Road Trip!

We went on a long drive this weekend. Maybe we were not supposed to. Perhaps we should have stayed home. But we stayed safe — and realistically there is nothing else to do, am I right? Better than being exposed to viruses in the grocery store, right? So, we went. I had some goals and things to see along the way, so I planned the route the day before. Google mapped my meandering “scenic” journey through countryside and small towns. Not that anything was open. It was about the journey. What about you? Do you love a good road trip? With four kids plus the two of us, budget often dictates we drive instead of fly. We have done our fair share of road trips. Our kids have travelled via minivan from day one. They are good travellers and we have all survived. Technology helps… but planning is better. I remember travelling to Disney and creating “car kits” for the kids with games and snacks. Now they are older, so technology it is… unless you are picking up the oldest who has been slightly isolated and needs to share. Or the youngest who never gets enough one on one attention and will talk your ear off if given the correct topic.

The hubby and I used to talk a lot on road trips — how we would never do what so-and-so does with their kids, as our future children will be angels. (*cough* wheeze …choking on our own words). Or, what our perfect house would look like if we had money to burn. We don’t chat much now on car rides… unless it’s me telling him to slow down, or to get gas before it is too late. Or making that sucking-in-air noise as you brace the sides of the door handle as he changes lanes. Like your feeble human arm will protect you from that 18 wheel semi truck who happens to be too close. Come on, I know I am not the only one who does this, am I right? Aged nerves are not as steely as they used to be. Maturity has a way of doing that to you.

Nonetheless, we road tripped a little this weekend. The sun shone, the van was gassed up, and time was on our side. We plugged in our phone and punched in the first “stop”. Anyone remember those fold out maps (à la paper) with highlighted routes and sharpie x’s here and there? Doesn’t happen anymore, does it? Phone apps and google maps rule now. Which had me musing… oh, how we trust in that little piece of technology. We believe it will get us there. On more than one occasion, I have told myself just to trust the GPS… it knows. Truthfully, it usually does.

As we travelled along this time, we, again, trusted in our app and turned down a somewhat questionable sideroad. It was paved, but narrow, and a little too country for my liking… and not where I had planned. I asked the hubby, and he assured me that the maps were giving us “the fastest” way. There was very little signage on the this backroad… but it eventually came back out to a main street and we continued along without incident. This little blind side trip had me thinking again… How many times do we want clear and visible signs?

We often want clear signs! (photo credit: Ryan McGuire)

If you are anything like me, you want signs to point you in the right direction. Some concrete indication that yes, this is it. This is God’s plan. This is what I should be doing — or that big sign that says “TURN HERE” you are going the wrong way! The map has the big sharpie X plainly highlighted with all the stops. I looked up “signs” in my Bible app… and “signs and wonders” often accompanied each other in the listed verses. Seems like humanity has always been looking for “signs”. The big miracles. Clear indications of supernatural influences. Many of the early Jesus followers were seeking just these magic shows, however, and not really interested in Jesus himself or His teachings. Still others were unconvinced… hardened hearted Pharaoh mocked Moses’ “signs”. His own magicians could conjure up snakes and smoke just as impressively.

Perhaps as you’ve been home, contemplating life with the rest of us, you are looking for signs too… should you go back to the same job? When is it “safe” to go out? Who should make the decision to reopen businesses? And when? I’m with ya. I want life all mapped out, too. Yet, our online Sunday service this week reminded us that sometimes we need to reassess, and perhaps a pave a new path on our spiritual journey. God sometimes asks us to go where the road is not clearly marked. Where the road is narrow and a little too “country backroad” for our liking. And for a brief moment we are scared that it is not the way.

Still, Who is in your driver’s seat? Who controls the GPS and the steering wheel of your life? Do we give up full control and say, yup, Jesus, go ahead and take the wheel? I’m just along for the ride. It’s hard. It’s scary. It may even be a little dangerous. It’ll take some faith and a whole lotta trust. But — it may just be worth your drive. Happy road-tripping, my friend, happy road-tripping.

Saying Goodbye

This week we said goodbye to my eldest son. We put him on a flight that was heading halfway around the world, to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He’ll be gone for about 6 months — learning, and growing, and serving others. He’s gonna love it! The hubby and I have been debating “goodbyes” for the last three weeks. How are you supposed to feel about goodbyes? Sad? Excited? Anxious? Perhaps we feel all of those emotions. It’s not a debate whether you miss the person or not, it’s simply feeling. And everybody feels differently. We cannot impose our feelings on others. This is oh so evident with grief… and final goodbyes. Each of us handle it our own way — and you cannot rush the process. But that’s a bigger topic for another day.

We’ve been anticipating this trip for some time… and have made preparations: vaccines, paperwork, fundraising, packing, planning, researching, and waiting. You arrive early to the airport (way too early, says the hubby), and despite double checking and repacking, you pray they ignore the two extra pounds of luggage and put you through. Then you have a momentary breakdown (and shear panic) as you check the carefully labelled red folder of “important” documents and discover the passport is missing. Only to discover it is on said son’s person. But said son has disappeared for the last 20 minutes in some obscure airport bathroom…. and you silently curse…. and a whole new set of emotions well up.

And then, alas, the time comes for hugs, selfies, pats on the back, final warnings to be careful as you, yes, blink a few tears back, and watch as your beloved spreads his wings. We call all of that “goodbye”.

According to history, our English goodbye was derived from “Godbwye” a crazy, late 1500’s text-worthy spelling version of “God be with ye” — quite appropriate if I do say so. That is all we really want to say, isn’t it? I put you in God’s hands, and trust that He knows best. It’s really the sum of our mixed emotions. God be with you, until you return.

I’ve mused a little this week about how Jesus’ disciples must have felt when He said his goodbyes. Confusion must have been in their mix of emotions. Why was he leaving this way? How did Mary feel about her final goodbyes at the cross? Was Thomas the one wishing for the red folder of important documents? What about the reverse? What was going through the mind of the all-knowing Saviour as He said “goodbye” to His earthly life to return to His Heavenly father? I am sure He had some mixed emotions leaving His mission to a bunch of confused fishermen and bewildered women!

But — perhaps the “God be with you” phrase was truly coined then, at that moment in history. Perhaps Jesus simply did what He had to do, and then said His goodbyes, knowing that the rest of the future human race will simply have to learn to embark on their journeys with God “bye” our side.

Until next week: “Goodbye” my gentle readers…”God be with you”

Lost Luggage

You will forgive me if you are a traveler and have have experienced this story a hundred times; but I am not, and so I share it from the perspective of a newbie, strained in the dilemma of being a “first timer” and all the fresh perspectives it brings.

I recently traveled from my home province to beautiful Nova Scotia for a short stay in wonderful “Wolfville Valley” as I participated in a conference at Acadia University. Although we are pretty experienced travelers, and I have no fear of flying, this was my first solo trip. The event took on a kind of snowball trajectory and I was not super prepared for it. The hubby booked the tickets for me without my consultations, we were unsure about the small details, and the return trip was still not nailed down until the day before I was to leave. This does not bode well for a slightly neurotic rule follower who likes to plan and have all her ducks in a row before undertaking any new task. These facts notwithstanding, I was looking forward to the conference and some alone time with my thoughts.

I strategically packed only carry on luggage to avoid extra costs, and despite his assurances that everything was fine, I made the hubby print out my boarding pass ahead of time. Old school. My emotions were high (see last weeks mid life crisis post) as I said my goodbyes and plodded on through the security lines. I watched as many scanned their electronic boarding passes via their smartphones with all the confidence of world class, techno savvy travelers. Perhaps I will survive my return flight without a solid piece of paper in hand.

The walk to our departure gate was seemingly endless and I struggled to juggle carry on suitcase, bag and old fashion paper work and itineraries, without losing anything on the moving sidewalks (anyone else have a fear of getting something sucked into the end of those things?!) After a marathon trek to the final boarding gate, I plunked down beside two young moms travelling alone with small children and blessed them both, silently, for taking on that challenge!

The staff eventually called that our flight was quite full and that if anyone would like to check your carry on luggage, they would be happy to pop it on the plane at no extra cost. I knew this might happen, and readily took advantage of the call. The moms also packed off their stroller and small child suitcases. I was sure to ask where exactly should we place them? “Just at the door of the plane — next to the stroller.” Okay. Done.

The short flight was uneventful and the slightly smaller airport made baggage collection easy to find. Colourful boxes and bags poured out and around the carousel, until the only ones left were those of us who had checked our bags at the gate! The young mom got her stroller…but no carry on sized luggage had arrived! Great. No big deal though… make a claim, lots of flights in from the big city today… should have your stuff by this evening… they will deliver to front desk, call when it arrives… okay, okay… I can do this. Happens all the time, I have a number to call, a printed receipt even…

The day goes by. No luggage. The evening goes by. No luggage. I call the toll free number. Not yet. I begin to slightly panic. I will have to sit through lectures with no deodorant! I will not have brushed my teeth. I will have to sleep naked! Oh, The horror!

Anxiety: Being consumed by the uncertainties of the Future. But God says: Let Tomorrow worry about itself!

Eventually my small suitcase arrived in a very reasonable time frame, all things considered. And despite my panic and fear of overwhelming body odor, no one seemed to bat an eye, or flinch a nostril. Life goes on. I survived.

As I sat on the flight home (with my carry on safely stowed above my head in the compartment above!) I marveled and mused about the whole idea of anxiety. Those who fear flying, those who struggle with phobias, those who are crippled by the very definition of the word anxiety: being consumed by the uncertainties of the future. I get it. I often feel it. I easily get overwhelmed with the unknowns, the what ifs, the lack of control.

Realistically, this is the big make up of our anxiety isn’t it? That lack of control. If we can’t fix it and be in charge, then who will? As a Jesus follower, I am squarely confronted with the fact that He is in control. God almighty is the only one who knows the future. Every other world view puts our destinies in our own hands. The end of Matthew 6 reminds us that the future will contain trouble, but it’s not my job to worry about it. Tomorrow will worry about itself. The lilies sleep naked all the time — and are all the more beautiful for it. I’m learning -slowly- to not fret at my lack of control. To try and move on and learn and grow. I even scanned my phone generated boarding pass on the way home! Small steps, my friends, small steps.