Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Finding Kissing Spots

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. ~ Psalm 85-10-11 (NIV)

Often, while walking behind my husband when he was seated on our couch, I’d stop and kiss his bald spot and say, “There’s a tiny kissing spot right there just for me.”

We both knew it hadn’t been tiny for quite a while. For some unknown reason it began expanding soon after we got married. I don’t have a scientific explanation, but I’m convinced it has something to do with climate change.

Anyway, when my husband was first diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in January, about the third thing I said was, “Hey! Do you think you’ll lose your hair?” I’m sensitive like that.

David responded matter-of-factly, “Probably.”

My face lit up. “You know what that means? I’ll have more kissing spots.”

David responded matter-of-factly, “Probably.”

I waited patiently. His hair didn’t fall out as fast as we assumed it would. Expecting it to happen after his second round of chemo, he had the nurse give him a buzz cut, but it remained fuzzy, then grew back. Then, two weeks after his third round of chemo —voila!—his head was as soft as pudding. (Well, not his whole head, just his scalp. Actually, I’ve never felt pudding, but you know what I mean.) Now I had a multitude of spots to choose from and I have kissed them all!

two heads sized

Can you say “good sport”? This is David in January then May.

I started to think about that term “kissing spot.” It was my positive way of looking at a negative situation. It reminded me of the joke, “While the optimist argued with the pessimist, the opportunist drank the water.” I wondered what other “kissing spots” I could find in the midst of this experience. I found a great example in my husband.

Every time . . .

  • a doctor or nurse practitioner reported test results—whether good or bad—he thanked them.
  • a person spent time with him, they left smiling.
  • a member of the housekeeping staff swept under his bad and emptied his trash, he told them how much he appreciated it.
  • a staff member changed her hair or wore something colorful, he complimented them.
  • a cafeteria worker brought him a meal, no matter how tasteless it looked to me, he acted excited and said, “Oh, yum!”
  • a group of med students rounded with the doctors, they left chuckling at one of his witty comments.
  • a nurse hooked him up to his rolling IV dance partner for a bag of platelets, packed red cells, or antibiotics, he thanked them.

    IV Stand

    David’s on and off dancing partner for the past 4 months.

He’d found their kissing spots. Now I needed to do the same.

In addition to his hospital room, I spent much of my time at the hotel, in shuttle buses, and trying to navigate my way from Dana-Farber to Brigham & Women’s. I saw a variety of people in various situations.

I thanked . . .

  • the young man walking by the hotel who lifted my heavy suitcases out of my car and put them onto the luggage cart.
  • the desk clerk who programmed my new cell phone’s GPS so I could find my way back to the hospital.
  • the two women who gave me a ride when I missed the last morning hospital shuttle.
  • the van and bus drivers who got me where I needed to go so I didn’t have to fight traffic.
  • every hospital volunteer or staff member who recognized the dumb look on my face and pointed me in the right direction–more than once.
  • the gifted hotel housekeeping staff whose kindness and consideration I will never  forget.
  • my son Chris, his wife Diana, my daughter Erin, and her husband Chris for helping me prepare my house for David’s homecoming.

It was my privilege to . . .

darn collecting 2

David’s sister, Darleen, beautiful inside and out.

  • spend quality time with David’s sister, Darleen, who donated her matching stem cells to her big brother.
  • pray with a woman who’d been told her husband was only a few days from Heaven.
  • get a smile from a little, bald girl when I told her her light–up pink sneakers were so cool.
  • listen as an immigrant father of two, a hotel guest, bragged about his children’s achievements since their move to the States.
  • tell a woman how well David was doing the day before she herself was due to have the same type of stem cell transplant.
  • spend hours with a patient who never whined or complained but exhibited a settled faith, patience, kindness, and peace through it all–my husband.

I learned something else. You won’t find kissing spots unless you’re looking for them. Don’t worry, they’re not hard to find. God puts them all around us.

kindness act.gif

 

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Posies, Puppies, & Posterior

I’m back—but then you knew I couldn’t stay away long. I’ve got a lot to say. Mainly, THANK YOU to everyone who’s prayed, sent cards, emailed, texted, called, and dropped off meals while my husband, David, continues on the high and low roads to recovery.

posies puppy and posterior

Three of the many cards we received. *Cheek not David’s.

I love all those . . .

  • Who kept in touch since you first heard the Acute Myeloid Leukemia diagnosis and said, “Let me know if I can do anything.”
  • Who sent just the right card—or multiple cards!
  • Who sent daily Scripture verses.
  • Who only know us through Facebook, yet offered to pray.
  • Who wrote and spelled every word right (well, most of you but you all get a pass this time). 🙂
  • Who happened upon my blog, read it, and commented.
  • Who cooked and/or baked or bought something delicious for us. (Downside for you: I will blame you for my weight gain.)

Because I have a weird sense of humor (and need material for my next book), I even love those who said stuff like this . . .

  • “You look tired. And I’m going to tell you every time you do.” [That was you, Deb.]
  • “I’ve heard of AML. I think my aunt died from that.”
  • “Did the doctors tell him the treatment could damage his vital organs?”
  • “How do you feel about your husband having cancer?”

Seriously, these friends are the ones who feel close enough to speak what’s on their minds and in their hearts. One of them crocheted my husband a prayer shawl and a matching hat in a week. Another prays with her granddaughter that David won’t get a fever. One offered to keep me company on one of my many trips into Boston. One made sure we had pie on π Day. Another offered to lend David one of her wigs—chin strap included! All of them have kept me laughing!

When someone is battling illness, it’s hard not to let it define you. Early on, that was my first prayer with David. “This is cancer, it’s not us. We are Christians. We have faith. We know what the ultimate future holds. We are not afraid.” We’ve had to repeat that statement a few times, but only because we are also human.

While the hardest part for me is seeing my husband sick, for those who know David, the hardest part for him is not being around (or able) to help me. His love language is service—particularly service to me. I am blessed!

We’re trying to live as normally as possible, but it’s hard to do.  First, because we’re not that normal to begin with. Second, we have a visitors’ ban in place. We haven’t seen children and grandkids since Christmas! As soon as David’s blood counts level out, that will change!

Since David felt so bad when I had to cancel my book launch celebration originally scheduled for January 31, he encouraged me to go ahead and have the celebration anyway. So, on Sunday, April 10–which happens to be the day before the Red Sox opener at Fenway–we will celebrate Double Header, my first published novel. God has good timing, I think.

I would love to see you there. If you have a copy already, bring it to be autographed. If you have one that’s autographed, come anyway to celebrate with me and enjoy some ballpark-style refreshments!

So I know how much food to have on hand, please register on EventBrite at http://tinyurl.com/zbntf2b.

image001

Every card reflects the richness of family and friends.

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” ~ Galatians 5:22-23 (MSG)

 

 


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Sorry, the New Year You Ordered Is Out of Stock

113265_maxWe’ve had a shock of sorts over the past few days concerning my husband David’s health. Last Friday we saw an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

DOCTOR, looking at David: “You’re in good health other than the Acute Myeloid Leukemia.”
ME and denial trying to ignore his diagnosis: “It’s January. Why is he talking about a cute Hawaiian Christmas song?”

The doctor followed his pronouncement with a long and detailed explanation of this type of cancer and the treatment to follow, which would require a six-week stay at Brigham and Women’s (Dana-Farber’s in-patient hospital) in Boston.

I tried to listen carefully, but I kept getting hung up on the last thing he said, thereby missing the next. He had questions for my husband too.

DOCTOR: “Do you take any medications?”
DAVID named a single medication then seemed to hesitate.
ME, thinking it was a good time to step in to help. “You take Percocet in the morning too.”
DOCTOR, brow furrowed: “Percocet?”
DAVID, smiling and shaking his head: “No, my wife means Prilosec, but I switched to . . .”
ME, jumping in to correct my faux pas: “Oh, that’s right, it’s Xanax.”
DOCTOR, now eyes wide open: “You’re on Xanax?”
DAVID, patting my hand. “Please ignore my bride. It’s Zantac for heartburn.”

I decided my helping might not help that much.

DOCTOR: “I’m not going to admit you today. I’ll give you five days to prepare things at home. Here’s an order for more blood work for Monday.” Then leading us over to the lab, he said, “Before you leave, I’d like a bone marrow sample.”
DAVID, quivering: “That’s the one thing I’ve been dreading.”
DOCTOR: “Ask the nurse for some Ativan to relax you. But if you take it, you can’t drive home.”
ME, thinking, but not saying: “That means I will have to drive home. How on earth will I find my way OUT of the city when I can’t find my way IN?”

The bad news was he took the Ativan. The good news was he was on Ativan when I drove home.

The next day . . .

01990ME to DAVID, after posting a professorial-looking photo of David on our family Facebook page to let them all know: “What do you think?”zztop
DAVID, after seeing it: “I think it makes me look venerable. Now everyone’s going to feel they have to say nice things about me.”

He countered my picture choice by posting this much less reputable-looking one with the help of Photoshop.

Getting ready . . .

My 5-day preparedness list looked something like this:

  • Contact everyone and ask them to pray.
  • Make sure David gets the seafood and Chinese food he’s been craving.
  • Buy him snacks.
  • Buy him new underwear and PJ bottoms—and make sure his tee shirts and fleece tops match.
  • Buy size 15 slippers–once I figure out where to find them.

When I found the flannel PJ bottoms, David thought he would need x-large instead of large. I bought one large and two x-large. I washed the large and they shrank sink inches, making them look like plaid capri pants. When he tried on the x-large, it looked like he could synchronize swim in them with two of his friends.

ME, looking at him in the x-large pants: “You can’t wear those to the hospital. You’ll look like a . . . “

DAVID, pulling the elastic waistline out a good foot: “Like a what? A cancer patient?”

I returned the PJs and we found some that were NOT 100% cotton to avoid shrinkage. We tried four stores before we found slippers big enough.

David’s 5-day preparedness list looked something like this:

  • Show Clarice how to access online bank account to pay bills.
  • Show Clarice where the water shut-off and water heater controls are.
  • Show Clarice how to contact Tech Support and Comcast.
  • Show Clarice how to get to Netflix. Cancel Netflix DVDs because she doesn’t know how to open the envelope right or even use the DVD player.
  • Show Clarice where the generator is case of a power failure. Then make her promise not to touch it, but go directly to a hotel.
  • Show Clarice how to drive the Venza we’ve owned for three years.
  • Show Clarice how to use the smart phone we just bought her.
Thinking things through . . .

When discussing how he’d feel once the chemotherapy started, I told David not to hesitate to tell people if he was too tired and needed rest. [During her time as a cancer patient, our friend Kellie used to say, “That Cancer Card can come in pretty handy when I don’t feel like doing something.”]

cancercardME, when I learned David had a long call to make that night: “This might be a good time to play that Cancer Card.”

DAVID, shaking his head: “You never want to open with trump.”

ME, later while thinking about the doctor’s order for more blood work: “They took seven vials of blood from you on Friday. Why do you think the doctor wants you to have more blood work done on Monday?”

DAVID, looking at me over the top of his eyeglasses: “Could it be ’cause you told him I was on Percocet and Xanax?”

See why I want this guy to get well? He not only makes my life better, he makes me laugh while doing it.

The doctor is optimistic David will achieve remission because they caught it early. When the six weeks are over, further treatment will be determined.

Here’s the tee shirt he plans to wear when it gets to that point.

i_came_i_saw_i_want_to_go_home_tshirt-rd73d97489d6840a5b83d8e7674dc5dfd_804gs_324

Latin for “I came, I saw, I want to go home.”

Until then, we’ll keep the faith, keep laughing, and covet your prayers. Thanks.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress my God, in whom I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)


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Chances Are I Didn’t Do It

My Christmas Letter: I’m amazed at all the things I DIDN’T do last year.
Winter:

snowvids1I DIDN’T shovel an ounce of the 105 inches of snow we got in the Northeast. It’s hard to shovel snow when you’re in Cancun. Not that I was in Cancun, mind you. But I do live in a condo community with stand-alone homes and low HOA fees–snow removal included. Close enough for me, by golly.

I DIDN’T finish the portrait of my husband I never started. “Why not?” you ask. The answer is simple. We don’t have a fireplace, so where would I hang it? And then there’s this: I can’t draw, not even a short straw.

I DIDN’T dance the cha-cha-cha. Unless you count the mornings I had too much coffee.

Spring:

I DIDN’T quite finish my Fall cleaning.

Not by bicycle.

This is not my bicycle.

I DIDN’T let the strong crosswinds affect me on a 30-mile cycle trip on the Kancamagus Highway. I DIDN’T have one sore muscle. That’s a lie. I did have a few sore muscles, but that was from sleeping on our old mattress. Never been on the Kancamagus myself. Don’t even own a bicycle, and slow speed is too fast for me.

I DIDN’T spit out the car window–not one time. Mainly, because both times the window was closed. [Note to my friend Kellie Parham. You know I’d never do this, so relax.]

Summer:

I DIDN’T go camping. At all. What a shame. (Again, lying here. No shame at all.)

I DIDN’T have the problem of critters spoiling my organic garden. I chose to pay the whole price at Whole Foods and save myself a whole lot of grief.

Prize HogI DIDN’T win a blue ribbon at the fair for my prize hog, Ham. I DIDN’T even go to the fair. Ham and I lounged by the pool that day.

Fall:

I DIDN’T do a scrapbooking page for each of the things I DIDN’T do.

I DIDN’T smack a single person upside the head. (Of course, the year’s not over yet.)

I DIDN’T win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I felt kinda bad about that for a while. The feeling passed when I realized people might expect me to do exciting stuff with all my money. Like sit and sweat in Cancun. Ride or, worse, hike the Kancamagus. Go camping. Or show off my hog, Ham, at the county fair.

More things I’m thankful I DIDN’T do: 

I DIDN’T give up on getting my first book published–and it happened.

I DIDN’T get sick.

I DIDN’T stop being thankful for my family.

I DIDN’T stop loving and appreciating my husband.

I DIDN’T lose a loved one.

I DIDN’T stop praying.

I DIDN’T stop believing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

CJ 02056


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God’s Antonyms to News Sound Bytes

hope PsalmIn the wake of the world events of last week, I could find nothing funny to write about. When God makes my heart merry again, the upbeat person I purport to be will return.

Until then, God help us all.

“. . .  if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.: ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Antonym — Noun. A word that means the opposite of another word.

  • Allies vs. Enemies
  • Balanced vs. Radical
  • Blessing vs. Tragedy
  • Comfort vs. Torture
  • Compassionate vs. Heartless
  • Concern vs. Disregard
  • Defend vs. Attack
  • Educated vs. Ignorant
  • Feed vs. Starve
  • Forgiveness vs. Bitterness
  • Free Will vs. Brainwash
  • Gentle vs. Brutal
  • Genuine vs. Fake
  • Healed vs. Injured
  • Healthy vs. Sick
  • Heaven vs. Hell
  • Hero vs. Villain
  • Holy vs. Evil
  • Hope vs. Despair
  • Joy vs. Heartache
  • Kindness vs. Harm
  • Life vs. Death
  • Light vs. Darkness
  • Love vs. Hate
  • Mentor vs. Mislead
  • Merciful vs. Merciless
  • Peacemaker vs. Terrorist
  • Peace vs. Violence
  • Purification vs. Defilement
  • Rescued vs. Imprisoned
  • Reverence vs. Desecration
  • Reward vs. Payback
  • Spare vs. Kill
  • Sensitive vs. Desensitized
  • Sighted vs. Blind
  • Tenderhearted vs. Hardhearted
  • Truth vs. Lies
  • Victory vs. Defeat

One more antonym:  God’s bloodshed for the love and salvation of us all versus man’s bloodshed for hate and power over all.  

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him [Jesus] there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar  and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews 

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  ~ Luke 23:33-4 (NIV)


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There’s a Reason the Road is Less Traveled. People Like Me Can’t Find It.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.~ Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

road_less_traveled_GNYou know that famous “road less traveled” that M. Scott Peck wrote about? There’s a reason it’s less traveled. People like me can’t find it.

Kind friends refer to me as “directionally challenged.” Others call me names school children are forbidden to use. I’m more of an in-the-moment type of person rather than an observer-of-signs. Being in the moment is tough enough without  navigating simultaneously.

Maps, shmaps. My internal compass has convinced my brain that these statements make perfect sense: 1) NORTH is always the direction I’m facing; 2) SOUTH is always behind me; 3) EAST is to my right; and 4) WEST, to my left. Hey, it works a quarter of the time, so I can’t complain.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I second guess my every turn. You know what they say about second guesses. They’re stupid wrong. By the time I’m lost, it’s too late to determine if my first guess would have been right. Even now, after nine years of living in a small town in southern New Hampshire, every intersection brings a surprise. “Huh. So this is where this road comes out?”

I had my first big, lost adventure as a high school senior. I took a trip from Cape Cod to Providence, RI to visit my boyfriend with his young cousin. I assured her parents we’d be back before dark. As promised, with plenty of time, we got on the road. Which road was the question.

Searching for signs to the highway led me to dead ends and questionable neighborhoods. Each time I stopped for directions, I only remembered the last instruction the gas station attendant had given me me—which is never a good place to start. My young passenger became anxious. As darkness fell, her anxiety turned to fear. So did mine.

Being the older, more responsible one, it fell to me to reassure her. At the next turn, I sang out, “We’re fine! Yup. This looks familiar.” When the street lights grew further apart, I slowed to a crawl and clicked on my brights.

Good thing. We were in a beach parking lot about twenty feet from the ocean. In New Bedford.Road Sign Lost

Many years later, after I was widowed, I realized I had nothing to hold me back from traveling. When I noticed a “Lease Me” sign on a large, van-sized camper, I thought about driving across country. My excitement mounted. My mind raced. My bravado grew. Now all I had to do was run the idea past my friend, Kellie, who had taken on the role of my mentor (a nice word for watchdog. Every widow needs one. Trust me.)

While driving her home one afternoon, I broached the subject positively and coveted her blessing. She pondered the matter for about as long as it took me to miss her exit and circle the rotary three times. I can still see her folded arms and smug stare.

I know I’m not alone in this condition. Once, my friend, Brenda, and I decided to attend a women’s conference in Sturbridge, MA, about two hours away from our home on Cape Cod. We thought if we drove together, one of us could act as the navigator. We soon learned “acting” as a navigator didn’t necessarily equate to being one.

After we backtracked a few exits out of Connecticut, we arrived in Sturbridge and found the sprawling hotel. For three days we trekked up and down endless hallways, the conference rooms eluding us. I was relieved when we reached our destination almost on time for one of the events. Not wanting to disturb the speaker, I opened the door quietly, stepped in, then stopped short. Brenda, hot on my heels, rear-ended me, thrusting us unceremoniously into the small room.

We might have been publically humiliated—if it hadn’t been the janitor’s closet.

When travelling by car with my husband, he does most of the driving.  Okay, all of the driving. But I did offer once on our way to Virginia.

ME, with a pure motive and generous heart: “Want me to spell you for a while?”
HIM, glancing at me with raised eyebrows: “With your sense of direction?”
ME, gesturing with my hand toward the open road: “We’re on the highway! How lost could I get?”
HIM, narrowing his eyes: “What about your other issue?”
ME, my forehead furrowed: “What other issue?”
HIM, treading carefully: “Uh, haven’t you fallen asleep behind the wheel before?”
ME, pointing to the edge of the road, “Yeah, but that’s what rumble strips are for!”

Highway to Heaven Goes Through Jesus

Uh? Oh. I thought this was an artist’s depiction of a road to Heaven. My husband just told me it’s a picture of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I can even get lost in Google.

While on Earth, I’ll have to deal with roundabouts, stop signs, deadends, and plenty of wrong turns. Thankfully, to get to Heaven, all I have to do is hang onto Jesus. He’ll take me the rest of the way.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. ~ Hymn by John Newton (1779)


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So Much for the Power of Prayer by C. L. Raj

Carol Raj

Carol L. Raj

Welcome my guest blogger and freelance writer, Carol L. Raj!  Carol was a finalist in the 2015 ACFW Genesis Contest in the category of Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Her children’s stories have been published in Pockets Magazine as well. She is the mother of three grown children–all of whom are good  drivers!–and grandmother of one, who is undeniably the cutest granddaughter ever. Carol resides in Merrimack, New Hampshire with her husband. Learn more about Carol on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/carol.raj.79.

She shares this true story with us today . . .

My daughter threw the notice from school onto the kitchen table, grabbed the house phone, and disappeared behind her slammed bedroom door. I could hear her voice rising and falling as she confided her latest problem to one of her friends.

What could possibly be so wrong?

I picked up the notice. Her state driving exam would be administered by the driving instructor at school on Wednesday at six PM. No changes allowed.

I had prayed for an early afternoon appointment. Plus a little more practice time for her to master backing up. A six PM test was not in my plan.

So much for the power of prayer.

Lord, remember how badly she wants this license?

Her greatest worry was backing the driving instructor’s car between the two parked cars he set up for the test. Even in daylight, it was not easy for a beginning driver. At six PM it would be pitch black. The school parking lot was lit by only an occasional lamppost.

park cones

Fear of Parallel Parking!

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. ~ Psalm 4:1 (NIV)

Most of her friends already had their licenses. In our small town there was no public transportation. If we wanted to go somewhere – anywhere – we had to drive. She was embarrassed to ask for rides. More embarrassed to take the school bus. And most embarrassing of all? To be driven by her mom.

I understood. After all, despite what she thought, I was a teenager once myself.

Her bedroom door swung open, hitting the door stop with a bang. “What if I can’t back into that spot? What if I never get my license? What if I have to ask for rides the rest of my life? What if I just can’t do it?”

“If you don’t get your license this time, you’ll take the test again. No problem.” My reply seemed incredibly reasonable. A loving mother response. It was answered by the banging, once again, of her bedroom door.

It was going to be a long time till Wednesday. And there was nothing I could do.

Except pray that it wouldn’t rain. That would make the visibility even worse.

Sunday night the weatherman showed storms marching across the continent. Monday night he said rain was probable mid-week. Tuesday night he predicted rain in twenty-four hours.

So much for the power of prayer.

Lord, remember my daughter’s driving test? Lord, are You even listening?

All day Wednesday I stayed tuned to the radio.

Oh, Lord. Please let the rain start after her test. She wants this license so badly.

After an early dinner, she looked out the window. No rain yet.

“So far, so good,” I said brightly.

My daughter rolled her eyes. “M-o-m! I have to pass this test. All my friends know I’m taking it today. How can I tell them I flunked? I’ve never flunked anything in my life.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ve been praying about your test.”

“A lot of good that’s done.”

I turned on the kitchen faucet and pretended I didn’t hear.

At 5:30 we went out to the car, buckled our seat belts, and started off. Thick clouds hid any light from the moon or stars.

A drop of rain plopped on the windshield.

car in rain

Could have been so much worse!

My daughter groaned. “M-o-m! It’s starting to rain!”

“It’s just a drop. Don’t worry.”

We could deal with a few drops. Couldn’t we? But the first drop was followed by a second. Then a third. Soon the drops turned into a drizzle.

My daughter sat stony-faced, arms folded across her chest.

Lord, remember my prayer?

The drizzle morphed into a steady shower.

By the time we reached the parking lot, the shower was a downpour. Sheets of moisture gushed from the sky. It seemed we had taken a wrong turn and ended up under Niagara Falls. I squinted through the windshield trying to detect the lines designating parking spaces. They had disappeared.

Thank goodness I wasn’t backing up into a narrow space.

Lord, where are You?

My daughter trudged off to the instructor’s car with as much enthusiasm as if she were going to get her braces tightened. Soon the lights of the test vehicle pulled out of the parking lot. Thirty minutes later she was back.

“Move over, Mom. Let me drive home.”

“How’d it go?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes at my apparent stupidity. “Fine. No problem.”

“You got your certificate?”

“Yes, mother.”

Thank you, Lord.

I had one final question. “You were worried about backing the car into a parking space. You didn’t have any problem doing that?”

“Well, you know,” she said. “That’s the funny thing. The instructor said the visibility was too bad in the rain. He said we’d skip that part of the test.”

So much for the power of prayer.

 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! ~ Psalm 66:20 (NIV)