I’m a debate mom. During tournament season, our family spends at least one long weekend per month traveling around Texas or Oklahoma to participate speech and debate tournaments. This activity is a centerpiece of the home education for our children. I love and value this activity greatly. I’m always trying to recruit my friends to join us. Granted, competitive speech and debate requires a lot of commitment to keep up with all that goes into participating. One of the things with which we must keep up is all of the debate attire. Our home isn’t always the cleanest, most organized place, to put it lightly. (Why not? I only have 13 children..haha) I have a few systems in place to help things run smoothly, but let’s just say I can’t sail that ship without the crew on board. And my crew often isn’t on board with my neat and organized plans. When it comes to debate attire, we have a hanging area by our washer and dryer where the kids used to keep their tournament clothes. However, there was so much stuff hanging there, and not all of it fit someone at any given moment, so I told all the children of competition age to move their debate clothes to their own closet and keep track of it there. A few days before each tournament, we gather all of the items that need to be dry cleaned. Each student is responsible for his or her own debate clothing. Should be easy enough, right?
Before our first tournament of the season this year, our dryer decided to stop working, and we had to have it serviced the very day we were leaving town, of course. So, we had to take all of the clothes out of the hanging area so the technician could fix the problem. We left it all sitting out to be dealt with once we returned from the tournament. I thought to myself that when we returned, we would sort through everything and donate what we no longer needed. Good plan, right? A little organizing and decluttering of debate attire sounded great to me. Upon returning from the tournament, one of the kids took all the clothes out of the van and brought it inside, which I’m sure was my idea. I assumed everyone had taken their items to their own closets as I had asked them to do. Why I assume these things after all of my years of mothering, I have no idea. But, in keeping with my great idea of cleaning out the laundry area, one of my children, who really does like to help organize, undertook the task of sorting through the clothing, setting aside suit pants and jackets that had no companion, and then separating things by size, putting a plastic bag over the hangers, and putting them back in the hanging area. What a great idea! Everything would be at our fingertips if we needed a certain size shirt or complete suit. No more straggling suit coats or suit pants that didn’t have a mate taking up space in our small storage area. I was pretty happy with the finished project.
Fast forward two weeks, when we are gathering the attire for our Conroe tournament, which took place this past weekend. Everyone brought their items to me so I could take them to the dry cleaner’s. Everyone did this, that is, except my 16-year-old son, who could not find his suit coat–his tailored suit coat from Men’s Wearhouse. This was the suit coat that had been fitted to his measurements exactly and altered to fit him perfectly. I was not surprised, as this has happened with this son in the past. However, after searching high and low, in every possible location, it suddenly dawned on me–the horrifying reality that most likely we had donated this lovely, expensive, custom-fit suit jacket to Goodwill. It had most likely been hung in the area by the dryer, subsequently sorted as a jacket without a mate (his pants had made it upstairs as he had been wearing them when we returned from the last tournament), and sent off with the other matchless items. Whyyyyyyyy? I was almost sick to my stomach over this. Debate moms, I know you can relate! Not having his suit jacket meant we would have to buy him a whole new suit, and this was one day before the tournament. I had so much to do that day, the last thing I needed to do was to take my son shopping for a new suit! I also didn’t want to spend more money on a new suit. I was especially upset because this suit was custom-tailored, of course, so we couldn’t get something like it in one day.
I decided it would be worth a trip to Goodwill to just see if we, by any chance, could find it hanging on the rack. It would be nearly impossible to find if it were in the back, not sorted yet, or not out of the floor. But, you never know, right? I headed over there with a couple of children in tow, and we proceeded to search very thoroughly through the men’s suit jackets, with the pants in hand so we could compare. If we didn’t find the jacket, maybe we could find a close match. Unfortunately, we neither found the jacket nor a close enough match that would fit my son. I spoke to the manager of the store, who informed me that it was probably in the back in a large storage bin, which would later either be sorted through there or sent downtown to their main distribution center, where it could then be shipped out to any store in the area or even the country. In other words, the chances of us recovering that jacket would be very, very slim. However, this kind gentleman took down my name and number, along with a very detailed description of the jacket and even took a photo of the pants and the tags on the pants just in case they were to find it while sorting through storage bins in the coming weeks.
I left feeling rather discouraged. We had so much to do that day, and I had all the children with things to do, appointments for speech therapy, etc. I got the kids back into the car, feeling like I was going to cry. I prayed aloud, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me through this? I’m just so frustrated, I can’t see a lesson in this today.” Just as the words were coming out of my mouth and I was getting into my car, the manager came running out of the store calling my name. He was holding a suit jacket on a hanger. It could NOT be my son’s jacket. I had searched so thoroughly through all the men’s jackets. He showed me the jacket, explaining that it had hit him as I was leaving that maybe he should check the women’s jackets. Sure enough, it was THE jacket. Tags matched, everything. I couldn’t believe it. He tore off the pricetag and just gave me the jacket. I was so happy I could have hugged that store manager. I was praising God. Really, it was such a little thing in the grand scheme of things. But I could see the lesson the Lord had for me that day was that He cares for me. He’s taking care of me. He wants me to know He is there. I have had a lot of really hard days lately with all I have on my plate. That day, with this little debate mom catastrophe, God wanted me to see that He is with me through the big things and the little things. He is so very good, so very real, and present in our lives. Have you seen Him working in your life lately? I hope my little story encourages you today.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7