SUMMER FAITH by Tina Wagner Mattern
It was one of those miserable cold and rainy days in February that Portland, Oregon is famous for, and I was in a mood. Some people like rain. I am not one of those people. I had already gotten drenched once that day; taking my three year old daughter, Summer to her Christian preschool, so the last thing I wanted to do was to go out in it again. But it was 2 o’clock and she needed to be picked up by two-thirty.
The traffic was terrible—when I finally arrived at the school, it was quarter-to-three and since the staff couldn’t go home until all the children were safely in their parent’s care—I knew Summer’s teacher was not going to be happy.
Parking, I pulled my coat collar tight and buttoned it, reaching for my umbrella, which wasn’t under the front seat where it should have been.
Someone (it couldn’t have been me, of course) had left it in the garage that morning. I muttered a couple of words that likely made my Guardian Angel cringe, and hurried through the lake forming in the parking lot.
Inside, Teacher Jennifer lifted an eyebrow at me in what I considered to be a very un-Christian like manner, and pointed down the hallway. Summer was bent over a table, working to finish a painting.
“Hi Mommy,” she chirped.
“Come on, honey,” I called. “We’re late. Teacher Jennifer wants to go home!
` She held up her artwork. “Look! I drawed it for you!”
I took the paper and squinted impatiently at it. “Uh-huh. Good.” I nodded, and handed her coat to her. She put the picture down and folded her arms.
Arggghhh! I knew that stance.
“You hurt my feewins,” she told me.
She wasn’t going anywhere until I apologized—and it better be believable.
“It’s wonderful!” I gushed. “Best one you ever did!”
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“Really! Now please, can we go?”
She finally nodded and obediently held out her arms for her jacket. Outside, the rain was now a freezing, nearly sideways sheet. Both of us were soaked by the time we got to the car.
“It’s wainin,” Summer observed from her car seat behind me.
“No kidding,” I said, drying my dripping hair with a handful of Kleenex before starting the car. I was just pulling out when Summer yelled, “WAIT! We gotta go back!”
Slamming on the brakes, I turned around. “What are you talking about? Go back outside? Are you crazy?”
“My Care Bears mitten,” she cried, waving a lonely right-hand Care Bear at me. “My mitten’s gone. I musta leaved it in school.”
“Oh for heavens. . .”Wait a minute, I muttered, backing the car back to the curb. Parking, I turned around to lean over the seat and undo her seat belt. “Okay, look in your pockets,” I told her.
“I did!” she wailed. “It’s not there!” She turned both pockets inside out to demonstrate their mittenless-ness to me.
“Get up,” I sighed. “Maybe you’re sitting on it.” She climbed out. No mitten. We checked around and under the seat and on the floorboards. No mitten.
“See!” Summer cried. “We hata go back!”
“No! Maybe it’s outside, next to the curb.” I opened the door and stuck my head out—Niagara Falls poured over what was left of my hairstyle. No mitten.
That’s it!” I pronounced with finality. “You have three pairs of mittens at home, for crying out loud. Now, get back in your seat so I can buckle you in.”
“I want my bestest Care Bear mitten!”
“Well, I want a week in Jamaica,” I said.
Thinking on that kept her quiet for a moment or two, allowing me to get the car headed for home. But five minutes later:
“I want my MITTEN!”
Looking at her fuming countenance in the rearview mirror, I said, “You’ve made that perfectly clear. Now give it a rest. Please!”
Eyes narrowed, frown lines deep as canyons, she muttered something under her breath.
“What did you say?”
“I say,” she said, “I ask Jesus! Jesus will get me my mitten!”
Rolling my eyes, I said, “Jesus is NOT going to get you your mitten. He’s BUSY!”
“He will too,” she stated firmly.
I groaned. “Whatever. Now, not another word until we get home.”
A rather loud raspberry sounded from the back seat.
Once we finally got home and into the house, I told Summer, “I’ve got a lot to do before I get dinner ready. Go play in your room.”
“I don’t wanna.”
Shaking my head, I muttered, “Fine. Don’t play, but no more about that mitten.”
I hung up our coats in the laundry room and headed to the kitchen to deal with the dishes in the sink when I remembered: the mail had to be brought in—from outside—in the rain. Groaning, I put my coat back on and stomped down the hallway to the front door. Summer followed on my heels.
Opening the door, I looked hopefully up through the rain for any sign of blue sky. A clap of thunder echoed somewhere in the distance. “Oh shut up!” I muttered, and prepared to sprint to the mailbox.
Before I could take a step though, Summer squealed.
“What now?” I cried, spinning around.
“I tode you!”
“Tode me what?”
She pointed out the door, grinning. I turned, and following her finger with my eyes, looked down at the doorstep.
There, on the welcome mat, was a Care Bear mitten. A left-hand, Care Bear mitten.
I blinked in disbelief, my mind scrambling to make sense of what I was seeing.
What? How? My common sense tried to say, well. . .she must have dropped it on her way out this morning. But no—we hadn’t been anywhere near the front porch—we’d gone out through the garage. We had, in fact, not been out the front door in more than a week.
Stunned, I turned to look into Summer’s shining face.
“I TODE you Jesus would get it for me!” she said, beaming.
Gathering her into my arms, I whispered, “Yes, you did, little girl. You really did.”
Holding her tightly, I was overwhelmed with awe at our God who would perform such a miracle for a little child, simply because she stood steadfast in her faith.
After a minute, Summer pulled away to say, “Thank you, Jesus!” picked up her mitten and skipped off to her room.
I looked up to heaven and whispered, “Amen to that, Lord. Amen to that!”