Sammy,” I yelled downstairs to my 8-year-old son, “go get Sarah’s boot for me. It’s in the car.” We were running late.
A minute later he dashed up the stairs. “Mom, I can’t find it.”
Oh brother, I thought, how come no one else in this family can find anything? I knew that boot was in the car. Sarah had been wearing her snow boots when we went out last night.
I rushed downstairs to the garage and flung open the car door. But the boot wasn’t there.
Oh well, I thought, exasperated, I’ll find it later. We’ve got to go.
“Everybody in the car,” I ordered.
Fortunately, Sarah, age 3, was just going along for the
ride. I carried her to the car and strapped her in her car seat. Once I
got the older kids to school, I would find her missing boot.
But when we got home, I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere.
“God,” I asked, “Please show me where Sarah’s boot is.”
In my mind I saw a picture of a lonely stretch of highway. We had
driven on that road last night on our way to a Christmas party.
I shook my head. Sarah’s boot on the road? I didn’t think so.
I recalled the drive. Sarah had been riding in the front seat next to my husband. I was in the back with our two older kids.
I often let Sarah ride in the front seat while I drive
her older siblings to basketball practice, ice skating lessons, school
and church activities. It seems a small concession considering all the
hours she spends in the car.
That night we had been in a hurry. In the rush, we left
Sarah’s car seat up front rather than taking time to move it to the
Sarah was in no mood for another ride. She started
fussing, then kicking and screaming. I was yelling at her from the back
seat but couldn’t restrain her from there.
When she landed a hard kick on my husband’s elbow,
sending the car into the next lane, my husband pulled the car over to
the side of the road.
Furious, I flung open the door on Sarah’s side of the
car, unbuckled her car seat and ordered her to climb to the back. She
obeyed silently, stepping between the front bucket seats. Then I yanked
the car seat out of the car and threw it in the back, where my older
daughter, Anna, strapped it in.
How could her boot have fallen out? I wondered, then answered my own question. It
couldn’t have! She never even got out of the car. Besides, I had been
standing in the open car door. Surely I would have noticed if her boot
had fallen out near my feet.
I waited for three days. During that time, the weather
was cold and rainy. We sure missed that boot! And I had recently lost
my job, so we didn’t have the money to buy a new pair.
Every time I prayed and asked God to show me where the
lost boot was, I saw the same stretch of dark highway. I was getting
more and more agitated. Was God speaking to me?
I had to look. Even if the boot wasn’t there, at least I’d be able to accept the loss and move on.
I called my husband at work. “I know this sounds crazy,
but do you remember where we pulled over on the highway the other
He laughed when I told him my plan. “I’m not sure, but I think it was just south of Braddock Road.”
I loaded Sammy, his friend, Nick, and Sarah in the car.
Twenty minutes later we were on the highway. When I passed the Braddock
Road exit I slowed the car.
“Look carefully,” I told the boys. “See if you can spot Sarah’s purple snow boot.”
Soon we hit Popes Head Road. I turned right, made a
U-turn and waited at the signal. Then I returned to the highway and
I can’t believe I came down here to look, I chastised myself. This is absurd!
Suddenly I remembered something. I had told Nick’s mother
we were going to look for Sarah’s boot because I thought God told me it
was on the highway. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut? I thought. Now I will have to tell her I have an overactive imagination!
As we drove home, I glanced across the highway. Something
purple was lying on the other side of the road, four lanes away. Could
it be the boot?
“I see it, I see it!” shouted Nick from the back seat of the car. That clinched it. Nick thought he saw it, too.
I turned the car around at the Braddock Road off-ramp and
headed south again. “All three of you look carefully,” I ordered. I
glanced back to see three small noses plastered against the window.
Even though it was midday and traffic was light, I wasn’t
comfortable driving slower than 45 mph on the busy highway. We covered
the distance in no time. Once again, no boot.
“OK,” I said, “this is getting ridiculous. We’re going
home. I can’t believe I wasted time doing this.” But as I pulled back
onto the highway and headed home, I was sure I saw the boot across the
highway in the distance again.
Oh no, I thought. I’m going nuts—and driving in circles! But I had to go back and look one more time.
This time I pulled off the road onto the paved shoulder. I turned on my flashing hazard lights and slowed to a crawl.
About a half mile later, Nick suddenly shouted, “There it is!”
Right in front of the car was a purple boot lying on its
side with the tan sole facing the road. Nick hopped out of the car and
scooped up the boot. He waved it above his head, jumping up and down.
When he got back to the car, Sarah hugged the boot to her
chest. The kids bounced up and down on the back seat. “We found it, we
found it,” they chorused.
Last summer, Sarah’s feet grew too big for the purple
boots, and we passed them on to a little girl in our church family.
Whenever we see her wearing them, we are reminded of this incident.
God knew that boot was on the road. But it took Him a
long time to convince me. I had to drive around in circles until I
slowed down enough to see what God had told me was there all along.
Elizabeth Moll Stalcup is a free-lance writer based in
Fairfax, Virginia. She and her husband are home group pastors at Church
of the Apostles.