Between Autumn of 2008 and Autumn of 2011, I lived in a big city in a particular area. This area was mind-boggling to me. It never made since to me how from one street to the next the row of houses would alternate between beautiful, well-kept historical districts where people jogged and walked their dogs day and night… and run-down houses with messy yards that one would avoid or lock their doors and roll up their windows if they had to pass through. Was this the same city?? The area was diverse. There were household-name grocery stores. There were mom-and-pop niche grocery stores. There were small outreach ministries and HIV clinics. There were huge medical research facilities. There were lively office buildings as well as abandoned buildings with broken windows. There was an artsy area, a golf course, a zoo, retails stores and different ethnic-food restaurants, and buildings tatted with street art. This area was as diverse in its residents as it was in its buildings, if not more. There would be marathon runners, artists, actors, male and female prostitutes, cross-dressers, the LGBT community, breast-feeding homemakers, retirees-some working as cashiers, DIYers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, the homeless, community activists, college students- young and old, those on government assistance and those not, troubled youth, you name it! You’d never know who or what you would see, who you would meet, what opportunities would come your way or who would bless you!
For some, this environment might cause an anxiety attack. I understand. For others, it might stimulate excitement. I understand that too. Regardless of the reaction, I wanted to paint the picture. There was enough going on in my own little world. Single parenthood, renting, other bills, college, church and trying to have a semblance of a social life was challenging enough. School was full time. Scheduling my classes earlier in the day had its benefits. There was just something peaceful about knowing that my son was being taken care of at school or daycare during class time. I was free to relax and focus, at least a little. Good parents know that the cell phone still has to be on vibrate and in position where it can be felt, seen and heard in case of emergencies. How many of you know about that outside seat in auditorium classes so you can hurry up and get out if need be? lol Yeah, that life. The daycare was okay for the most part during this particular time period, but parents and especially grade school staff know how quickly sickness can pass between children and then enter your home until every member has had a turn. Walking germ bombs sometimes, but we love them so much! Limited daycare hours of operation did not allow much opportunity for full-time employment, and I had no trustworthy support system nearby who could consistently babysit during the times a full-time job would run past daycare closing times. For those of you who don’t know, many daycare facilities charge one United States Dollar per minute past their closing time in order to pay their workers for overtime. I get it, but it would have put me 10 feet underground (overkill) financially. Therefore, I stuck to what I could manage properly. It was the kiddo and me. Just the two of us. While he was at school or daycare, I worked part time and attended classes at the university. Thankfully, I had a daycare voucher (strings attached, of course, which posed other challenges that I will discuss in another blog post). My income at the time, minus college scholarships, grants and later the regrettable student loans, was a little less than $10,000 annually. This fact may cause different reactions. Some may be moved to tears. Some can identify. Yet some may have their noses in the air. For those with noses in the air, this blog site may not be for you…and watch out for that pole. Grocery shopping was fun. Let me explain. Because my income was so low, my circumstance qualified me for other government assistance. Monthly, I would receive funds on a card that was only good for groceries and not hot food (that program has changed over the years). This was a godsend! This was a fantastic blessing for me because I had the opportunity to feed my son good, healthy foods, afford ingredients for new recipes and make sure my son never went hungry. It is no secret that this program has received much backlash from United States tax payers. However, I wonder how many of those recipients’ stories have become main stream. I understood that the assistance was supposed to be until I got on my feet, so I never let myself forget, “This is temporary.” Some of my days were really long where it seemed like my to-do list was a bucket list.
How often do we rip and run trying to make up for the lack of hours in a day? We run here, run there, drop off, pick up, spend time, reschedule, cut short and check our anatomy for extra hands. It is very easy to forget something, or someone, if only for a brief moment. As you know, this blog site is branded Looking for God #HEISEVERYWHERE, so allow me to share with you how I found God in my driveway.
One day in particular was very long. I had most likely done any combination of attending class, working, working out at the gym, picking up and dropping off my son, paying bills and grocery shopping. I was dog tired! Seriously, I was running on fumes. When I got home, I backed my car into the driveway and began unloading groceries and putting them up. Several trips were made to the car. There were so many items. Finally, thinking I was done, I tipped over on my bed like a lumberjack’s prize. Tiiiimmmmmbbbeeeeeerrrrrrr! It was over! I didn’t know I was in the world. That was probably the most beautiful sleep I had gotten in a while. It was so peaceful, and I was well rested. The sunlight peered through my bedroom the next morning with a soft, holy glow. The birds were singing their cheerful songs. Pleasant. I arose with a stretch that would make the most limber feline jealous. (Exaggeration about the stretching because I am a comedienne, but it was satisfying.) Eventually, I made my way through my shotgun duplex and noticed sunlight on the floor in an unfamiliar spot. It was coming from the doorway. Of course I was puzzled because there was no way the door that led outside should have been open. The inner wooden door and the outer porch door were unlocked, and the wooden door was open. It still didn’t make sense to me, so I checked the perimeter (namely the door frame) for signs of a break-in. Nothing seemed out of place. I went outside. My jaw dropped. My car was in the driveway- not parked in my regular spot behind the chained, locked gate. Also, my driver’s side door was wide open. The matter was so puzzling to me. Nothing was missing from the car. I knocked on the door of my neighbor with whom I shared a porch and asked him if he saw my car like that when he got home. He had but didn’t think enough about the scene to knock on my door or call or text. Finally, it hit me. I was so tired the evening before that I’d mistakenly thought I’d tied up loose ends after bringing in the groceries! Anyone could have come in during the night and done anything! In this area, people walked the streets day and night, and I’d seen characters I’d never seen before walk near my home. I was completely vulnerable all night long. There was no alarm system, no watch dog, no weapon. Thankfully, my son was gone that weekend. In the midst of possible danger, in the midst of no defense, I slept peacefully unaware. My God had shielded and protected me all…night…long. Not a hair on my sleepy head was harmed. No possession was stolen. Though I slept and slumbered, my God did not! Though I had been running like a chicken with its head cut off, God cared for this single mother! I looked for HIM to help, provide, protect and so much more, and I found HIM to be in my driveway…as I slept.