Have you ever had a day, week, month, or even year where it feels like the “bottom just fell out?” That’s has been us for the past few weeks. There have been so many negative things that happened back to back that one begins to scratch their head and wonder – and pray more.
One of our cars (new to us) went to the shop 5 (yes 5) times for the exact same issue. The owner was rather perplexed at why this very odd issue kept happening and wasn’t staying fixed.
A very random tax issue surfaced from 2011 that was a momentary heart-stopping experience. (Don’t worry, we didn’t do anything illegal and it’s being rectified).
Then a new, top of the line computer decided it didn’t want to work anymore (I guess it was tired?). We’ve yet to hear if any of the data can be recovered. If you’ve ever had a computer crash, you know the heart sinking feeling of hours and hours of precious work lost in a black whole. I haven’t given up hope! There’s always hope….
Personal business hurdles to jump over, kids starting school for the first time in a couple years (we’ve homeschooled the last two and this is our first time with all 3 in a school!), business infrastructure changes, and a few not-so-nice messages (don’t those always seem to come at times when you’re already feeling a bit down?) are just a few more of our “bottom is falling out” moments.
Then one day, I was meeting a friend at a coffee shop downtown. Another friend I hadn’t seen in ages happened to be there. We chatted briefly, then waved good-bye as they hopped into their car to leave. The next minute happened in slow motion as I watched this friend accidentally back their car into the side door of our minivan with a loud “crunch!!!”
I was shocked, but surprisingly, didn’t react with anger or even feel upset. I don’t know why. It just wasn’t a big deal. No one was hurt (other than our car) and I had a strange feeling this was going to be ok. As I was driving my sadly dented van home, I was feeling badly for my friend. My 10 year old had the same sentiments. With tears in her compassionate eyes she asked, “Will ____ be ok mommy? I feel so sad that this happened!” I love that she wasn’t even concerned about our car or us at all – her heart went straight to the other person and the affect it might have on their day.
As we rode along, I prayed with my kids out loud and declared what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true. “God always works things for good to those that love Him. We CHOOSE right now to believe what You say Jesus, and not what we feel. This may feel bad, but You redeem and restore all things and we trust You!”
Immediately after praying (thank you Lord for speaking so quickly!), the thought came to my mind that the door my friend hit was an electric sliding door that had been broken and hadn’t worked for a year. We had gotten into the routine of everyone piling in on the passenger side, and had rendered this door useless.
I laughed out loud when I realized that God was giving us a brand new door! Was His plan to crash my car? I don’t know, I’m not a theologian. But I don’t think so. He is good. We live in a broken world where bad things happen – things that cause pain, tears, and death – things that were never a part of this world’s original design. However, we have a good God who takes those broken, painful things and redeems and restores them to beautiful, good things!!!
We took our car to the dealer and they fixed the electrical part AND the dent – a completely FREE $1700 fix. A fix we had decided a year ago that we didn’t need and were ok to live without. But God felt differently. He wanted to give it to us anyway, in a very unexpected package. A package I would’ve missed had I reacted with anger, frustration, and fear.
But the story continues…
A week or so after we got our car back, it had been driven minimally because we were in a conference. Nathan went to drive it one morning and called me immediately. “DON’T drive the van. It’s revving from 0-40 in neutral. We have to take it to the shop now. Follow me there!”
$627 later, an electrical cord in the power steering and some other part of the driving mechanism had been replaced due to damage in the cords themselves. Another moment of feeling like “the bottom is falling out.” Well, this one may have actually been a “Man, when it rains it pours!” moment. Just being honest.
After shedding a few tears of frustration, I declared again what I know to be true. “Jesus, you are good. I don’t know how, but You will work this for good in our lives. Do only what You can do – redeem and restore what is trying to be stolen.”
The next day was our kids’ first day of school! So Nathan went out to the van that evening to get it ready for a car load of kids. The back row seat had been folded down to make room for some supplies he had carried prior to the conference we had been at several weeks earlier. He needed to pull that seat up so the kids had a place to sit.
As he went to lift the bench seat up from the trunk, he was startled (to say the least) by a posse of mice scattering in all direction. YES, I said mice! It happened so fast he didn’t get a head count, but he knew there were a lot. He came inside and with very large eyes, his said, “Please don’t freak out.” Men, this is NEVER a good way to start a sentence or address something with your wife. I took a deep breath and asked what had been broken, destroyed or colored on by the kids (moms, you know that’s exactly where you’re mind would’ve gone too! I mean come on; I just bought a new pillow on the couch! I thought for sure it was a “gonner”).
When he told me there were mice in our van, I audibly breathed a sigh of relief. “Whew! I’m so glad it wasn’t my pillow!” He looked at me perplexed, to say the least. “I don’t think I understand women. But Ok! I’m glad you’re not upset!” If it was the pillow, I would’ve been! I can’t tell you how many things I’ve had to bury in “Mom’s ‘Nice, But Ruined Things’ Graveyard” out back because of spilled protein shakes, sticky fingers, or an accidental bump. I was relieved I wasn’t having a décor funeral this evening.
However, I hadn’t thought through the full implications of what MICE in my car actually meant. We set 14 traps in the car that evening, complete with peanut butter and a chocolate chip for good measure.
The next morning before school, we all eagerly ran to the van to see how many we had caught. Zero! Nadda! Not a one!!! “Well,” I thought, “maybe one look at Nathan scared them and they left the building.”
We had no choice that first-day-of-school morning, but to take the Mice Mobile because our other SUV was in the shop (remember? This was the 5th time for the same thing! BAD timing!). We calmly drove to school, trying hard not to inhale what smelled a bit like musty formaldehyde. (Nathan later informed me, quietly, that all urine has ammonia in it). Oh gross! Ok, now I was starting to freak out a bit, but I was trying to hide it for the sake of my kids.
The day passed uneventfully and we picked the kids up from school in our Mice Mobile and headed to run some errands. By the horrid smell in the car, I was wondering if we’d all survive the journey! As we were driving I realized it wasn’t getting any cooler in our car. “Oh, no, the mice destruction has begun. First to go…Air Conditioning.” Ninety degrees, hot car, and mice urine do NOT make for a good ride. So we scratched our plans and decided to head straight home and tear the car apart and find these little suckers.
That’s when the trip got exciting. Suddenly, a long, skinny tail popped out of the side panel by the windshield. Nathan shouts, “Oh my goodness” as he swerves to keep the car under control and on the road (as if swerving would somehow knock it out of its hiding place). Then, in unison, all 3 children (and yes, myself included) started screaming as this little tail waved at us, quite like it was taunting and laughing at us.
“Stay calm everyone!” says the great and powerful Dad. Yeah right! Calm? At a time like this?
Then, moments later, much to my dismay, (and I’m not even lying) I feel a scurrying behind the small of my back – IN MY PASSENGER SEAT! A mouse had just run behind my back! OH GROSS, OH GROSS, OH GROSS!!!! Now, I’m dying. Eden is bawling. Asher is sitting on his feet so the little things don’t eat his toes off. And Micaiah is calling for them all to come out so she can catch one for a pet. She’s already named one. FAMILY CIRCUS AT IT’S FINEST! I wish I had this moment on video. Someday it will be very funny (not today).
I remember in that moment, Nathan and I looked at each other and said, “Is this really happening? Are we awake right now?” Oh, but the smell, and the small tickle in my back, reminded me precisely that we were awake – wide awake!
We got home and for the next 5 hours of that evening, homework, laundry, and food were all secondary. I don’t even think we took potty breaks. We were on a family mission to conquer and destroy. The kids were armed and ready….Asher with his baseball bat, Micaiah with her animal cage. Eden got a free pass from mice annihilation because she had gymnastics. She was VERY happy to get dropped off an hour early and do her homework there (as we dropped her off, she looked over her shoulder as she was literally running for the door and said, “Get me out of this mouse car!”). I agreed completely, Eden. Nathan and I were armed with vacuum, rags, and a gallon of Shaklee Basic G – ready to disinfect and clean our entire car of any crumb that may be keeping those little guys alive.
Five hours of disinfecting and the same 14 traps later, we felt pretty confident that on this night, our mouse problems would end.
The next morning, you would’ve thought it was Christmas morning, as we all rushed down the steps and out the door to see how many we had caught. None. Again. I thought this was odd, due to the tail and the mouse in my seat, but again I thought, “Maybe we scared them off and they left the building.” I took all but 4 traps out of the car. I didn’t want the kids to be looking at them all the way to school so I hid them under the front seats and back seats.
We drove to school that morning with heads hanging out the window. Our car was cleaner than it had been for 7 years, but the smell seemed like it might be permanent. And everyone’s feet were tucked safely up under them (not me because I was driving – but I did keep looking down to make sure nothing was crawling around). “Please Jesus, get our other car fixed fast,” was all I could pray!
As I dropped the kids off at school, I said, “We’re great kids! The mice are gone. We will figure something out for the smell but I think we are all good!” Oh, how I was praying that was true!
I dropped the kids off and ran to the gym across the street to do a quick BURSTClub™ ROCKSolid workout. Thirty minutes later, I came back out, opened the door, and sat down in the driver’s seat. When I sat down, the car made a really funny noise. “Was that a squeak?” I thought. I did a little bounce up and down on my seat. Every time I came down, I most definitely heard a very faint, but distinct “squeak.” Oh gross, oh gross, oh gross!! I jumped out of the car, completely drenched with sweat. I don’t know about you, but that’s my bodies reaction to anything that crawls or had legs or beady little eyes. And to know I was sitting on one, quite possibly all the way to school that morning, made me sweat all the more! Then I knew it was the moment of truth…I had to check the trap under my seat. Those traps have been there two whole nights!! I ran into the gym for 30 minutes and could it be possible to catch one in that short of time??
I did some sort of contortionist move to be able to peak under the seat without actually putting my head down there – you know, just in case it wasn’t fully trapped! I didn’t want that thing jumping out at me or something! And then I saw it – a disgusting, beady little eye staring at me! Oh the sweat was pouring now and the hairs on my arms and neck were standing on end. I immediately called Nathan, my knight in shining armor, and told him the good news (oddly enough, it was good) – we had caught a mouse! While I waited on Prince Charming to come rescue me from this little creature (because I wasn’t about to touch it!), I decided to take my IPhone and stick it down by the seat to see exactly what I’d caught. I hadn’t actually seen what I caught beyond a small eyeball. I snapped a picture and nearly passed out.
I HAD CAUGHT TWO MICE….not one!!
I decided I’d better check the other traps.
I went first to the passenger seat – where I’d felt one crawl behind my back yesterday. I wasn’t about to stick my face under the seat so I used the IPhone trick again and snapped a picture. Low and behold, I’d caught ANOTHER one!
I stifled a scream since there were innocent bystanders in the rec center parking lot. I didn’t think they needed in on the drama for the day.
Nathan (a.k.a. Charming) arrived and rescued me from the little vermin. He had also gone to get our car from the shop, so needless to say, we switched cars. He was my hero and took the Mouse Mobile so his princess didn’t have to sit on anymore squeakers for the day.
We caught two more mice that day for a total of 5 (so far).
We called the insurance company and explained the situation. We then put 2 and 2 together that our recent $627 electrical failure was from the mice. Our AC that was going out was from the mice. So where did it all start?
The only likely place was the car dealer who fixed our car from the original crash into the side. We called and found out he had our van door off for 3-4 days and his place is next to a field. They’ve had exterminators come out, but they’ve had problems in the past (and present, it sounds like).
So our blessing of a free fixed van door sent us home with friends inside!!
So back to praying what I know to be true, “Ok God, I’m a little unnerved by all this and honestly a bit flustered. Time, money, and hassle. How are you going to redeem and restore this one for good? This does NOT feel good (nor smell). But I’m excited to see what You do because this one’s a doosie. If anyone can do it, You can…and will. I’m waiting, looking, and listening expectantly.”
In addition to this feeble pray at believing God for good to come of this really bad day (s) I did go on to learn a few things. Maybe these things can encourage you when the bottom falls out!
What kind of day have you had? How are you navigating the overwhelming emotions that come with hard times?