Holma

republished on 5/17/13

Perk and God

Girl Holding Plant

(republished on 5/17 as a request from Mike)

When Erin was in middle school, she came to me one Saturday morning and said, “Mommy, I love you more than words can describe. There is no word in the English language that means, ‘I love you higher than the sky, like, I love you to infinity.’ Let’s make up a word that means infinity love, OK?”

So I said, “That’s beautiful, honey. I’d love to have our special word. Let’s pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us a word that means ‘Love higher than the sky’.  So we prayed and Erin said, “Now what?”

“Well, expect Him to answer us. There’s a scripture verse that says to pray/ask expectantly. After we pray, then we’ll just trust that He’ll give us that word. So, pay attention to words that pop into your head, and when you get something that you…

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Enough

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????4/18/2013.

OK- so, I’m sitting on the john and I’m thinking of Jennie’s phone message. “Patty, could you leave me a message about what God told you last week? Something about ‘enough’.”

So, I’m trying to recall what He said, and I remember He said something like, “Tell Jennie she can’t ask me for enough.” And I wonder how to put it into descriptive words so that He gets His point across really well. And He starts to talk. “It’s like that phone conversation you just had with the Barnes and Noble person. You wanted her to see if the store had this book, ‘Love poems from God,’ but you were anxious that you’d go over your Verizon minutes because you don’t have an unlimited data plan, so you tell the lady to hurry because you don’t have too many minutes, but before she puts you on hold to go see if it’s on the shelf (upstairs, for goodness sake. she has to go upstairs, could it be any father from the phone) the lady gets huffy and tells you that you surely used up a lots of seconds asking her to not be gone too long and that you didn’t want to be on hold forever, so then you used up precious seconds now apologizing for being snippy even tho you didn’t want to be snippy, and she reminds you once again that as long as you are talking, she can’t be looking…..”

And God continues talking to me… “Be anxious for nothing. You will never run out of minutes on your data plan with Me. You can call Me anytime, anyplace. There are no roaming charges. The reception doesn’t sound staticky, and I will listen to you always. You can talk for hours on end. I am there for you at 3am. Sometimes Jennie might think she has come to Me one time too many. That she has asked for favor upon favor, that she has received enough from Me and she needs to cool it and let someone else get a chance. That she should be grateful for what I have given to her. Tell her to keep asking.  I love her voice, her laugh, her fears and pains. I love all of her. And I love giving Myself to her.”

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Daddy’s death

MP900289531April 25th, 1996

My dad had major heart surgery on December 26th, 1995. His recovery however, went all wrong. Every conceivable bad thing that could happen, did. 10 minutes after being wheeled into the recovery room, all the internal stitches that the doctors placed in his heart burst. They had to do the same surgery twice, but the second time, they did it on a man whose blood pressure was unstable, whose insides were leaking, and eventually, he coded. They resuscitated him, but he was never the same.

He was in serious condition ‘till mid February, and once he was stable, he was discharged and placed in a nursing home. He still had a feeding tube in his stomach, and the lengthy hospital stay took its toll on his legs. He couldn’t walk any more, and just kind of drifted away from life and toward death. At the time, my kids and I were living in Illinois, about an hour north of Chicago. I would visit him several times between December and March.

Daddy was a neat man. Great sense of humor, wonderful slow dancer, he was raised on a farm and ended up becoming a doctor. I was his helper growing up. We built things together- like I helped him wire his office for an intercom/stereo system. I was a cracker-jack hammerer, and I loved using his saw and drill to make bookshelves and stuff. We mowed the lawn together. I made rounds with him going to the various hospitals. He taught me how to bowl, to fish, how to run long distances, how to play badminton, how to shoot pool, and how to play a wicked game of ping pong (I never could beat him, though). We really had a special bond.

When I graduated Magna Cum Laude from high school, I remember, during the post graduation party, someone saying to him, “You must be very proud of your daughter.” And he answered, “I have always been proud of her- not just now- not just because of her grades, but because of who she is.”

Anyway, Tuesday, April 22nd, the nursing home sent him to the hospital because his feeding tube was blocked by something, and he was becoming malnourished. The next day, several doctors stood at the end of his bed, and talked to my mother and him about the need for him to have exploratory surgery in his abdomen to see why the tube was clogged. He refused the surgery. The doctors asked my mom to talk some sense into him, and mom said he was making perfectly good sense. They scheduled some non invasive tests for him, which he went through on April 24th, my birthday.

The next day my sister, Mary, called me around 9am and said, “Patty, Daddy’s dying.”

“Yes, I know. His health is slowly ebbing.”

“No- you don’t understand- he’s dying right now. They think he’s had a major heart attack and/or a stroke. Mom and Jennie (Mary’s daughter) and I are here with him, and we’ve called the chaplain.”

“Well what should I do? Should I drive down right now, or what?” (It is an 8 hour drive from northern Illinois to Columbus, Ohio.)  Mary said to hang in there, and she’d call me later on in the day to let me know how he was doing.

MP900289872So, I went to the junk drawer in my kitchen and found a can full of camping candles of various lengths. I randomly picked one, and went to my bedroom and lit the candle, and said a prayer for him. I opened my Bible, and it just so happened that I opened it to Psalm 23:

The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Yea- though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. After reading the Psalm and praying some more, I started to blow out the candle, but Christ spoke to my heart.  “Wait. As long as the candle is burning, your dad’s alive.”

So, I looked at that candle, and busied myself. I did some laundry, made my bed, did the dishes, etc. Every time I entered or left my bedroom, I’d look at that candle burning, and as long as the candle was burning, I knew Daddy was alive. At noon, I walked into my bedroom, and the candle went out. I stood there, silently for a minute or two. Was he really gone?

Minutes later, the phone rang- it was Mary.“Patty, Daddy died about 5 minutes ago. He went peacefully. Jennie was holding his hand, and read Psalm 23 to him. She told him she’d walk with him toward Jesus, and he could let go once he got there. He letSmoke from Extinguished Candle go, and that was it. You can come now. I’m sorry you weren’t with him, though.”

 

I was with him- we were with him.

Jesus and I were with Daddy when he died.

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When time stood still

MP900386807

One Tuesday evening, I left my house at 7:10 to go to my 7:30pm Bible study. I remember it being exactly this time because it always took me 20 minutes to get there in good traffic and the first round of Wheel of Fortune had just ended. If you’re a Wheel watcher, you know the first round always takes 10 minutes.

Just after driving past a grocery store, I noticed a lady on the right side of the sidewalk. She was crawling in the grass between the sidewalk and the curb. “How unusual,” I thought. Then God told me to go back and help her. I thought, “If I do that, I’ll be late for home church. Besides, maybe she’s looking for something.”

I tend to argue with Him, but generally, He doesn’t argue back. He either repeats Himself or says nothing, but this time I couldn’t dismiss His request. So, I pulled into the first driveway on the right, turned off my car, and walked about 20 yards to where the lady was. She was drunk, and had a brown bag containing vodka clutched in her right hand.

“Do you need help?” I asked. What a dumb question. Anyway, she said “No” but it was apparent she was so disoriented that I knew she couldn’t possibly make it home, or wherever she was going.

“How about I give you a ride home?” I asked.

“No, I just live across the street.” I looked across the street, and saw an entire apartment complex. Five buildings arranged in no apparent order. She managed to stand up, but started heading straight toward the busy 4-lane road. As she staggered, I calmly held her, and told her I’d help her cross the street. Inside, though, I was afraid. What if she got belligerent, or tried to cross without letting me guide her? If she did that, she’d probably get hit by a car. While these thoughts raced through my head, she just stood there, dazed and unsteady, and when it was safe to cross, I led her across the street.

“OK. Which apartment is yours?” With a glazed look, she slurred out, “Over there,” and we headed in that general direction.

“What’s the apartment number,” I asked?

“I don’t know. It’s up that hill.”

So I guided her up the hill. All of this was not very easy for me, since this lady was much taller than my five foot 1 inch frame. I kept praying, though, that God would get her home.

At the top of the hill, she told me she lived “over there”. I felt like we were looking for a needle in a haystack. So, we walked over to a row of apartments, and when we came to 3B, she said, “OK- this is it.”

“Do you have a key?”

“It’s not locked.” I really hoped she was right. I knocked on the door in case it was someone else’s pad, and since no one answered, I turned the knob and opened the door. Inside, there were lots of cigarette butts in several ashtrays, empty liquor bottles, and a general mess.

“How about you lie down on your couch?” I asked.

“OK.” She plunked down on the couch. I covered her with a blanket that was on the floor and asked her if she’d be OK.

“Yes…yes….”

Upon leaving I felt so empty inside, like I wanted to sit with her and make sure she would really be all right.

I walked back to my car and drove off toward my home church. All the way there, I was thanking God that He used me to help her out. I knew that even though I’d be late, it was worth it. As I pulled into Carol and John’s driveway, I glanced at the clock in my car. 7:29pm. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my wristwatch: 7:30pm. Then my cell phone: 7:30pm. It was like I was doing double-takes. How could this be? I know I spent a good ten minutes with that lady. Huh- God made time stand still for me. Awesome, eh?

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Two Girls in Need

There highway signare times when things happen, that I know God’s hand is truly in on it, but others would say, “That’s just a coincidence,” or, “That was just a hunch you had.”

Whatever -I know it’s God. So here’s one:

Charlie, Erin, and I were on our way to The Vineyard Church in Milan, Michigan, one Sunday in 1999. Charlie was a senior in high school and Erin was a sophomore. The church was about a half hour away from where we lived at the time, and most of the drive was on the freeway. Just as we were getting off the exit ramp, the car in front of us hobbled to a stop, and pulled over on the burm.  I pulled up behind them, and one of my kids asked what I was doing. “They’re going to the Vineyard, and they’re having car trouble, so we’re gonna take ‘em there.” I had no clue who was in the car. Charlie said just because they have a Christian bumper sticker doesn’t mean that everyone on earth is going to the Vineyard, but I just knew they were. I get those knowings from time to time.

So, I walked up to the car, and this college aged girl rolled her window down, and I said, “Hey, my kids and I are going to the Vineyard. How about we give you a ride?” The girl was quite surprised that I somehow knew she and her friend were also going to the Vineyard. They went to college 80 minutes away, but they had made the long trip because they used to go to a Vineyard back home, and our church was the closest Vineyard to them. “What will we do about the car?” they asked.

“Well, someone from our church will help you fix it.” Our church was like that- people just pitch in and help whenever there is a need. So, the two girls got into our car, and we drove to the Vineyard. I asked Jesse, who was gonna make the announcements, to make an impromptu announcement that there are two girls whose car broke down near the freeway, and if anyone could help them out, to please meet them in the back of the church after the service. He made the announcement. The service was great (it always was), and after the service, two guys helped them get their car fixed.

I love it when God breaks through, and gets people together for more than what they ever anticipated. He’s like that, He is.

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Another Car Accident

Paramedic Transporting Patient by Gurney

When we lived in Ann Arbor, I was the coordinator of the email prayer chain at our church. I also worked at St. Joseph’s hospital, so frequently I’d get prayer requests for people in our hospital, and I’d go visit them. One evening, I received a prayer request to pray for Cheryl, this 19-year-old young lady who was critically injured in a car accident. I emailed everyone on our prayer chain to pray for her, and the next day, as I was driving to work, I found myself praying for her.

I thought I’d go visit her before going to my office. As I was praying, I got a sense that she was going to be OK, and then I saw a picture in my mind of her at the scene of the accident. Jesus was standing over her, like protecting her or something. I had a knowing that Cheryl saw Jesus, even though she was unconscious at the time.

When I arrived at the intensive care unit, a very nice nurse led me back to Cheryl’s cubicle. She was on life support, and comatose, and her body was puffed up and swollen. Just as I took her hand to pray for her, her parents and their pastor entered the room. I didn’t know them (or Cheryl, for that matter), so I introduced myself, and told them how it came about that I was there. They were very appreciative, and so I suggested we all join hands in a circle surrounding Cheryl, so we could pray for her. I had a hold of her left hand, the pastor was holding her right hand, and her parents were in the middle, completing the circle. We all prayed, and I left after a few minutes.

I went up to my office and went about my daily routine. Several days later, I wanted to check up on Cheryl, but I found out she was no longer in ICU. She had been transferred to a regular room, since she had come out of her coma and was doing better!

I walked to her room, and as I entered, her parents looked up and smiled. “Hi- we forget your name, but we want to thank you for your prayers. Cheryl, this lady prayed for you the day after your accident.”

Cheryl looked up at me, and didn’t recognize me, but that is to be expected. I told her I was glad she was better, and I mentioned that it was her friend at work who put her name on our prayer chain. “Do you remember anything about the accident?” I asked.

“No, I don’t even remember being in ICU.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, then, you probably don’t remember who was standing next to you at the accident site.”

Cheryl looked at me with intense eyes, and very hesitantly said, “Oh, wow- you know, don’t you? I saw Jesus. He was standing next to me. He told me everything would be all right.”

“Yeah- yeah! I saw Him in my mind standing over you. Awesome, huh?” We all got teary eyed, and I left that room, that day, loving how awesome our God is.

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A Car Accident

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The day before Mother’s day, God put it on my heart to buy a new video cassette recorder. I know this dates me because no one has one now, but never the less…

Our old one wasn’t reliable, and so I had hooked it up to our old TV in the basement, where it had been for a whole year. When the kids would have their friends over, they’d sometimes watch movies down there, but since I’ve always wanted the best for my kids, I knew that someday I’d fork over 200 dollars and buy a new VCR. OK, so like I said, the day before Mother’s day I went out to buy a new one, ‘cause, to be quite honest, I felt like God said, “Today is the day.” The timing of this is what leads into this next God story.

So, as I was bringing the VCR back to my van, I realized I needed to run a few more errands, and thought I should hide it so no one would break in and steal it. Since the passenger window was tinted, I decided to put it on the floor in front of the seat where it would be least visible. I know, weird huh? However, it wouldn’t go. I tried and tried but finally realized that the seat was too far up. So, I slid the seat as far back as it would go, and finally, the box fit on the floor in front of it.

I remember thinking that this was the first time the seat had ever been moved backwards. I guess I hadn’t given anyone tall a ride in a while. But after thinking about it, I determined this was a good thing because I’m short (5’ 1”), and I’d heard that if you’re short, you should make your seat be as far away from the dashboard as possible so you won’t get your head chopped off if you are in an accident and the airbag deploys.

So anyway, I got home after my errands, unloaded the van and the VCR, and had an uneventful Saturday. Sunday afternoon, Charlie asked me to drive him over to his friend’s house so he could watch the NHL playoffs with his friends.  I thought his timing stunk, because I had just heated up a bowl of spaghetti in the microwave, so I told him we could go after lunch. No… he wanted to get there before the game started, so he said I could just take my food with me, and he’d drive while I ate.

OK- so we get into the van, and after a few minutes, we’re driving down the main drag of Ann Arbor. Up ahead, the light is green, and Charlie’s doing 35mph, and there’s an old man up ahead, walking with a cane, very slowly, against the light, in the cross walk. “Slow down, Dude. That old man’s in the cross walk.”

“Well, he’s not supposed to be there. Besides, the light’s green for us.”

“Well, he is there. Slow down, or you’ll hit him.”  So, Charlie braked, and slowed down, and just as we drove into the intersection, “BAM!!!!”

“Are you alive, Mom?”

“Yes, Dude, are you?” It was a dumb question, being as how he’d talked to me first.

Some kid in a silver mustang had run the red light, causing us to crash into the left rear of his car so hard that he spun around and ended up spinning though the crosswalk on our left, right where the old man was walking. The airbags deployed, but since my seat was waaay back, I was ok. I did however have a bloody nose because my plate of spaghetti broke, and cut open my face, but at least that was the extent of my injuries.

The kid jumped out of his car and came running over to my side of the car. He saw blood gushing out of my nose with every beat of my heart, and kept saying, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize the light was red. Are you all right? Oh, I’m so sorry.” I saw that the kid was Ok, and Charlie was Ok, but the old man…. “Dude, the old man. The old man -is he OK?”

“Call 911- my mom’s hurt. Call 911.” Charlie was yelling to this crowd of people at the crosswalk, who were just standing there, stunned, frozen in time. The accident actually occurred in front of the police station, and I remember thinking I was gonna get a ticket because I forgot to renew my license plate tag.  Charlie looked around for the old man. He was no where to be found. I figured the kid’s car must have hit him, and flung him way off into the distance. Charlie asked the gawkers what happened to the old man? The crowd of people wondered what he was talking about. There wasn’t an old man. “Yes- yes- he was walking against the light- he had a cane. Did the kid’s mustang hit him? Where is he?” Again, the people flat out denied his existence.

Then, an ambulance pulled up. Since I had injuries, the medics attended to me. I remember saying over and over as they put the neck brace around my neck, and loaded me into the ambulance, “Praise You, Lord. Thank You, Jesus.” The medics told me they’d never heard anyone thanking God for a car accident, but I told them I was thanking Him that we were all alive. Thanking Him that my seat was way far back, thanking Him that He had me buy the VCR the day before, thanking Him that Charlie was alive, and thanking Him that we didn’t kill the kid in the mustang.

But the old man? Was he an angel? If he hadn’t have been in the crosswalk, we would have entered the intersection a split second earlier, and the kid would have either hit my door and killed me or we would have hit his door and maybe killed him. But because we had to deliberately slow down to avoid hitting the old man, we hit the far back left side of the mustang, and no one sustained serious injuries.

Now I know a lot of people like to play the “what if” and “coincidence” games, but I believe God often prepares us for a miracle, days, if not months or years in advance. So thank you Jesus for a new VCR and for your angel in the crosswalk!

 

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Saint Nick

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When I lived in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of my ministries was giving rides to random people who were brought into my every day activities by God. When my mom found out about this, she was really upset because she said it was dangerous. I told her, “Don’t worry, Mom. They’re always little old ladies.”

So, one wintery Monday evening in December, I realized that it was my turn to bring in a breakfast casserole for our Tuesday morning leaders’ group meeting at work. It had been snowing all day, so when I hopped in my car, it took me a little longer than usual to get to the grocery store. I zipped through all the isles, got my stuff, checked out, and headed for home. Once I got home and started unpacking the ingredients, I realized I’d forgotten the bacon. My boss loved bacon. I knew I really needed to go back to the store.

So, I drove back, ran in, grabbed the first pack of bacon (without even looking at the back side to see how meaty it was), went through the express line, and headed through the first set of automatic doors. You know the area where all the carts are? The area between the store and outside? Well, right before leaving this area, I saw an old fella out of the corner of my eye, and he was sitting next to the wall, with a totally full grocery cart. Full to almost overflowing.

I took another step, about to fly through the second set of automatic doors, when I felt God’s gentle hand on my chin. He turned my head to the right and I saw the old fella, and I knew. I knew God wanted me to ask him if he needed a ride. It was 10pm, a blizzardy night, and here was an old fella who looked like St. Nick himself -Full white beard, a black chapeau, and a rotund belly. Never before had God ever shown me a man who needed a ride. In all the years I’d been helping Him out, He always showed me either elderly or handicapped ladies. So when I saw this fella, and I knew what God wanted, I looked up, and I said to Him in my mind, “That’s a man.”

“I know.” He said.

I walked over to the fella, took a deep breath and said, “Excuse me sir, but do you need a ride?”

“Praise the Lord!!! Thank you, Jesus!” he exclaimed. “I just sat down here, wondering what I was gonna do. The pay phone is out of order, so I couldn’t call a cab, and I just asked Jesus, ‘How am I ever gonna get home with all these groceries?’ and then, BOOM! You answered my prayer! God is good, and fast, too!”

“Well, God has given me a rides ministry, so let’s get these things loaded up into my car, and I’ll get you home.”

On the way to his house, we talked about my church, and he told me he’d been diagnosed with throat cancer. He said he had had surgery, but they couldn’t get it all. He said he was mostly sad because he loved to sing and worship God, but he couldn’t even sing anymore. He said he lived with his sister, and she has a car, but she’s unwilling to let him drive it, even though she can’t see well enough to drive it herself.

Would you believe it? He started getting rides to my church, he got prayer there for his throat, and his sister gave him her car. A year later he was singing and worshipping God, and his throat was healed of cancer. WOW!!!!

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Rides Ministry

 

For part of my Christian life, God has me in a “rides” ministry. I first realized this when He asked me to give a ride to the cute old lady with the “coke bottle” glasses. Here is one memorable assignment.

Summer 1992???????????

It was a very hot Friday afternoon and my kids and I were on our way to Midway airport in Chicago so they could go visit their dad for the weekend. It usually took us 1 ½ hours to get there and we were trying to make the 6pm flight on Southwest Airlines. We got 1/3rd of the way  there when traffic on the freeway came to a dead stop. At the same time, I noticed our van was overheating. I remembered my Dad telling me that if my car were ever overheating, to turn on the fan, and keep moving, so the outside air would help keep the engine cooler. I turned on the fan, but there was no way we could move. “Oh, God,” I prayed, “please make a way for us.”

I pulled over to the right, and decided to drive on the burm. I went very slowly, because people usually get really mad when someone does this, and in Chicago, they sometimes block your way if they see you coming. I certainly didn’t want to get in an accident. The kids were nervous. Charlie commented that I was driving in the wrong lane and Erin said people were giving us dirty looks; but I just told the kids to pray that God would take care of us. After about a mile, we ended up right behind a tow truck. The mechanic had just hooked up a disabled vehicle, and was about to drive away. I honked at him, and jumped out of my van.

“Pardon me sir, but we’re having car trouble (this was before everyone had cell phones). Could you possibly come back for us once you’ve taken this car wherever you’re headed?”

“Sure!” he said, and off he went. Charlie wondered if we would make the 6pm flight. Erin didn’t care. I was sure we’d miss it, because even if our car hadn’t acted up, the freeway was such a mess that we probably would have been late anyway.

So, the mechanic came back for us, took us to his repair shop, and began working on our van. Meanwhile, I called Southwest airlines, cancelled the kids’ 6pm flight, and made reservations for the 8:30pm flight. I called their dad and told him what was going on. An hour later, we were back on the freeway (oh- the mechanic wouldn’t accept any money! He was so happy to be helping out a single mom and her kids, and he loved hearing about our faith in God). We got to Midway at 8pm, and Charlie and Erin made their flight. While waiting for the kids to board, I learned that a dozen people from the 6pm flight had experienced the same freeway mess that we did, but hadn’t gotten to the airport in time. They missed their flight, and tried to switch to the later flight, but there were only two available seats on the 8:30pm flight. Guess who got them? Charlie and Erin. Our car trouble experience led to a good outcome!!

And wait- it gets even better. While I was driving home, it started to rain buckets. By the time I got to my exit, it was 10pm. I was driving down Dilley’s road when I passed an oversized van on the side of the road. About ½ a mile ahead, I saw 8 women walking on the side of the road, and they were drenched from the rain. It dawned on me that the van was probably theirs. I turned my car around, and stopped next to the ladies. I yelled out of my window, “Heh- you all need a ride?”

“No thanks. We’re fine.” (Yea right- fine? Soaking wet fine?)

“Well, I’m a lady, and I won’t hurt you.” They looked at each other, and hesitated. “And, I’m a believer!”  That did it! They smiled and agreed, and climbed into my van.

Turns out, their van was a church van. They were on their way to a ladies’ weekend retreat, and they were trying to walk back to their church for help. I told ‘em my neat God story about how God worked it out that my car got fixed and the kids made their flight. Then, I said, “And you know, if all of that hadn’t of happened, I’d be home right now, and you all might still be walkin’ in the rain. God sees the big picture, huh?”

Not that He wouldn’t have sent someone else to help those ladies, but heh, He sent me! What a privilege it is to be used by God.

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Lost and Found

Dirt Bikers Giving High Five During Jump

During the summer of 1992, I was taking a Bible Study at Our Lady of Humility Church on Tuesday evenings. One of those evenings, our group was interrupted by a frantic phone call from Charlie, age 10.

“Mom, they stole my bikes, they stole my bikes!”

“Who? How?”

“Some kids. Danny and Andy and I went into the card shop to look at baseball cards, and we left our bikes out front. When we came out, my bikes were gone.” Charlie was crying and devastated. “They didn’t even take Danny’s bike, only mine (one of which Andy was riding).”

He’d gotten one bike as a present, and the other he’d saved up his paper route money to buy this brand new, shiny, chrome bike. It was gorgeous. Plus, just the week before, he’d bought these special spiked pedals, and it took us hours to figure out how to take the old pedals off, and put the new pedals on. Anyway, I told him to call the police and file a report, and that I’d be home shortly. But before I left the Bible study, we all prayed that the bikes would be found.

OK- so on Thursday afternoon (2 days later), a gorgeous, hot day- perfect for swimming, Danny and Andy’s mom, Linda, drove us all to the pool. We found a spot where all of us could spread out our towels, and we settled in. I usually like to sit in the sun for about 10 minutes, and get really hot and sweaty, and then jump into the pool to cool off. So, there I am, lying on my beach towel, getting warmed up, and I hear, “Go get the bikes.”

Dip! It was God, and we’d just got there. “Now?” I thought. “We just got here, and Linda drove. This is bad timing. Can’t we do it later?” He did not answer, and I did not budge. (I need to get better at obeying God, tho).

Anyway, around 5pm, we all left the pool, and right after Linda dropped the three of us off at our house, I said to Charlie and Erin, “We’re gonna go find your bikes. God told me at the pool to go find your bikes.”

“How are we gonna do that?” Charlie asked.

“Well- the Holy Spirit will guide us, and He’ll tell us where to go, and we’ll find ‘em.”

Erin (age 8) says, “How will the Holy Spirit do that?” And I said, “Well, we’ll pray that He’ll guide us, and then we’ll get in the van, and then whenever one of us gets a word from God, we’ll obey it.”

They both seemed very eager to do this, so we all jumped into our van, prayed a quick prayer, and then we were off. “Now remember, you listen, and maybe He’ll shoot through your head, ‘Turn right’, or maybe He’ll give you a picture of a house where the bikes are, and we’ll look for a house that looks like the picture.”

“Well,” said Erin, “I just heard, ‘Turn left’.” So we did. And then Charlie got a word to turn right after a few blocks, and so it went for about an hour.

Then, God said, “They don’t look like you think they do.” I had no idea what He meant by that, but I told the kids. They wondered too what He meant. But I said, “Keep your eyes peeled for bikes, and maybe we’ll get a knowing in our hearts that the bikes are Charlie’s, even though they don’t look like his bikes.”

So, for another hour, we drove around. We saw a group of kids on bikes at a distance, in the yard of a house that set way back up a hill. We thought that Charlie’s bikes were with those kids, and we drove by them very slowly, looking intently at all the kids and their bikes. We weren’t sure, so we drove around the block to look at them again, but when we came back to that house, the kids and bikes were gone. “I think they knew we suspected something,” said Charlie. Erin asked what we were gonna do if we saw the bikes? We all wondered how much longer we were gonna be driving around.

We were tired and hungry, and I stopped the car by pulling over to the curb near the fire station. We asked God what to do. Then, Charlie said, “Mom- see those kids at the fire station? One of ‘em is on my bike!”

I looked over. “Which kid?”

“The taller one with the black t-shirt. What should we do?”

“Well- we’re gonna go get it back,” I said. But truly, I did not think it was Charlie’s bike, because it really didn’t look like either of the ones that were his. I remembered what God said, but I was nervous. So, the three of us got out of the van, and calmly walked up to the kid on the bike. He was surrounded by 7 other kids, all straddling their bikes. I began talking to the kid. “Excuse me. That bike you’re on is my son’s bike.”

“Yea right,” he said. “This is MY bike.”

“No, I believe it is my son’s bike. It was stolen 2 days ago, and this bike you’re on is his.” I was being very polite, because I do not like confrontation, plus, I still was not sure it was Charlie’s bike.

“No way- I got this bike 2 weeks ago from a friend.” I knew we weren’t getting anywhere and that this kid was not gonna hand over the bike, so I was frustrated for a second.

But then. Then… I looked down and saw the pedals. The shiny new pedals that Charlie had bought. The pedals that took us 2 hours to put on the bike! Then, I knew this was Charlie’s bike. Out of my mouth came a strong wind, and I found myself saying something I never would have said, “GET OFF THAT BIKE!” and the kid literally flew up into the air, vertically, about 2 feet, and then was flung backwards, off the bike, and dropped onto the pavement. He looked terrified and bewildered, and grabbed one of his friend’s bikes, and took off on it, peddling as fast as he could. All of us: The 7 other kids, Charlie, Erin, and I -even the fireman who’d been witnessing this whole interchange, were astounded! We picked up Charlie’s bike, and asked the fireman to call the police.

Then, I explained to all the kids that God had directed us to this very place, to give Charlie his bike back. That God had taken that kid off of Charlie’s bike. That God loved Charlie so much, and God knew how hard Charlie worked and saved up to get this bike. One kid asked us how God directed us to this place, and we told him about how we’d been directed by the Holy Spirit, and we’d been driving around for 2 hours. They were mesmerized. When the lady police officer came, she scraped off the black paint on the body of the bike, and, behold!  The serial numbers were revealed, they matched the ones registered to Charlie, and then everyone really knew that this was, indeed, Charlie’s bike. One of the kids fessed up that another kid had stolen Charlie’s other bike, but didn’t know where he was.

We encouraged those 7 kids to be close to God, and since it was getting dark, we put his bike in the van, and drove back home. We praised the Lord, thanked Him, and grinned all the way home. Charlie called Danny and Andy, and told them the whole story. From then on, we three have always come to expect God to talk to us and have loved Him even deeper. God is Good!

 

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