The lack of blogging last week was due to a whirlwind trip I took with my three boys. It was spring break, and unfortunately Hubby’s travel schedule had placed him in Japan over our break. I had already decided to forgo the spring trip to Florida (I was trying to be practical, but boy did I regret this initially…), but I felt we needed a change of scenery and some kind of adventure together. So when I figured out that my friends in Rochester, NY were only about 6.5 hours away, I concocted a crazy plan to go see them. By myself. With the kids.
The route to Rochester was shortened by two hours if we were willing to drive through Canada. That’s right people, I live so far north that Canada is a stone’s throw away, and passing through it actually makes some trips shorter. Insanity. I decided that a two hour savings was totally worth it, and I got to work on making sure I had necessary paperwork in order. My passport, their birth certificates, a permission slip from daddy, and a partridge in a pear tree. You know, the usual. I signed up for AAA so that I could be towed or helped if needed, and I contacted all necessary insurance and credit card companies. I printed out a Google maps travel route, just in case, and organized everything neatly in a special folder. I packed enough food for a small army, a bin of movies for our portable DVD player, and the basic other necessities. Monday morning, we were on our way!
The kids were excited for the adventure and we even made it about two hours without any movies. Of course, baby started yelling something about going HOME about an hour in, but I tossed some food his way and trekked on. It started drizzling rain right away and didn’t really stop, but we were doing fine.
We made it to the Canadian border and I was more than a bit nervous, having never done this sort of thing before. It’s one thing to get on a plane by yourself with a passport. It’s another thing entirely to have three little people to bring along, in the car, through a border crossing. I was pleasantly surprised how straightforward it all was. The border agents on both sides were the perfect combination of thorough, pleasant, and efficient. They asked, we answered, they checked our paperwork, and then suddenly I was driving into Canada! It was more than a little exhilarating, and I may have been giggling a lot. I was just proud of doing that. The only adult in the car. I felt brave.
As we drove into Canada, it was still raining, and the little one started getting very antsy. I tried to distract him a bit further by pointing out what I saw along the way. “Look at the rain, little man!” and then, “Huh! Look at that rain! It’s sort of clumping up!” and then, color draining from my face, “huh… That rain is looking a bit like…” Yep, snow.
I really don’t know how I neglected to check the Canadian weather in all of my meticulous preparations for the trip. I checked the weather at home. I checked the weather in Rochester. It was the end of March. Nothing seemed to me like it could possibly indicate SNOW. The thought never even occurred to me, because southerner.
But there I was, in Canada, driving myself and my three young children, and it was beginning to snow in earnest. Sideways blowing snow, covering the trees and streets and street signs– blinding type of snow. Turn-flashers-on-and-drive-like-grandma type of snow. I began to freak out a little bit, internally, and I started reciting Psalm 23 under my breath, repeatedly. I mean, I probably left out some words and mixed the NIV with the old school Thous and such, but the gist of it was there. (That’s often the Psalm I go back to when I’m scared. I remember once a youth group mentor reciting it with me on one of my first roller coasters.)
I was clutching the steering wheel so tightly that my hands were getting sore. My whole body was getting sore, actually. And my mind was alternating between “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and wondering what in the world my options were. I decided that getting away from the lake a little and then stopping would be good. We could get gas, turn on a movie for the boys, take a look at the phone for some ideas, and make a plan. The only problem was that the street signs were so covered in snow that for a while I could not find a sign for a gas station. So I kept white-knuckle driving until I found one.
Finally, I found a gas station (full service stations still exist in rural Canada!) and got my act together a little. I put on a movie, used a nice bathroom (highly necessary), and asked the helpful man if he thought I would die if we drove on east (me? exaggerate? surely not). That poor man didn’t know how to handle this dramatic American, but he was very kind, offering suggestions on safe driving but assuring me that he couldn’t really make that decision for me. With my only other option being finding a random hotel and being stuck in the middle of NOWHERE in Canada (it is very sparse between Michigan and London), I just decided to trudge on. It kept snowing. I kept Psalm 23ing and clutching. And mercifully, somewhere around London, the snow turned back into a more manageable frozen mix.
The rest of the trip went relatively smoothly, even with constant light rain. Before we knew it, we had crossed back into the good ole USA, covered in chocolate and every snack imaginable, landing safely at our friends’ lovely home.
During our visit we enjoyed special adventures for my boys, time with their spunky and loving rescue pup, and walks and hikes on the loveliest spring days. Uncle Steve, a title which we decided he quite earned this week, took on the role of substitute daddy complete with soccer duties, made up card games, a special building project, and evening wrestle time before I tucked the exhausted boys into bed. Aunt Ashley took us on picnics, fed us delicious foods, introduced us to an amazing museum, listened patiently to endless questions, and helped us explore the area. And they made us donuts, people. Their home was so cozy and so restorative, it was like a breath of air for my soul. Their company and the way that they exude calmness and grace was equally as comforting. Each night we would put the kids to bed and then cook up some kind of amazing adults-only type of dinner, from risotto to shrimp and grits etouffee, complete with wine and real conversations. I can’t tell you how absolutely worth it our trip was.
Isn’t it often that way? The insanity of a trip leads to something well worth the difficult journey. I mean, I can laugh now and did laugh about it over a glass of wine with my friend, but in the midst of the snow, I was absolutely terrified. I have had experiences in life where Jesus, the good shepherd, has led me through some harrowing experience and I have felt with the psalmist, “He restoreth my soul!” There are other journeys in life that are longer, interminable-feeling, with a destination that is not quite as clear. Those are times when I lean harder into the “Thou art with me… Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” bit. And there are still other journeys where the lush destination will not be attained in this world, as was the faith experience of so many of God’s people (see Hebrews 11). Even then, though, we can remind our souls that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
And that is why I figure sometimes you just gotta clutch that steering wheel and Psalm 23 your way down the road, trusting that the destination will be worth it.