I found out yesterday that another story I submitted to CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL was rejected (because one of my Facebook friends posted about her acceptance notification). So far, with them, I’m batting 0 for 5. My point? Don’t come to me asking for advice about how to break into that series of books. I obviously don’t have the answers. ;-)
Last night (as I was driving home in my car with the low gas light blaring at me with a bag full of Pull-Ups for my girls that I took from my mother because we didn’t have the money in the bank to get any at the store), I thought about that story. I’d written about how my husband and I always count the bunnies we see as a sort of good omen…but “omen” isn’t really the right word. It’s more like a little love note from God, saying, “Hey. I love you. I’ve got your back. Don’t worry.” Around our house, if it’s a “bunny day,” it’s a good day.
So, I’m driving and complaining to God about how there STILL doesn’t seem to be money coming in, and I’m STILL not getting accepted by CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, when everyone else I know is… blah blah blah. (What did they have against my bunny story, anyway? You DO want me to be a writer, right? Where’s the pay-off?) Boo-hoo. Wah! BLECH!
At that precise moment, there, on the side of the road, I see a HUGE bunny rabbit. Not like “Harvey” huge, but bigger than the ones I normally see. And I smiled…and then I got angry at myself…and then I cried tears of brokenness and repentance. I’m fussing and complaining and doubting God, and there He is…dropping me yet another little “love note”: Hey. Speaking of bunnies…Remember Me? I love you. I’ve still got your back. I’m not going to let go. Stop doubting and worrying. Believe Me.
And I started thinking: Maybe millions of people weren’t meant to read that bunny story. Maybe it’s only meant for me and my husband. But, since this is my blog, I thought: Hey. Why not post it here, so at least someone can read it. Not that I’m expecting fame and fortune from it…but I want others to be blessed. I want to point others to God, more than anything else. And, maybe I’m wrong, but I think this little story does that pretty well. So, here’s my latest CSFTS reject:
Counting the Bunnies
The call came in just before 9 PM, jarring me out of an exhausted slumber. Groggily wiping the sleep from my eyes, I glanced at the caller ID. If I didn’t recognize this number, no way was I answering the call.
My father’s cell phone number glared back at me. I sighed and tapped on the cordless handset’s “Talk” button. “Hello?”
“I hate to ask you to do this, but do you think you can go over to the house and let Carrie out to go to the bathroom?”
“Right now?” I asked, half-asleep.
“Yes. I’m still up here at the hospital, and it’s been hours since I was home. She really needs to go out.”
I nodded, knowing how pointless it was because he couldn’t see it. “Okay, sure. I’ll go right over.” What else could I say? I grabbed my car keys and purse, kissed my husband, gave him last-minute instructions for getting the girls into bed, and rushed out the door.
Driving for once without the distraction of two screaming kids in the backseat, I decided to use the time to voice my frustrations to the one person (besides my husband) who would let me express myself honestly without judging me. “I don’t understand why this is happening. I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired, and I want things to get back to normal!” I prayed out loud, punctuating each phrase by slamming my palms against the steering wheel.
As rough as the day had been, the previous weeks had been even harder. Just nine days after my mother had major heart surgery—valve repair and a double bypass—that only improved her heart’s functioning to 40%, instead of the 60% they were hoping for, her mother had a stroke, rendering her incapable of even answering her phone. My mother and I were the ones who found her and called 911.
Mom was still unable to drive and my father had to go in to work very early, so I was the one who had to make sure Mom got to the hospital, and then later to the rehab facility, every morning so she could be with Grammy. And then I went back to Mom’s house and made sure I let her dog out to go to the bathroom and ensured that her cats had enough food and clean litter pans—every day, all while trying to take care of my four-year-old and two-year-old daughters.
I was tired—physically, mentally, and emotionally. And, to be honest, my spiritual life was suffering as well, my time with God having been reduced to these screaming, crying temper-tantrum diatribes in the car on the way to my next responsibility. There was no “quiet time” for me anymore; only chaos and cacophony.
That Saturday night, though, a wonderful thing happened as I drove toward my parents’ house to let the dog out yet again. A rabbit hopped across the path in front of me, far enough away that there was no danger of me hitting it, but close enough that I saw it definitely was a bunny rabbit.
I gasped and sighed in relief. The bunny was safe. Smiling, I glanced up into the darkened sky, tears streaming down my cheeks. “Thank You, God.” It was a “bunny day”.
I’m not sure when I first started noticing bunnies in yards, or on the street, and equating this with “having a good day”. It was certainly before I was married, maybe even before my husband and I started dating. I know it was part of our normal dating routine—counting the bunnies we saw as we drove.
He was working as an over-the-road truck driver when we first started dating, so any time we got to spend together was precious. For this reason, he’d drive me to work and pick me up, giving us some extra time each day he was in town to talk and get to know each other better. It was on one of these trips that I told him about the “bunny days”. I think I caught a glimpse of two together in the same yard. Pretty soon, he was looking for them too. He’d pick me up from work and proudly announce with a big smile on his face, “I saw three bunnies today, so it’s definitely a very good day!”
Where we live, squirrels are all over the place, but rabbits are much less common and, because of that, they’re much more special. My husband and I are both animal lovers, so it’s natural we would get excited about seeing these cute little furry critters at either the start or end of every day. Each one of those bunnies we counted was even more thrilling than the previous one, and because we were doing this together, it became one of “our things”—and it still is today, ten years later.
During that decade, a lot of good things have happened to us—we got married (obviously), we both got higher-paying jobs, we bought a bigger house, and we had two beautiful, healthy baby girls. A lot of bad things have happened to us too, though—I had a miscarriage, my mother-in-law died eight months after we were married, my husband also lost both an aunt and an uncle, my job was eliminated, we were foreclosed on twice, forcing us into bankruptcy, and then my mother and grandmother got seriously ill at the same time, so now we’re coping with that. But, through it all, I keep seeing bunnies and counting them, and so does my husband.
Those bunnies have become bigger symbols to us over the years. More than just cute, furry little animals, they’re emblems of God’s provision and blessing. Bad things creep in, sometimes daily, but so do the “bunnies”. By counting physical bunnies every day for so long, my husband and I were training ourselves (without really knowing it) to count the figurative bunnies, the blessings that come with each new day that help to ease the pain of the trials. They’re there—always—you just have to learn to look for them.
And you know what I’ve discovered? The more you search for them, the more you’re going to find. Even in the midst of heartache, agony, and earth-shattering loss, the “bunnies” are there, just as God reminded me by having the physical bunny cross my path that Saturday night as I drove to my parents’ house. I saw it. I counted it, and it reminded me that God is always with me, and His blessings are always available to me, no matter what’s going on around me. All I have to do is look for them, count them, and thank Him.