Lent, Day 12: The day I called 9-1-1 about my car.

Do you know one of those people who have stories and at the end of them, someone kind of laughs and says “that WOULD happen to you, of all people.“? I am one of those people. Here’s a new tale for you.

This week I will be in San Francisco with my favorite people in the world. I was going to leave Friday, but decided to stick around and see this…

and then yesterday had been invited to Roland’s 80th birthday party, and stayed for that. Which I’m so glad I did, but I’ll write about that later.

I was driving on I-5, listening to Legally Blonde the Musical and pretending like I could hit half of those notes when this big ugly light came on. My battery light. I gave it a few minutes before I called my dad.

Long story short, I was talking to my dad about what to do when the lights inside of my car started growing dim. I quickly pulled over to the side of the freeway and my car stopped. I’d like to pretend like my reaction was “oh weird,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t fess up to “WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I DO???” while crying on the phone.

You see, I didn’t really know where I was… just that I was a few hours away from Covina and that I hadn’t hit Bakersfield yet. and it was getting dark.

So you know what I did? I did what any reasonable, calm person would do. I called 9-1-1. The lady was really nice, didn’t think I was a weirdo at all. She put me in touch with highway patrol, who didn’t laugh at my attempt at humor when she asked the color of my car. but she did call a tow truck for me and told me she’d make sure officers knew I was there. Which was great, because yesterday morning Aleen and Hannah and I had a big discussion about what we would do if we were ever attacked. My response was: DNA. Collect it & leave it. So I kept thinking about that, preparing for the worst.

It was getting cold in my car and I was wearing a skirt and realized that I had pajamas in my suitcase which I’d decided to put in the backseat instead of the trunk. But when I went to reach for my suitcase, I realized that I had a pair of cozy pink sweat pants sitting on the passenger seat. I even had a pair of slippers!

The police officer came and I sent him away because I am kind of intimidated by police officers.. they like to give me tickets and pull me over and I’d just prefer he was not there.

I got in touch with Nancy in Bakersfield who said I could stay with them and that she’d pick me up wherever they dropped my car off.

My car got towed safely, last night I stayed up talking to Katie until my eyes couldn’t handle it, and this morning I woke up and got to play with Spencer.

Right now I am across the street from Pep Boys, in a McDonalds, enjoying free wifi and pretending to enjoy a latte and wondering why I didn’t notice the giant sign for oatmeal before I ordered.

The car will be ready soon, and I will be back en route to Camp Redwood Glen, a place I rarely drive to without collecting some weird story.

Last night I made a pretty big decision. I’ve had my Bible for almost ten years, and I’ve only highlighted one verse. 2 Corinthians 12:9. But I’m going to highlight those words Eli spoke when presented with consequences. “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” I prayed that last night a few times, telling God that whatever happened when that annoying light went off, be it a weird fluke or something major, that I would trust Him, that I would try to understand that what he chooses to allow to happen to me is not out of apathy or torture, but that he holds all understanding and truth and that I would submit myself to him.

That verse, in the past week and a half or so, has changed and shaped me more than anything I can remember in awhile. It’s redefining how I view God, how I look at the world, how I am responding to God. I wish I could squeeze you all inside of my heart and let you sit there and understand, but instead I will just hope you maybe get it.

My car was right. I’m about to go pay for my new battery and my new alternator and then I will properly get on the road to see a bunch of people I love, a bunch of people who will laugh at my misfortune with me and will be happy I made it there safely, and whose love and joy will overshadow this entire ordeal. Because that’s just how it works. Joy comes in the morning with 2 cinnamon rolls, 2-year-old Spencer, coffee, and adventure. Joy comes in the Lord doing what is good in his eyes and all of us trusting it.


Family Camp at Redwood Glen, Night 1.

I got up to leave at 2 am this morning. At 5:30, I stopped for a nap until 7. Got back on the road. Discovered that my cup wasn’t properly washed and had been unintentionally drinking very soapy iced tea for five hours. This made me very sick to the point where I couldn’t drive. So instead I went to the bathroom……….. anyway. That terrible few hours of my life, plus a few involuntary games of “Let’s Get Lost” set me very behind.

By the time Graham texted me to ask where I was, my handy dandy verizon navigator said I was about 200 miles away and I was in it to win it. No stopping, no singing, no thinking.. just driving. The urgency and reality of seeing the family just overwhelmed me. After 100 miles my phone died, and I thought to myself “the last thing I did this morning was reassure my mom that my phone would make it, and that I didn’t need a car charger.” Luckily, the GPS was just enhancing the mapquest directions I’d printed out.

As I began my ascent into hell (yes, I meant that) I started to get nervous and paranoid. I drove a steady 25 mph and pulled over an average of once every five minutes to let the people behind me pass. Just when I thought the roads couldn’t get curvier, they did. Or that I couldn’t see less in front of me.. it happened. Every time I about broke down and started to cry (ok, I was scared. I rarely admit that, but I was terrified) I’d see a street sign and be assured that all was well. And finally, there it was. A sign that said “Redwood Glen.”

I gleefully pulled in, found a parking spot, and jumped out to find everyone. Taking it all in, I stood in the middle of the parking lot and listened for voices I recognized, hoping to find them first. Except I didn’t recognize any. This was something I’d come prepared for. Not only have I never been to Redwood Glen, I don’t know many people from the Golden State division. So I walked up to someone and asked if they knew where the Coverts lived. They had no idea who I was talking about, so I said “what about the Birks?” figuring that it was probably silly of me to assume that in The Salvation Army, everybody knows everybody (don’t they??) I decided to try my luck with another group of people.

One of the ladies in the next group I hit up, Val, was very nice. She took me inside and introduced me to Bill… the camp director. As I assessed the situation, I began to freak out inside of me. They clarified that I WAS at Family Camp, and that I WAS at Redwood Glen. Not only that, but Bill pulled out the Family Camp Roster and couldn’t find “Birks.” It was at about this time that another group of people walked past, overheard what was going on, and asked if it was my first time at Redwood Glen. To which I replied “yes, I’m from the northwest division.” The man stared at me blankly and said “of what? …the military?” and I rolled my eyes a little bit.

It was only then that it occurred to me that I’d not seen anything Salvation Army; no shield, no crest, no flag, no uniforms, no Hallmark.. wait, I don’t even think Hallmark jokes are funny anymore! Turns out, I was not at The Salvation Army’s Redwood Glen but had somehow managed to find another Redwood Glen an hour away from it.

At first, I was all ready to keep driving. I did leave this morning all excited about sleeping alongside Birks, Coverts and Helms.. and was so desperate to see them that the hour drive through curvy roads in the dark seemed like nothing. The longer they debated over what directions to give me, the more I realized that I should probably just stay.

So that’s how I ended up here, at the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church Camp. These people are so gracious and kind. Being served is humbling. It is also encouraging. This is the body of Christ, right? We are all one Family, the children of one God. How appropriate then, to have stumbled upon this. It’s also encouraging in terms of my walk. God’s got me; I always know that, I always believe that. But every so often, he reassures me. Here I am.. hundreds of miles away from home, with no cell phone reception, no real sense of where I am except for “northern California” and all by myself.. and yet God provided safety – comfort, even – and friendly faces for me.

Though I am so grateful for the hospitality of this family at Redwood Glen…. …. I long so deeply for mine at the one 40 miles away. 800 miles sucks.. but 40 can sometimes be even worse. If I stand outside and scream loud enough for them, they might hear me.

Soldier On.

This past Saturday I went hiking with a group of my friends. I’d been informed that so long as I was used to being in flip flops, I’d be fine on this trail in them.

You know in movies (especially in chase scenes) where someone climbs to the top of a fence, swings both their legs over, and then fall on their feet?

Picture that and then remember it.

Two minutes into the trail, we came across a log about three feet off the air. The group split between those that went around in the bushes and those that crawled over the log. I chose neither, as I decided to do that awesome high-speed chase jump over this log. That jump itself was pretty epic, but it was the landing that did me in. I somehow landed like a ballerina. Quickly catching myself, I laughed it off.. until I stood still. I glanced down and noticed my entire foot was covered in blood. It looked a bit like this:

I quickly assessed the situation and decided that since my toe was cut open and my flip flop was very slippery, it would be best if I stayed behind. After convincing my friends I’d be alright, I watched them climb down the hill we were on and begin their journey.

My toe really began to hurt. So I did what anybody would. I started exploring, trying to find a way to the river water I could hear flowing. Every potential trail was dangerous and scary.

After 30 minutes of exploring, I found a small grassy clearing and sat there in the sun, reflecting on myself.

I thought back to a set of root canals I got a few months ago. Towards the end of my second root canal and the fitting of my crown, the anestesia began to wear off. I remember the excrutiating pain as I felt them set my crown in place and then use one of those metal tools to pull my gum back over the crown. I clenched my fists and curled my toes and dealt with it.

Though my toe was killing me, I dealt with it. I ended up building a bridge, finding a lizard, and then standing on that very same log, keeping watch for my friends.

I soldiered on.

At first glance, this response seems perfect. No complaining, no whining, just compliance. But the more I started recognizing areas in my life where I emotionally soldier on, I’ve begun to realize that my inability to create conflict or accept the past has left me in a continual state of woundedness. Instead of actively tending to my wounds, I continue to walk around with open sores and every so often deal with emotional infections.

So how do we resolve the past? How can I take this old wound, where the same person continually lets me down, and address it, tend to it, and allow it to heal? What does this look like in my life?

I’m not sure, exactly. But I am sure that as my toe is sore, so my heart and spirit is becoming emotionally and spiritually sore by carrying the burdens of unresolved wounds.

My toe is alright, by the way. I impressed everyone with my robot like skills and ripped out a splinter from my open wound without a second thought. Tonight I ripped off the dead skin and cleaned out the nasty tissue that’s been hanging around the wound. Sometimes it takes a little more pain to gain the liberation that comes when our injuries have healed.

The grossest part isnt/wasnt the wound itself but rather the mass amounts of blood I stood in.

The grossest part isn't/wasn't the wound itself but rather the mass amounts of blood I stood in.