I know I've seen you before...
When you have six kids riding with your husband to the fill-up station qualifies as a date of sorts.
Sometimes these snippets of time become real milestones of decisions you've cemented, problems you never saw coming and even laughs you remember for days to come.
And this night we had to walk in and pay cash for the gas and yes, I felt Dave Ramsey smiling somewhere.
We smiled at the man in line holding at least four 2 liters of diet pop and it struck something funny in me.
A nice young man and way too much diet pop than I could figure he would need.
And before he reached the counter he turned to us and said, "I know you! You are Isaac and Abby's parents."
And then he said something else to me, almost under his breath, that made me wide-eyed for a few seconds wondering if these exact words really came out of his mouth right there in the gas station.
He said, "I knew that smile."
We greeted him for the kids and were thankful for an opportunity to show a bit of God's love to him.
While walking to the pump I asked my husband if he heard what the young man said to me.
While he lifted the nozzle I told him, "He said he knew me by my smile."
Now I have to stop and tell you that I have this weird occurrence where folks just think they know me.
Last week while out on visitation I had a woman dead-set against the tract I offered her and as I turned to leave she called out to me.
"Wait! I know you!"
She came towards me and slipped her arm around my waist.
Okay so my official waist hasn't made an appearance in a year or ten, but it felt weird typing, "She came towards me and slipped her arm around my love handles."
But that's the truth of it so there you have it.
The oreos just keep on givin.' And I'm okay with that.
Now I'm ALWAYS one for hugs so I indulged and hugged her right back as she proceeded to ask if I was "Helen."
I was almost named Alicia, but have never had an inkling towards Helen so it pained me to tell her that I was NOT Helen and she did NOT indeed know me.
What then transpired was the quickest "unhug" that ever unned.
I was kinda sad in a way that I WASN'T Helen after all, and my husband at the next house had to have gotten such a kick out of the whole love/unlove fest in the driveway.
Believe me when I say that this is not uncommon.
I've had folks think I was their old neighbor, someone from a school, someone they heard on the radio, and more times than I can even remember have had someone tell me that I look JUST like their family member. Their sister in law or cousin or aunt.
I have a familiar face and voice they tell me.
I like to think that I am like those Salvation Army Santa's.
Welcoming and smiling and even a bit jolly in the middle.
Even he had a thing for cookies and milk.
As all good childhood characters do.
That night when we left the gas station I thought of how wonderful it would be to be remembered by your smile.
And deep down I prayed, "Oh Lord, let it be so. Let it be that when they see me they see something familiar. Let it be a bit of your goodness connecting with them."
Let it be you they see.
This week has had me coming and going and not even remembering what day it is.
And in a flash the fellas were off to their yearly overnight they look forward to each year. It's a highlight and has had to be pushed back several weeks due to schedule conflicts and such.
They grabbed their sleeping bags and things and off they went with more pie filling than anyone should take to a campout.
Good for them.
The girls and I settled down for a long Autumn's night and found something completely girlish to watch over Italian food.
There we were huddled on the loveseat with our bowls watching petticoats and aprons and a warm rush began at my toes and then reached the top of my head.
I took a deep breath and then another.
I knew this feeling.
I looked around to see if the girl's noticed.
And as sure as you are reading these words, words filled my mind like a bullet telling me something very bad was going to happen.
My mind raced to think why on earth this could've entered my mind and then the voice continued,
"Just like when Alayna was born and you knew something was going to happen...."
He showed his hand.
It was satan himself.
My youngest, Alayna, decided to make her appearance while the boys were away at the Men and Boy's overnight over ten years ago.
Ten year's ago on a hot Summer's night I woke while staying with my dear friend.
I was on bed rest after two small hemorrhages and needed someone close if and when the third was to come.
I woke in the night needing to use the restroom when the overwhelming feeling that this was the morning of her arrival.
She was coming and it would be alright.
I was so overcome with peace that I actually climbed back into bed telling the Holy Spirit that I was too tired to go through all that surgery entailed when indeed I did hemorrhage one last time.
The life saving efforts that my friend went through to get me medical attention, all the while being immensely allergic to latex is beyond my heart's gratitude and understanding.
This I do know.
A week later sitting in my living room this friend came to me while I was feeling heartsick that my daughter was in the NICU, swollen from IV fluids and bruised from blood transfusions.
I was feeling like the Lord had deserted me. In reality He had miraculously answered hundreds of prayers from friends such as yourselves. Thank you for that.
In the time we had together she relayed how in the moment I told her how the Lord himself had comforted me. How He told me that I was going to have Alayna and that it was going to be alright.
A fact so concrete, that I was told that I drew my husband close, kissed him and told him that same truth just before they wheeled me into the OR.
Now I cannot explain what happened that morning.
I CAN tell you that the Lord spoke to my heart.
And this evening after my husband and the boys left the devil himself decided to join our girl's evening.
He knew what the Men's overnight has meant to me.
A night to remember the hardest morning of my life.
A year after that momentous morning, struggling with what I now know was PTSD, I HAD to go with my husband to the overnight and stay with a close friend who lived literally yards from the overnight. I told no one of my crushing, abnormal fears and lay awake all evening for fear of something traumatic happening to me and my little girl. I held her sleeping in my arms while the hours ticked by and paced my friend's kitchen. When the hour of her birth passed I could finally go and sleep.
So you could say these overnights and I have a bit of a past.
A deep rut of fear.
And the devil came disguised as the spirit, smacking me with debilitating fear and then pretending to comfort me as the spirit did so many years ago.
Even using the same phrase I know so well.
"This terrible thing is going to happen-
but it will be alright."
And there was something familiar.
Something I had seen before. Something I had felt before.
It came with such a shock that it took my breath away for a moment.
I reached out to my husband.
He and I knew exactly why the devil had chosen THIS night and he prayed over me.
Knowing that the devil was waiting for this opportunity made my skin crawl.
I saw afresh how he desires my hurt and am thankful for the spiritual sight to call him out.
John 10:10 "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
He didn't just want to ruin my girl's night. He wants to ruin me from the inside out.
And as soon as I called him out- peace came.
I was familiar with that too.
John 14:27 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I have a long history with this fear tactic.
And because of of this history I know when to choose a lifeline and phone a friend.
I Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
Even though my mind wants to tell me that this sounds weird and on the crazy side to write, my heart tells me that someone is reading this and nodding for truth in their own lives.
I know I am not the only one on the devil's hit list.
And methinks you have had fears too.
Remember that if it's fearful or terrifying, shame-filled or guilt ridden, it's not our familiar Savior.
We know that's not how our Lord works.
Every ounce of prodding or conviction is echoed with love to draw us back to his side.
Call out he who leads with a heavy hand of fear
And call on HIM.