Thursday was just one of those days. I usually try to go to church to practice the organ for a couple hours about 9:00 every Thursday morning. Last Thursday I was running behind schedule because of being away at Christmas Mountain for a 3-day getaway earlier in the week, and I didn’t have any music picked out to play for the Saturday and Sunday services yet. I had tried to pick out the music Wednesday evening, but I was just too tired.
I always read the scriptures for the service and try to select a prelude, postlude, and any special music that relates to the theme of the service. Early Thursday morning I tried to think of appropriate music, but nothing came to mind. As I paged through several music books for ideas, I realized I’d be pretty late for my church practice time. I called Annette at church to let her know I was still coming, but would be there late morning or early afternoon. I got there about 11:30, carrying a dozen music books of possible preludes and postludes. The first book I opened up had the perfect prelude. The second book had just the right postlude. Amazing.
As I was practicing, my friend Peggy just happened to drop in the church. I hadn’t seen her in more than four months. What an unexpected, pleasant surprise! We made plans to go out to dinner that evening.
I went back to practicing, and then Clyde, the church director of music who just happens to work nearby, dropped in during his lunch hour. Great! I had some music questions for him about the hymns selected for Sunday. We had a good chance to go over them.
A few minutes later Pastor Jeff came into the sanctuary where I was practicing. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I reached for my phone to check my calendar to see if I would be available to play for a funeral in the next week or so.
As I finished up my practicing I thought about how good it was that I had practiced later than I had planned. God knew that a later practice time would enable me to meet up with all these people!
As I was sitting in my car, ready to leave the church parking lot, I called Mim, who was away for her 3-day getaway at Christmas Mountain. (We had split the week between us.) Our youngest resident (only 94) had asked me at breakfast if we could get some more fresh blueberries from Costco. They had been so big, sweet, and juicy, and she loved to have them on her cereal. Mim had been at Costco earlier in the week, and I wanted to ask her if she knew if they still had those special blueberries when she was there. If so, I would go to Costco on my way home. Mim said she thought they had some, but she suggested that I stop at Metro Market, right by church, instead. They have a big produce section and would probably have good blueberries, and they were much closer than Costco.
So that’s what I did. I left the church parking lot and drove to Metro Market. Unfortunately, they didn’t have nice big blueberries, but they did have honey crisp apples. So I bought a bag of them, checked out, and went to the car.
I reached for my cellphone in my pocket, and it wasn’t there. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I got out of the car, so I searched the ground near the car, but I didn’t find it. I searched the car. No luck. I re-traced my steps through the parking lot into the store and throughout the store. No luck. I went to the information desk in the store to see if anyone had turned in the phone. No one had. A check-out clerk suggested that I take her phone, call my phone to make it ring, and re-trace my steps throughout the store. It must have fallen out of my pocket somewhere. I did what she suggested. No luck. I asked her if I could take her phone out to my car to see if I could hear my phone ringing in the parking lot or in my car. She said sure. Again, no luck. I returned her phone, and left my name and home phone number at the information desk at Metro Market so they could call me if anyone turned in my phone.
Pretty frustrated, but appreciative of the helpfulness of everyone at Metro Market, I left the parking lot and drove to Costco for blueberries. They still had them – and they really are delicious! About an hour had passed, so I decided to stop at Metro Market again before heading home – just in case someone had turned in the phone. No luck.
I arrived home about 4:00. The plan was for me to pick up Peggy at 5:00 and we would drive to a restaurant in Fort for an early dinner. I decided to call the US Cellular store in Fort to ask them to de-activate the phone and download my info onto a new phone for me to pick up the next day. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), my call went to voicemail, and I did not leave a message. Apparently, everyone was with customers. I tried calling the Lake Mills store. Same result.
I decided to call Peggy and suggest changing our plans. I said, “Let’s go to Lake Mills instead and stop at the US Cellular store first, and then go out to dinner in Lake Mills.” She was game for the change in plans.
I picked her up and we drove to Lake Mills. A US Cellular representative greeted us as we walked through the door of the store. I explained my predicament, and he said, “Let’s try to find your phone first.” I gave him my cell phone number and my Apple password. He keyed that info into his computer, and a green dot showed up on a map on his computer screen. There was my phone. The green dot was just north of Cottage Grove Road and just west of the Interstate. That looked like the location of church. The phone must have fallen out of my pocket in the parking lot of the church just before I drove away.
Peggy and I abandoned our plan to have dinner in Lake Mills, and drove back to Madison, to church. I looked around the handicapped parking space where I had parked earlier in the day. No phone. The church was locked, but I had a key, so we went inside to see if someone had brought the phone inside. It wasn’t in the gathering space. I checked my mail slot in the office. Not there. Maybe it would be in my music slot by the organ. As I walked toward the organ, I spied it sitting on the piano. That’s where I had put it after Pastor Jeff and I had talked and I had entered the funeral into my calendar in my phone. I was so happy to have my phone in my hands again.
As we were ready to leave the church, I saw an elderly man trying to get into the church, but the doors were locked. I went to see what he wanted, and he asked if this is where the “whittling” was happening. I had heard people downstairs, so I asked him to wait with Peggy while I ran downstairs to see if that was the group. Sure enough, it was a wood carving group meeting. I went back upstairs, and showed him to the elevator so that he could go downstairs and join the “whittlers.”
I guess God needed someone to be near the main entrance of the church about that time to welcome this elderly stranger. I’m not quite sure why God chose Peggy and me to be the ones to welcome him, but I’m glad we were at the right place at the right time.
As I was thinking back over the day, one of the most amazing things is that I did not consider at all the possibility that I might have left my phone in church. I knew I had my phone with me when I left the church because I sat in my car and called Mim to ask about blueberries before I left the church parking lot. My fancy new Toyota Prius V has the feature that my phone automatically connects with the car when I step into the car if my phone is with me. I make and receive phone calls through buttons on the dash and steering wheel. Apparently, there was a straight shot where I left my phone on the piano in church, through the church window, through my windshield, and to the phone interface of the car. And the signal between the phone and the car interface was strong enough to connect.
I’m sure God had a good laugh all day long about the intersections of my plans and God’s plans. When God finally let Peggy and me in on the joke, we laughed, too, as we dined on a great dinner at Angelo’s Italian restaurant on Monona Drive, not far from church.
My day certainly didn’t go according to my plans. God’s plans were much better – especially the way they ended!