We set out Saturday morning for National Collegiate Week in Glorieta, New Mexico. Chris drove the BCM van with college students and I drove our KIA with the kids. Since we had to stop for a few more bathroom breaks, Chris and the big van were about 30 minutes ahead of me by dinner-time. The KIA decided to stop on its own before I arrived to meet the rest of the crew. I tried to get to the nearest exit ramp, but fell a little short and landed slightly off the interstate between two metal poles. It just so happened that it was the first time in a year this part of Oklahoma had rain, and there I was in an inoperable vehicle in the middle of a lightning storm. We rolled down the windows to get some fresh air (temperature over 100 degrees) but were overwhelmed by the smell of smoke. I checked 911 to see if I was in a safe location—fortunately I was 15 miles away from the open field that was struck by lightning and caught on fire. The kids and I sat in the car, praying for our safety as cars whizzed by. Fortunately the 15 fire trucks and police cars on their way to the grass fire provided minutes of entertainment for my children, as did sitting in the back-seat of a tow truck while we watched the driver put our KIA on.
We got to a gas station/auto repair place that fixed the KIA’s battery on the spot. That station was only a half-a-mile from where Chris and the students were eating, and was open at 8 pm on a Saturday night. What can I say? It just seems that I am constantly provided for. I have more than once been helpless, unable to fix my situation, and been taken care of by strangers. The tow-truck man even hung around and gave the kids some t-shirts. We’ll always remember Hank.
The big white van and the KIA went on their merry way, scheduled to arrive in Amarillo, TX by 11:30 p.m. Soon though, the air went out in the van. 10 minutes before our hotel destination, the van broke down. So the 5-passenger- KIA shuttled the kids and students to the hotel in shifts. By the time Chris, Kaci (age 4) and I got to bed, it was 2 a.m. You’d think a kid would be snoozing away at this time of night, but Kaci was too busy playing with college students in parking lot at 1 a.m. From what I hear, she had teenagers acting like baboons and elephants in her “play”. Too bad I missed it. Kaci’s world was just fine until she fell from her bed at 7 am while I was in the shower. She’s okay, but cut her ear and half of it is blue and bruised.
Chris discovered the next morning that the air compressor in the van went out and blew a fuse in the starter. A local shop replaced the fuse at 10 am on Sunday morning, and again, we traveled across I-40 to Glorieta. We arrived at camp (sweaty and nasty of course, since the van passengers had no A/C) only an hour later than we planned on. I consider that amazing.
We had other unexpected setbacks: the rooms weren’t ready upon arrival, we didn’t get to make a Sam’s run for food when we planned, etc. Chris made some phone calls and the van is currently in the shop so we can travel home with some good A/C. I haven’t gotten to spend as much time with the students as I had hoped. That’s hard to do when you see so many mechanics, and try to figure out how to feed 34 people from a kitchen that was built to serve 4 and you are a scatter-brained cook who doesn’t remember to turn burners off or get things out of the oven on time.However, we have experienced God’s grace and abundance of good food much like the participants in the feeding of the 5,000. I found a break while the lasagna baked & managed some rec time.
I’m happy to report that I can still keep up with students & catch a football. Of course, raising my son has almost ensured that I catch things coming at me in high speeds to prevent injury.
To be fair, I should also report that I fell on my hiney and went to bed early because my back thought I should not be playing football.
The family is doing well and the kids are uncommonly chipper as we navigate sleeping arrangements for 5 people in a 4-person room. I’ve discovered that an 8-year old’s toes fit nicely in my arm-pit at 3 a.m., everyone in our family talks in his/her sleep, the top bunk makes awful noises when my son rolls around (think fingernails and chalkboards), we all like to hog the covers, and the temperature here drastically changes making us sweat as we fall asleep, and chilled as we wake up multiple times in the a.m. hours.
I never thought of myself as a drama queen, but it seems lately that I only speak of dramatic things. It would worry me, if I didn’t know about a passionate apostle who experienced more drama than any of us could boast of. As I read about Paul’s suffering in 1 Corinthians 11:23-33, I can’t relate to the beatings, lashes or stoning. I once thought being shipwrecked (vs. 25) was unfathomable, but it is the year 2011. Most of us don’t drive ships, we drive cars. I have understood far too well the dangerous reality of driving. I have been in some frightening situations, and yet the hand of God protected me. I can also relate to his sleepless nights spent for the sake of the kingdom, as well as feeling cold and exposed (vs. 27). I can relate to the anxiety Paul feels for the churches (28). The more young people I meet the more I see the need for real discipleship. The anxiety about the task at hand can be overwhelming.
But Paul, who has suffered and had more mishaps than anyone I know, teaches us how to think through these things. He recounts the past but doesn’t stay stuck in it. He doesn’t sugar-coat his situations; he boasts about the things that show his weakness. He boasts about how God protects and provides in situations where he could have been killed. He doesn’t put his faith in material things, but in the grace God gives to sustain him. He talks around in circles like a mad-man because he knows he has experienced God-sized things, but doesn’t want people to think more highly of him than they ought. Paul has first-hand knowledge that God shows up when strength fades away.
Paul talks about his weaknesses, like the night he met a really nice New Mexico state policeman who could have ticketed him for going 56 in a 45, but said “Slow down. We’re done. Have a nice day.”
Okay….maybe that was tonight when the idiot mom got mad at the slow Indian life and tried to hurry back to 3 kids after grocery shopping.
It’s better to end with 1 Cor 12:9-10. “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”