I need to write. I have a deadline.
The kids need their mom. You have a deadline, but you have kids too, remember?
I do, thank you.
I know! I could go to the gym, work out for an hour and then leave them in the childcare for another hour or two to get some work done.
That sounds like a blast for them.
No really, I’d bring them lunch in between working out and working. They love the childcare at the gym.
It’s Saturday and it’s beautiful outside, you should take them to the park.”
Yesterday the mom me won over the writer me and I took the kids to the park. Before we hit the park though we went to Barnes & Noble. The kids looked at books quietly on the floor, they love to read. Just kidding. They ran around like lunatics and begged for “Big Eyed” stuffed animals and every book ever published with a cheap toy attached to it. I was explaining for the 187th time why we didn’t need any more stuffed animals (“we’re here for books people, books!”) when a young mom with an infant in a stroller approached me head on.
“How do you look so put together? How do you look so pretty? How many kids do you have?”
I blinked. Put together? Pretty? I laughed and answered, “Oh, about once a week I do something to myself, you must have caught me on that day.” She didn’t laugh. Her questions were real and she wanted answers. I told her I have two kids and thanked her for the compliment while bending down and picking up all varieties of Thomas and his friends off the floor and putting them back on the shelf. She tended to her children as well and before long we were on opposite ends of the children’s section. Circle back, I heard a voice in my head. That conversation isn’t over. She needs more.
I’ve had this happen before: I’m in a moment, usually a very normal, unspectacular moment when the ground beneath me shifts and mysteriously becomes sacred. Christians call these moments “divine appointments.” A divine appointment is an encounter or event that might initially seem to be random or coincidental but is soon recognized as having been specifically and unmistakably caused by God for some specific purpose.
In these moments I’ve learned I can either listen and obey or walk away. I’ve walked away from some of them, blown them off, mumbled something about being too busy on my way out. But these are the moments I live for, the sacred in the ordinary. God speaking, me listening and acting; it’s humbling and exciting being on a team with the God of the universe. I’ve learned to listen and obey so I walked back over to her, not sure what to say. I soon learned she had three kids; a five year old, a three year old and an 8 month old; one of them has special needs. We talked and talked and talked. When the kids got even antsier one of us suggested we take this conversation to the nearby park, the one we were planning on going to after the bookstore anyways.
Once at the park I thought I was getting stood up. It was taking longer than I expected for her to arrive. How stupid for thinking that was God, it was probably just your own thoughts, I chided myself. But then she and her miniature crew arrived and the kids played and we talked like we’d known each other for ages. We traded labor stories, diagnosis stories, kissing our babies goodbye as they are wheeled into surgery stories, being married to first responders with grueling schedules stories.
I’m glad I chose the park yesterday. I’m glad I chose to listen to God (newsflash: it was God) and circle back. I’m glad we traded phone numbers and I’m excited to see what God has in store for this friendship.
I can write today.