Chaos at it’s Finest

Chaos at it’s Finest

Chaos at it’s Finest

Like most people, I often think I can do it all. Busy people are successful people, right? I want to be successful too, so I pile on the projects, plans, and promises. You know what I mean—the commitments we make when we’re told we’re perfect for a job. I’ve discovered this phrase is really code for “We can’t find anyone else willing or crazy enough to say yes.

My three darlings were heading back to school on a sunny yet misty September morning. I can’t say I was wildly anticipating another year of sports, detentions, conferences, homework, report cards, lunch packing and bundling three children off to face the Michigan winter.

My youngest child and only son, Tony, was apprehensive about his first day of school. He was a big first-grader, and that meant wearing just the right clothes, having his hair combed just so, and facing the uncertainties of riding the bus with the big kids. To be honest, Tony was a bit unsure about the whole bus thing. I’m sure some of you can relate.

To ease his fears, I told my little buddy I’d drive him to the bus stop and wait with him there.

It was a big day for him, but it was also a big day for me. I’d agreed to teach a Bible class in a local mega church, and the class began that morning. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it was just one class, and it wasn’t like I wasn’t used to teaching. How hard could it be?

Apparently harder than I thought. I was still in my bathrobe and my kitchen looked like an NFL football team had conducted a passing drill with the food from our refrigerator. The kids were gobbling cold cereal and drinking juice from the carton, except for Tony, who was sitting in a corner biting his nails.

And me? I was more than a bit nervous. I’d be talking to more than 200 women, and I’d barely had a moment to scan the notes I’d prepared three weeks earlier.

“So much for steamy oatmeal and blueberry muffins,” I told myself as I watched Max and Tiffany, our family dogs, plow into one another as they snapped up crumbs that launched from the sides of the table.

I slapped peanut butter on hamburger buns as I told the kids to get their shoes on, shoved the sandwiches and bags of chips into backpacks and kissed the girls’ sticky faces, then shoved their bodies out the door and toward the car.

Yes! Two down.

Now for me. I ran to my bedroom and ran a brush through my hair, then threw on my best Bible-teaching dress.

“Let’s go Tony-boy,” I rang out. “Time to catch your bus.”

My big first grader and I scurried outside, swinging the door behind us shut, then halted to a dead stop. To our shock, construction workers were lined-up at the curb with cranes and shovels, right behind my car. What was once my paved street had become a mud two-track overnight.

The thought of the school bus jarred us out of our paralysis. We had no time to waste.

“Let’s move, son,” I barked. Tony in his new cowboy boots and I in my green stilettos took off running through the mist toward the bus stop.

Potholes, dirt, sand, and puddles. I tried to avoid the mud-road landmines, but I was unsuccessful. My ankle folded over my high heel and I tumbled into a mud puddle, drenching my legs.  Tony—who normally loves to get wet in the rain—started to cry. He hated being late.

I pulled myself to my feet, we rounded the corner and made it to the bus just in time. I gave my son a secret squeeze, and Tony climbed the steps and took his seat. My baby was off to school.

There was no time for sentimentality. I needed to get back to the house, change my clothes, re-do my hair, and get the bulldozer to move so I could drive to church.

I spun on my heels and was heading home when I noticed a black and white blur streak past my eyes.

“Oh no, it’s Tiffany,” I moaned.

My Cocker Spaniel was a runner and never allowed outside unleashed. Now, like a prisoner on a jailbreak, Tiffany was racing up and down the muddy two-track road.

I veered in her direction, hollering for her to come as I chased her. But the more I ran, the faster she ran, her ears flopping, my everything wet and flopping.

I’m certain that the things I wanted to do to my dog just then were not exactly appropriate preparatory focus for my Bible study that morning.  Eventually my neighbor elderly Martha Miller called Tiffany to her door and I tackled her (the dog, not Mrs. Miller), but only after she had enjoyed the morning chaos with a cup of tea as she watched from her picture window for a right good time.

Ten minutes later, I’d made my way safely home, thrown on my second best Bible-teaching dress, whipped my hair into a pony-tail, and zoomed to church (thanks to very polite construction workers), which was only 10 minutes away.

When I arrived, I found the Worship Center full of exuberant women chatting about the excitement of the new fall season. I took my place at the podium and took a deep breath.

“Good morning, ladies. How great to be together. You all look so refreshed and put together. But are there any women out there who feel a bit frazzled this morning, like I do?”

Hands raised all over the room and laughter filled the air.

“I’ve had quite an adventure already today,” I said as I shared about my morning. Many women affirminglly nodded their heads.

The remainder of the class went surprisingly well, and after it was over an 84-year-old woman hobbled over to me and slipped a piece of paper in my fist and patted my hand. “Read it honey, it will help you.”

I tucked the note in my pocket, assuming the note was a suggestion.

Later that night I drew the crumpled note out from my pocket. The shaky script on the front read, “How To Catch A Dog.”  I giggled as I opened it. Contained within the note were these words: “If you want to catch a dog, run in the opposite direction laughing joyfully while calling the dog by name. The dog will turn and chase you home.” Love, Eunice

Eunice’s note blessed my heart so I called her to thank her.

“Oh honey, you’re welcome. I’m glad this ole dog could help you with yours.”

Her unexpected humor once again made me giggle. We gabbed for several minutes about dogs, and kids, and Jesus. It was delightful.

The next week at Bible study, Eunice gave me a book entitled, How to Train Your Dog. Over the next few weeks, a beautiful friendship blossomed between us. Eunice became a prayer warrior; a friend; a confidant; a true grandmother in the faith. She joined my women’s ministry team and began to teach other young women about the life lessons she had learned through her walk with Jesus.

Through her eyes, I saw life from a new and important perspective. She taught me that I actually had been successful that brisk September morning. Although my plans crumbled into chaos that day, I had still been on God’s trajectory: I had made a wonderful friendship, my kids and I had made a funny memory to share, I became transparent to other women who needed to know they weren’t alone in their chaos. I learned how to train dogs. Most importantly, I learned how to laugh at and enjoy life.

True success is found in recognizing the God-moments in life and yielding to his purpose in even the moments of chaos. I’m still over-loaded in my schedule, but I am pursuing God’s purpose for my life. He is in everything when I look for him—chaos and all.

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