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Travels from Omaha, Nebraska

The Turnaround


The Turnaround

by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder  

I am happy to report that I just enjoyed a fabulous weekend. And while I can say that now, if you’d asked me Friday morning how the weekend was going to go, my story would have been quite different.

You see, Friday morning was rough—really, really rough. I suppose it started Thursday evening when my husband Zach left for his annual guys’ weekend. And while I’m glad he has the opportunity to spend a weekend each summer at the lake with a group of great men, it’s tough to be the one left at home with the kids.

My morning started in a southward direction almost as soon as Friday began when Julie crawled into bed with me at about 12:30 a.m. Because Zach was gone, I simply rolled over and gave her my spot. At 3:00, I woke up and quietly put her back in her own bed only to have her rejoin me thirty minutes later. A few hours later, instead of waking up to the sound of Zach getting ready for work, I woke up to the sensation of Julie’s feet positioned squarely in my back. I’m not sure how such a little kid can monopolize so much bed real estate, but she does.

The kids were actually fairly well behaved that morning, which is good, because I was a hot mess. I surely would have lost my mind if they’d decided to act up. Maybe they sensed that and responded accordingly.

At any rate, I woke up (about 20 minutes late) with my mind going in a hundred different directions. I had to wake up Justice and have him start getting ready for school. (Shoot! I thought, I didn’t make it to the grocery store last night! Guess Justice will have to eat hot lunch. So much for packing his lunch more often than not this year. *sigh*) It was Julie’s first day of preschool, so I had to get her fed and dressed too. (Ugh! I meant to get out her clothes last night before bed. I hope she’s agreeable this morning.) And I figured I should probably take a shower and get dressed myself before walking out the door in less than an hour. 

As I was trying to encourage the kids to make a breakfast selection so we could get the show on the road, I realized I’d never finished setting up the account to pay Julie’s preschool tuition. As I was pouring bowls of cereal, I had visions of being humiliated as the teacher loudly announced that Julie couldn’t come into the classroom until we went to the office and set up the account for our monthly payments. (Yes, I know that wouldn’t really happen, but my mind automatically envisions worst-case scenario. Come on, I know I’m not the only one who does that.)

Next it was off to the computer to finish setting up the account. Only I couldn’t remember the name of the website, and I apparently hadn’t written down any of the information about the account I’d already started weeks earlier. Off I ran—upstairs to my room where I quickly found Julie’s school folder only to realize that I’d mistakenly recycled the page with the payment information. That’s the moment my anxiety shot through the roof. Then it was back downstairs and to the computer. I pulled up the school website and frantically scoured page after page, searching for the name of the website I needed to set up the account. Just as I was about to call the school and beg for mercy for my forgetfulness, I found it.

I tried to log on only to discover that the account I’d started to create wasn’t saved when I failed to finish setting up the payment information. At this point, the kids were trying to talk to me, which sent me into a state of complete frenzy. Luckily, I caught myself before completely biting their heads off and instead frantically explained that Mommy really needed to finish doing something before we could leave.

Justice went on to finish getting ready, while Julie watched the Bubble Guppies, despite of our no-TV-before-school rule. As I was clicking the last button to complete preschool tuition payment, I realized I’d forgotten about another important bill. (I’m not always this disorganized, but it happens more than I’d like to admit.) While waiting for my account page to load, I hopped over to Facebook and quickly updated my status: “Rough morning. Boo!” Then it was back to business. Fortunately, my second banking transaction went much better, but it was taking up precious minutes I desperately needed.

After making sure Justice was all put together, I sent him on his way. Finally, I was ready to get Julie ready. I quickly grabbed an outfit and asked her to get dressed while I jumped in the shower. I wasn’t so concerned with my own appearance, so I threw my wet hair in a low ponytail and grabbed my favorite hat. But this was Julie’s first day of school, and I wanted to be sure she looked cute in the pictures that would one day grace the pages of her scrapbook that I’ll surely create—you know, when I catch up with life and have all of that spare time on my hands.

We quickly settled on pigtails, and the morning struggle to detangle her beautiful golden locks began. After only a few squeals, we were done, and she was beautiful. We ran down the stairs and headed for the minivan. And then I realized that it was chilly, and she needed a jacket. Back upstairs I went. After grabbing a jacket, I headed back toward the garage. I opened the door a second time and then remembered she needed a backpack. I bolted upstairs and into her room—no backpack. Downstairs in the hall closet—no backpack. Family room—no backpack. Back upstairs in my room—finally, I found the backpack. Then it was back down the stairs and out to the van. We were ready to go. At this point I was so frazzled that my heart was beating notably faster than normal. 

My morning had nearly brought me to tears. I honestly felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown for absolutely no reason in particular.

As I grabbed my phone on the way out the door, I saw that I’d received a Facebook notification. A friend had commented on my status: “God’s way of giving you something to blog about!” I set down my phone and smiled as I pulled out of the driveway.

In my van, when we’re not listening to Julie’s CD of old-time kids’ songs, we’re listening to K-Love. Just a few minutes into our drive, the song “This Is the Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli started to play. It’s a song I’ve heard a hundred times, but it had never struck me like it did that morning.

Here are the words I heard:

I lost my keys in the great unknown,
And call me please, ’cause I can’t find my phone.

This is the stuff that drives me crazy.
This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately.
In the middle of my little mess,
I forget how big I’m blessed.
This is the stuff that gets under my skin,
But I’ve gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing.
Might not be what I would choose,
But this the stuff You use.

Forty-five in a thirty-five, sirens and fines
While I’m running behind.

All I could do was laugh. God had, indeed, used my morning not only to give me something to blog about but to teach me an incredible lesson. Because, really, what was there to get so worked up about that morning? I’d raised my blood pressure because I’d forgotten something that easily could have been resolved at any time that day? I may have been a few minutes late to take my four-year-old to her first day of preschool? She may not have looked perfect in her nonexistent scrapbook? So what?! 

Instead of internally freaking out over such silly things, I began to sing along to the song on the radio and thanked God for how truly blessed I am. And at that moment, my day turned around. I could feel my heart rate slow, and a sense of calm passed through me—all because of a Facebook note, a song, and God’s amazingly perfect timing in showing me the reality of my situation. It was as if He was saying, “Joy, stop! Take a breath, count your blessings, and enjoy your day.”

So for today’s friendly reminder, I’d like to leave you with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

You can listen to Francesca Battistelli’s entire song on YouTube at the following link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe4SckesWLE

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