We all have life defining moments. We don’t know when or where they’ll happen, we just know they do. And usually when we least expect it.
If you don’t know, one of my little boys has an extra chromosome. It’s mind boggling that something so microscopic and invisible to the naked eye contributes to such endearing and frustrating behavior.
Shut Up and Listen by Allie Taylor
One frigid morning last winter, I learned two families we dearly love had the flu. No big plans were in place for the day yet, and I clearly felt the “call” to make them healing Arroz Caldo (Philippine Chicken Soup.) We all have our role to play, and I knew mine.
The cupboard was bare, and a grocery run was in order. I bundled up little man for the trip. He was three, and not yet walking. The thermometer read -3 degrees that day. I clearly remember, because it was also during that cold snap that he refused to wear shoes anymore. Or socks. (Timing is everything.)
We pulled into the parking space and I opened his door. Out flew two little sheepskin boots. One landed in a dirty snowdrift, the other on the asphalt. He giggled. I wrestled the boots back on. They must’ve been chillier the second time around, because I know my hands were frozen.
Into the store we went. He gleefully kicked the boots off again. I retrieved them, tucking them into my bag. We approached a shopper on aisle one, and my little passenger yelled loudly: a shrill, startling sound, ending in an unfriendly growl.
(He’d been practicing his lion roar.)
“I’m sorry, we’re still working on our manners,” I apologized. (I’ve been repeating that for a number of years now.)
Into the cart went the chicken. Another shriek further down the aisle, directed at a pleasant, unsuspecting elderly shopper. She stopped smiling.
(Can I go through the floor now, or later?)
Now to find the rice. My gentle shushing had no effect. Our shopping trip continued in like manner. On aisle eight, I had an epiphany.
In desperation, and plumb out of apologies, I hummed “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. Little man adores music. He leaned in with rapt attention, cheerfully filling in the last word of each line with great anticipation and excitement. The art of distraction. I sang fifty verses of “Twinkle, twinkle” that morning. (Or a hundred?) But it got us through the produce section, the chicken broth aisle, and the bread aisle without incident. I felt nothing like a twinkly diamond in the sky. Mostly, I wanted to be up above the world so high. Like in outer space. I just wanted to disappear.
The day continued as poorly as it began. I sliced my finger mincing the fresh ginger and onion. (I know you’re worried. But no, I didn’t contaminate the soup.) It took me hours to cook up a quadruple scratch batch of my Arroz Caldo , enough for the two sick families and my own.
My little man was of no help that day. Early afternoon he crawled into the pantry, tipping the nearly full gallon of vinegar. But first he popped the top. (The pantry smelled vinegary for months.)
Mid-afternoon, I packed my adorable, stinky, vinegary “helper” plus the soup pots into the car. We were off on delivery. In the rearview mirror, I spied boots hurtling through the air. No surprise there. He was weary of the day, the car and boots. (Me too.) His all too familiar grocery store salutations drifted up from the back seat, now directed at an audience of one. Me. The forty-five minute drive felt interminable.
I’d texted to tell her I was coming, but she never saw it. A weary mom answered the door and burst into tears. I joined in. She’d been sick on the sofa. They’d been seriously sick intermittently all winter. Just that morning, her little girl specifically asked for chicken soup, but mom was too sick to go out. Instead, she prayed a chicken soup prayer from the sofa. And several hours later, I showed up on the doorstep.
I don’t pretend to know exactly how it all works. But I do know she was supposed to pray for that soup. And I was supposed to make and deliver it. She was supposed to receive the soup as an answer to prayer that day. We were both supposed to weep together, cementing new friendship over a steaming pot of chicken soup. Providentially, we were doing exactly what we were supposed to that day.
It’s taken me four decades plus, but I’m just learning to listen. These are life’s defining moments. Worth “Twinkle, Twinkle” ad nauseum, flying socks and boots, stinky pantries, stinky kids. It’s costly in time, effort and tears. But the overwhelming joy of love and service outweighs the sacrifice. I’m reminded to slow down, keep my mouth shut and just listen. Because I want to hear that still small voice, and I don’t want to miss my next assignment. (Sure hope it doesn’t include vinegar.)
Maybe you have a life defining moment to share about today?
“Prayer doesn’t change God – it changes me.” C.S. Lewis
Quite inspiring. I love this blog! Read it every morning before I get the kids up for school. Nice part of my day.
Lisa Todd says
thank you sharing, Allie. I needed to be reminded of listening for His still small voice.
nancy mcmahan says
Thank you for the reminder to “shut up and listen”. One we all need to hear now and then. Hug that little man of yours for giving me more than one smile this morning.
Corey Folk says
Lovely, Allie. Thanks for sharing.
As a fellow mother of a child with an extra chromosome, I hear this story ringing both precious and true. Beautifully experienced, applied, and written…XOXO
Linda Floyd says
So glad I had the time, and took it this morning to listen to this! Put a smile on my heart and a tear in my eye. Enjoyed the message! And I was just going to your blog to get that recipe for Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins. Think I’ll make an extra batch! : )
denise horrocks says
love this and love you. thank you.
[email protected] says
Goosebumps here in Chicago and it’s not from the 3 degree temps.
Love the message here, Allie. Thank you for the reminder to LISTEN!
Carolyn V says
Allie, you’re gifted. Thank you for sharing this & helping me remember that not every day is perfect but there is a perfect Person at the controls. Lord, help me to shut up and listen!
While I’m at it, though I don’t often post, I have tried several recipes (YUM!) & read every single post of yours 🙂
Thank you so much!
Barbara child says
You’re an inspiration to us all, Allie! Xoxo!
Laura Cook says
Love this wise story brimming with life & truth… & love you, Allie Taylor! (Hudson too)
I too look forward to reading this blog each morning over breakfast and coffee. It refreshes my spirit and resets inspiration at times, not to mention offers countless recipes to try. After a successful trial run, I am making Best Eva Ham and Cheese soup for my Bible study ladie’s luncheon next week. Tonight I am trying the chicken tortilla. Thanks Allie!
Aunt pinkie achor says
Oh, Allie – what wonderful story this was, vinegar and all! Read it through tears! Yes, we need to listen to that Voice – still and small .
Our family needs to learn to Shut Up and Listen!
What a great message you send out to us Allie! I learn so much from you my friend!!! I for one listened to that little voice in a Barnes and Noble store one day, which was the beginning of a story with a wonderful ending! Do you BELIEVE me??? Give H a hug for me!
Sallie Eisengrein says
I feel like I am enjoying a cozy chat with my dear friend! Thank you for sharing your life with us as we journey together!
Thank you for that wonderful story. I especially enjoy listening to you tell it! A reminder that we all need shut up and listen. I feel naughty writing: “shut up”.
Allie Taylor says
Truthfully Denise, I felt naughty writing it too. (Guess I got over it.)
Linda Jenkins says
Allie, I remember you telling this story at one of our Bible study sessions. I was moved when I first heard the story, and I am moved again by the memory. I have always believed that God brings people into our lives at just the right moment to teach and to guide us. He has sent you to me so many times when I have needed you most. Sometimes I let the world and people intrude too much, overwhelming me and crushing me with stress. Thank you for the simple, yet powerful reminder to be still and allow His voice to calm and direct me. May God help to guide me to listen more during the coming year.
[email protected] says
John Ryder says
Beautiful story, Allie! Life is so much better when it’s not all about us! Thanks for sharing!
Peggy Miller says
Allie, I loved this story. I chuckled at your son’s antics. You showed your “humaness” but continued to minister and listen to God despite the obstacles.
I have taught elementary special education for 10 years. I love “my kids” and have learned and grown so much because of them. I would be happy to share many websites I have used to help teach and motivate the children to grasp concepts.
Allie Taylor says
Hi Peggy, thanks for your comments. Didn’t know you’re a special ed teacher. That’s truly a very special calling, and so appreciated by parents like me. Would love website ideas, I’m all ears. Please e-mail them to [email protected]. Many thanks for your thoughtfulness and hello to all the Millers.
Awesome story, Allie. And all that happened providentially so you could share it with many more of us as well who learned more to “shut up and listen.” (((Hugs)))
Priceless and precious!
I had something similar happen. Had spent the afternoon with a friend and we got talking about food. (of course! Always comes up because it is one of my favorite things!) Was telling her lasagna is one meal that everyone in my (rather large) family loves. She says, well, I have a lasagna for you for dinner tonight. The Lord told me to make it and would show me who needed it. She blessed our family by listening too!!