October 6, 2021

​Mountain Passes and God’s Graces

Grace comes in many forms, and this time it’s in the weather.

Kristi Rich

It was an unexpected text. Totally unexpected. The accountant who replaced me so I could be a stay-at-home mom had an accident and suffered a concussion. Could I come do payroll?

It seemed like a simple request, but I had moved 575 miles away. The interstate between here and there crossed four mountain passes. It was March, and Montana weather was unpredictable at best. I had a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old, but I had also become antsy the past few weeks and wished I could be using my knowledge and training again. While I loved being with my kids, working with numbers instead of a toddler’s emotional roller coaster seemed like a vacation.

I agreed, packed up my kids, and made the trip. The travel weather was beautiful, and for a week and a half my memory was tested and challenged as the administrative assistant and I worked through payroll and everything else that needed attending to.

Called Into Action—Again

But the administration asked if I would come back in April and May. I had been planning an April event in my hometown, even filling out the paperwork for reserving a public location. Oddly enough, the event had fallen through for other reasons a few weeks earlier. The date?  Payroll week.

For two months I worked on payroll, then squeezed in extra accounting items that needed to be done. To keep the kids happy in the car (i.e., asleep as much as possible), I would leave late in the afternoon and drive into the night, often arriving at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. We got up a few hours later to go to work, and my parents watched the kids while I dove into paperwork.

The days were long but busy and fast. Before I knew it, we were all packed and headed back home. The niche I needed filled had been accomplished, and I was happy once again not to be working that much daily.

What originally was supposed to be just three months of processing payroll turned into six months. Accounting events that I needed to attend were scheduled right before or during payroll, eliminating the need for extra trips. These events had been set up months before it was known that I would be the one who needed to be there. We switched payroll software and had training right before the week of payroll. The annual audit was scheduled over payroll week. Normally the worst possible week to schedule an audit, it became the best. Instead of visiting my husband’s family overseas, we postponed the trip for other reasons. It would surely have been over payroll week. It was as if Someone knew ahead of time the situation, the traveling, the kids, and planned it all meticulously.

The days were long but busy and fast. Before I knew it, we were all packed and headed back home. The niche I needed filled had been accomplished, and I was happy once again not to be working that much daily.

Summertime faded away, and my stance now was “Weather permitting, I will be here for payroll.” Snow and icy roads can start in September for the mountain passes. The administration assured me they were looking for a new accountant.

October. November. Each month I watched the weather. Each month I was given at least a day of optimal travel each way. Sunday would be sunny and warm. Tuesday or Wednesday it would snow, only to clear up Thursday and Friday in time for me to head back home. I moved my travel to daylight hours to achieve better road conditions. By now the administrative assistant and I had payroll down to a science and were slowly getting caught up on all the other accounting items. We had a system down, and while far from perfect, it was working.

Real winter still had not yet arrived in Montana. My husband came with the kids for December’s workweek. The weather hovered around “warm” (about freezing) without that much snow in the air or on the ground. Totally abnormal.

My husband had planned to help a friend move from Montana to the Seattle area. They left very early in the morning one day before my scheduled return home. They encountered icy roads and were stuck on the highway for more than six hours because of an accident and a closed road. They were a mere 15 miles from their intended first stop. I left midmorning the following day and faced only snowflakes and some slushy roads for an hour or so.

Word came at the end of December that the administration had finally hired a new accountant. She would be taking over on the first of January. Could I come and train her? Yes, weather permitting, the third week in January—when winter in Montana and travel over the mountain passes was brutal. But this year it wasn’t. Again, two windows of good weather opened.

It was the second week of March—time for my final trip. This time I would be helping the new accountant get ready for the annual audit. By now I was amazed at how God had directed the weather for my previous 10 jaunts to the office. I wasn’t worried. The snow would stop. It wouldn’t be so cold. Everything would be OK. And it was. Once again I had a beautiful sunny day for travel. The roads were clear and dry most of the way. By the end of the week it had warmed up to above freezing, and I traveled back in the sun as well, arriving home to melting snow and the start of spring.

There was overwhelming thankfulness to God on that last trip home. His plans and timing were never off. It wasn’t just God’s love for me that filled me with awe, but His love for Montana and its people. It wasn’t just me He was keeping safe; it was employee paychecks and financial records He was watching out for—the things many don’t see God in. But He was there all the time, orchestrating it all.

Kristi Rich is a stay-at-home (most of the time) mom living in the Pacific Northwest.