I awoke and patted the empty bed beside me. Dustin was long gone, off to hunt with his dad. Henrik yelled “MOM!” from his crib and the air held a waft of #2, and a lament rose from downstairs, “Moooooom? We’re hungry.” Saturday morning and I felt a resolve settle over me to make it a happy one despite how very much I just wanted to burrow under my blankets and sleep.
Our local greasy spoon offers a $1.99 breakfast, two eggs any style, home fries, and toast. I did the multiplication in my head; we could enjoy the adventure and joy of a breakfast out for $10.00 plus tip. Manageable. I hollered for all of them to get ready, and they hollered back “Where are we going?”, to which I remain obstinately silent. I like surprises.
We pulled into the restaurant and filed in, four kids and heavily pregnant me. I quietly asked the waitress if the breakfast special held true on Saturdays too. “No, just on weekdays”. The multiplication ticked through my head as I shifted Henri on my hip. My pride urged me to just go with the flow, don’t embarrass yourself. But the bill in my mind had suddenly tripled and I just couldn’t do it. I murmured “Okay, I think we’re going to try somewhere else, sorry”, and tried to coax my confused herd back out the door with minimal show.
“Why are we leaving, Mom?”
“They don’t have the breakfast special today, so we’ll go another place I have in mind.” My budget-minded brain was spinning numbers and possibilities. I didn’t notice the Irish nun following after us. As I got Henri hefted up into his seat I heard, “Excuse me….I couldn’t help but notice your predicament. Someone paid for my breakfast this morning, allow me to pay for yours.”
I looked in her caring eyes, her gray hair peeking out from under her bandeau. “No, no, really, thank you, it’s okay, no.”
She volleyed back a series of insistent “Yes, please, yes, do take it, I’d love to bless you. Yes.”
“No, really, you’re so kind, but….”
“I insist, yes.”
This went on until she pressed $25.00 into my mind, placed her aged hand on my pregnant belly and said, “May God bless this little one. Take care.”
“Thank you, thank you so much.”
She walked away and I turned toward my car full of children and vomited. Strange response, eh? Unconnected to her caring generosity, I assure you. I had taken a prenatal vitamin that morning on an empty stomach and apparently my body didn’t take kindly to that. The kids watched with wide eyes. First we’d entered and left a restaurant within a minute. Then Mommy had had a battle of no’s-and-yes’s with a nun. Then Mommy threw up. This was a lot to process on a rainy Saturday morning.
I got in the car and sat behind the wheel, breathing deep and trying to pull myself together. “Are you okay, Mom?”
“Yes. I’m okay. Okay. (deep breath) Wow. That dear nun just bought us breakfast.” The kids took all that in while I drove to a Bob Evans (because there was no way I’d go back into the greasy spoon a second time that morning).
The Bob Evans breakfasts were quite a treat, and were surprisingly cheap, and the bill came in far below the nun’s provision. And the menus weren’t greasy. And the coffee was good. And I didn’t throw up in the parking lot. Win-win-win. The kids asked with the straining hope in their eyes if they could have a quarter to buy peppermint patties at the register. The dear nun had made a way; “Sure!”
They nearly danced with joy, and it made me realize for how long my answers have had to be “no”. It felt like Christmas!
Sophia walked over to where I was waiting by the door and handed me a “Yorky Patty”. The joy of the morning had rubbed off on her, and she wanted me to have a treat too, from her own coin stash.
Now I lay on the couch with my swollen ankles propped up, listening to the rain, and thinking of the beautiful nun with an Irish brogue and her stubborn generosity and love. And I realize that God has been so attentive to me, to us, in this last month of pregnancy. Sweet mercies here and there, that added up, are astounding. And I’ve neglected Him, I have. I haven’t been reaching for Him near as much as He’s been reaching for me. I am most undeserving of all His kindness, grace, and mercy. I am as astounded by His love as I was by the nun this morning, and what can I do but say, “Thank You”?
Oh, thank You, Father, thank You.