Does God really care about my $4 Mocha?

This is the last of my 3 Panera stories… I know you are saddened, but no worries – I am sure we will go to Panera again soon, and some sort of Chronicle will emerge out of our visit there…

After visiting the Grands in Oklahoma over the holidays, we set out for our long drive home.  We made it 3 seconds down the road… and decided to turn around.  After packing all of our crap up the night before, we had planned to leave by 10am the next morning.  So, about 2 hours later, we were really leaving right on “Bab time”.  We always hope to get somewhere sooner than we ever do.  We have high expectations, but rarely meet them.  We are okay with this fact about ourselves.

So, 3 seconds down the road, we realize we are already hungry for lunch and that our original plan of leaving at 10am – 10:30am at the latest – left us on Bab time leaving at noon and we really should have eaten lunch before we left the Grands house.  We go back to their house, I knock on the door and enter the kitchen to find my mom saying, “I hope you didn’t come back for that coffee you left in our fridge…” She is saying this as she is pouring out $4 worth of peppermint mocha into her sink.  GAAAAHHHH!!!!!!  Crap!!!  As she is pouring, I am remembering that I had left my leftover $4 mocha in her fridge and I had planned to re-warm it and take it with me!

Originally, my plan was to come into their house, slap together a few pb&j’s and be on the road again.  But as I’m listening the $4 mocha drip down the drain, my plan is suddenly highjacked by a range of emotions.  I hold in my frustration with my loss as I  throw together the pb&j’s, holding back tears.  Stay calm, Leslie.  Calma-down-down.  It’s not that big of a deal, you can buy another coffee, I tell myself.  My mom didn’t know I had planned to keep the coffee – I had forgotten it on our original departure in the first place!  Had we not decided to go back for pb&j’s, I would have never known the mocha was tossed away like a meaningless piece of trash.  Don’t be upset with your mom, Leslie.  Keep your cool.  I tell my mom, “It’s no big deal, it’s not your fault, you didn’t know…”  But even as I am speaking the words, there is a part of me that is still upset.  I am not moving on…

A few more minutes down the road and P.A. decides he wants to stop by Taco Bueno.  Ugh!  I say, “Why can’t you just be okay with a pb&j?”  Seriously!  We really need to get on the road, get out of town, be done with this place already!  But P.A. is stubborn, so we stop at Taco Bueno.  The T.B. in my parents town is always busy.  It is located across the street from the church I grew up in, so my youth group friends and I were regulars there.  And it was always packed.  And today was no exception.

We drive up and the drive thru is about 15 cars long, so P.A. decides to “run in” and get the food “real quick” while me & the 3 wee Babs wait in the car. HA!  About 25 minutes later he returns with anxiety thinking I am going to deck him for making us stop at T.B. in the first place and for it taking so stinkin’ long to get our food.  But my response isn’t anger.  It is peace.

While P.A. was running into T.B. “real quick”, I had myself some quiet time with Jesus.  The wee Babs were content eating their pb&j’s I had slapped together earlier. The smallest Bab was now sleeping, and I was journaling to Jesus.  I was asking Him to take away the anger & disappointment I felt about “losing” my $4 mocha, the money wasted, the feelings I had toward my mom for accidentally throwing it away.  I didn’t want to be upset.  I didn’t want to feel those things (Romans 7:15).  I didn’t want to feel ridiculous.  There are so many things in life that produce emotion.  A $4 mocha shouldn’t be one of them. 

While P.A. was in T.B., God was doing a work in my heart and soul.  He was changing my thoughts.  He was settling a battle between my flesh & spirit.  He was replacing my anger with His Peace.  

So we set off on our journey.  We finally left town.  We made it to our half way stopping point – a Panera.  We went inside, got settled, ordered our food, went to the bathroom and saw poop on the toilet seat.  (btw, if you missed this chronicle, it was the one I posted a few days ago called “Poop and Panera”).  After getting our food – this time at  a much more timely rate (btw, if you missed this chronicle about our late food at Panera, read my recent post called “Back off old lady”), I realized Panera was prepping to close.  Oh no!  I’d better order my coffee for the rest of the evening’s journey.  I went up to the register and noticed they all said “closed”.  Oh no!…  But I wasn’t going to flip out.  I calmly asked the Panera worker if I could still order a peppermint mocha and I would pay cash, but didn’t need any change.  He said, “Sure.” He made me the best peppermint mocha I’ve ever had from Panera.  And he gave it to me.  For Free.

Whoa.  I was floored and thankful.  After the fit I threw earlier behind gritted teeth, a battle in my mind, and anger in my heart… God replaced my $4 mocha.  I felt like He was telling me, “I see and care about every detail of your life.  Even the menial ones.  Trust Me.”  What a gift.  

Some of you reading this might think, who cares about a $4 mocha?  Why would you get upset about that in the first place?  Why would you even take the time to write a blog post about it?… But what are the menial things you value?  a tv show?  maybe you get upset when your child is wanting your attention while you’re trying to watch?  a material possession you want?  maybe you get upset because you can’t have it?  or even time wasted on something you regret doing?

Many times our anger is exhibited as an underlying lack of Trust.  We lack Trusting God and that He knows what is best and He is taking care of our every need, the menial ones and the most important ones.  Matthew 6:25-34.  God is always teaching me how to trust in Him.  He really does care about my $4 mocha.

Back Off Old Lady

On the morning of Christmas Eve, we visited another Panera, a few towns away from ours. You might be thinking – “Geesh, the Bab’s sure do go to Panera a lot.”  And well, yes, we do…when we have a gift card.  For Christmas we were generously given a $50 gift card to Panera – and we blew that money so fast on pumpkin muffins, egg sandwiches and coffee, it didn’t last the week.

So at 8:30am, we arrive in the Panera parking lot, hungry and ready for a fun fam day.  P.A. goes in for a parking spot and is cut off by a car that he thought was pulling out, but was really backing into that said parking spot.  So, we move on and find another spot after affectionately nick-naming the driver of the other car “mustache guy”.  As we are unloading the wee babs to go into Panera, I hear P.A. grumbling things like, “I can’t believe mustache guy wasn’t watching where he was going” and “mustache guy should’ve just parked normally, instead of backing in”, etc…

Once inside Panera, P.A. gets in line – which was long – behind mustache guy. I take the 3 wee babs to find a good table.  Soleil & Salem head toward the comfy chairs next to the fireplace, disturbing an older lady who was sitting there.  I call them over the booth I’ve found closest to the fireplace… (it’s all about sitting near the fireplace when you go to a Panera on a cold winters day).  The wee babs are on one side of the booth, peeking over the top trying to see daddy while he’s waiting in line, and I am on the other side.  A few minutes later another guy, who I am affectionately calling “santa hat” guy, comes over to say “hello” to the kids.  He assumed they were looking at him, and I assumed he thought that because he was wearing a santa hat.  When he says “hello”, they dive into the booth, hiding from him.  I kindly explain, sorry santa hat guy, they don’t care about santa and know he’s not real.  We don’t really care about your santa hat, they were just looking for their daddy in line.  He smiles and goes back into the line with his wife, who I’m affectionately naming “wife of santa hat guy”.

Then I hear P.A. talking and saying “no, you can have it…(response) but if you don’t want it, we will buy it.”  A few minutes later, he comes over with the muffins and declares, “Mustache guy just took the last souffle!  We ordered it at the same time. He wasn’t even sure he wanted it, and I had to wait for him to discuss with his wife (wife of mustache guy) whether or not they wanted it, when I knew we wanted it!” Dilemma: this was a crisis moment for me.  I could either get upset, flip out and say something like, “Oh great! Now our breakfast is ruined!”  Instead, I calmly said, “It’s no big deal, the kids can eat their muffins and share my egg sandwich.”  After all, it was nice for P.A. to give up his rights to the last souffle and let mustache guy have it.

So the wee babs started eating their muffins while P.A. was waiting for our egg sandwiches to be made.  Then all hell broke loose.  He waited. and waited. and waited. After waiting some more, he went up to the counter and the Panera worker confessed, I’m sorry sir – we forgot your order.  Now P.A. was fuming.  He came back to the booth explaining the situation to me, upset that he was missing Christmas Eve breakfast with our fam.  He calmed down a few minutes later when the first egg sandwich was delivered.  As the Panera worker handed us the sandwich, she realized we had ordered 2, so she offered to give us a 3rd egg sandwich on the house.  She also brought the wee babs tubes of yogurt and chips to appease the situation.  Nice, nice girl.

As we are waiting for the last 2 egg sandwiches, the kids are eating the yogurt and finishing up their muffins.  Selah now has yogurt all down her shirt and on her new blue purple suede boots.  I switch places with Salem and move over to sit by her and clean her up.  By this time, Salem has decided he is done with this wonderful family breakfast and does not want to sit back in the booth.  He has decided he wants to go home and is now sitting on the floor, arms crossed, lips pouted.  This upsets P.A., so he grabs Salem and pulls him up off of the floor to make him sit down in the booth.  Meanwhile, Selah is crying because I took away her yogurt.  Salem rebels against P.A.’s advances, flings his head back and hits it on the wooden edge of the booth, and is now screaming/crying.  Selah is still bawling and Soleil is cowering in the corner of the booth, wishing she was part of a different family.

As I calmly try and mom-mediate the situation saying things like, “It’s gonna be okay” and “everyone just calm down” or “calma down-down”, thru gritted teeth and a fake smile, I see P.A. put up his hand and say “Mam, please don’t.”  I turn and see standing beside me the older lady from the comfy chair beside the fireplace.  She starts to talk and P.A. cuts her off again, “Mam, please don’t, no thank you.”  She then responds, “Oh, I was just going to tell the kids about santa clause”.  P.A. just looks toward Salem, and I give her a fake smile with worried eyebrows, while thinking – please just go away.  We’ve got this situation under control.  The kids don’t care about santa clause.  They know he’s not real.  They will stop crying in a minute. and they did. And she did.  She just walked away.

A few moments passed and the wee babs calmed down.  Then, as we were watching the older lady leave Panera, she says good-bye to every worker, and a few of the other customers. Yep, she was a “regular”.  They all knew her name. Whew!  We were just thankful this whole incident had not happened at “our Panera”.  No one knew us at this Panera. Then P.A. started to question his actions, “Was it rude of me to cut her off?” I said, “No way, you did the right thing.”  This woman – however well intentioned she might have been – did not have a right to “speak” into our lives or “comment” on the situation.  I imagined if we would have let her talk she might have said something like, “Oh little children, if you’re crying and upset, santa can’t come and visit you tonight.” Blah, blah, blah.  Had she said that, I would have flipped.

In this ‘day and age’, people think they have the right to comment or speak into others’ lives probably more than any other time.  And we allow it, sometimes to a fault. Much of this is because of facebook or blogs or other communication avenues in which we ‘put ourselves out there’ and wait to hear what people have to say about it.  But mostly I want to hear from God, and I value most what He thinks of me, my life, my blog, my facebook.  I do welcome and enjoy comments on my blog or my facebook page from all of you.  It’s fun to get feedback.  But I have boundaries.  So don’t cross them.  Or I will have to say “Back off old lady”.