I have seven children. Four biological, two adopted toddlers, and a foster love. It is a rare treat for me to be alone.
That sunny Spring Saturday morning, I was giddy about the day ahead of me. I set up shop in my favorite café. I stole a table by an electrical outlet in a far away corner. I would be out of the traffic that would wind in and out between the tables for the entirety of my stay.
Moments before, I had dropped off my tween daughter at an all-day play rehearsal and then delivered our foster daughter to an extended visit with her birth mother. My husband had our younger sons helping him on our ranch. It made no sense to make two full trips into town, so I stayed in and waited while I sipped hot tea and banged away on my laptop keys. I’d not a moment to waste!
My waitress chirped, “Escaped, did you?”
I beamed, “Yup! Keep Earl Grey coming, Mandy!”
“I’ll guard the gate!”she said. I could trust her to check on me but not interrupt.
I dove into chapter edits with delight. As I dug into suggestions and red mark track changes from my editor, I whispered, “Thank you, Jesus, for this time, and thank you for this opportunity . . . ”
In my soul, I heard, “Not today, love.”
It was one of those “WAIT WHAT?” moments. I looked up and made definite eye contact with an elderly woman. She was polished, well dressed, fancy. She very obviously had a terrible case of Palsy. I smiled and tried to get back to edits.
Curious, I had to look again.
She was still looking right at me. Her table for two was separated from my table by the empty chairs between us.
She tugged at my soul. I engaged. “That’s a lovely blouse.”
“Thank you. My sister and I had long curly hair like yours.”
“My sister has it, too,” I remarked. “So does my daughter.”
I attempted to stare back at my screen.
“There are many more products out now. It must be easier to manage?”
“Yes, well . . .” I decided she could have my full attention a moment longer. “Frizz is an ongoing battle. Mainly in the humid summer months.” I looked back at my screen.
“I am not from here. But my sister always said it was a furnace in the summer.” I looked across at her. My blinks were long and weary.
“Oh dear,” she purred. “I’ve distracted you. I’m sorry. Get back to your computer machine.”
The spirit moved me, “Today is the gift of rest.”
I snapped out of my trance, “No, I’ve just had a change of plans. Would you like to join me for tea and scones?”
Her face lit up, “That would be delightful! I’m waiting for a taxi to take me to the airport. He’ll be here in a couple of hours. I’d have been dangerous alone with my thoughts.”
I packed my briefcase and moved to her table.
In the two hours we visited, I learned she’d come to Texas for her sister’s funeral. I’d seen the obituary and recalled the name, Minnie. We talked, cried, giggled, and ministered to each other. I told her about my recent book deal and the children. We wept together over the loss of her youngest child in 1968 and the imminent loss of our foster daughter, merely days away.
When her cab arrived, we walked together and embraced as if we’d known each other for years.
I remember her fondly as a gift of rest. As I manage writing, babies, teens, household, edits, homeschool, marriage, romance, groceries, and the like, I often ignore the opportunity to rest. Deep within my need for order and efficiency, I am blessed with opportunities to rest. To be still and learn. To let go, laugh, cry, and drink tea with a new friend. And I serve a God who multiplies.
He blessed me with a gift I hadn’t asked for and filled in the gaps of time not wasted.
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My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)