In April of this year, I booked a room at a hotel and then had to cancel it. They sent me a gift certificate for the credit amount and I decided to save it for my husband‘s birthday which is in December. A few days before we were supposed to go to the hotel I realized I did not remember where the gift card was. I had re-decorated my office in the summer and nothing was in the same place anymore. I searched my office but couldn’t find it.
I tried to go to sleep but tossed and turned knowing that if I couldn’t find it, I would have lost $250.
I laid in bed berating myself for being so careless and felt very discouraged. How often have I lost important things in my life? Too many times to count. I have always struggled with my memory, and it gets frustrating. I decided I could not lay in bed and mentally tear myself apart all night, so I got up to start looking for it.
I was feeling anxious and asked our daughter Sarah if she would pray for me that I would be able to find it. Her prayer was beautiful, and faith filled. Her sweet voice calmed my soul.
I felt a glimmer of hope.
I had just recorded a class about having gratitude in the middle of our trials. My friend Kathy taught me this principal years ago. It is human nature to wait until the trial is over to praise God but praising Him during the trial shows trust and faith in Him. I felt I should walk the talk and decided to praise God that the gift certificate was lost. The words felt empty and a uncomfortable to say. How could I honestly be grateful for this? Finances had been tight this year and so my husband didn’t want me to spend any money on his birthday. I felt sad because I love to give but I wanted to honor his request. I found joy that at least I had a free night at a hotel! This was the gift. This would be the fun: to get away for a night and forget about it all and now I had nothing. “Praise God that my gift certificate is lost.” I spoke the words anyway.
I decided I would rather be with God than without God in this moment. I asked God to please help me remember where the gift certificate was. As I closed my eyes to focus on listening, I remembered a drawer that I had seen a gift certificate in. I raced upstairs and found there was a gift certificate there, but not the one I was looking for. I repeated my statement of faith: “Praise God that my gift certificate is lost.” I asked God again if there was anywhere else I could look? I sat still and silent. I remembered a shelf that had a gift certificate on the top ledge. I raced to the bookshelf and found another gift certificate, but not the one from the hotel. I tried to stay calm and ask God again to please help me find the HOTEL gift certificate. If this was supposed to be funny, I was not feeling it.
As I sat and focused again, I remembered a little box I had kept by my desk that I placed a gift card in. I went to the box and found two gift cards – for restaurants. I was trying not to lose faith, but it was getting discouraging. This was not the outcome I was expecting. I stayed true to my faith and repeated it again with more conviction “Praise God that my gift certificate is lost.” I became still and once again listened for a clear answer. This process repeated itself three more times. Every time finding gift cards but not the one I was looking for. I was running out of hope and had been searching for an hour.
I got on my knees and my head hung in the silence. I was exhausted.
“Praise God that my gift certificate is lost.” I remembered a box I had noticed in the garage a few months prior that had some thing from my desk on top. Surprised to see that out in the garage I figured I must have put it there when I re-arranged my office. I had forgotten about it until that moment. Our garage was a heaped-up mess but if I could find the box, the gift certificate could be there. I raced into the cold garage flipping the lights on in the dark. My bare feet were freezing on the cold cement, but I searched and searched until I found the box and brought it in the house. I sorted through it and to my great joy and relief found the hotel gift certificate!!
It was a miracle!!
Alongside it were two more gift cards. I laughed and cried. Who knew there was anything valuable in that messy garage? I went to my desk and sat down smiling from ear to ear holding the hotel gift certificate. I finally relaxed and since it was now 1:30 am, I was ready to crawl into a nice warm bed.
As I looked at my desk, I smiled at the ten other gift certificates I had found in the process of searching. I wondered if any of them still had money on them? Out of sheer curiosity I went online and searched the first card that was for Olive Garden. Yep - $20. Pleasantly surprised I searched the next gift card to IKEA. Yes ma’am. $25. Now this was becoming a game. I searched every card I had by going online to find the available balance. It took an hour to search them all, but to my surprise I was holding $220 worth of gift cards in addition to the $250 hotel gift certificate. I was blown away!!! My mind started racing about what to do and I had an idea.
The day of Andrews birthday I asked him to block out the whole afternoon for me. I took him to lunch using the first gift card and then gave him a gift sack filled with the rest. His assignment for the rest of the afternoon was to spend every penny on every gift card I found. This day was going to be guilt-free shopping -- it wouldn’t cost us anything. I told him if he didn’t spend them, I would likely lose them before we ever got to use them (ha ha). He could buy something for himself - for his birthday or Christmas - or buy Christmas gifts for others.
The only request from me was that he had fun!
We spent the afternoon shopping, laughing and talking. My favorite gift card purchase was from Michael’s Craft store. He had a whopping $1.87 to spend and he found a little balsa wood sign for $1.75 with a twine hanger to post his “business hours” outside the door to his home-office. Brilliant idea.
I don’t remember many of Andrew’s birthdays, but neither of us will ever forget this one. What started out as a painful experience turned into an unbelievable adventure. What a tender mercy from God. What a day filled with joy, fun and laughter. What we gained was far greater than what I thought I had lost. Without doubt, praising God in the middle of the trial opened the door to hope, faith, and miracles. Looking back, with all my heart, I could earnestly exclaim, “Praise God that my gift certificate was lost!” God is our loving Father and He is aware of our heart’s desire. I praise Him!!!