Have you ever had a random moment in your day when a smell catches you off guard? And just for a second, it immediately transports you back to a very specific memory or moment in your life?

Well, I had one of those moments happen to me the other day.

My husband’s car was in the shop and so our mechanic let us borrow a loaner car until the work on ours was done. This was a very old, very beat up, VERY smelly car. Being the good wife that I am, I decided to let my husband use my car to commute to work and I begrudginly graciously took the loaner car.

I went to the gym and after a grueling 45 minute bike ride while watching the latest episode of “This Is Us” (yes, I multitask while I work out…please don’t judge) I walked back to my loaner car. When I opened the door, I noticed an open tube of used red lipstick sitting in the cup holder that was begging me to try it on. Alas, it also had dirt flakes on it that begged even louder for me to throw it away. As I sat down I was engulfed by a smell…a very familiar smell…a mix of old crayons and exhaust fumes.

It was…the smell of an old car.

Growing up, my family could not afford new cars so we bought older, slightly used ones that my dad could fix when they broke down. We went through at least 10 cars from when I was in kindergarten til I graduated. And they all had one thing in common…they smelled the same…like old crayons and exhaust fumes.

So you can imagine that the overwhelming smell in that loaner car immediately brought me back to countless car rides growing up. And out of nowhere, my eyes welled up with tears and these words quietly came out of my mouth…”Thank you Jesus”.

If I’m honest, my initial thought was “thank you Jesus that I don’t have to drive cars like this anymore”. That quickly changed to “thank you Jesus for the cars you’ve blessed me with that get me from point A to point B without breaking down”.

And then it happened…I started remembering.

I remembered the bed in the backseat my mom would make for me so I could keep sleeping whenever we picked up my dad from work in the middle of the night. I remembered our road trips from Seattle to Portland to visit my grandparents and the hundreds of times we played the slug bug and license plate game. I remembered early mornings praying that the car would turn on and get us to school on time. I remembered the multiple times ALL of our cars broke down and my dad would be outside in the pouring rain fixing it one more time even though he just got home from working a 4 day trip as a flight attendant.

My “thank you Jesus” kept evolving as I remembered all the good things that came from driving in those old, beat up, smelly cars. I learned what family looked like from those cars. I found my love for adventure and games in those cars. I learned how to pray and watched them get answered in those cars. I learned what hard work and sacrifice was from those cars.

And now, years later, I was learning about thankfulness from those cars.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to thankfulness, I am a lot like newer cars. I’m a Point A to at Point B person. I’m thankful at the beginning of something and I’m thankful when I’ve reached my destination. But somewhere during the trip, my thankfulness usually gets lost.

Lamentations 3:20-23 says “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Just reading that verse makes me thankful! There’s something about remembering what God has done in our lives, especially during hard situations that make being thankful a lot easier. I know that happened for me while I was sitting in that car smelling all the smells.

When I really thought about it, I saw how God has consistently turned soooo many hard seasons and situations in my life into good things. And the more I remembered what he’s done, the easier it was to be thankful. It also made me worry less about what will happen between Point A and Point B in some situations that are currently happening in my life. I began to feel hopeful again about how they’ll turn out.

I was reminded of something Joyce Meyer often says…“You may not be where you wanna be, but thank God you’re not where you used to be”. I think as we make the daily choice to remember how far God has brought us DURING whatever we’re in, we’ll be surprised at how quickly thankfulness comes and our hope is renewed.

So…let’s start together…right now…while we’re staring at our computers or sitting in our cars or working out at the gym…and pause. Go back to a memory or a moment and allow it to reignite thankfulness in the middle of the journey.



Amy Luna is originally from Seattle, WA but has lived in LA for over 10 years. She’s been a part of the Oasis Worship team for almost a decade and is an Associate Pastor at Oasis Church. Amy loves music, hiking, the rain and being married for the last 2 years to her amazing husband Nelson Luna.