Spiritual Direction, Writing

My Dog Ate My Blog

Or the vicissitudes of disobedience and their unexpected opportunties*

For those of you following the “miracle year” story which is now officially late, I apologize. I sit here writing to you from my part time job which I affectionately think upon as my fee for writing. For it is a quiet job – on a Sunday especially, when I normally, as a rule, do not work but am making an exception today to help a person out. Anywho, I sit here writing “for pay” in an empty gift shop listening to 1940’s jazz explaining to you why part ten (or so) of the ongoing story is woefully absent. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can start that here.

But Fleur, you could just tell us the story now while you have the opportunity.

Yes, I could but I have to tell you this first as it is welling up and pouring forth out of me.

Settle in….

We have a puppy now. He’s six months old. He’s a cute little tyrant and oh, we love him so!

A year ago, Last August (2021), my husband and I hit a deer. I was a horrible piece of business around 11pm on a hot summer day returning from a truly fun outing to see a farm team play in Lehigh Valley. (The Reading Fightins to be exact). We are used to keeping an eye out for deer in this part of the country, especially around dusk or twilight. We (or I should say “I”) was not ready for the deer to bound from left to right across six lanes of freeway traffic (however light the car flow that hour) into the left headlight swinging around the right side of the car… I will spare you the rest. Suffice to say we probably shouldn’t have driven home that final hour. Losing the A/C should have been the first clue. As I pulled in around midnight, I only then began to smell oil. Yuck as well as thank you, God.

The car was totaled and because we both worked from home and could get all we needed in a pinch we didn’t rush to get a new car.  It was a lovely time. There’s so much to be said for life not worrying about a car. I suppose it was easier for us than it might be for some as we’d lived in NYC for decades. And with so many options for transportation you can get around if you need to. So we didn’t care so much. It’s weird though when people see you walking everywhere in a non-walking town. They think somethings wrong. Or that you’re not flush with the dough. Some try to hide a sort of pity or slight sense of shame about it. Aren’t people weird? (Me included more than you.) It was six months of peace in countless ways. I learned much about waiting. Ooooohhhh the lessons in waiting!

Six months later we had a “new to us” Jeep Cherokee. Since having the new car all has been mostly well. Until about a month ago when it started sort of… blinking out.

Our new car has more bells and whistles and relies, like most do now, on all things digital. I like a little luxury, but this car seriously sometimes makes me yearn for an eight track tape player, a rolling handle for the window and (you will soon know why) hazard lights that don’t depend on  battery life.

About a month, (Maybe more? This is so bad…), I got this little warning light that told me to “service the shifter”. I Googled it. Not a big deal. It can wait. Although it did say there might be a software update needed. Life goes on. About three Sundays ago we drove a half hour to “Joisey” to attend a Latin Mass. After Mass we get in the car. I push the button (for who needs a key anymore? That’s another thing a miss, an old-fashioned key starting automobile and if it were 1945, I’d bemoan the crank-start engine.) I pushed the brake and start button, saw a quick flicker of life within the dashboard light then all was plunged into darkness.

We of course were parked “head in” toward the church building so jumping the car was super fun.

Now comes more honesty.

About ten days earlier it had happened just like that, but the tow-guy told me I only needed a charge. He tested the battery. It was fine. Just a little tightening of connectors here and there. I put off (I know!) taking the car in.

So now we find ourselves standing alongside the priest (in full cassock) with his tool kit under the hood of our car applying a wrench to the connector on the battery.

There are so many things to think about that! Mostly good. But more embarrassing. I mean should I have just asked for confession right there under the hood?

People came out to support and jump and tighten and offer food downstairs. But in the end, we still had to call roadside assistance… which took an hour, so we went back into the church to partake of their Sunday lunch. Hmmm, perhaps being encouraged to tarry longer?

This is where we met Carlos and Carlos Jr. who we had a lovely conversation with over chili, tacos and every cookie and pie flavor imaginable. Carlos loved talking about the world’s state of affairs but then soon I realized as I checked my phone back and forth that he’d changed his line of topic.

I suddenly heard, “Don’t worry about your job. Don’t worry about where you’ll work or what’s coming next. Don’t worry!”

My husband has been in many talks about the theatre company and “what’s next” unbeknownst to Carlos.

Hmmm. What God will do to get things into your head.

The tow came. He jumped the car – stating again the battery was “fine” – and that these new cars can’t jump from car-to-car cables and require a jump box. Another fascinating horror about how far we’ve come. Happy Halloween.

We drove straight to the shop. I left the key (“fob”) in the drop box.

They found nothing. NOTHING. Nothing wrong with it. “Drive it. And if anything happens bring it back while it’s happening.” – That was the gist.

Bring it back while it’s happening. I just have to pause on that one. Another little treasure of advice.

Even better? I did. (I mean my stupidity and denial is astounding, isn’t it?)

For two more weeks all was status quo. Maybe they were right.

Until last night. Again on a Sunday, the Lord’s day. Hmmm.

I admit. I admit I had waited until the last minute to write my weekly story, so this is ALL my fault.

We’d driven back to Joisey in a new direction to another favorite Mass for Saturday night vigil. This time across the river to Lambertville. Drove home. Got to a very busy four stop intersection where there are no street lights just five minutes from home.

The car died.

While we were driving.


Is this the part where I call those mechanics on a Sunday evening and say, “Hey! It’s doing the thing!”

I rolled right up to the stop sign and put the car in park. Unable to put on hazards, open the trunk for any flares or anything – because I put the emergency kit in the closet back when we hit the deer a year ago and forgot to take it out. And also because the trunk won’t open without power. (Again… keys and hinges please.)

I mean I score a THOUSAND on this test. I’m amazing, aren’t I?!

So by this point this is the deadest this car has ever died. I immediately call roadside. On a Sunday night. In a very busy intersection. Just as the sun has set. And my husband stands out in the 44-degree weather behind the car (in his dark navy coat and charcoal knit cap) and attempts to wave cars around so that we aren’t rear ended as well as him not getting killed.

After doing all the roadside assistance things, I sit. I have about 20% charge on my phone, so I keep that quiet. I begin to pray. I pray a full rosary as I stare in the rearview window begging Mary to pray my husband is seen by all oncoming traffic.

A cop stops by sees we’re okay drives on. Another cop. All good. A passenger car pulls over, gives us a flare, lights it and goes on his way. A few cars tell us (one vehemently so) to “put on your hazards!” Thanks so much, Invention and Progress! You missed the boat on that one. (And also thanks to me and the kit at rest in my closet.)

I continue to pray the rosary and every Marian and St. Michael prayer I can think of. I also repeat to myself one of my favorite verses, Philippians 4:6-8: Do not be anxious for anything….1 I pray for our safety  – and for this tow truck and jump box to show up sooner than an hour.

A young man stops his car. He carries a jump box with him. Five minutes before the tow truck is set to arrive. His jumper box, unfortunately, isn’t powerful enough for the Jeep. But what reassurance in humanity!

Tow arrives. I explain about the recent events. I ask him to use his jump box first. It works. But this young man is different. He explains we have a faulty battery, to turn off our stop/start engine system (another piece of progress that is more of a drain than a help) and no matter what to replace the battery and take the car into the shop.

I got it. I get it. I promise.

We drive home. No tow. Thank you, Lord! (My husband is freezing.)

Now. During my unexpected prayer time I noticed a few things 

  • I had recently contemplated how I wasn’t praying as much as I’d like. This night, I was given ample opportunity.
  • I knew daily I should take that dang car in, and I didn’t.
  • I interiorly felt during my prayer “not your fault” when wondering if I ever should have chosen this car. (Interesting.) That’s when I remembered Romans 8:1.2
  • My husband was safe. I was safe. People (except for one who was having a rough evening) were nice and super helpful.
  • The car did not die on the two-lane bridge that crosses over the Delaware River. (Win!)
  • Within half an hour I felt steely calm. All was well. These things? They don’t really matter in the long run.
  • I was reminded to take care of business, buy that battery jump box, get that emergency kit out of the closet, those hats that light up, some flares, an extra blanket in the back, water, a battery pack phone charger for the car. Gift cards? Turkey pot pie? (Too much?)

Ever heard that delayed obedience is disobedience?

So. We arrived home happy our new puppy was safe and secure in his crate seemingly unperturbed with the wait or, for that matter, the offense of discipline imposed upon him earlier that day. Made dinner. Watched game two of the world series.

And this – this is why I didn’t write last night for my Sunday morning deadline. So I write now. I will get back on track soon.

But I leave you with a question and a thought:

What is God telling you (or been telling you for a while) to do…and… You’re. Not. Doing. It. (?) Whatever just popped into your head is most likely it.

He’s asking you because he loves you. Because to be discipline is to be discipled. That is always the reason. Is it hard? Ask for him to help you. He will.

Think of him saying, “I love you. Please do this. It’s important. You’ll see.”

But sometimes you might get a slight adjustment on the collar with a weighty “knock it off.” Again, it’s for your own Good. Otherwise you could find yourself at a crossroads, in the dark with a long wait, albeit with ample time to pray and to hear what he has to say about the current state of affairs.

Hope you have had a beautiful Sunday (at this point almost done), warm, in the arms of your beloved. Furry or no.

1Do not be anxious for anything. But in everything will prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
2There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
*This article was originally published on Substack: Little Yellow Bird.
Fleur Dobbins is a writer, playwright, and storyteller based in Pennsylvania with a professional background in theatre and film. Fleur writes creative stories of encouragement through memoir and fiction. Learn more at www.fleuralysdobbins.com.