Kitty Litter Confetti : The Prodigal's Son
Sam Evans
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Kitty Litter Confetti

by Samantha Evans on 07/10/20

In order to comprehend the extent of my downfall, I must first describe to you the Rockstar Mom heights to which I’d ascended. 

My husband Clint battled cancer for 20 months. Near the unexpected timing of his end, a church in Rochester, MN hired me as a ministry coordinator.

My mind could not fathom straying from my formulaic path. Get job. Buy house. Move to new town. Experts suggest not making huge, life altering decisions in the throes of grief…so I made all of them. 

Since I’ll be working full-time, I won’t be able to take vacations with my girls. We should take one now. 

 Five days following my husband’s memorial service, I embarked on a two-week road trip with three girls, ages eight, seven and four, two tents, two cats, three bikes and the rest of our gear. 

Kits, cats, sacks and wives. How many were going to St. Ives? 

But, why the cats, you ask?

Because people bent over backwards for our family when life became impossible. I was worn out from asking for favors. 

Also, amped up on adrenaline and numbed by an overdose of emotional Novocain, I’d not yet felt the impact of my husband’s death, but I felt separation anxiety seeping in. So, no cat left behind.

Thus we began our roadtrip and my steady climb toward Rockstar Momdom. The status rivals sainthood, really.  

First, we stalked the new home in Rochester, MN. Then on to the World’s Largest Truckstop in Iowa. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Evansville, Indiana—a must for the Evanses. 

The Louisville Slugger Museum offered a free sex education literally embodied in a golden, thirty-foot David statue. Kelly sat at a bus stop, staring at David, attempting to comprehend the meaning of life. And convenient really, that my husband decided to bail for the inevitable conversation that followed. 

We snapped selfies at Asbury Theological Seminary, where Clint received his Master of Divinity, camped in Huntington, WV,  and took a really long shortcut in Colonial Williamsburg, in 98-degree weather. 

Then we arrived at a KOA on Chincoteague Island — origination of Misty of Chincoteague — one week prior to the Pony Swim. 

I even purchased the book on CD so we could listen to the fictional story of the Assateague Island ponies while driving to see the Assateague Island ponies. 

Ching Ching Cha-Ching. 

Angels sang The Halleluiah Chorus as light shone down upon me from heaven, and cherubs donned me with my glimmering, red cape for…

I am Mom. 

My heroic daughters presented me with their best efforts to “help” set up the campsite. In the end, they chased each other like lunatics while I finished raising our tents. By the time I’d organized our gear, sweat soaked through my clothes and strands of my hair were vacuum-sealed to my forehead. 

Despite my grime-coated skin, I felt satisfaction of a job well-done.

I am Woman. 

I showered faster than a speeding bullet and even with the humidity I felt cool and clean sitting at the picnic table with my road atlas, charting the next steps of our course. My oldest read a book on a nearby chair and the younger two giggled hysterically within the van. 

Maybe single parenting won’t be so bad. These girls are amazing humans. 

And the clouds parted and flower petals flutterd down upon me and birds gathered to sing a beautiful melody. 

I nearly forgot our family’s Great Sadness.

I am going to reward myself for this feat by taking us out to pizza tonight. My phone was charging in the van. I unfolded from the picnic table and sauntered over to the car. 

Grinning, I opened the minivan door.

Kelly and Trinity’s giggles died immediately.

My grin vanished.

I didn’t know I was possessed by Satan, but I heard his voice burst from my mouth and I used words I swore I would never speak in front of my children, much less, at them. 

Patter had emerged from his litter box covered in kitty litter. My girls, thinking the sight hilarious, concurred  in a simple equation: more kitty litter equals more hilarity. 

Their angelic laughter had been spurred on by throwing dirty…dirty litter…atop both the cats like celebration confetti. As Pitter and Patter dodged the fanfare by shimmying into all corners of the car, my entire van was covered with cat urine and feces akin to a second carpet.

Urine-soaked sand in my icy drink, my purse, atop clothes, pillows, the snack bag and in an open — why was there an open— jar of peanut butter?

The carseats, console, dashboard and air vents … everything. 

I screamed at them. I shamed them. I shouted until my throat was raw. I cannot remember ever feeling more sorry for myself than I did in that moment. 

My shrieking morphed into tears of frustration followed by sobs of guilt. Eventually the three of us fell into a heap of blubbering, emotional females. 

As I cradled my wailing children, tears streaked down my face and splashed into their hair. Clint was so much more patient with them. I am going to destroy my children’s pure and happy hearts. I am failing as a single parent. 

Eventually, I regained my inner adult. I apologized to a neighboring family for my behavior — and to my own children. I drove to a gas station and instructed Kelly and Trinity to clean out the car.

 Ninety minutes later, we parked a newly vacuumed van in the parking lot of the pizza place.

The roadtrip survived my exorcism.  

In D.C. after slipping in mud at the Korean War Memorial, Trinity wore Kaylynn’s oversized sweatshirt (and no pants to speak of) at the WWII Memorial. 

We visited Clint’s brother in Brooklyn and my cousin on the Cape. 

A lighthouse in Kittery, Maine. Robert Frost’s grave in Vermont, Niagara Falls, the Christmas Story House in Cleveland ... where I added a 4-ft. leg lamp to our already-packed car. 

My girls and I collected magnets from 17 states in 16 days. 

One year and three detailings later, I still find kitty litter in my van, and cringe at the memory. But here’s the thing: When I ask my girls what they remember most about the roadtrip, they say, “Visiting family, “Chocolate World,” “New York City.” Each time they speak of our adventure, their answers vary and their faces light up with the vibrancy of one of our memories.

 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 When I consider this verse in light of the Kitty Litter Confetti, I see God’s love for me reflected in my own children. “We forgive you, Mom.”

“We love you.”

In their innocent minds, the matter is finished. Forgiven means forgotten. Washed away. 

Sounds a lot like the gospel, doesn’t it?

 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

 There are many layers to Jesus’ directive to the disciples regarding children. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), and I am inclined to believe a child’s precious innocence and inherent ability to forgive is one of the facets Jesus referred to. 

 We can all recite chapter and verse of our Great Parent Fail. But God shakes His head at us and says, “Nope. My mercies are new every morning.”

 You are loved fiercely, sweet mother, by your children, and even more so by your Heavenly Father. They have already forgiven you. It’s time to forgive yourself. 

Comments (1)

1. Paul Marzahn said on 7/10/20 - 01:47PM
Awesome writing once again Sam! Looking forward to you preaching and sharing at CROSSROADS.

Leave a comment

Front: Clint Evans (husband), Sam Evans (that's me!)
Back: Friends Eric Sprinkle (co-author) and Scoti Domeij (publisher)

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I'm an author. Yet, every word I have ever typed has been typed with one hand. Due to mild cerebral palsy, my right hand isn't much more than a prop to help me look normal. In "The Gift of Suffering" I share my story, and challenge others to follow my example in being vulnerable in the midst of brokenness.  
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-Excerpt from Adventure Devos

The greetings at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference closely resembled a college freshman orientation. During one of these introductions, I pointed to the name tag on my collarbone. "Hi. I’m Sam.” 

The man pinched the fleece at his collarbone and, finding it nametag-less, said, “Hi. I’m North Face. Nice to meet you.” And that, friends, is the moment that Eric Sprinkle and Sam Evans became friends--and near-future co-authors.

The day prior, I awkwardly trudged through the MSP airport wearing Minnesota winter boots (vastly different from winter boots) while 80 degrees outside, but redemption came when 42 inches of snow fell in Estes, in 36 hours. The snow didn’t bother me. It was gorgeous and I’m from Minnesota, “where people help people get stuck cars out of the snow for fun,” adventurer extraordinaire Eric Sprinkle noted. I shrugged. With great boots comes great responsibility. 

I was curious about home, but had poor cell reception. “I tried to call, honey—honest.” Besides, my soul craved quiet  and quickly shoved curiosity into a snowbank.  Roads closed, trapping some people in while keeping others out. The sheer amount of snow forced the clock’s rotation to slow down. 

I hiked out the next morning before the sun rose on the white forest. In that stillness, I felt God sifting me. Ugly corners of my heart required attention and I was God’s captive audience. 

When was the last time you stepped off the page of your Choose-Your-Own-Adventure life and granted God an opportunity to speak to your heart? Adventure Devos is about taking a breath to locate God in your adventure. Because, if you learn to find him in the stillness, it will be much easier to match his pace within the chaos. 

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"In His Shoes" is the first entry of a series that chronicles the life of Pastor Clint Evans, the prodigal pastor and the Prodigal's Son. He lived hard and loved hard and died of cancer in June of 2019. In this realm of navigating grief and loss, once again my heart syncs with my pen.