Coffee in My Garden – Blessings in Disguise

Sometimes bad things can lead to good things.

A couple of years ago my hours (along with a lot of other people’s) were cut back. The bills did not get any smaller. Groceries and gas did not cost any less. Panic set in.

Were we going to have to move? What if our aging car blew up? Were we going to be able to help our children with college expenses (thankfully for us, our children are smart and pretty self-sufficient, but we still wanted to be able to help if an emergency arose). My mother-in-law, recently widowed, had moved to our neighborhood and I worried about being able to help her if she needed it as well. Did I need to look for another job or was that just the way things were these days?

On my first “downsized” Friday I took a cup of coffee to the little table in our garden and said a prayer. “Lord, please help me see the good in this, if there is any.”

The thought came that this was the schedule I had prayed for years ago when our children were small and I really wanted to be home with them. 

“Thank you, Lord. You’re just a tad late.”

I sipped my coffee and watched the squirrels squabble over peanuts my husband had set out. Some came from over the back fence on the oak and sweet gum interstate between our neighbor’s yard and ours. Another group came from across the street and still another from the church next door. A blue jay swooped in and picked off the top peanut from the bowl, uniting the squirrel clans for a moment.

It was hard to stay worried on a beautiful Friday morning in Florida. The sky was cloudless and serene. A cardinal stopped by, my favorite bird. His mate joined him a few minutes later. She brought their children.

I never had time to sit and sip my coffee and watch this wonderful world that lived in the yard I paid for.

The garden became my oasis. Coffee on Friday mornings became my new ritual. And peace slipped in where there was little room for it before.

The first month was scary. Rent was late and we were crushed. Gas prices went up enough so staying home a day actually made sense. Within the first month we had worked out a new budget. My mother had taught me to pinch a penny til it begs for mercy even when we had plenty of money. Those lessons came in handy.

That extra day became a blessing when my mother-in-law had to go on dialysis. My husband could take her two days out of three with no problem, but Fridays were tough in his job. I had Fridays free.

“That’s why you needed me off,” I told God.

“Partly. Partly for you.”

Those Fridays became Girls’ Day Out with my mother-in-law. Sometimes we went to lunch. Sometimes we got Italian ice if she was too dry. Some days she was tired and we went home and watched her birds or mine, sat in her garden or mine. On good days we walked our dogs around the lake (about a mile and we took our time) and enjoyed watching geese and ducks and whatever else flew by.

Those were precious times I would not have had if I didn’t have those Fridays off.

I reminded myself that we’ve been through worse and in the large scheme of things this really was just a ripple.