“The ‘Getaway’ Gift,” Ensign, Sept. 1988, 27–28
The fabric of my daily life had been pulled ever tighter over several months, and it was on a Sunday morning when I finally came apart at the seams.
Many LDS women can empathize with the frustrations and tensions involved in getting a large family physically, emotionally, and spiritually ready for church all alone because their husbands are at early morning meetings.
A lost shoe and a teenager’s attitude may have been the straws that broke the camel’s back at my house; combined with recent health problems and plaguing financial worries, it suddenly all seemed too much to bear. Desperately, I asked my oldest daughter to take the children to church. Then I collapsed on my bed, sobbing with the futility of it all.
I don’t think I had ever been more down. I reached for the phone and called my sister and dearest friend, Lucy Strecker, in Seattle, Washington.
I cried as I told her about my life and present circumstances. Everything that I held in the highest regard and had worked so hard to accomplish as a wife and mother seemed to be crumbling around me.
Lucy encouraged me to pray, but I was too angry. She encouraged me to think about my many blessings, but I couldn’t remember a single one. She spoke of the love shown me by my family and friends, but I was too depressed to recognize it. She extolled the many accomplishments of our family, but I doubted my part in any of them.
She chastised me for trying to do too much and for judging myself too harshly. She reminded me of how I had overcome other problems. She bore her testimony about the love that our Father in Heaven has for each of us. Her testimony that God grieves with us when we grieve and rejoices with us when we rejoice finally gave me some comfort, and I was able to rest.
I later learned that after hanging up the phone, Lucy had dropped to her knees and pleaded with the Lord to help me. She told him that I really needed help in order to return to the giving, loving, self-confident woman I had once been. She begged him to send me comfort and peace so that I might solve my problems and look at life more optimistically.
She concluded her prayer, wiped her eyes, and hurried to her own Sunday meetings. Her mind was still on my sorrow as she took a seat in the chapel. Then a calmness filled her heart, and she felt that her prayers had been heard. Everything would be all right.
During the opening hymn, a woman she didn’t know sat down next to her. Lucy introduced herself and learned that this sister, Barbara Papenfuss, was in town visiting and had decided to attend this ward on the spur of the moment. Sister Papenfuss lived in the Missoula Montana Stake, and it took only moments for Lucy to learn that she not only knew me, but was a good friend of mine.
With tears in her eyes, Lucy explained that I was having a hard time right now and needed something tangible to hold in my hand as evidence of her concern and love. She asked Barbara to wait after church for a few minutes while she went home to get something for her to take to me.
When Barbara returned to Montana, she immediately telephoned me and arranged to meet me with Lucy’s gift. It was a beautiful cloisonne vase from my sister’s mantle, along with a hundred-dollar bill earmarked as “getaway” money and a short note written on the back of her ward bulletin: “God moves in a mysterious way.” Barbara also gave me a hug from my sister, and the message that Lucy loved me.
Today, as I look at Lucy’s vase resting on my mantle, I remember the “getaway” weekend with my husband that gave me the time and space to regroup and find solutions to family problems.
Sometimes spoken words are not enough. We need the tangible evidence of a tuna casserole, a birthday card, a rose, or a hug to remind us that there is someone out there who cares about us and wants us to be happy.
God does work his miracles through other people. I shall ever be grateful that others were spiritually in tune to hear and act on the Spirit’s promptings.