I was not fully aware of the emotional baggage of the item on my to-do list today until a stranger responded to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to say just the right thing.
All the kids were finally at school. I enjoyed some tea and breakfast over Facebook and tried to make a plan for what I should attempt to tackle today. The chaos of my move-in still surrounds me. I needed a plan. I needed attainable goals. But the sheer number of things needing to be done were looming large in front of me and all I wanted to do was shut down.
As I made the rounds to rooms and wrote down things we needed to make this house a home—shoe organizers, laundry baskets, a corner bookshelf in my son’s tiny bedroom—a realization dawned on me. Jarod had requested something his siblings had had for months. He wanted a picture in a frame of just him and dad.
When Kraig died I had one immediately of Lucy, taken two days before he died. That was easy. I then found one, at Kati’s request of her with him at Disney in 2011. A few months later, Ryan asked for one and I located one from the Halloween before he died. But try as I might, I could not find one from the past few years with just Jarod and his father.
My heart ached to find one. Jarod never said a word. I quietly berated myself for not making an intentional effort to get pics of them with him regularly. But how could I have known?
Two months ago, Jarod finally stepped forward and asked me to find one for him. I searched and finally discovered on my iPod pictures I had forgotten were there. Pictures that should have gone in our last family album with dad. But there sat one of them together on a fantastic day at Mt. Rushmore in the winter before he died. He had a snowball fight with the kids in the amphitheater. The mountain was shrouded in fog and invisible. We saw a mountain goat up close—less than 12 feet away. This picture captured a good day.
Today I would run a few errands and I would go print off this picture and buy a frame. Easier said than done.
Sam’s Club’s was having technical problems. After waiting 15 minutes at Walgreen’s I discovered their computer wouldn’t see the pictures in the separate file I’d moved them to on the card. I headed to Walmart, my stress level rising. The nice lady said she could print them in 20 minutes. Perfect. I had one more errand to do so I’d be back. This errand proved to be just as difficult and I ended up trying four places before finding what I needed. I did not realize how close to the surface my emotions were as I headed back to Walmart and grabbed a frame on the way to the photo counter.
A nice man with deep ebony skin smiled and offered to get my pictures. When I asked if I could pay for the frame there too, he said, “Yes.” I smiled and said, “I’m having a day full of “no’s” so that yes is appreciated.” As he rang up my sale, he replied, “Well here you go and I pray favor over the rest of your day.”
I burst into tears. I kid you not. Standing at Walmart, I could not even choke out the “thank you” that rose up from the bottom of my heart. This man had no idea I was retrieving a picture of my son and his late-father. I wanted to tell him but the words would not come.
He smiled, nodded his head, and said, “That’s ok. Just receive it in Jesus’ name.” I smiled and nodded harder as I turned to leave, wiping the tears from my cheeks.
I may write that man a thank you note and explain how his obedience to the words the Holy Spirit must have placed on his heart blessed me. It was a simple reminder that God knew this was a tough thing to tackle today. God understood why this was hard. God’s presence continues to walk through this with me as I quickly approach the awful anniversary next week.
Today, I encourage you, brothers and sisters in Christ, listen to that prompting of the Holy Spirit to say that simple encouragement, to hold that door open, to smile at that person looking sad. Take the chance to speak the words you might not otherwise have the courage to speak. You might be the blessing that brings hope and reminders of God’s love today. Your obedience to that gentle nudge in your spirit could make an amazing difference in someone’s day.
Someone was that for me today and it made me love Jesus all the more.