Waiting on Orders

 Worth the Wait and Just in Time. July, 2011

At Exactly the Right Time

In January, when my daughter called to tell me that her husband’s new orders were for the U.S.S. Columbus, a fast-attack submarine based in Hawaii, I chatted with her about the wonderful adventure lying before them.

Then I hung up the phone and cried, overwhelmed by the big blue ocean that would separate us once they moved.

Then I hopped online and ordered a t-shirt for grandson Cadence and a matching onesie and bib for baby brother Sawyer at etsy.com.  Two days later, the young mom in Mississippi who would craft the clothes for the boys sent me a picture of the art she’d embroider. I approved it.

Thirty minutes later Elaine called to tell me that Rob hadn’t pulled orders for the Columbus after all. I fired off a message to Melissa, my Etsy crafter, asking her to wait on the project. Melissa responded that she hadn’t started embroidering yet and offered me a refund.

“Let’s just wait,” I responded. “His orders will come through soon enough.”

“Soon enough” ended up being April 25. I sent off another note:

Hi Melissa,
Rob finally has his orders in hand. He is to be stationed aboard the USS Charlotte (SSN-766), so that’s what I’d like on the onesie and T shirt.

Sawyer is 5 months and weighs 18.5 pounds! I am guessing a 12 month onesie so he can fit?
Cadence is 4 and a half. Is a 5T available?

Thanks! Hope you had a great Easter!


On June 30, a package arrived containing the items I’d ordered back in January.

During the delay, something amazing happened. Melissa and I became real people to each other.

When I first placed the order in January, she told me that she would start it in two days, because the next day her best friend would be induced to labor and deliver her first child. We had a little exchange about the joy of babies, and exchanged photos of our own families.

I learned that Melissa had lived in New Orleans until Katrina obliterated her neighborhood. I learned her daughter’s dance team marches in Mardi Gras parades.

Then, beginning in May, after I’d sent the updated submarine name, Melissa got pneumonia. Her 90-year-old grandmother was hospitalized, twice. Her mother underwent gall bladder surgery. The best friend, who’d welcomed her first son in January, lost her 55-year-old dad to cancer in June. Melissa’s embroidery machine malfunctioned.

And our messages on Etsy flew back and forth. “I’m so sorry for the delay. I’ll refund your money.”
“No, I can wait.”

“Grandma is forgetting to eat. I keep calling her to remind her.”
“I’m praying for you.”
“I thank God for our friendship.”

The items arrived on Thursday, June 30. Melissa included a note: “These will look great on the Fourth of July!” I wouldn’t see the boys before then, but I consoled myself  that they’d look good anytime.

A few minutes after I opened the package, a coworker came into my office, heavy-hearted and burdened under a personal crisis. We spoke for a few minutes and I suggested she go home. As she gathered herself up to leave my office, I remembered the package. “Wait,” I said, “I want to show you something.”

“Is it something that will make me happy?”

“Yup.” I pulled out the shirt, onesie, and bib, and watched my hurting friend smile for the first time in what seemed like a long, long time.

That evening my daughter texted, “Mom, did you get my message about Cadence’s preschool graduation tomorrow?”


After a brief flurry of messages, I’d arranged to leave the office a few hours early so I could attend my grandson’s “graduation” in San Diego.

Thanks to the delay, in Rob’s orders from the Navy and my order from Mississippi, I had a sweet little gift to take to the proud new kindergartener.

And I had an opportunity to lighten, if only for a moment, my coworker’s burden.

And I have a new friend, a young woman named Melissa, who is rebuilding her life in Mississippi.

I’m always amazed at the good our God can wring out of life’s delays.

Cadence and His Lala. July 1, 2011.

9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.
Psalm 52:9 (NASB)


  1. I love your stories and so happy God’s timing is perfect. New friend, encourage co-worker, and attend “graduation.” Deliver gift in person! Amazing how our steps are ordered of the Lord!

  2. Isn’t it amazing?! Things go SO much better when I remember that He’s in charge 🙂

  3. A great story about waiting. I get so impatient with ‘delays’, but within those delays often lie perfect timing.

  4. Waiting is probably my weakest suit, David.

    I’m learning…trying to learn….

  5. Oh, Sheila, you are so full of grace. How many would grow angry, demand their money back? Instead, you pray and offer friendship. What a beautiful story.

  6. It’s His grace, Laura. Look at the blessings that multiplied from this series of “complications.” 🙂