Yesterday, my family and I went to several yard sales. While at one in a nearby town, a lady there heard me asking if they had any cast iron pieces. I recently cleaned up and restored a family heirloom piece to near mint condition and I was so proud of myself! I wanted to see if I could restore some rusty, gunky pieces.
She told me of a junk store just a few blocks from where we were. I was so excited! We got in the minivan and drove to this little store. They had stuff piled up everywhere outside and I was tickled to “hunt.” I made it around to the door to see a sign that said “Closed.”
I was almost in tears. I know – it’s a sickness when cast iron can bring you to tears!
Anyway, I turned around to leave when a regular customer / good friend of the owner appeared behind me. I have no idea what his name is so we’ll call him “Bob.” He reminded me of Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.
So “Bob” said “The owner was going out of town for the morning but said he’d be back later today. I have his number if you want to see if he’ll be here soon.” So I called Tim (the owner). Tim very bluntly said “I won’t be there for a few hours. Sorry.” Okay – so I tried…. time to go home. 😦
About that time, this lady appeared inside the front door of the store. About scared me to death! “Bob” told her we were from out of town and really wanted to look at the cast iron pieces. Penny so graciously let us in. There’s no way to explain how excited I was to be going inside this little treasure box!! Giddy could not begin to explain it. I walked into a little room that was completely dedicated to cast iron! Oh my goodness! I got dizzy!
There were lots of mostly clean pieces that were hanging on walls and sitting on shelves but what got me even more excited was the grocery cart sitting in the middle of the room full of rusty, gunked up pots and pans. Did I mention the word giddy earlier? Go one step farther and you can imagine my world!
So I spent the next 45 minutes digging every single piece out of that grocery cart hunting for the nastiest, grossest pieces to practice cleaning on. I seriously broke a sweat during this hunt, people. I excitedly took the 3 skillets and one little bean pot to the counter to get prices and make my final selections. Penny noticed these items weren’t priced and said she needed to call the owner to get the prices. She tried to use her cell phone and it wouldn’t work. “Bob” offered his but was out of minutes and he suggested she use my phone I had called the owner on earlier. She called Tim and asked about the skillets. I don’t know exactly what was said but I heard that man screaming at this girl like a dog. She very quietly kept saying “I didn’t know. I didn’t have much of a choice.” He told her he couldn’t price anything over the phone and yelled at her for borrowing a customer’s phone to make a call. I don’t know which broke my heart more – the fact that I couldn’t take home my treasures or that Penny looked like she could burst into tears when she told me. I literally walked to the minivan in tears.
She called Tim and asked about the skillets. I don’t know exactly what was said but I heard that man screaming at this girl like a dog. She very quietly kept saying “I didn’t know. I didn’t have much of a choice.” He told her he couldn’t price anything over the phone and yelled at her for borrowing a customer’s phone to make a call. I don’t know which broke my heart more – the fact that I couldn’t take home my treasures or that Penny looked like she could burst into tears when she told me. I literally walked to the minivan in tears.
So that’s it, right – live through disappointment and go home. Quit thinking about it. Just go on with regular life. Except I couldn’t. The lump in my throat and the knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away. Go to sleep – close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out…. eyes fly open – I can’t get that woman’s face out of my mind. Why, Lord? Why is she on my heart?
What do you mean “Go back.” Why, Lord? Why in the world would I go back??
What in the world would I say?
Geesh – really?
But I don’t want to.
So I got up this morning with my stomach tied up in knots and these people on my mind. Why would I drive 45 minutes to a town completely out of my way and what the heck would I say to these complete strangers when I got there?? Would I talk to the owner, Tim? Would I give Penny a hug? What? Why in the world?? It’s none of my business!!
But what if they tell me it’s none of my business? Because… it’s not, really. Right? What if he throws me off his property?
I begrudgingly got dressed and got in the car. Again, I tried to reason with God. Ever tried to do that? Never works out in the end but I still tried.
Lord, it’s Saturday. My husband’s home today. I have guests coming for lunch tomorrow, I need to be home today. With my family.
But what will I say? I have nothing to say, Lord!
Okay – FINE! I’ll drive there!! But this is going to turn out badly. What could I possibly say to accomplish anything positive???? Tomorrows newspapers will read “That Preacher’s Wife has Head Ripped Off by Junk Store Owner” That’ll be just great, won’t it Lord? Is that what you really want? For me to make a fool of myself? To get yelled at? Why in the world would you want me to do something like this???
I thought about calling my friends to make sure they had bail money ready – what if he threw me off his property or had me arrested for harassment??
All the way there, I argued, fussed and imagined every single worst possible scenario. When I got there, the parking lot was completely full. I drove past the place three times and finally reasoned “It’s full – I can’t even pull into the parking lot.” You know, my silly van turned into the parking lot anyway. Stupid van. Never listens to me. I had to park on the edge of a hill. Great. The van will go rolling down the hill and when I get thrown off the property, I’ll have to hitch hike home. Perfect.
I get out of the van and walk towards the door where there are 7-8 large, burly, bearded men laughing loudly. I tried to quietly walk past. Lord, I’m not talking to any of them. They could eat me for dinner. About that time, one of the men looked at me and said, “Sorry, we’re closed until Tuesday.” Shew. Off the hook! I can go home now! Felt like I was skipping through a field of daisies!
I turn to walk away. Something literally hit me in the gut. You know that feeling when you go over the top of a hill when you’re on a roller coaster. Or riding in the back of a vehicle when a maniac is driving way too fast over a hill? Yeah – that feeling. Hit me right in the gut.
I honestly didn’t even have time to think about what I was going to say. I turned around so fast and the words “Is Tim here?” ran out of my mouth so fast, I couldn’t catch them. The biggest, burliest dude looked at me and said, “I’m Tim.” Gulp.
Legs – listen up…. run. Turn right now and run. Stupid legs didn’t listen either. There I stood with all these men looking at me. I quietly asked if I could speak to him privately for a moment. He stepped away from the group. Lord, what the heck have you gotten me into???? What do I do now?
“I was here yesterday.” Wringing my hands, nervous. Really wanting to puke. Seriously. That knot that’s been in my stomach for the past 24 hours is trying to make its way up my esophagus. All over the big burly dude. That wouldn’t be good.
“This is not something I would normally do. In fact, I hate confrontation. It really bothered me the way you spoke to Penny yesterday on the phone.”
“What are you talking about??”
That sounded defensive. Lord, don’t let him punch me. Please? Wonder if the van has rolled away yet…. come on legs, pleeeeease??
“I was standing five feet away and I could hear you yelling at her. It has really bothered me and had to come back to say something about it today. It’s probably none of my business but you didn’t need to talk to her the way you did.”
Lord – why is he staring at me like I’ve lost my mind? Why did you put me in this very awkward position? Why won’t he say anything? What do I do, Lord? Please keep me from puking on him.
“Wow. I was trying to tell her I couldn’t price anything over the phone. I’ve been ripped off before doing something like that.”
Our conversation turned to his past experiences of people stealing from him, taking advantage of him, etc. I told him that’s not what I came for – I came to challenge him on the way he spoke to Penny. He then told me Penny was his fiance. The knot in my stomach got worse. Poor Penny.
He then asked me which cast iron pieces I was looking at. “I honestly don’t want to purchase anything from you. I just wanted to tell you that you can’t speak to people the way you spoke to her yesterday. It’s not right.” He then asked me to please come in the store and show him what I had been looking at.
Why does he want me inside? I’m not going in there with him…. um….. where did all the guys who were here go? Hello? The parking lot is completely empty except for my van perched on the edge of the hill. He’s going to take me somewhere inside, chop me up into little pieces and fry me in one of those beautiful cast iron pans, isn’t he?? Gulp.
Are you kidding me, Lord? Stranger danger! Going in a closed store with a man I just confronted for yelling at his fiance? No. No way. I won’t go. Nope. Not. Going.
I couldn’t stop my feet. They were following Tim inside the store. Stupid feet. What – is NOTHING listening to me today???
Inside, to my relief, I saw “Bob” and Penny, both. Penny said I looked familiar and Tim said “Yeah, she just jumped all over my a** for yelling at you yesterday.” The look on Penny’s face was absolutely priceless. He told her what I had said. I told her she was worth more than gold to God. There were tears. We walked back to the cast iron room and I showed him the pieces I had found yesterday. He gave me pricing on them but I told him I wasn’t here to buy. I ended up buying anyway but made sure he knew that’s not why I came back.
At the checkout, Tim continued to tell me everything going on in his world – busted water pipes has destroyed his home, a mini stroke in January, uncontrollable high blood pressure, he passed out at work a couple weeks ago….. Honestly, I was thinking “Time to go! I did what you wanted, God. Now let me go home!” I had my hand on the door and the door pulled open a couple of feet.
Something grabbed that door, pulled it shut and these words came flying out “I’m not very comfortable doing this but is it okay if I could pray with you?” What?? Lord, come on! I was almost out the door!
I prayed for Tim’s health issues, his business, his home, Penny and their relationship with one another and even prayed for silly old “Bob” sitting in the corner. When I got done, “Bob” shouted “Amen!” Tim smiled and said “Penny needs all the prayers she can get. I’m an a** to love.” Penny very quietly said “The Lord sent you here today. Thank you.” Just for a brief moment, time stood still.
You know, there have been times in my life that I felt like I should’ve done something. It was on my heart and I didn’t do it. But this time, I had no control.
I COULD NOT walk away from this. The Lord wasn’t going to let me leave until I did what He wanted. No matter how incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
How many times have I turned away from that “I need to do something” feeling? I’m in a hurry, I’m running late, I need to go do this, that and the other. How many times have I refused to listen to God’s leading only to deny someone a blessing He was trying to give them. I’m so stinking stubborn.
Tammy Lanham is the wife to Tommy Lanham and Momma to Appolonya and Dylan. She homeschools them both. She travels and speaks to women, entertaining and encouraging them in their Christian walk.In her free time, she….. wait – she has no free time… nevermind….
Thanks for reading!