Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Thwap, thwap, thwap.
"What's that noise?" asked Asherel, as I pulled away from retrieving her and Josh from Gavel Club.
I stopped the car with a sinking feeling in my already overloaded heart.
The kids tumbled out too. Fortunately, we were still in the church parking lot as we surveyed the completely flat tire.
"I know how to change it," said Asherel, "I had to in Driver's Ed."
"They taught you that in Driver's Ed?" said Josh.
"Well they didn't want to...but our car got a flat while we were driving. We had to."
"I haven't changed one yet," said Josh, "But I've watched twice in the past couple of weeks."
And, I thought, I had changed one a couple of years ago when my good friend Nicole
called me a wimp when I told her I'd be late to her farm as I had to call the motor club to come change the tire.
Between the three of us, surely we could do it!

So, the kids quickly found the tools and the spare and went to work. They did an admirable job and the rain didn't start till the moment we finished. We noticed we couldn't open the sliding bashed against the little spare, but decided that MUST be normal. We piled back in the car, and as I began to move, there was a terrific grinding.
After much consultation and perusing the owner manual, we saw we had put the spare tire on backwards. A quick fix to flip the tire and I drove on to BJs for the repair.

The auto technician wet down the tire, trying to find the source of the flat. He spent a half an hour with soapy water on its surface but could not find a puncture, and the tire was holding the pressure.
"Someone must have let the air out," he said, "I cannot see what else could have happened. Even a slow leak would bubble the soap I put on it."
"But I don't see how anyone could have let the air out," I countered, "I would have noticed that sound and that it was flat driving to get the kids, and I stayed in the car while waiting for them."
"Still," he said, "All I can figure is it must have happened where you were parked before getting your kids."

I had been parked at Mom K's nursing home, and was helping her and the other residents turn to the right hymn int heir hymnals as we sang with some sweet old church volunteers. It just didn't seem the type of crowd for malicious pranks.

The mechanic told me he would put the tire back on, replace the one lug that was ruined by our backwards repair, and we would be on our way. But he looked perplexed.

And I worried. I knew no one had let the air out of the tire. How had it gone flat? And then he came back to the waiting room twenty minutes later.
"I found it!" he said, "I just figured it must be punctured somewhere, so I submerged it, and went all along the tread, pulling apart the treads. I came to the slash that way. It was holding air until I pulled on the treads."
I was thrilled. I didn't want to have to get a new tire, but much better it happen here rather than a thousand miles away on my journey to NY Sunday. It was an old tire with worn treads and it was wise to replace it anyway. It could have been a disaster had it blown at night on the interstate, far from home. Who would think a flat tire would be evidence of God's providence?

And the puncture would likely not have been found had I not stopped to sing church hymns with my mother in law. Both the mechanic and I knew that the parking lot of a senior home filled with people singing with old, tired voices to God was an incongruous place for purposeful deflation by someone.

I was not at all upset by this derailment of my day's plans. I had hoped to visit Comer, another senior friend, but fortunately, had not yet called and thus disappoint him when I could not go. Instead, Asherel and her friend learned a valuable skill, and a potential disaster was dealt with at minimal cost and inconvenience. And infused in the humorous memories of watching the little spare go on by two of my favorite teens on earth, was the sweet image of Mom K with her lovely voice unrestrained by the tumult of her years singing, "amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!"

Job 10:12 (NIV)
You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

-save a dog-

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