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Bumps in the road

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When things are going well generally, the little aggravations are just that -- little aggravations. But when everything else is already on overload, the small stuff can push us right over the cliff.

Jaymie Stuart
Wolfe

Life has its moments, and sometimes they stretch into weeks and months, even years, and well beyond what we know we can handle. Every once in a while, we hit a string of big troubles -- one after another. The serious illness, job loss, accident, or death always seems to come out of nowhere. But in those difficult seasons, most of us manage to rebalance ourselves and find our feet. We adapt and muddle through life's biggest challenges.

And then there's the small stuff, the endless drip, drip, drip of frustrating things that don't work the way they're supposed to or don't go as planned. When things are going well generally, the little aggravations are just that -- little aggravations. But when everything else is already on overload, the small stuff can push us right over the cliff.

Over the past several weeks, a couple of our adult children have driven down from the northeast to visit us in Louisiana. First came Austin and Nadja. The 1988 Ford Ranger is a classic. It runs great, and Austin has really enjoyed working to restore it. The road trip was interrupted, however, when one of the tires blew out in nowhere Virginia after 5 p.m. on a Friday evening. With no jack and no spare, Knoxville was out of reach, but the AAA membership came in handy. The shop was scheduled to open Saturday morning, but didn't. So the truck had to be towed somewhere else. There, they were promptly informed that all four tires had dry rot; and were "May poppers" likely to blow out when the temperatures rise. The mechanic replaced the tire and they were back on the road. Once in Tennessee, they found a tire center that could replace the rest of the tires as well as the lug nuts. They arrived a day and a few hundred dollars later.

A week after Austin left, Kyril came for a few days on the way to a friend's wedding in Kansas City. When he pulled into the driveway, we noticed that the dependable 2007 hand-me-down car was leaking. Luckily, Andrew checked all the fluids the next morning and discovered that there was no oil in the engine. The car was towed to Dale's, a reputable local mechanic, who told us the oil pan was cracked. We pitched in as we had for Austin's tires, so no one took a huge financial hit. Everything was fixed, right? Well, no. On the way to Kansas City, the engine suddenly stopped. A fuse was replaced and everything was fine, until the same thing happened two more times. The electrical problem behind it all was found and ultimately fixed while Kyril was at the wedding.

In the midst of all these car shenanigans, our youngest daughter saved up and bought her own first car. It's a good car at a good price, but with over 150,000 miles, she's run into a few minor problems. Suffice it to say that Dale's Auto Service has seen a lot of us. Don't get me wrong: they're nice people. But we really don't want to see them again, at least for a while.

These are the kinds of troubles that wear us all down. They're also the kinds of troubles that can inspire us to step up and support one another. And while it's easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated by the daily struggles that come our way, they build patience and perseverance in us. We all experience bumps in the road, but that doesn't mean we should give up the trip.

It's important to remember that God is with us in it all, not just in the big things, but also in the annoying inconveniences and frustrations we encounter. The struggle is real, but grace abounds. The Lord is near to all who call upon him, so keep the faith -- and join AAA.

- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.



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