Car Change

Chai has to put up with a lot. This day she was dressed as a sheriff--notice the badge on the collar.

Last week PJ told me he had a “car change” during his morning school. “What’s a car change?” I asked.

“What happens when you talk or get in trouble.”

Hmm. Six weeks into school, and I’m just now hearing about this. Pretty good—I hope. I decided to press further.

“What happened?”

“The girl who sits next to me asked me something, and I answered her. She got one, too.” He was very matter-of-fact, no frustration in his tone.

“Well, sometimes that happens. Was that your first car change?”

“No, I got one last week in chapel.”

“Really?” This one I wanted to unpack.

“Yeah.” He grinned. “The music made a really funny noise, and I made this face.” He snort-laughed and twisted up his mouth.

I laughed, too. “Well, that’s not too bad,” I said. “Hmm, just two car changes.”

He shrugged. “It’s okay to get your car changed one spot. My teacher wasn’t mad.”

Then his eyes got big. “But Sammy,” (I’m changing the name—just in case, you know), “he gets car changes all the time—for BIG things.” He frowned. “He’s mean to our teacher.” Clearly this didn’t fly in PJ’s book.

“Why do you think he does that?”

Another shrug.

We had part of our “bully” discussion then. “Maybe he’s going through a hard time at home.” “We could easily act the same way, couldn’t we?” “Who helps us not to?” We ended up with some of the beautiful ways we SEE God’s grace in our lives–from the Holy Spirit’s fruit to the loving (though crazy) family God’s made for us. In a way, I realized, PJ’s “car changes” are one form of grace, reminders that things are not as they should be, possibilities for change.

It was a fun conversation, but it became more meaningful when I realized that God has, in a very concrete way, given me my own “car change” during this busy, stressful time of adjustment.

The other morning I was rushing around, pouring cereal one minute, putting on mascara the next, grabbing clean socks from the basement, finding a missing shoe upstairs, back to the bathroom to brush my teeth, all the while keeping up a running “Let’s go, let’s go. Ten minutes, people.”

At some point Chai (the dog) began following me around. Then she bumped up next to me. She had her tail between her legs and was looking up at me with that scared, “what have I done wrong?” face.

Car change!

“Oh, God,” I prayed. “You just used the dog to let me know I am doing this (or trying to) in my own strength. I’m getting all flustered and busy with silly details instead of looking to YOU!”

Stop! Refocus! Change! The morning became fun again–and we even made it out the door on time.

So my “car change” has four legs, beautiful amber eyes, and a sweet personality, and she really does let me know when my focus is off.

Another gift of grace, this one covered in fur.

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