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St. Jude, The Bicycle Thief, and Me

alec vanderboom

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This morning, my son's bike got stolen.

My husband came home from lunch and asked "Did Alex leave his bike somewhere?"

I glanced up from my latest domestic crisis-- mysterious green paint had appeared in the dryer and melted all over Alex's good church shorts and his beloved Spiderman pajamas--"No we haven't used the bikes yet today," I answered.

"Alex's bike is missing. I think it's been stolen."

I got a knot in my stomach. On Friday, Alex and Maria took their beloved bikes out for a spin with their new Halloween costumes. I got some great pictures of the event. I'm still a little off my Mama game, with a newborn daughter and all. I forgot to remind Alex to lock up his bike after our fun.

The kids bikes were all parked by our front door on Monday morning when Jon left for work. Now the bright yellow Mountain bike was missing.

We live in an urban neighborhood where professional bicycle thieves are on the prowl. My husband's bike was stolen off our front patio, while I was behind the patio door in our living room with my 3 loud, rowdy kids. That theft was a horrid loss, because my husband commutes to work on his bike. For a month, we missed having Dad home for lunch because Jon's quick 10 minute bike trek to work is actually a very long walk by foot.

This loss felt even worse. It was my son's bike. A handsome Trek mountain bike that my five year old son used to boast was for "a teenager!" Alex's bike was a free gift from Jesus. We could never afford to replace it.

A saddened father and depressed mother sat down together to eat some chili for lunch. "Maybe I can find it," my husband said. "If someone used it for a joy ride, they might ditch it close to the house."

"I don't think it was joy ride early on a Monday morning," I said. "It was a nice bike. I'm sure it's gone for good."

We lamented the loss. I kicked myself for forgetting to lock it up. Expecting myself to remember every detail with my current circumstances was a bit ridiculous. "I totally forgot, Jon. I usually remember. This forgetfulness is an outcome of having a Baby just come out of the NICU."

I felt scared. That bike was valuable because biking is a form of exercise I can do easily with four children. I'm a new mom without a lot of resources. "How am I going to exercise the kids this week if my son is missing a bike?"

"We can buy him a cheap bike at Target," Jon said.

"There is no way that can happen this month," I said. "Not with all Tess' NICU expenses."

After a sad lunch, my husband offered to ride around on his bike to look for Alex' missing bike. He was inches from giving that up as a futile exercise. "Go ahead and look," I said. "It can't hurt."

After my husband left, I went into our bedroom to comfort a crying son. "I loved my bike, Mom."

"I know. I think it's really gone forever," I said. "Let's stop and pray to St. Jude to help Daddy find it, just in case."

Ladies, I can't tell you how distracted and routine my prayer was to St. Jude. I was sure Alex's bike was gone. I didn't lock it up and it was stolen by a bicycle thief. I got what I deserved. I felt that my prayer to St. Jude was just a formality- just something my family did whenever we lost something of value.

I turned off the Netflix cartoon. I gathered my three young children around me and started to pray. "Dear St. Jude, we forgive the thief who stole Alex's bike. If there is anyway for you to help us, please help Daddy find Alex's bike."

I made the sign of the cross to close our prayer.

Before my fingers left my forehead, my husband walked back into our house. He found the bike!

Alex's bike was dropped in the middle of the street one block from our house. The bicycle lock, which was wrapped around the seat, fell down and stopped the pedals. It was a simple problem to fix. Yet the thief must have panicked and dropped the bike in the middle of the road. (Jon thinks it was a thief who panicked over getting caught since a neighborhood joy rider would have calmly fixed the jammed pedal and parked the bike on a sidewalk.) Because Alex's bike was left in the middle of our well traveled street, this incident must have happened moments before Jon came home from work and noticed it's missing presence.

What are the chances of that happening without a little help from heaven?

I'm always stunned when this happens. I'm stunned when a PICC line slides easily out of a baby's heart. I'm equally stunned when God takes care of the smaller things in life.

I'm a mother of a newborn. My brain is addled and sleep deprived. I forgot to lock up my son's nice bike in the middle of a large city. A thief stole it. Yet why do I mind when mean things happen to my family, if our great God can easily fix such problems in a second?

God is so good!