Summer road trips are some of my favorite. It reminds me of spending days facing backwards in the back of our station wagon headed west from Texas to California every summer. Some good memories of my dad picking a cactus off the side of the road for my mom to bring home, stopping at every Stuckey’s ( the convenience store/souvenir store) along the way to find a papoose doll for my sister, and eating and sleeping at the rest stop. Those were the days. Road trips today are a little different – A/C in the back seat, seat belts, and water in plastic bottles instead of Coca Cola in glass ones.
We (the kids and I) have just returned from a road trip, actually two. Driving from Kansas to Virginia and back and then down to the south Texas coast and back again. Seeing lots of friends and family, we couldn’t be more thankful for the time we had with them and the fact that they still love us. As much fun as we had, I did have some lessons along the way.
1. Miracles happen every day. We drove–a lot. All total, we covered approximately 4501 miles. I had to add the one on the end – it was the detours and potty stops. In all of those miles and all of those two-lane highways, crazy interstates, and construction areas, we made is home safe and sound and the vehicle did as well. Should you ever wonder whether or not God still does miracles, this should prove that point quite clearly.
2. Everybody has dirt. Keeping a clean house is important to me. When people come over, I want them to think that our house looks this nice (spotless) all the time. Some of my friends do the same thing. Cleaning house is not a bad thing, in fact I am still very much a fan, but sometimes in life we clean things up so much before people see that we are no longer “real” to them. I want to be real. I want people not necessarily to see every single one of my flaws or all the “dirt” of my life, but I want them to see that I am not perfect either, that this life we all live requires grace for each of us. We are in this together, no one better than the other. Visiting family, they by no means had disgusting houses, but they were living life with shoes by the door, stuff on the couch, and dishwashers with dirty dishes in them. They were real. And in their being real, I am reminded that we are all following Jesus as best we can but none of us is perfect. Makes me feel mucho better.
3. Thankfulness overcomes sadness. We headed home at the end of our second road trip with tears in the eyes of my kids. They wondered why we couldn’t live in the same place as our family. Well, part of it is that even our family doesn’t all live in the same place. We do miss them, though, and we love them dearly. Driving away can be sad–till you change your perspective. We were sad because we would miss those that we love. But when we become thankful that we have such people to love, the sadness isn’t quite so deep. We have people that love us, cherish us, and pour into us. Yes, we wish we could be with them more often and we miss the every-day-interaction we would like to have, but how thankful we can be because we have those people in our lives. We are truly blessed.
4. Random thoughts happen. This is quite possibly my favorite. I love riding for hours in the car because the monotony of it causes thoughts not only in my brain but in those of my children as well. I love the questions from the wondering minds of the back seat. I hear everything from “What would we do if daddy didn’t come home?” to “When do you think Blue Bell is going to start making ice cream again?” All vital questions to life . . . just kidding, but I do love what comes out of their mouths. The conversations can be fabulous. Sometimes in regular life we need to let the monotony in and just talk to each other.
5. Adaptability is a skill. It is not necessarily in my nature to be pliant and flexible, but I am learning. Sometimes God teaches me the importance of these things in the houses of our extended family. For example, when the Uncle and Aunt look at my two children who just had dry cereal for breakfast (not the organic, low sugar kind, mind you) and ask the children what they would like to have for lunch and dinner. Somewhere between fried chicken and tacos with only cheese, my brain starts to yell “Where are the vegetables?!?!” It is in that very moment God taps on my shoulder again and tells me to enjoy the moments of today, and figure out what is truly important. We will eat vegetables later, but they will remember their time with our family for their lifetimes. I am learning to be adaptable, mostly.
6. Gifts come in all kinds of ways. Along our trip we received gifts. Some of those gifts came in pretty packages with a nice little bow on top. I do love those kinds of gifts, but we received others that were not so traditional. We received love and grace . . . and someone to help load and unload the car. We received encouragement and rest . . . and ice cream. These gifts can come in tangible forms or simply through words of encouragement. Sometimes I discount gifts that God has truly given me through others – not this time.
7. Craziness is worth it. We drove in late last Sunday night. Monday morning we woke up to what looked like our car having exploded into the house. It was a mess. Treasures we picked up along the way, snacks, suitcases, books and toys we used for entertainment–it was all sitting at the bottom of the stairs when I came down. This doesn’t include the craziness along the way like wild times in the car, public restrooms that looked like they hadn’t been cleaned or remodeled since the 1940’s, and random men in thong swimsuits at the beach. All interesting times, I promise. As crazy as it can be, though, it is all well worth it. As I have told my children, relationships are most important, right after Jesus. Our time with these people that we call family and friends is worth every crazy moment we have, especially when they are all so very gracious.
I do love road trips. But I also love to be home. There are blessings in both places–and lessons to be learned. Does your family do road trips? Any exciting adventures–or tips–you’d like to share?