An Unexpected Mother’s Day Gift
Mother’s Day is typically an occasion that a mother looks forward to celebrating and spending with her children. In 2008, however, I was dreading it. That year, thinking about Mother’s Day would only bring to mind my worst fears.
On that day I was sitting in a corporate apartment thousands of miles away from my children. I was alone, with nothing but four sterile walls around me. I was to be away for five weeks, receiving daily medical treatments to battle the life-changing illness that I was facing.
After opening a few cards from my kids and other followers of my journey, things became very quiet. Then came the tears. I grieved not being with my children and my heart was full of fear as I contemplated my mortality. Was this a predictor of what is to come? Would I be there for them in the future? The thought of not being able to love them, take care of their needs, and nurture them as they grew was my greatest fear. It was unthinkable, and yet, my fear screamed to be heard.
Little did I know that God was about to lead me on an adventure to calm my fear and give me comfort.
A Change of Scenery
I decided to take a spontaneous drive to Lake Tahoe. I knew if I spent time “getting ready” for the trip I would talk myself out of it, so I picked up my keys and walked out the door. It was only an hour away, and I needed a change of scenery.
Before I left, a dear friend called to ask if I had received the Mother’s Day package she sent to me. Her call prompted me to stop at the front desk on my way to the car and ask the desk clerk if I had received any new mail. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the package had arrived. As I stuffed it in my purse, the desk clerk asked, “Where are you headed?” I told her about my plan to explore Lake Tahoe and get a bit of sunshine. She exclaimed, “You must eat at Jake’s restaurant!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that with all of my complicated digestive issues, I was sure that I would be limited to eating the snacks in my purse. Besides, I wasn’t dressed to have dinner. I thanked her for the recommendation and set out on my adventure.
As I drove, the beauty I encountered lifted my spirits. It was as if I was being drawn into a gorgeous postcard — another world. When I arrived at the lake, the first order of business was finding a bathroom. I noticed that to park I would have to depend on my inept parallel parking skills. To avoid the embarrassment, I turned down a random road hoping to find a parking lot. To my surprise, before me was a huge sign that read, “Jake’s On The Lake.” I couldn’t believe it! Of all the streets in the town, how did I manage to pick the one that led to Jake’s? I thought, “God, did you bring me here for dinner?” I looked down at my jeans, running shoes and t-shirt very aware that I was not properly dressed for dinner at this type of restaurant. Still, I needed to continue my pursuit of a bathroom, so I went there anyway.
As I walked toward the restaurant, I noticed a shopping area adjacent to the restaurant. Shopping? Now that’s just what the doctor ordered! A little retail therapy buying souvenirs for the kids sounded good to me. Then, I saw a large sign indicating a sale and anyone who knows me knows that I can’t pass up a good sale. I followed the sign and found myself in a women’s clothing store browsing the sale rack. I found a cute blouse that was just my size, and it was marked 70% off — what a bargain! The clerk saw me pondering over the purchase and suggested that I try it on. So as not to offend her, I went to the dressing room and was pleased to find that it fit me perfectly. I thought, “Maybe, I could go to dinner at Jake’s now that I have this new blouse!” My mood shifted, and I started to laugh. I felt as though I was in a makeover reality show where the woman is taken to find a new outfit before an evening out on the town.
The blouse was adorable, but I looked at my feet and the running shoes weren’t going to pair well with it. Conveniently enough, as I came out of the dressing room, I spotted a small display of shoes across the store. I have wide feet, so it was unlikely they would have my size. I picked up a pair of sandals on display, and they were an exact fit. At this point, I was starting to feel like Cinderella getting ready for the ball! I heard the clerk say, “Since those shoes are on display, I’ll give you 10% off.” Before I knew it, I was standing at the register buying a new outfit for dinner.
I put on my newly purchased outfit, rubbed my lip liner with lip balm together to make lipstick and was now ready for dinner. I prayed under my breath, “Okay, God, if you’re providing dinner for me, there must be something on Jake’s menu I can eat.” I walked into the restaurant no longer feeling like a patient, but a beautiful woman going to dinner.
As I sat at my table overlooking the lake and mountain, I feasted on sesame-crusted bass, jasmine rice, and veggies. The flavors and scenery were nourishing to both my body and my soul. As I soaked up the moment, my phone rang. It was my friend who had sent the thoughtful package. I told her about the unexpected dinner and mentioned that her gift to me had arrived. She said, “You have to open the package — right now.” I pulled it out of the bottom of my purse, opened it and found a beautiful silver necklace with a pendant of a bird wearing a crown. Attached to the necklace was a tag with the Bible reference, Matthew 6:26-34. The verses read:
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil, nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these, But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
He Knows Me and Loves Me — And You, Too
I was speechless. I cried, but this time, they were tears of comfort and gratitude. Yes, God was feeding and clothing me. How incredible that He knows me and my children. He knows all our needs. No, I wasn’t with them on that day, but He was asking me to trust Him with my tomorrows. He was asking me to trust Him to hold my children in His loving care regardless of what the future brings. I knew in that moment I could give Him my fears, fueled by all of the uncertainty of the future. I could rest in His provision day by day. Since that day, when I begin to fear, I look at the birds and remember those verses and that day at Lake Tahoe.
Dear friend, if your Mother’s Day is being eclipsed by fear and doubt, or it doesn’t look the way you had planned, remember you are seen and known by your Heavenly Father. He is your provider and you, and your children, are in His loving care. Look at the birds.
Ronda Barney, LCSW, RD is a writer, speaker and mentor for women facing a life-changing illness. She provides online resources, appears on podcasts and speaks at conferences sharing her messages of hope and resiliency. Barney is the author of Dear Susan: Letters of Comfort, Hope and Peace for Women Facing a Life-Changing Illness, published in March 2022. Ronda and her husband have two children and live in Dallas, Texas. Connect with Ronda at www.rondabarney.com.