featured image

Sitting in traffic, Lisa Simmons received an unexpected answer to an unspoken prayer.

I was sitting at a stop light on my way home for lunch a couple of weeks ago, pondering how I was going to keep my sanity and calm in traffic. It was the midst of the Christmas shopping season and of course everybody was in a rush. How was I going to keep good my promise in confession made two days prior to not getting upset and angry while driving? I was wishing I could come up with some idea to remind myself while sitting in my car to just be calm when the rest of the world was going nuts.

I glanced up at the billboard on the side of the road. It was a new digital signboard that shows you an ad every twelve seconds. Yes, I had timed it! Just as my light turned green and I waited to make sure everyone was stopping across from me at the red light, I glanced up at the sign again and the next ad had popped up and in the upper right hand corner were the words: Pause and Pray.

My light was green so I had to make my turn, but I was thunderstruck. I drove home trying to figure out what the ad had been for but it had passed so quickly I hadn't seen it. I didn't see anything of the rest of the ad on the board except for those words. But those words hit me: Pause and Pray.

That's what I need to do to help me stay calm. Just pause and say a short prayer. That short little phrase just stuck with me all the way home and even when I went back to work that afternoon I began working on a little hang-tag for my rearview mirror to help me remember to Pause and Pray.

The next day I got excited about making some for my family and one thing led to another and I was buying some card stock and experimenting with hole punches to create my own hangtags for cars. I gave one to my husband and my daughter worrying they might think I was getting a little prayer pushy. But it turned out my husband had been looking for a way to also be more patient and calm and he told me this hangtag was the perfect thing. So I told him my story about seeing it on the billboard.


Click to tweet:
Receiving a sign from God is different from asking for one. #catholicmom

I try not to ask God for signs for things, mostly because Jesus told us not to in Luke 11:29 ("This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah," which refers to Jesus' death and resurrection three days later). So when I saw this billboard I didn't really think of it as a 'sign' from God. I had been asking Him how to help me be more patient and calm especially while in my car. So it was ironic then when my husband pointed out, "I think you received a sign to promote this!"

And he reminded me that receiving a sign from God was different from asking for one. I had been praying for help and those two short words popped up.


pause and pray sign hanging from car mirror


So I've begun a one-woman campaign in this new year to help other people find peace and calm in the midst of busy lives. I won't be shouting from rooftops or anything, but finding ways to calmly insert some peace and prayer into our daily lives.

Think about it: if we would just remember to every once in a while during our day stop, take a breath, thank God for that breath, and ask for His help to stay calm, maybe we could help influence the rest of society into stopping before typing an angry social media post or email or getting angry in traffic or in our homes. Maybe, just maybe it can begin with a sign hanging from our mirrors, our refrigerators, bags, and backpacks. It's not pushy evangelization but just a calm reminder to take a breath and let God take care of us.

So I'm back to buying card stock and some magnets to print on. It's going to be a hopeful New Year!

Copyright 2022 Lisa Simmons
Images: (top) Canva Pro; sign copyright 2021 Lisa Simmons, all rights reserved.