So we left you sitting there at the beginning of December pondering obedience. (I didn't mean to leave you all sitting there in "time out" for so long! Sorry about that!)
Obedience with the right attitude. And obedience without delay. And the difference between unwilling compliance and a heart of joyfulobedience despite our own plans and desires or the temporary circumstances we see in our limited human understanding. Yes, it's been on my mind a lot the past month or so too! And my excitement for getting to Texas and getting settled has increased the more I've prayed for a willing heart to obey God's leading there. But it hasn't been easy. There's been a lot to be discouraged by, and a lot to rattle our willingness to "journey on". So let me begin where we left off...
Within a few hours after posting our last entry here, I began to feel quite ill. I was running a mild temp which kept steadily rising with each new day, and just didn't feel quite up to par (that's putting it very mildly). The movers were in our home that whole week packing and loading up our junque (much of the time with little care for what condition our items may likely be in at the other end of the move), and frankly, giving me lots of grief about it. Things I had set aside to take WITH US (like our camera and personal address book, etc), they packed up and refuse to locate and unpack again for me when I discovered they were missing. And things I wanted THEM to take on the moving truck got left behind (like an entire bathroom they missed). It was a week of sheer chaos!! I would have rather packed it all myself if I'd had a choice in the matter. But we really needed the help. We were out of time and I was in constant excruciating pain and could barely stand on my own feet for more than a few minutes at a time despite my usual higher pain tolerance levels. But only my family knew that I was in such extreme pain. I had to carry on. I had no choice. The work had to get done by a specific time, come hell or high water. By the time the movers pulled out of our driveway, I was wrung out emotionally and physically, and I dropped to my knees on the floor alone in my kitchen and bawled my eyes out while everyone was elsewhere in the house. Shortly thereafter, one of our small group leaders from church walked in and gathered those who, unbeknownst to me, had "bottle-necked" in the doorway to watch, and they prayed over me. The weepiness didn't stop, but the emotional weight on my shoulders at that moment lightened up and I was given a supernatural endurance to push through to the end of the project a week later, despite my rising temperature and decreasing ability to function physically. For an entire week after the movers were gone, we were working until the wee hours of the night, catching brief cat naps on the floor when we could go on no longer, and surviving on as much coffee as we could consume! When we finally reached the point of completion about 8am on December 14th, I climbed into a bed at my mom's house, shivering and weak. My body said "Enough is enough!!" and it shut down on me. Although I didn't realize it at the time, she later told me I'd slept for the next 20 hours straight! The following day, she took me to a chiropractor to find out why my back and feet had been in such excruciating pain, knowing I was not fit to make the trip south a few days later without some kind of medical attention first. The doc said that my back was "all jacked up back there". After a lengthy chiropractic treatment, and switching from my old worn out tennis shoes into a brand new pair of professional running sneakers a friend gave me (Thanks Traci!), I was feeling somewhat better and a bit more confident that I could make the trip, if we allowed for frequent stops to stretch and move around. Although the pain in my back and feet had been significantly reduced, I was still running a temp, and feeling very ill when Rick arrived in our home town late in the evening on the 16th. So much for making him the center of my attention after 13 VERY LONG weeks apart!
On December 17th, we ran all those necessary last minute errands, loaded up the remainder of our belongings into our van and a rented "haul-it-yourself" trailer, then celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. Knowing how grieved I was with the realization that we would not be able to take any pictures on our trip, my side of the family surprised us with a new camera and two new memory cards with lots of space!! I bawled my eyes out again!! It was a blessing I was not expecting at all! (We've taken over a thousand high resolution pictures since then, and have yet to fill up the first memory card!!)
On Sunday, the 18th, we said goodbye to loved ones, prayed for continued manifestation of healing in my body, and a peaceful, safe journey. And we hit the open road.
Little did we know what lie ahead of us! I can't honestly say that I would've been able to obey willingly or joyfully if I had known. At the very least, I would have struggled. At times I still have to remind myself that obedience with a bad attitude is still disobedience. The last five weeks have not been so easy.
The day we left the Pacific Northwest, somewhere around midnight, in the middle of nowhere Montana, I turned the driver's seat back over to Rick so I could get some sleep after a lengthy stretch of white-knuckle driving (it was my first time ever pulling a trailer and I was, quite frankly, scared out of my mind to attempt it!). The roads and weather were wonderfully clear when I fell asleep, but I was awakened a short time later to the motion of our van and trailer fishtailing several times from one side of the road to the other as Rick tried to regain control after unexpectedly hitting a patch of black ice. He just about had everything brought back under control again when our trailer suddenly jack-knifed, spinning our van so we were then facing the traffic originally behind us, and we began sliding backwards down the highway toward the center median. Our children were awakened, dazed and disoriented, to the sounds of their father speaking a language quite foreign to them; a language which reportedly many truckers, sailors, and construction crews are fluent in. ;-) (My apologies for the stereotyping to the innocent employed in those industries!) Having been in a roll-over accident as a child, I instinctively knew that we were most likely doomed to take a frightening rollercoaster ride in the median, and all I could do was THINK the word "Jesus" repeatedly in my mind. In my sleepiness, I couldn't even get it out of my mouth! (Thank goodness God's thoughts are higher than ours, but He still understands and honors our silent prayers anyway!) Our trailer pulled our van backwards down into the median, and back up the other side before gravity (and God) intervened, and the tail end of the trailer began to slide sideways back down toward the lowest point of the median. After coming to a rest, we checked to make sure our children were safe and okay before Rick got out to check on the condition of our van and trailer. The chiropractic adjustment done on my back a few days prior was undone in the accident. But otherwise, we were all fine. And our animals hardly noticed anything was wrong. Our big lovable dog looked up from her napping spot on the van floor, looking at us as if to say, "What's all the commotion for?", and promptly laid her head back down on her paws and returned to her blissful rest. When Rick returned to the driver's seat, he informed me that a tire on the trailer was bent sideways & we could not proceed with the trip until it was repaired, but we also knew we could not just sit there in the middle of nowhere waiting for the sun to rise, hoping to be rescued. So Rick hit the gas pedal and hobble-hot-rodded us out of median before we became a sitting target for other vehicles that might become another victim of the invisible ice. We got ourselves safely to the other side of the road, heading east again, and called the rental company's customer service department. We were told to get ourselves to the next town and they'd send someone out to look at it in the morning. So we crawled along at a snail's pace on the side of the highway for the next who-knows-how-many-miles until we reached the lights of civilization again. Thankfully there was a motel night manager there who had sympathy on our plight and allowed us to sneak our dog and three cats into our room so they wouldn't freeze in the van overnight. By the time our heads hit the pillows, it was nearing 4am. The trailer company guy was due to arrive shortly after sunrise. It was the soundest short night of sleep we'd had in awhile! When we awakened to the new day, and had the chance to see the damage to our van in daylight, we realized just how protected we were from what could have been. At some point in the accident, the front corner of our trailer had swung around far enough to put a large vertical dent in the side of our van EXACTLY where one of our daughters had been sleeping with her head nestled in a pillow against the window. Had the trailer hit with any more force than it did, it would have shattered the window she was sleeping against. She never even felt the impact there. If angels get bruises, they sure got some that night from working overtime to protect us during our accident!! Throughout the remainder of our trip, we saw more deserted remains of roll-over accidents than we cared to count, as well as several accidents with emergency service providers still on the scene. Without a doubt, God was certainly answering prayers for protection on our behalf that night.
****************I will post this much for now, and continue to update in additional posts. There is so much to share about how God has been working behind the scenes! Stay tuned for more after this commercial break...