Our Nebraska morning started at 3am as I was stirred to the sound of music playing softly in the distance. I thought, “I must be dreaming“. John was lying beside me snoring softly, so I brushed off the sound and tried to fall back asleep.
“Ring…Ring…Ring”. Now I knew this wasn‘t a dream. John jumped up, searching for the phone in the dark. He answered “Hello” groggily, but quickly became wide awake at the urgency of the call. There had been a fatal accident involving an Assisted Living resident and his presence as CEO was required. The nurse told John they had tried to reach his cell phone, but received no answer.
“Oh”, I realized, “that was the music I kept hearing.”
Sleep was no longer an option. At 4am I started a pot of coffee and turned on the Weather Channel to find the latest proximity of Hurricane Ivan. John quickly dressed and left for a trying day at work.
I would have to wake Tim and Andrew up soon to finish yesterday’s homework . I can’t really blame them for not finishing. Our eyes had been glued to reports of Hurricane Ivan and we were all worried about our Florida family.
‘I can do’
Waking Tim and Andrew was not an easy task. Finally, they were both at the kitchen table with homework and breakfast facing them. I crashed on the sofa in front of the television.
“Mom, can I call Katie* and see if she wants to walk with me to school?”
“What Tim?” I jumped up drowsily. “Oh, sure, but Andrew has to walk with you.”
As Andrew began to bargain for a ride, Tim shouted, “Katie’s mom is driving us in one minute so we can get to the flag pole on time.”
How could I have forgotten? Today was See You At The Pole day. John and I had met with a number of local adults the night before at the high school flag pole. We had prayed for our children who would be meeting at the pole this morning to pray for their friends, their school, and our nation.
“Hurry boys, it is 7:30 and the service is starting now!” I gave them each a kiss as they ran out the door.
‘I can do all’
At 8:30, John came home for a quick breakfast. He was very concerned about having to contact the hospital board and briefing other residents on the tragedy involving their neighbor. The media had already begun to swoop down on the accident scene and unfortunately, there could be no good spin on a tragic death.
We did our best to console each other as we braced to face the havoc before us.
‘I can do all things’
Not that my day was chaotic. There were the norms of housecleaning and worrying about Hurricane Ivan. I made calls to assure myself, my husband, and my children that our Florida families would be sheltered from this storm. Then there were promised contact calls to be made for a local women’s accountability group. It was not funny how quickly rumors of the morning’s tragedy were spreading.
It seemed my worries were calmed by the time I drove to pick up the boys from school. I waited for several minutes before I finally wondered, “What is taking so long?” The boys were usually outside when I drove up.
I had just stepped out of the car when Tim walked out of the front door shaking his head back and forth. “Andrew’s having to stay late. He got in trouble.”
‘I can do all things through’
It is nothing new for Andrew to be in trouble. However, it is often hidden from his parents. Although he does suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, he tends to tug at the heart of his teachers who refuse to punish him until there is no other alternative. This has been a consistent problem for Andrew due to his desire to take every advantage of his charm. Today was his unlucky day.
Apparently, Andrew’s teacher had decided she had enough. His charm had not saved him from her sudden desire to let me know everything he had done wrong over the entire new school year.
We left the school an hour later with a load of new homework and the pending doom of telling Dad about our day.
‘I can do all things through Christ’
The thought of unloading another problem on John was painful. I broke Andrew’s news of the day as gently as possible. Punishment was a long-term grounding and the promise of being pulled from football if improvement was not seen immediately.
I broke down in tears as we prayed about each struggle of the day and Andrew took his turn. “Jesus, please keep Gran and Granddad safe and help me to stay focused so I can play football.”
‘I can do all things through Christ who’
It occurred to me at 5:30 that Tim would not have his homework done in time for youth group. The decision to let him go was difficult as I watched Andrew’s head sink deeper into his school books. However, Tim had invited his best friend, Ben*, for tonight’s special ‘See You At The Pole’ grand finale’ celebration. We came to the understanding that it would be a late night.
I watched the carpool’s taillights fade (thankful it wasn’t my night to drive) before returning to 5th grade math.
Getting through Andrew’s mountain of homework took more time that necessary as John and I took one call after another from his mom, his sister, and a board member. The media had completely misconstrued the story of the day and tornadoes were dancing all around our loved ones.
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens’
At 9:30pm, John and Andrew had abandoned me for sleep while I waited for Tim to get home.
Tim nearly fell through the door as he raced inside a few minutes later. It took another minute for him to quit jumping around enough to hug me and say, ““Ben accepted Christ tonight, Mom!”
At that moment, nothing else mattered. I realized that every terrible event of the day no longer had the ability to cause me stress. If this day had to be relived a hundred times over, we would have the strength to bear it.
Ben accepted Christ tonight. I can suffer though the worst of days for this.
‘I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!’
*-Names have been changed in this true story.
written by: Teresa Lee Rainey/2004
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