• Kelsey Scism

The Heart of a Strong, Capable Woman Relies on a Strong, Capable God

“Mom, the car is smoking!” my daughter declared with wide eyes.


I was turned toward the young man at the drive-thru window, waiting for my change. I looked out the windshield, and sure enough, smoke (actually steam) poured from under the front corner of the hood.


“Um, hang on, our car is smoking,” I said to the teenage boy who looked at me confused.


Quickly turning the engine off, I contemplated my next move.


“I’ll take our sandwiches and pull ahead and figure it out,” I said to the boy who handed me the bag. I turned the key in the ignition, pulled straight ahead into a stall, and immediately turned the engine off again.


After handing the sandwiches over to my daughter and assuring her and her little sister that the car was not going to blow up, I picked up my phone to call my husband who was in between meetings at work . . . over an hour away. I explained the situation—the car had overheated as we idled in the drive-thru; unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed the temperature gauge creeping up until the smoke rose from the hood.


We formulated a plan, and I hung up.


“Well, I guess we’re eating in the car,” I told the girls. I jumped out to pop the hood and let the rain fall on the engine to cool it down before checking the coolant tank.


Back in the dry car, I opened my sandwich and took a few bites. I could see that my girls were worried, and I reassured them we’d be okay. We had a plan.


“Sometimes things like this happen, and you just have to figure it out on your own,” I told them.


My own thoughts raced . . . This is a chance to show them how to take care of themselves. They don’t have to be a damsel in distress, just waiting to be rescued. I can show them how we can take care of ourselves. We don’t need to wait for dad to bail us out. We can be independent. We are strong and capable.


But then I heard God whisper to my soul . . .


No, Kelsey, show them what it looks like to depend on Me.


I was consumed by (maybe even excited by) the opportunity to show my daughters what independence and capability as a woman looked like, but God was leading me elsewhere. He had a different lesson in mind for this moment. One that had nothing to do with the pride that was building within my heart, pride in my own ability to solve the problem.


Trusting that the engine was cool enough to check the coolant tank, I zipped up my coat to protect myself from the rain and reached for the large glass of water my daughter had retrieved from the restaurant.

“You know what you could do, girls? While I check this and pour the water in, you could pray that this will solve the problem and that God would get us safely home,” I opened the door and stepped into the rain.


The tank was empty. Not even a drop of coolant. I looked back into the car planning to ask my daughter to find my phone so I could call and update my husband and talk about the next step. But I paused. Through the raindrops falling on the window, I saw her eyes closed and lips moving with her sister in the back seat.


They were praying. Just like I had asked them to.


After a trip into the restaurant to ask for a pitcher of water as opposed to the large cup that hadn’t made any progress, I was able to get the tank full enough to start the hour-plus journey home. We stopped a couple of times to check the fluid level, and I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge as I drove. We made it home with no other issues.


Reflecting on our little unexpected adventure, my pride crept in again, thinking about how I put my big girl pants on and got us out of the situation. And then I remembered glancing through the windshield at my teenage daughter leading her little sister in prayer. And I realized that was my proudest moment from the day.


I got the chance to show my girls not just how to solve a problem, but how to rely on God in the midst of it.


I don’t know if they’ll remember that moment someday when they’re stuck in a parking lot with steam pouring off the engine, trying to figure out what to do next. But I know I will always remember it.


I’ll be reminded that though it’s important to be able to navigate unexpected problems on my own, it’s even more important to invite God into those moments and allow Him to work through them.


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