Laura looked out the bus window in awe. The landscape had become a giant cotton candy machine as a winter snowstorm whirled about, coating every surface with sugary ice crystals. Bare trees held their bony hands up in surrender.
“I’m so glad the church sponsored this shopping day today,” the gal seated in back of Laura chatted idly to her seatmate. “I couldn’t stand an entire Saturday with the kids. “Tis the season,’ I guess. They’re driving me crazy!” … and Laura listened.
“Yeah, no kidding,” her friend agreed. “I don’t know how many times I’ve had to use the ‘I’ll tell Santa’ line! I can’t wait until Christmas vacation is over!” … and Laura heard.
“So, are you about done with your shopping?”
“Yeah. The main reason I went on this bus trip was to get away for a day. Oops! I’d better call Jim and let him know we’re going to be late getting in.”
“Oh, that’s right. I’d better call Bill. I don’t know about you, but I want to step off this bus into a warm car.”
Laura pulled her hair back, anchoring it in back of her very prominent ears. Everyone seemed to be on their cell phones, telling their husbands and children when to expect them.
“Hello, Tom?” she said into her cell phone. “I’m going to be in a bit late tonight. No, you don’t have to wait up for me. I’ll call you when I get into town,” she said, leaving a message for her cat.
Recognizing the young woman across the aisle from her with a sleeping little girl from China in her arms, Laura asked, “How long have you had your precious baby girl?”
“About two weeks,” the woman replied as she smoothed the little black velvet dress with her hand.
“How’s it going?”
“Pretty well, except she has her days and nights mixed.”
“Well, if you ever want a break, I’d love to keep her for you. You could take a nap or a shower. Please don’t hesitate to call me.” … and Laura meant it.
The bus pulled into the parking lot. One by one, women came down the stairs into the arms of husbands who escorted them to their warm cars, putting their purchases into car trunks. As she shivered, Laura’s ice cold hands fumbled in her purse for the chemical to spray onto her frozen door lock. Once inside, she thanked God that the engine turned over. After braving the arctic tundra once more to remove the ice from the windshield, Laura started home.
Turning on the radio to fill the silence, Laura turned on her tree lights and sat down, crestfallen. Fifty-five years seemed a long time to live without validation and, as such, the dam broke. “Lord, you know what? I’m good at dancing. I really am, but here’s the thing: no one will ever even know because I have to be asked.” If it hadn’t been for Terry, her blind high school classmate, no one would have ever asked her to dance….ever. Laura began to sob. “God, I don’t mean to whine, but why wasn’t I chosen? Surely I must have a purpose….. How can I glorify you, Lord, if no one wants me? I’m just a cast-off, defective. I’ve waited my whole life, waiting for someone to ask me, but they never do. I’ve never been wanted…or needed.”
Laura glanced into the kitchen. Through her tears, she could see the message light was blinking on her answering machine. Wearily rising and walking over to it, she pressed the button, bracing herself to hear her own needy voice.
“Laura, this is Pastor York. I’m starting up a huge church project for next year. God has placed it on my heart to start up a church daycare with a sliding scale for needy children. I have been in prayer over this for six months, and God has told me that you are the key person I need to head up this critical position. I can’t think of anyone more gifted with children than you. There are a lot of details to iron out, but I’d like to announce it at church tomorrow. Please pray about this, Laura, because it will mean a huge amount of your time will be taken up with caring for children. If at all possible, I hope you’ll call me tonight.”
She would pray…she would call, but first……even though no one asked her…….
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