Our family just got back from a conference in San Diego called the National Youth Workers Conference. It was four days of encouragement and training for youth workers and it’s always fun to go and hang out with thousands of people who are passionate about ministering to teenagers.
However, this post isn’t about all the wonderful things we learned and experienced. Instead it’s about a wonderful blessing that happened to us the day we got there.
Now before I get started, there is one thing you need to know about me. I think I am secretly related to the absent-minded professor. I am not joking. One time, when I was a senior in high-school, I drove all the way to school and didn’t realize until I stepped on the pavement that I wasn’t wearing any shoes. Another time, I got lost driving to the school I had worked at for several years. I had to call my husband and ask for directions. Oh and don’t even get me started about the time I nearly called the police because I saw a light on in our attic in the middle of the night. I woke up my sleeping husband who told me to just turn the light switch off. Ahem. Now that you understand who you are dealing with, here’s the story:
We were running a little late when we arrived in San Diego. It was 2:10 and my husband was supposed to be in a meeting that started at 2. We quickly unloaded the car and threw everything into our hotel room. While Scott was gone I decided to take the boys for a walk around the beautiful hotel grounds. I didn’t bother to look at our room number because a) I have a horrible memory, and b) our car was parked right in front of our door. I knew it would be easy to find. Before we left my son realized he didn’t have his backpack with his choo-choo trains in it. I ran out to the car, unlocked the door, grabbed the backpack, and we headed on our way.
After walking around the whole campus, I headed back to the room with the boys. I walked up and down the two little roads that contained the hotel rooms and I couldn’t find our room. After making the same circle several times, I pulled aside a worker and embarrassingly admitted that I couldn’t find my hotel room. They asked what number we were and I said I had no idea, all I know is I parked right in front of it. They looked at my key card and were able to figure out our room number. I was standing right in front of it. I giggled nervously as the attendant looked at me like I was crazy. “I don’t think this is our room, you see I parked my car right there” and I pointed to the empty parking spot in front of the door. I put the key in the door to prove that this wasn’t our room and the door opened. “See?” the attendant said smiling. “It is your room!”
It didn’t take me long to realize that I had probably left the keys in the door when I grabbed my son’s backpack. These kind of things don’t really surprise me because I know myself a little too well. I texted my husband “Car got stolen” then called 911. Now listen closely so you can learn from my lesson. 911 is not the right number to call when your car is stolen. Mmmmkay? If you do call 911, they will not be very happy and will redirect you to the non-emergency number. Then the non-emergency number will want to know your license plate and you will go outside to look at your car and realize, once again, that it was stolen.
The whole time we are trying to get a report in, our three-year old is saying “Where’s the car mommy? Somebody stolen the car mommy!” We prayed together and asked God to return the car. We also prayed for the person who took it. We thanked God for this experience because the Bible calls us to give thanks in all circumstances, so that’s what we do, in the good times and the bad. I had a peace flood my heart that it was all going to be ok.
My husband really deserves some kind of husband award. He is so patient with me when I do things like this. He left his meeting immediately and came running over to the room. We went to the hotel lobby and the concierge helped us figure out who to call that may know what our license plate number was. I laughed when we told the concierge what happened because, well, I felt ridiculous. He looked at us for a minute and then responded “I am going to do whatever it takes and go completely out of my way to help you, because I have never seen someone smile and have such a great attitude about getting their car stolen.”
After we got our report in to the police and hotel security, we walked back to the room. A while later the concierge knocked on our door. He had bought us pizza for dinner and had gone himself to pick it up and deliver it. He also gave us coupons for free breakfast.
That night Scott and I were talking about the car. We realized that it is just a possession. Our kids were safe and we were all together and that’s all that matters. Earthly possessions can come and go. They are not guaranteed. They are like the dust of the earth and never matter in the long run. I can honestly say I would be just as happy driving a beat up pick-up truck as I would an expensive Ferrari. In fact, I would prefer the pick-up truck given my past experience. 😉 And if we can’t afford a car, then we walk. The thing is, our priority in life is not to own nice things. It’s to serve others and make every moment matter.
Around 10:30 that night, the police called. They had stormed a hotel room that an identification theft ring was operating out of and found the key to our car. They searched the parking lot and there it was, car seat and choo-choos and all. Apparently the thieves told the police that they had been driving through the parking lot and saw our car with the key in the door. They were very concerned and knocked on all the doors to see who it belonged to. When they couldn’t find the owner, they took it back to their hotel room just to keep it safe for the night so no one would steal it lol.
To those thieves I say thank you. Thank you for showing my three-year old an answer to prayer. Thank you for giving me a good dose of perspective, and thank you for keeping our car safe through the night. 😉 They have already been sentenced and we have been praying for them – that they will discover the freedom that they can have in Christ and that they will know that the ugly sins of their past don’t matter.