Have you ever been locked out? Writing about losing things and finding them brought a message to my heart about being locked out and how we handle it. Of course, how we handle anything in life is what matters, but being locked out is never lovely…or is it?
Remembering the times you’ve had troubles being locked out, or in, stick with you forever. My family has difficulty keeping up with our keys, which contributes to the numerous ‘locked out’ adventures we have endured. The Bible says, ‘whatever is lovely, think on such things.’ Are you thinking of adventures, shared with special people, that seemed desperate but left lovely memories?
A cold, icy day in December of 1985, Tim left for a day long insurance class in Fayetteville. The boys and I pulled on heavy coats, hats, and gloves and rushed out the door to tell him good bye. He drove away, leaving us to enjoy leftovers from a recent snowfall. We romped through the snow and broke icicles for pretend Star War weapons. Frozen and exhausted, we ran up the stairs to get inside our warm houe, but we couldn’t. We were locked out. The keys teased us, hanging right beside the locked glass door that kept us prisoners in the cold. I remember that day vividly, wondering what to do with a two and seven year old until daddy came home seven hours later. Many times, I did the wrong thing, but that day God smiled on us; our locked out adventure became a precious memory. We searched my van and found enough change to buy lunch. Cameron and Clint huddled on their sled, with me pulling them down the icy street. We stopped to visit Mr. and Mrs. Chestnutt at The Red Barn on Warsaw Road. They made room beside the pot belly stove for us to warm our frozen feet. We stayed for hours, browsing and talking, until Clint and Cameron had an icicle fight and mama knew it was time to venture on. McDonalds was our next stop for a long, long lunch with burgers, fries, and water. The boys colored and played at our table until their restless little bodies could take it no more. We crossed the street to K-Mart for an extended shopping spree with no money to spend. The afternoon sun slipped lower in the sky as we headed home. Another stop to warm up at the Red Barn, a different route through the Field’s back yard, skating on Mr. Parson’s little iced over pond — which broke when Clint jumped on it — made for an interesting climax to our locked out day. We were headed to Mirjean and Charles’ house for refuge, when what to our startling eyes should appear daddy on his shiny, red car with his smiling face and our loud cheers. What could have been an awful day became an awesome adventure shared with my sons…it was lovely.
Does every ‘locked out’ adventure have fairy tale endings? More end miserably than lovely. My keys were locked inside the house again one summer morning in 1992. Tim was in Greensboro. I rushed the boys, so I could open the Learning Station at 7 a.m. Having different sets of keys spells trouble for those of us who tend to operate globally. My house and car keys hung inside; we were locked out again. I panicked. The boys saw their mother completely come unglued. “My kids will be dropped off and no one is there,” I screamed. Those of us who open daycare centers for working parents know this is your worst nightmare… someone not opening on time. I knew my time was short. We could walk but would never make it in time. Cameron glared at me as I told him he was about to become my hero. I handed him the key to open the door to The Learning Station and gave him directions that sounded like a James Bond adventure about to unfold. I told him to be careful at every turn, stop at every road and look three or four times before crossing the streets on his bicycle, and to cross through Mr. Ronnie’s parking lot and leave his bike there before walking across the four lane highway. I showed him how the key had to be held just right to open the door and told him to tell parents I would be there very soon. I sent my son off with a prayer that God would take care of him and help us through this locked out mess. And He did. Clint and I walked as fast as his little legs would let him and made it to The Learning Station out of breath and before a single parent arrived. Cameron was waiting at the front door waving and wearing that proud hero grin. I wasn’t very happy with myself but the locked out adventure turned out to be lovely when Cameron stepped up and saved the day. For more than two decades, I have opened the door to greet children early each morning. I always remember that scary morning when I was afraid they would be locked out. That adventure encouraged me to be more careful with my key and my kids. They are both precious!
The delightful days of December remind me of Christmas adventures when losing things can drive us crazy, especially gifts we bought early, hid carefully, and can’t find! I remember one Christmas when Tim and Willie played friendly jokes on one another throughout the holly jolly season. On Christmas Eve, Willie hid our Santa stash from Tim, who thought someone stole it from his car. Our children were little, as was our extra money to buy more gifts. Imagine our joy when the gifts appeared and the stories we have shared from that fun but frightful adventure. What kind of Christmas adventures are told around the table when your family and friends gather to give thanks and share love and laughter?
Enjoy each day of December as the clock ticks closer to Christmas Day — times can be happy or hectic; it’s all in how we handle the adventures that come our way. The one thing we don’t want to lose is the precious gift He so freely gave. Let us hold tight to Jesus, staying closely connected to Him and those we love each and every day. Let us keep Jesus in our hearts and Christmas will never go away!