I've got a story for you.
So this morning my van battery was dead. Again. For about the sixth time in a week. Even the bishop has jumped my car for me. It's getting ridiculous. So after Garry jumped the battery one more time, I loaded up the Littles (including Gavin, whose hacking cough kept him out of school and ought to be loads of fun on our road trip) and went to Advance Auto Parts to see if our dumb battery could still be replaced under warranty. I was worried about our upcoming travel with a fritzy battery.
We've had it tested a couple times before, and it always tests "good," even when it dies all the time. So while Brent, the cashier/technician, tested the battery, I silently prayed that it would test bad. It tested bad. Tender mercy #1. The old battery was under a prorated warranty, which doesn't exist anymore, but Brent gave the new one to me for half price anyway. Tender mercy #2.
Then Brent told me that because he was the only one in the store until 10:00 a.m. (it was 8:15), the only way he could install the battery was if no more customers came into the store. Guess what I prayed for? That customers would stay away until my battery was fixed. And they did. Brent installed the battery in 20 minutes and we were on our way.
Tender mercy #3. I even found the code to unlock the stereo system (an anti-theft feature that activates when the battery is removed) without calling Honda. Tender mercy #4.
Gavin, Lexi, Kate, and I then drove off for our morning routine: pick up Zach at the middle school, check Lexi into preschool, and drop Zach at the elementary school (yes, in that order). Once those kids were delivered, Gavin and Kate and I went to Target since I was trying to put off Kate's nap.
At Target I intended to pick up snacks for the road (check), a possible birthday gift for Zach (couldn't find it), a baby shower gift for tonight (check), and a couple shirts for Lexi (check). While in the girls department I discovered winter coats on sale, and since I saw one I liked, I put one of those in the basket, too.
We got to check-out. It was super slow, so the 10-items-or-less cashier motioned me into her lane. Just as she finished ringing up my purchases, I realized I didn't have my wallet. What?! My mind raced back through the morning, and I realized I had probably left it at the auto parts store...about 90 minutes before. I panicked, thinking about the hassle it would be to bring more kids back to Target, and when would I do it (this was my only shopping window for the day), and how could I be so dumb, and what if my wallet is gone forever, and then I need a temple recommend before Ryan's wedding Saturday even though I JUST renewed it....
Then tender mercy #5 happened. John Miller, a man in my ward, walked right past the check stand. I stopped him and explained my situation. Before I got to the part about please maybe could he possibly pay for my stuff, he pulled out his wallet and walked to the cashier. Oh my goodness! And just like that, he walked away with a smile and a wave. I told him I'd pay him back and he said, "Oh, whenever you get around to it." I melted.
Once back in the van with the kids, I took a deep breath. I looked up the number for Advance Auto and called. My wallet was in the store safe. Brent had noticed it right away. Tender mercy #6. I told him I'd be there in ten minutes. When I arrived, the wallet and its contents were totally intact. All my cards, my cash, my recommend. Everything was there. Tender mercy #7.
Buoyed up by this collective fantastic news, I drove home. In the course of my travels, I passed a homeless man on a street corner. His cardboard sign read: "I'm hungry. Please help." Having been the recipient of so much kindness, I decided to pay it forward. I drove through Wendy's and ordered a large, beefy combo meal and put a $5 bill in the bag. The look on that poor man's face when I handed him the bag was priceless. I was grateful for the opportunity to give just a little back to the community that had helped me.
This morning--and lately, really--I felt abandoned and very alone. My morning prayer today included a plea for help, for some reassurance that God is mindful of me. Because of my experiences this morning, I know, even better than I knew before, that a loving Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers. The answers don't always come in the way I would like or even expect, but they come. And I am ever grateful.