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Isaiah 26:3-4 NIV

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”

My summer days as a teacher on summer vacation have been filled with relaxing days, most of them fairly peaceful and uneventful, well, until today.  They are coming to an end in the next few weeks.  I already have my classroom ready and am filled with anticipation about the coming year, not only for myself as a K-5 Technology Teacher, but for my own children.

Today, we had planned to go to a nearby amusement park which we haven’t been to all summer.  After a morning check of weather, we decided that we’d get soaked in the afternoon so we put off the trip to another date. Instead, we decided to go to my inlaws’ house in a nearby town to hopefully get in some swimming at their pool.  Even if it rained there, we wouldn’t have paid $150 to be soaked like we would have if we had gone to the amusement park.

After getting ready, I started cleaning the kitchen when I saw the first ant.  Not long after, I saw the second one then a third one.  My inner dialogue fussed,”Oh no!  I am ready to leave but now I have to deal with ants!”  So after discovering that they had gotten into our trash can, I emptied it and began the process of spraying for ants and putting out some never opened ant motels that I found in the garage.  We headed out the door to grab lunch at our favorite Chicken restaurant to take to my inlaws’ house.

After ordering and picking it up at the window, I drove off, paused to quickly check for all orders, then realized we were missing an order of the three count chicken strips.  So, I needed to pull into the lot again, park and go inside to collect my missing order.  Upon trying to pull into the parking lot, a guy in an older model Porsche was backing out of his spot but apparently, got stalled.  I patiently waited because it was what I was supposed to do to allow him time to get moving.  Suddenly, I noticed agitated hand movements from the Porsche driver as he was motioning me to go around him.  He, clearly, was mad that one, his car was not working properly and two, that I was having to wait.  He seemed to be mad because he cracked his door to be sure that I saw his hand movement which startled me.  I turned my wheel as far to the left as it would go and tried to turn but was unsure if I would hit the rear of the Porsche.  I decided to back up so that I could clear the turn.  While I backed up, the other driver finally got his car moving so he sped through the parking lot.  I had not even got around him but he floored it which was absolutely unsafe since we were in a small parking lot of this restaurant.  My youngest daughter commented, “That guy had some road rage.”  “He sure did,” I replied while feeling depleted from the experience.  How quickly this guy lost his patience!  Fortunately, I kept a cool head, but believe me, it didn’t take long until my state of mind stalled like his car in a murky mess of irritation.  By the way, I was so excited to have gotten my inlaws peach milkshakes as a special treat.  I placed them in the cardboard drink holder with a nice handle which the restaurant had provided and had placed them on the floor of the passenger side.

After leaving the chicken place, we headed south down a highway through a small town. Now, back in June, I had been stopped by a state trooper in this little town because I had not slowed down when the speed changed from 55 to 45.  I was only half a mile or less past the speed change sign so thankfully, he let me off with a warning but believe me, I have been extremely careful while driving through this stretch on the way to my inlaws’ house ever since.  Honestly, I have a good driving record and obey laws, but having an encounter with a state trooper has stayed with me!  As we approached a stoplight, I noticed that it turned from green to yellow.  I was going 45, the current speed limit, but decided to put on my brakes to prepare to stop at the light.  Can anyone guess what happened in the floor of the passenger side of my van?  Yep, you got it.  Ding, Ding, Ding!!  The peach milkshakes turned over spilling out at least half of both milkshakes including the red cherry on top.  I sat there unable to reach the mess.  I was so aggravated that the special treat was now partially ruined plus I couldn’t clean it for 20 more minutes.  About this time, it started to drizzle rain, light rain.  Once the light turned green, I took off, not speeding like the guy in the chicken joint, but feeling so jolted.  The mad steam rolled out of my ears.  My jaw locked in disgust.

Within three or four minutes,  the rain picked up.  The weather reports indicated possible down pours which was the reason we didn’t head to the amusement park in the first place.  Sure enough, the rains came so hard that I couldn’t see.  I was concerned about the standing water forming on the edge of the road.  I made the choice to pull off into a small shopping center.  We waited for five minutes and the rain let up a bit.  I continued our journey but not long after, the fine rain poured profusely and limited my vision.  I turned on my hazard lights.  My lights were on and wipers were at full speed, but I could not see well.  Again, I pulled off the road this time into a church parking lot.  We waited for five minutes or so until the heavy rain subsided.  Finally, we were on the road again.  I moved away from the right shoulder because the deep standing water that we first went through upon getting back on the road, sprayed water up on the windshield and on the side of van.

As we made our way down a country road near my inlaws’ house, I saw some blue sky appear inbetween the pillowy clouds.  Relieved, we drove into their driveway.  My father-in-law hosed off the mess on the floormat while we took in our food and swim bags.  Our lunch was a welcome change from the previous hour, but apparently, my tummy processed the food and within the next hour, I was sick.  Yes, back-and-forth-to-the-bathroom sick.  I would head out to sit in the sun, but was soon back inside.  On one of my visits back to the pool porch, I sat down in a lawn chair.  Suddenly, the chair snapped, my right backside was on the ground and my back hit the arm rest.  So, there I sat, asking for help from my family to get me up because I was stuck.  This was absolutely not expected especially since I had previously sat in the chair on other visits and had sat there earlier in the afternoon.  This chair was actually an old one but a good one dating back to my mother-in-law’s mother who had sat under an old tree in it 50 years ago.

I can honestly say that a lot had happened in three hours to try to rob my peace.  While I was by the pool and in the bathroom, I read my new book from Lysa Terkhurst called “Uninvited”.  In her first chapter, she quoted Isaiah 26:3-4,

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.”

She explained that the Hebrew word for “stedfast” means “to brace, uphold, support”.   I never knew this amazing truth.  I started thinking about my day and the way that my mind had dealt with ants, an unfulfilled order, road rage from the Porsche guy, my own irritation over the tumbling peach milkshakes, my tummy pains and my breaking of the old chair.  I just am so thankful that God braced me and upheld me during a very strange afternoon.  I trust God with my life and love that He kept me, supported me and did not let go during my  irritations.  He knows me because He made me.  He knows what I can handle.  Even when the irritating moments occurred, there was always a right way and wrong way to respond.  I know that it pleases my heavenly Father when I focus on showing love and practice patience.  Today, I was given multiple opportunities to determine how my reaction would look.  In the end, I won’t try to say here that I felt peace during each of my moments today, but I know somehow, that God kept me in “perfect peace” because my mind was stedfast to trust in God to help me through every situation.

What a lesson right before school starts!  Being a teacher starting my 24th year, I know that there will be moments during the school year which may jolt me.  The unexpected moments will happen.  There will be days when the lesson won’t go as planned or I’ll have the child who will come to me with needs that exceed the 45 minutes that I will have with him or her.  But, I know that I trust God to help me.  I cannot do this job without being braced by God.  He has helped me again today.  It is certainly a reminder of what He will do for me as the school year starts.  My responsibility is to spend time with God in prayer and by reading then meditating on His Word.  I appreciate that He will be faithful to me and keep me in “perfect peace”but I must do my part to keep my mind trusting in God and not on my own strength.  He will hold me and help me whether I’m at home preparing lessons or lunches for the next day, whether I am doing laundry or dishes, whether I am spending time with family or with students.  He is my Peace.  The world does not give me peace.  Only Jesus.

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