So, this is where this tender story originates; I have many stories from my eight years behind the wheel of the local school bus. Lost glasses, Mom's ambulance ride, down power lines, the trouble making sisters. The boy in seat number two. How often I have caught myself saying: "I haven't yet been employed as a baseball Umpire." That would be the top coating to thickening one's skin, wouldn't it? Pastor will do!
September came, and I signed up for the 2nd year driving the school bus with some exciting changes. The school district added preschool to its curriculum, which meant on that September day I had 14, three yr. old's on my 40 ft. Bus who had never been out of their car seat and half of them this was their first trial run with English as a second language. I learned quickly to say, "siéntese, por favor". Sit down, please! Again and Again and Again! Aah! Remember they are all sitting behind me, and I was supposed to watch the road.
For those of you who have children using the local school bus, please thank them for their service to your kids. Cookies are always a nice gesture.
Her name was Kendra. She was a bitty little 3 yr. old, blonde hair, with an over protected seven yr. old brother. There stop precarious, stopping on the busy 99 E route, cars zooming by, lots of children lived in this rather unkempt mobile home park. Every day she'd shyly follow her brothers lead, sitting about row 5, right-hand side.
September, October, and November hurried by with my eyes set on Christmas vacation. The Lord was challenging me in those days to believe Him for all life's comings and goings. The little things.
Pray about everything, He'd say. I noticed as the weather had turned cold Kendra would wear a little lavender ski coat. You could barely see her buried in its warm poof. Every day like clockwork she was being picked up at 7:00 am and dropped off after 3:00 pm. A very long day for 3 yr old's in my opinion. The protocol was that a parent had to be present to receive any child under the age of 6 off of the bus but Kendra for some odd reason was released to her brother's charge. I never saw a parent present and my heart began to be impacted by her journey in this big world. I observed that her lovely lavender ski coat was looking a bit bedraggled. Come the beginning of December it was downright grungy, so I began to pray. Jesus, I ask you to prompt Kendra's parent to wash her coat. I prayed, and Kendra, now brave enough to smile at me when entering the bus would come and go in her way, conquering life, loving school and unaware that her coat was desperately needing attention and some serious time with a washing machine. My mother's heart said that her unkempt coat probably wasn't the only neglect in her life. So I continued to pray and in my window of time with many of these kids tried to encourage them and deposit a little difference in their lives.
It was the last week of school before Christmas break and my conversation with the Lord about her little coat was more intent. It was almost 30 days past since I began to pray that it get washed.
Passionately I said to the Lord, isn't there anybody in that little girl's life that would wash that coat!!!
At last, filled with candy from Christmas parties at school my 60 some odd number of students piled on my school bus for the journey home. Christmas vacation had arrived. A good handful of thoughtful mothers would send me a kind thank you gift to me bless my holidays. My students and I would bid each other Merry Christmas, and most of them would sneak in a hug saying as they toppled down the stairs.
"Bye Bus-driver, Merry Christmas, see you next year. Finally, gloriously delivered to just the noise of my four boys for two weeks. I had visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head under the cozy covers for fourteen days I didn't have to beat the sun coming up.
Back to the bus barn, I drove, knowing me I was probably singing carols over and over again. Smiling from ear to ear with every fa la la la. I parked my bus and began crossing every t and dotting every i in my departure routine with a final walk through to the back of the bus to make sure there weren't any sleeping children.
Out of the corner of my eye, there it was. Row five, right-hand side. Kendra's coat laying on the floor tucked under the seat. Emotions welled up in me and tears began to flow as retrieved the coat and sat down in the seat. Touched, humbled that I was the only person in Kendra's life that would wash her coat. I must have bawled for 5 min., which turned into humble thanksgiving for the love that my husband and I were allowed to bestow on our boys.
Later an Ah Hah! moment to the timing the Lord was orchestrating for the answer to my prayer.
I took that coat home, soaked it for 24 hours in Biz, washed it reviving it to its new school coat glory and dropped it by her house the following day. Kendra was outside playing with no coat on and ran towards me when she saw me get out of my car. Hi, Bus driver, that's my coat. She quickly took it out of my hands, put it on and returned to her game. Bye, Bus driver.
My heart was quietly with no fanfare changed.
Pray about everything.
Why would a story more than 20 years old be rekindled with all of us just getting ready for Thanksgiving and our holiday season?
Last week I had the pleasure to enjoy a girls day out with my dear friend Julie. We are to peas in a pod. Love the Lord, we both have raised a bazillion boys and stimulate each others' creative juices.
It was a rainy off and on, weekday here in Oregon. Julie and I ventured for a late breakfast downtown Albany. Yum, comfort food. I had the best chicken fried steak, eggs, and gravy; I have every had and we filled our veins with too much coffee. Then off, in and out, of our favorite haunts to see what their Christmas displays were boasting, with an in-depth hunt for several bolts of the perfect ribbon for my Christmas tree decor this year. A lovely day, for which I took my light colored trench-coat on and off, throwing it in the back seat of her car all day. I was a bit embarrassed because my coat collar was grungy, makeup, body oil yuck and had sheepishly mentioned to Julie just to make me feel better about its unkempt look, it was in desperate need to go to the cleaners. Are you getting the "moral" of this story yet? Yes, I did leave it in the back seat of her car. She texted me so I wouldn't be missing it and asked if I needed it returned immediately. I told her I would get it on Sunday not to be bothered with an extra run to my house because she was getting ready to leave for Thanksgiving to visit her family in Phoenix. I knew she had many things to check off her list before she left.
Well, she called me two days later and said she had some church paperwork to drop off to me before she was to head out of town.
Yes, you guessed it. It came back around. Julie climbed out of her car, reached over the seat pulling the clear film wrapped & freshly cleaned trench coat. The Lord sees everything. What you do in secret He rewards openly.
The love and care I shared towards Kendra over 20 years prior returned to bless me. I was so touched by my friend's thoughtfulness which she overflows again and again. Oh, what a multiplied reward.
Blessings to you as we celebrate family, friends and the goodness of our Lord.
Give and it shall be given back to you. Press down on the floor of a school bus, overflowing from the hands of those who care.