Day two of the Thanks to Thanksgiving posts!

Today I am thankful for mercy.  This is a continuation of yesterday’s post and the post about grace I put up on Tuesday.  I am grateful for the mercy of those around me (I leave for MO tomorrow, and I have had SO MANY people helping me out, making sure I have everything I need) and the mercy of the Lord.  I am overwhelmed by it.

Yesterday, I went to my mechanic and dropped off the car for an oil change before the trip out to Missouri.  In chatting with the guy at the desk, Jay, about pricing for the brakes (it’s coming to be that time), I mentioned I was making my first big trip with Faulty*.  Jay then mentioned it (and that I was looking at brakes repair coming up) to Steve, the guy who changed my oil.  Now, Jay DID NOT have to mention it to Steve.  That was already very customer conscious and sweet.  But it could have stopped there.  It didn’t.  Steve–on hearing that I was making my 600 mile way to Missouri–changed my oil, checked my lights, replaced a bulb that had gone out, double checked my brakes (front and back) as best he could without taking off the wheels, double checked my spare tire, topped it off with air, checked my tire pressure, checked all my fluids, topped off all my fluids, and only charged me FOR THE OIL CHANGE AND BULB.  As well as informing me that my brakes still had visible pad and he thought I (more correctly, my car) was in good shape.

WHAT!?  (Interrobang!)

Wow.

Joie Fact #78: I HATE driving.  It freaks me out.  It’s all I can do on my bad days to hold back a panic attack on the road (and I have experienced that frightening hell, so trust me, I try extra hard to stay calm on the road).  The longest stretch I’ve ever driven was four-ish hours on a family vacation when I was still a permit driver.  The longest I’ve driven by myself (just me in the car) was three-ish hours to go to a friend’s wedding.  A few hours later, I did the drive back, but if we’re talking one shot amounts, three (maybe three and a half) hours is the longest I’ve ever done alone.

Ten hours?  Terrifying (even with nap breaks worked in).

And then my mechanic totally went out of his way to make sure my car was in tip-top for my trip.  I don’t think Steve and Jay even KNOW how their small gestures and reassurances have made the prospect of this weekend so much less freaky and frightening.  And they TOTALLY didn’t have to do it.  They just did it because they’re genuinely nice people who want their customers to feel safe and appreciated.

That’s just one example of the mercy of others (my parents are letting me borrow/use a disgusting amount of schtuff to make this trip comfier/cheaper, and Dad was totally the one who found me the right gas/nap stops for my trip).  Now let’s talk about the mercy of the Lord.

I don’t know how many of you know how the LDS church works, but in a typical congregation, a congregate has at least one “calling.”  It’s their job within the congregation/chance to serve the other congregates.  The LDS church is a lay ministry, and that trickles down to the smaller responsibilities, like children’s Sunday School and nursery.  I currently have two callings: women’s activities committee chair (at LEAST one activity per quarter, I try for every other month) and congregation choir director (just got that one).  Both these callings suit me to the ground.  I love logistics and details, which helps with planning, making, and directing the activities for our women’s auxiliary (Relief Society).  I also adore music and singing, but my tastes tend to be . . . more eclectic than the songs commonly sung in church.  Being congregation ward choir director gives me the freedom to expand our use of the canon and I am SO EXCITED.

However, both these require one tiny thing: lots of preparation for Christmas.  Remeber Facts 10 and 116?  Thanksgiving nut and total Grinch previous to it.  Yup.  This year, I HAVE to think about Christmas well ahead of time and I do not like it.  In fact, I told my committee member that she would have to provide the Christmas cheer for the next bit because I just couldn’t do it before Thanksgiving.  This adorable, bouncy, lovely person said, “Okay!  I’m already there, no problem!”  Then yesterday, I had to choose the music for the Christmas program to get it approved for services AND make the Save The Dates for the activity.  It put me in a less than cooperative and grumbly mood.  I really was being a misery when Mikki, who helped with the assembly line for the Save The Dates (I’d shorten that phrase, but they have a really unfortunate acronym), reminded me that the Lord might be doing this on purpose.  I grumped about that, too.  But, after a little perspective and sleep, I think she’s right.  Thanksgiving is so important to me because it’s the holiday I most associate with love, family, and renewal.  (It’s also got some of the coolest history ever.  Lincoln officially established it in the midst of the Civil War to remind people that even in the middle of the scariest and most depressing times, there are many reasons to give thanks. True story.)  While that’s how I see Thanksgiving, many of my friends–especially my Christian friends, including the women I plan these activities for and the congregation I’m pulling together the program for–see Christmas as that holiday.

I won’t pretend to like it.  But maybe, just maybe, in His mercy, God is giving me the chance to extend my holiday season in a way I haven’t before.  And the chance to invite my friends to extend theirs a bit.  To be full of family, love, renewal, and thanks for more than just a month or day or season.   He’s also giving me the chance to soften a bit, so that my Thanksgiving season isn’t totally ruined by the Christmas commercialism and so that I don’t ruin my friends’ Christmas seasons (no matter how exorbitantly long they are).

Today I am grateful for mercy.  For the mechanics who go above and beyond, the parents who love me, the friends who forgive me for being a Grinch, and the Lord who gives me the chance to be better (even–especially–when I make it clear I have no desire to improve).

Happy Thanksgiving season, everyone.

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P.S.  Bonus gratitude!  Today I am also grateful for napkins.  I am a napkin hoarder.  (This is a function of my “But it could come in handy later!” mentality that makes crafting so AWESOME but MESSY.)  The center console of my car is FULL TO THE BRIM with them.  I have napkins squirreled away in the weirdest of places.  (Really, my make up bag?)  I think every desk and cabinet draw and shelf in my office has one or two or ten.  They are there, in all technicality, for when I eat (I be a messy child).  In actuality, when my nose starts running like a tiger is chasing it, I’m really grateful for napkins.  Because runny noses DO NOT WAIT for the Kleenex scramble.

*My car’s full name is the Faulty Star General (or the FSG).  It’s his way or the highway, and his way is usually some sort of funky weirdness (over-heating for no reason other than I was in low gear, killing in the middle of an intersection for absolutely no reason, fighting back when I try to shift, etc).   He orders.  I follow (whether I like it or not).  I deal with the aftermath from the CRAPPY orders.  Hence the name.

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