I just set my kitchen timer. 30 minutes.
That’s all I am allowing myself to draft this post. The Stuff of life is calling my name, and the elementary school bus, carrying my eight-year-old Sean and his buddy, Alex, will be here before I know it. So here goes–on with the 52-week letter writing campaign (the handwritten variety).
One of my favorite quotes...which is framed in my entry way.
Letter #2 went out today, one week after my first letter, and I hope my recipient, a kind-hearted, patient registration manager, will find my handwritten words to be at least half as uplifting as I found her actions to be.
When this crazy notion crept into my cranium a few months ago–to write one hand-penned letter once a week for the entire year–I have to admit I thought I would eventually run out of recipients. But what I am realizing is this: The world is filled with people who need to be uplifted, encouraged, and appreciated (me included). One day at a time. One letter at a time. I have a feeling that God will put someone on my heart every week, and this won’t be my work, but rather His.
So here’s the back story. Last Wednesday afternoon, Shelby and I headed to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Leesburg, sometimes longer, depending on traffic. Shelby had a 3:30pm appointment with Dr. Cuffari, doctor of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. We arrived at 3:00pm, in plenty of time to complete the necessary, new-patient paperwork. So I get a number, am called up to the registration desk, and quickly realize that our appointment was actually yesterday. My face must have turned ashen, as the registration clerk said, “It’s okay, Mom, we all make mistakes. It’ll work out. Don’t worry.”
I am sinking in sudden despair: We are a day late for an appointment we’ve been anticipating for months–Shelby needs to see the GI doctor ASAP. She is struggling with pain every single day. But while my brain is trying to wrap itself around the possibility of another month or more of waiting for that critical appointment, I ask if there is any chance that the CF team–located in the same building–can see Shelby today, since we’ve driven 1 1/2 hours for an appointment that was actually yesterday.
Thankfully, Wednesdays and Fridays are also the days that Johns Hopkins holds its Cystic Fibrosis clinics, and though we weren’t scheduled until Friday morning, the CF team graciously agreed to see Shelby. But then another wrinkle appeared–our insurance card had expired, as Mike’s company had switched its coverage at the beginning of the year. The CF team couldn’t complete the PFTs, pulmonary function tests, without insurance authorization. So Shelby and I sat there, waiting, waiting, waiting. She was so angry, lashing out at me for screwing up the all-important appointment. I was crumbling internally, blaming myself, running worst-case scenarios through my head nonstop.
And then one Ms. Evelyn Robinson stepped in. The staff in the back had tried to reach the insurance company. They were put on hold indefinitely. I asked Ms. Robinson if I could use the phone and try. She said it wasn’t necessary, but that I could try. So I called. And I sat on hold for 30 minutes, alternating between squatting and standing at the check-in counter. When I finally reached a human being, I was told to call another number. And you guessed it…another ridiculously long hold. Mrs. Robinson kept checking on me, “Mom, you need a chair?” ”Any luck, Mom?” And dead-end after dead-end, phone call after phone call, Ms. Robinson kept encouraging me, “Mom, don’t worry.” ”Mom, it’s going to be okay.” She joined in on the phone calls–trying to find the right company, the right phone number, the right person. And while she called, I made another phone call, this time to Dr. Cuffari’s office, to tell them of the appointment mixup, beg forgiveness, and determine the earliest time they could fit Shelby in. God is so good. He gave me Ms. Robinson on one end, and a helpful, accommodating young lady on the other line. They could see Shelby on Friday–in Frederick, Maryland, an hour closer than Hopkins, and she could attend the first half of the school day. Did I mention that God is good?!
In the end, the insurance information didn’t come through until after we’d left the offices. But everyone at the CF center stayed 30 minutes beyond quitting time to see and treat Shelby. Yes, they went ahead and did the PFTs. As the doctor explained, “We’re not going to let red tape get in the way of treating Shelby.”
On our way out, I stopped and told Ms. Robinson how grateful I was for her help and support. And I gave her a huge hug, breaking into tears of thanksgiving in her arms. I think Shelby was a little embarrassed, but she wasn’t mad anymore. She knew that I’d done all I could to repair the mistake. So the anger and frustration dissipated, and we chatted all the way home, stopping briefly for Chick-Fil-A.
That Wednesday afternoon should have gone down as one of the worst days ever. Instead, I walked out feeling whole, extremely blessed by everyone at Hopkins, particularly Ms. Robinson, and realizing exactly to whom I’d be writing my second letter.
Through our words and actions, we all have the power to influence someone’s day–to raise them up, or to knock them down. We can choose to be inpatient, rude, or condescending. Or we can choose to be Ms. Robinson, who saw a mother struggling, and who offered compassion, patience, and encouragement. Another person might have dismissed me–told me to go home, that there was nothing they could do, that it was all my fault.
Wednesday is a day I will never forget, not because of everything that went wrong, but because of everything–and everyone–that went right.
Every day is just ONE day. A reminder to myself (and you) to take one day at a time:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
Are you anything like me? I need inspiration and encouragement, to know that I am not ever alone in my trials. That my failures do not make me unlovable or unworthy. God is always with me, but sometimes I forget to be still and listen so I can hear His call. God’s love is second to none…which is just one of the many reasons I love this website: www.iamsecond.com. Real people. Real stories about the power of God’s faithful love, boundless forgiveness and eternal presence. I invite you to watch and share with those you love.
My husband gets home tonight after four days at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Maybe Letter #3 will be a love letter to my husband of 21 years. Mmmmm….
Thanks for reading–a little or a lot of my blog. Stop by anytime for the ramblings of a mother of five.
Be blessed–and be a blessing,