It is worrisome when your battery indicator light comes on. It’s more worrisome when you are traveling on the interstate. It’s more worrisome still when you are on the interstate miles and miles away from home on vacation with your husband and eight kids. It is down right horrible when all of this happens on a Sunday night.
We about a half and hour away from checking-in to our cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee when battery light came on. I was in the passenger seat and so I looked in the manual to see what it said . . . the battery is not charging correctly. We started to lose power so we pulled off the interstate and tried to get to a gas station before our van completely died. We told the kids to pray. We made it to the Love’s gas station in Dandridge, Tennessee.
James called AAA and they said they would send someone out. He explained that we he was on vacation with his wife and 8 kids. The AAA guy called us and said he was about a half an hour away. Mike got to Love’s and charged our battery. Then he checked to see if the battery would hold a charge. When he tested things, he discovered our battery was good, but we needed a new alternator. On a Sunday night with eight kids we were stranded in Love’s parking lot. The AAA guy closed to van hood and said he would make a few phone calls.
James told me the bad news. We told the kids to keep praying. I looked up some auto repair shops and all of them were closed or closing in just a few minutes. James and I talked getting the van towed to a auto repair place, renting a vehicle, and finding another place to stay if we missed our check-in time. We talked about how much money all of this would cost. We talked about the possibility of spending the night in the van at Love’s gas station and calling for a tow, taking the van to the repair shop, and getting a rental in the morning when we knew things would be open.
The AAA guy, Mike, was talking on the phone for quite a while. He got into this truck and sat for a while. He got out of the truck and walked toward us. James thought he was going to come over to talk to us so he got out of the van, but Mike stayed on his phone and kept walking back and forth so James got back into the van. Finally Mike asked James to pop the hood.
Mike got off the phone and motioned for James to come talk to him and then he started changing the tire on his own work truck. He then told James something totally unexpected. Mike had found the alternator at an auto parts store and he would change it that night after he got his truck tire changed! He gave me a thumbs up and mouthed, “we’re good,” at me. Curious to know what was up I opened my door and James told me the good news!
Mike drove James to go get the new alternator. They got to the auto parts store at 8:02 p.m. and the store closed at 8 p.m. They saw the guy inside, but he shook his head at them and waved they off. So Mike called another store a little farther away. They had the part and didn’t close until 9 p.m. so they went there.
Mike changed our alternator and by 9:30 p.m. we were on the road again. Mike would only let James pay for the alternator and he refused to accept any money for changing it out! The kids and I tried to sing happy birthday to Mike but he was embarrassed and walked away. We thanked him profusely!
While we sat there our oldest daughter said I know the name of this place is Love’s but I hate it! It was not fun sitting in the van for 3 hours at Love’s gas station, and none of the kids wanted to go to a Love’s gas stations again, but I can’t say that I blame them!
God can take what seems like an absolutely horrid situation and turn it into a story about how He is watching out for us all the time!
In 1997 my little church’s youth group went to an event by the group Teen Mania that did youth mission trips all over the world. I wanted to go to Alaska. My little church helped me raise money for the trip, they gave me money, they helped me do a car wash, we sold food. My grandparents, the same ones who took me to the little church, gave me a loan and I was on my way in the summer of 1998.
Going to Alaska for almost a month changed my life. I got focused. On that trip I ate peanut butter and jelly almost every day for lunch. I talked to Jesus and read my Bible every single day. I was surrounded by God’s beauty and traveling with a group that loved God. Some of the friends I made on that trip are still part of my life even today. In Alaska I was awestruck by how much God loves everyone.
So many things happened during that trip that made it clear to me that God is real. A friend was healed of major back pain for the entire trip. We prayed with runaways. We prayed with strangers on the beach. We saw a baby humpback whale and it rocked our boat. We saw a glacier up close and saw blocks of ice fall into a lake. We climbed a mountain. We saw God working. We walked around praying for cities and people and sharing God’s love.
In those days Jesus became my very best friend.
The year was 1985 and I was 6 years old. My dad got out of the Marine Corps and moved our family back to his hometown in Indiana. My grandparents went to a little church on 10th Street, and in that that little church I learned that God loves me. I learned that God loves everyone. I learned God had plans for me. In a little city in a little church I learned to recognize God in everything.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
There is a little shelf beside my bed that has my important stuff on it. My family recently moved to a new house so I have been thinking about what things are most important to me. A stuffed animal moose and a camping nightlight moose remind me of Alaska where I went on a mission trip that brought me closer to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
A little heart that reads, Always My Mother, Forever my FRIEND. My mom read different ones to my 5-year-old daughter at the store and picked this one out for me. It truly is my prayer that my kids will grow up and see me as someone who is their friend.
The footprint painting is a surprise find that was lost in our old house but my super awesome landlords/friends found and returned to me. On it are the footprints of our five oldest kids and it reminds me of my JOB and my kids. My mom job is the biggest, scariest, most awesome and most important job ever.
One book on my shelf is “14,000 things to be happy about.” It is just a quirky book that I bought a long long time ago that so me! Also on my shelf are the books, A Christian Mother Goose Rock-A-Bye Bible, Tuesdays with Morrie, and Many Ways to Say I Love You by Fred Rogers. My little prayer jounal with Bible verses, prayers, and quotes that I have been hiding in my heart is sitting on my Bible.
Another lost and found treasure is a plastic license plate that reads “Smile God Loves You!” My family got it for my grandparents who had displayed it in their kitchen years and years ago. I kept it after my Grandma went to the nursing home and now that both of them have gone to eternity in heaven it is a little thing that remind me of the BIG TRUTH that they helped me learn: God Loves Me and everyone else too!
I keep a little album of photos of my grandparents by my bed. The other day was 16 years since my Grandpa has been gone and though I miss my grandparents so much I celebrate that they are with Jesus! Photos are priceless memories!
My stuffed animal purple turtle that my husband let the kids pick out me because they know my favorite color and my favorite animal! James was pretty surprised to find it because they knew what they wanted to get me! a purple turtle! It reminds me that they do love me (even if it sometimes seems like they are just trying to make me crazy)! An Ewok from my sister who knows I love Star Wars. A Precious Moments white porcelain cross that was our wedding cake topper, and a plaque with part of the Footprints poem are on the bottom shelf. They are symbols of my two best friends my James, and my Jesus.
The shelf itself was made by my husband’s late great-grandfather. He loved his family and he loved to make useful things for his family.
It is hard work to unpack and organize after a move. It has made think about what is most important to me and why it is important!
With 4 out of 8 kids recovering from a stomach bug I opted for a super simple dinner. I suggested soup, and even one of the kids who hasn’t been sick wanted chicken noodle soup. I suggested sandwiches to a healthy kid and the kid was not impressed. All of the things he wanted required extra cooking and time. I went to the pantry and looked for other options and found one single serving microwavable tomato soup cans and offered that to the healthy kid. The tomato soup was approved. Sandwiches and soup were prepared and dinner was served. After the kids prayed, one of the sick kids said to me, “Thank you for making supper.” The healthy kid flashed a big grin at me. It made me feel like the best mom ever just because the kid was so thankful for the tomato soup.
I am happy that I could make my kid happy by heating up some tomato soup. It seemed like a very small thing to me, but it was a big thing to the kid. You never know how the things you say or do no matter how big or small affect those around you!
I am happy to report that no one has been sick since early this morning and everyone seems to be feeling better! We are so thankful for the prayers of our friends and family!