thing to do was not to cry. He told us he called ahead to the repair shop about 6 miles up the interstate and they should be able to look at it and get it fixed, no problem. We pull up to the repair shop and after the guys got the car down and pushed it into the garage we stood there. I wasn't sure what to take in first- the fact that the repair shop looked like it was barely standing or the fact that the repair man was rattling off prices and problems that were way beyond what we were expecting. At first we weren't sure if we should trust him- I mean how could he know what was wrong from a 2 second look under the hood?? The more time we spent with him we realized how kind of a man he was and I instantly felt bad for judging him based on the looks of his shop, etc. We realized the car was not going to start- something about a blown head gasket, heads, water hose, coolant, etc (I know a bare minimum about cars so it's likely that I don't have the technical names correct).
He saw I was pregnant and had instant compassion on us- it was amazing. He weighed through & offered different options such as renting a trailer and him towing us back to Little Rock just for the price of gas or mentioning his brother might be able to tow us home. Though these ideas weren't realistically possible at that point, I was amazed at the generosity and care that this perfect stranger had for a young pregnant couple. We were blown away by his heart. When we were on the side of the road earlier- stuck and without a clue and my job was to pray- I prayed that God would send us an angel to help. I'm not sure about him being an angel but I know God was definitely taking care of us by introducing us into the care of this man.
He told us that this car would need a few days of work and that he could take us to a hotel if we wanted (and by hotel I mean motel and by that I mean no holiday inns or anything near that close by). My heart sank. I didn't want to. I was tired, I wanted to sleep in my own bed- not some small town motel, I wanted to be home. Maybe this sounds spoiled, selfish, and ungrateful- but I was at the end of my rope emotionally by this point.
I asked if there were any places we could rent a car. He thought for a moment and told us he was going to call his neighbor who worked up the road at a dealership to see if they could rent us a car. Praise GOD- they had ONE car on their lot that they rented out. And it was still there. And the receptionist was going to wait past close of business for us to come. And the price was going to be really pretty affordable! Next dilemma- how do we get from the repair shop to the dealership 15 minutes away? Again this kind repairman came through. He told us he would be glad to take us for no cost- he just needed to call his wife and tell her that he would be late for dinner :). It was such a good reminder to me to see someone doing good for someone out of the kindness of his heart expecting nothing in return. Another thing to be thankful for- if this would have happened 30 minutes later, the repair shop and the dealership both would have been closed and we would have been stuck for sure. God's timing is a beautiful mystery.
We checked out our rental car and headed back to load up all our gear and headed home. I was so thankful we did not have to stay there and that we were going to be able to get home, no matter how long it took.
So we decide at this point (about 3-4 hours after breaking down) we are starving for dinner. We decide to stop at Wendy's. We usually love Wendy's. Not so much this time. We walked in and I thought "awesome, it's not busy...only one person in line ahead of us!". We stood in line and stood in line and waited. and waited. Finally we ordered. and we waited. and we waited. What should have been a 5 minute in and out ended up being almost 30 minutes of waiting. I looked up at Seth as we stood there- exhausted, hungry, and just plain worn out- smiled and said "tell me what there is to be thankful about now?" "Hot food" he said with a smile :). Hot it was, even if the order ended up being wrong after all that, haha :).
We finally made it home about 4 1/2 hours after we planned and though the trip home was not what we expected and changed a lot of plans we had, we realized that we had a lot to be thankful for too. And not in a "we should just say this because it is the right thing to say" type of thinking, but feeling truly grateful for several things.
Now we wade in a decision that we weren't expecting to make right now- buy a new vehicle or try to fix this one and trust it will be safe? We definitely are not on the same page if we buy one- Seth (practical & logical) would love a mini van. Me (dreamer & hopeful) would love an SUV. We have our reasons (which I won't go into now because this is long enough!) but we just want to make a wise choice in the end. And as Seth keeps reminding me, God knew this would happen and He knows what vehicle we need and He will provide to get it. It really is such a small thing in the scheme of things, yet i'm so glad that it matters enough to God for Him to take care of us in it!