I was prepping for my annual guests last summer – a car full of women from Iowa arriving to talk, walk, shop, and eat for three days. We first bonded during the parenting years, in adjoining foxholes, during the “parenting war.” We would slip each other intel – often something as simple as, “Yeah, that didn’t work for me either.” That bond carried us through to our “empty nest” phase, which we now celebrate with great enthusiasm.

My husband had left the day before to go to his brother’s cabin for the duration of the gals’ visit. After he left, though, I realized I would be alone overnight for the first time in this house. I had to think through the process.

What do you do when staying alone?

“Lock all the doors,” I answered myself (aren’t I clever!). So, I did.

Afterwards, I noticed a magazine basket that was full (I was still making sure all was ready for my guests). I decided to thin them out. But rather than taking the old magazines to the garage at night, I placed the pile on the kitchen counter to take them out first thing in the morning.

In the morning, I took the pile and placed it in the recycle bin, turned around to go back into the house, and… I. Could not. Get in. The door was locked. Evidently, I had locked the handle rather than the deadbolt. The handle had released and allowed me to go out, but it wouldn’t allow me re-entry into the house.

I was stuck in the garage, without a key, without a phone, and without proper clothing. (We’re all women on this blog, right? It was July! I had worn a tank top and panties to bed and nothing else!)

Desperate for a solution, I began walking around the garage, searching. I spotted my husband’s overalls that he wears while crawling under his cars. I spent about three seconds eyeballing that lovely garment. It was oily, filthy, and smelled, and let’s be honest: it would have been a herculean struggle to get my husband’s size L on my XL “robust” frame. And the zipper would never meet over the parts of my body that desperately needed to be covered anyway!

So…I kept looking…and searching…and I came up with… nothing. Nada. Zilch. What to do?

I sat down and prayed.

“Lord, I’m stuck. I need your help. The ladies are arriving in just a few hours, and it’s really hot out here. I would prefer to have showered and have clothes on before they arrive. Do you have any ideas for me?”

I heard from him directly!

I swear it was the word “sledgehammer.”

Immediately, I jumped up and said, “Ooh! Great idea, Lord!”

I knew where the sledgehammer was, so I went right to work. I had to swing it several times before the handle gave way, but it eventually did. The handle dangled from the door, and it was a beautiful sight.

Finally, I could go about the business of the day!

After the ladies arrived, we had a good laugh about my predicament and subsequent resolution. We had our three days of fun, the ladies left, and I waited for my husband’s return.

Soon, I saw his car coming around the curve of our cul-de-sac and went out to the garage to greet him, blocking the still dangling door handle. I wanted him to hear my reasoning for the destruction before he saw it and jumped to horrible (and surely inaccurate!) conclusions.

But he was walking too fast.

I tried to engage him in conversation, “Hi, honey! How was kayaking?” But he was answering my questions and walking fast at the same time. (Since when did my husband acquire the ability to multi-task? Other than holding a baby and operating a remote at the same time, that is.)

To get him to slow down, I changed my tone and abruptly declared, “I’ve got something to tell you.”

He stopped walking immediately. Ah. This is what I wanted. (Even after 36 years of marriage, I can still give him pause for concern!)

I explained to him what had happened and how I believe God told me “sledgehammer.”

With a pained look, he responded, “I wish you had listened a little bit longer. I keep the key right next to the sledgehammer.”

Sigh. I was so close. I thought I’d “handled” the situation so well. Obviously, I could have done better. I will listen to my husband and listen to my God just a little bit longer…next time…when I’m out in the garage…without my keys…without my phone…without proper clothing.