It was an ordinary Grande Starbucks Flat White. But it was the most special one I had ever had - one that came with an unforgettable message.
One that I heard loud and clear.
Let me back up a week…
It was Monday morning - post “weekend.” Every room in the house had successfully managed to turn itself inside-out. But that’s a typical Monday morning occurrence at our house - one that I don’t only anticipate, but welcome.
There was laundry to start, baths to run, beds to make, and schoolwork to begin. And on top of playing the normal “catch up,” I had a doctor’s appointment at 11 a.m. - the same time my husband needed to be packed and ready to leave for the airport. He and his Associate Pastor had a conference to attend in Dallas, Texas, and the two were going to be gone for three days and two “sleeps.”
I was missing him already.
While I was scurrying around helping him pack, he called me into our bedroom where he had been studying. He asked me if I had preached a particular sermon a while back. I asked him which text he was referring to and he informed me of Mark 8:27-30: Peter’s Confession of Christ. I immediately recalled that I had preached it - 10 years ago - while we were Youth Pastors back in our hometown of Jefferson, Iowa.
He asked if I still had my notes and I laughed. I said that even if I did have them - somewhere hidden in my ancient laptop - I would be too embarrassed to hand them over.
The time was closing in on my appointment and his departure time, and in that bedroom conversation, I was given the opportunity to preach the text that weekend.
I was honored. As well as pumped.
The babysitters showed, I zipped up his carry-on, we hugged and kissed goodbye and then both backed out of the driveway - going our separate directions.
Now, I don’t particularly enjoy when my husband is away and I have to fly solo. I married him so I didn’t have to say Goodbye. (I like saying Goodnight much, much more.)
However, flying solo forces me find my big-girl panties and put them on. And I dare say that I’m getting better (or maybe braver) for those occasions.
And although I can fly solo, I don’t necessarily like to. The house is too quiet after the children fall asleep and I simply don’t know enough self-defense moves when he is states away. I find myself double-checking the doors - making sure they are locked - before retiring to my empty bedroom and cold bed.
However, as I said…I’m getting better.
I’ve learned to keep the right amount of “busy.” Too busy - and the children become worn and whiny. Not busy enough, and they become bored and bothered - “When is Daddy coming home??”
So on Monday, after we completed school for the day, we invited our Associate’s wife and baby over for a Pizza and Movie Night. We built a tent on Tent Tuesday, completed school, had a coffee date at the house, and attended our church’s Worship and Prayer service. On Wednesday, we completed another lesson of school and got the house ready for Jeremiah to come home to.
As I tucked the children into bed that night, I assured them that their Daddy would be home when they woke up. They were as anxious as I was.
Now while he was away, our youngest got sick and I spent the week tending to his high fever, snotty nose and raspy cough.
And on top of our “normal” toppled with sickness, I had a sermon to prepare!
So, where does one find the time to study for a sermon with four young children - two being homeschooled - and a potty-training toddler with a 104-degree temp?
You don’t. It must be made.
And for me, that equated to burning the midnight oil on Monday and experiencing “when late becomes early” on Tuesday.
But, by Wednesday morning - with only four hours of sleep - I had submitted my notes and was pleased to know that my husband would be home that night!
A three-day trip had never flown by so quickly!
On Thursday, I tended to more fevers that had spiked and sickness that had spread. On Friday, Jeremiah allowed me to sleep in until a time that I’m embarrassed to say. (*cough* 11 a.m.)
And then…the weekend arrived!
Since there was still some lingering sickness marked by exhausted children, I hired a babysitter to hang with them. I set them up on the couch with some Netflix before my college girls showed. Once they did, I took off to church - 30 minutes early. I had just enough time to swing through our local HyVee for a Starbucks (which is conveniently located directly across the street from our church).
I walked out of the store with a Tall Flat White in my hand and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The two Saturday night services went great! I lingered afterwards and then returned home in time to pay my girls and make bedtime happen.
That night, I laid out everyone’s outfit as we needed to be at the church in time for the first service - with bells on - by 8:15 a.m. The only difference from any other weekend was that I was the one preaching and there was a Time Change to consider. (And it was any parents-with-young-children’s least favorite: Spring Forward!)
We were all going to lose an hour of sleep and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
In my preparations for the weekend - knowing that I was going to be preaching three times in a row on a Time Change Sunday morning - I processed that I wouldn’t only want another Starbucks but I would need one.
In fact, I brought cash to church with me on Saturday evening - fully intending to give it to one of our sweet interns to run across the street that next morning and pick one up for the both of us.
However, while I was driving home Saturday night, I noticed the cash still in my bag! I had forgotten to give it to her and as it was getting late, I was having a hard time orchestrating Plan B.
I decided to just go to bed and not fret about whether or not I was going to get enough caffeine for the morning.
And then the coolest thing happened…
My alarm went off at my normal Sunday morning time and I had a message awaiting me with a time stamp of 4:50 a.m.
It was from Taylor who had been to the 6 p.m. service the night before. She had enjoyed my message and knew that I had three services left to preach that morning. She went on to say that since we hadn’t had the chance to get together to have that coffee (that we had been saying we needed to get for the longest time), she wanted to buy me a Starbucks to start my morning off.
She was going to be working at HyVee and wanted to know my favorite drink. I just needed to come in and tell the barista my name and it would be taken care of.
And in that moment, my faith grew.
Here I was - running off of minimal sleep and adrenaline - coming out of a dense week with a traveling husband and sick children.
And Momma just wanted some Starbucks!
What took me back was God’s orchestrated plan was so much cooler than mine.
I mean, Taylor and I had connected with each other in between the two services - allowing me to catch up on her whereabouts (to find out she was still living in Illinois and commuting over an hour to work every day). But what didn’t come up in our conversation was that she was also working at Clinton’s HyVee - and that she would be there that next morning.
I had no idea - but God did.
And in that moment, the Lord drove a point from my own sermon deep into my heart: He is El Roi – “the God who sees me.”
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Genesis 16:13
And He absolutely did.
He saw me at night when I laid in my bed having a hard time falling asleep with my cold feet - missing my husband.
He saw my sick children that needed my extra snuggles while their Daddy was gone.
He saw me in my exhaustion as I had stayed up late and studied my little heart away.
He saw me in my joy as Jeremiah returned - safe and sound - and our family was complete again.
He saw me when He reignited what He spoke to my heart 10 years ago - and then gave me the opportunity to preach it again.
He even saw me driving home in the rain with my loose cash in my bag and my failed orchestrated plan.
And He saw me when He put me on someone’s heart who took the time to reach out - and bless me with a Grande Starbucks Flat White.
Yes, God saw me and my faith grew.
So dearest Taylor, THANK YOU for being the sweetest, kindest gesture of God’s love to me on that unforgettable Sunday morning. My faith grew as a result of YOU!
And for all of you who may be on the bubble of reaching out to someone and letting them know that you see them and that you care - who knows what type of impact you will have on them?! Allow yourself to be used by “the God who sees me” and watch Him do something unforgettable in someone else’s life!