Monthly Archives: November 2013

He stops for us

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I woke up early this morning, pleading on behalf of a friend for her son. She goes in to receive test results from the doctor who wanted to meet her in person. The situation doesn’t sound promising, but that could be fear’s voice. I promised her I would fast and pray and as I do I keep thinking about this one collision with Jesus in the book of Mark.

A dad runs to Jesus because his daughter is sick and could possible die and he begs Jesus to go and heal her. His 12 year old daughter is ill and it is literally hell on earth to watch your little one be sick and in danger. This dad is in agony and knows not what else he can do. So he runs to the one who is known to boss storms around and turn limp hand’s into fully funct

ioning limbs. This Jesus has taken nothing and made it something by turning water into wine. He has spit in mud and touched the eyes of blind men and they could see. It is He who this daddy runs to.

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Jesus agrees to go to the daughter and in the midst of the journey, in a crowd of people a woman who has been bleeding for as long as the sick girl has been alive touched the hem of Jesus garment. This woman had been bleeding for twelve years and her condition has made it so that she was considered unclean. Most likely this isolated her from worship, friendships, career and even doing much of what she loved. She spent all she had on a fix and found herself with no fix and worse off than ever before. She had thought to herself “If I can just touch him I will be healed.” Immediately she was. The bleeding stopped. She felt “freed from her suffering” the Bible says.

Power went out from Him. He stops.

He stops.

Now imagine being the dad. They just picked up their power walk speed to get to his sick daughter. She was going to get help! And the help stopped. Is Jesus taking his time? If I were the dad I would think “You don’t have time to stop! My child needs you now!”  But Jesus halts right there and then and asks “Who touched my garment?” 

The woman confesses and Jesus responds to her act of faith by calling her “Daughter”.

As Jesus moved on from her to journey toward the sick child, I picture this woman who once lived with a debilitating condition watching him walk away. As she saw his form, his stride, his direction away from her, she must have been struck, “He stopped for me.”

He stopped for me.

As Jesus’ form disappears in the distance the father’s friends come to Jesus announcing that the child has died. Jesus plugs his ears, ignoring them and says almost as if introducing us into a mantra”

“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” 

“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” 

“Don’t be afraid, just believe.”

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When Jesus arrives at the house, what does He do? Does He consult a doctor? No, He himself  had said at one point “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” And people experienced Jesus as a doctor to the sick. Here he would be no different. He walked in and suggested the young child was asleep, perhaps to calm her parents down and give them hope. Almost as if to say, “I’ve got this. This will be about as easy as waking a sleeping child.” 

What is crazy about this collision is that Jesus goes to be with this child. He doesn’t bark out some order to the Divine power storehouse to heal. He doesn’t beckon the same power that went out from his garment to go to touch this kid. He doesn’t command an “Abracadabra” and she is healed. Jesus steps foot in her bedroom. You can almost picture it. He walks in and sees the Goodnight moon book she has had all her life, her watercolor paintings of rainbows and sunshine and her stuffed animals at the foot of her bed and He kneels beside her. Remember this is God in the flesh-God walking into a child’s bedroom and spending time with her as sick as she is. This is God who made this child. I hear that today… God made my friend’s child. He wrote his story into being. He cares about this boy. Jesus walked out of that room and when he did, so did the sickness. Jesus even goes so far as to say “Now get this kid some chicken soup and popsicles!”

In the same way that Jesus stopped for the women hemorrhaging, Jesus stopped for the sick child.  He is a God who stops. My prayer this morning is that my friend’s would collide right smack with the One who stops for each one of us. Please join me in prayer.

gratitude grows on trees

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Every year during the month of November, our nightly prayers at dinner are written on leaves. Each meal before we partake, we write what we are thankful for and then we share what we wrote as a prayer. Some nights it is comical and some nights it feels serious. Some nights the gratitude rolls off our tongue and other nights my husband will look at me with struggle in his eyes because it has been one of those days. Each person says “God I am thankful for….”  and then shares. We then hang up our leaves on our thankful tree. And each year, as December approaches, our tree blooms with hues of green, orange, yellow and brown leaves, each of which tell a story.

This tradition has us keeping the leaves from year to year and we can look at the years past with fondness. We can see prayers answered. We can remember meals we shared with great friends. We can take note of how much things have changed over time, and yet gratitude remains.

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My children’s handwriting was barely legible when we began this tradition and the depth of what they are thankful for has grown tremendously. This year they don’t just write one thing on a leaf, but write a word for each bend and curve of the leaf. Each night on their own accord, they both tell God they are thankful for “Him, dad, mom, and each other.” When you remind those you take for granted most, those you disappoint most, those who see your insides most, when you remind them you are grateful for them, it does wonders. Gratitude might be as healing for a family as any medicine can be for a wound.

Today I stand at the tree and see a friend’s handwriting “thankful for the storms of life.” In the midst of living a story she never wanted to tell, she pulls gratefulness out of all she learns. I see another leaf  and it says “I am thankful for a warm house.” It is the writing of guest who walked in and felt the heat of the fireplace, saw the light of the candles and smelled the ham and black bean soup with cilantro and in response to her senses, simply felt grateful. Gratitude is universal and it draws people together. We can resonate with what another is grateful for. But most of all gratitude is not just felt, but it is taught.

 

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The other night as we sat down to dinner, I announced that we had run out of leaves. I needed to make more. It was late, we were tired and grumpy and just needed to have dinner. So I suggested we skip the leaf tradition and just pray. Everyone agreed and then Bella piped up, “We can still be grateful without the leaves. Let’s still go around and share what we are thankful for.”

She was absolutely right. Being thankful is never about aesthetics. Being grateful is never about having all that you need or want. Being grateful isn’t about things being perfect. Each one of us can always find things to be grateful for.  And sometimes even if you don’t feel like it or you want to get on with things, you need to stop and intentionally enter gratefulness. It is probably in the moments you least feel grateful that it best to be grateful. I saw in an 8 year old a spiritual discipline that has formed in her. Gratitude is so ingrained in her that something “lacking” is not going to keep her from gratitude.

Now read that last sentence again.

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Something lacking should not keep you from gratitude. Is that not the whole idea of gratitude? I looked across the dinner table and realized that if my baby is ever lonely, she will still be grateful. If she is ever lacking financial means, she will still be able to say “I am grateful for….” If she ever sits at a table and one of us no longer takes up residence in a chair, she deeply understands gratitude. It has become a part of her. Gratitude cannot come only with plenty. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but gratitude does. Gratitude is a place deep within that you can draw from even when you lack because you have gone to that place so many times. It is the place that has learned to look for God and His blessings so often that you can’t help but be grateful. Live out of Thanksgiving into your daily life. Thanksgiving is not a day, but a place. Thanksgiving. Stay there. Your life’s tree will be abundant with color when you do.

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Reaching your hand back by Kristin Allen

At Collide, a women’s day I am apart of, we consistently have many women signing up with a desire to be mentored. On one particular occasion, we had way more young women who wanted to be mentored and only one women who signed up to mentor. That women was Kristin Allen. So I surveyed the situation and posed an idea to Kristin. I said “Would you be willing to try an experiment? Why don’t you meet with all of these girls at once? Each one of them can come with a question that they write and put in a bowl and you lead a dialogue around each question. We can call it wisdom share. What do you think?” Kristin, who was already tentative about feeling equipped to mentor one woman, with great courage said “Sure! I will try it!” What came out of that experiment not only grew her and a group of young girls but has also spawned more groups like hers! Read her share her story and be inspired to go out of your comfort zone!– Willow

When I was a little girl I used to sit and listen to my parent’s and their friend’s conversations (unbeknownst to them, therefore I heard a WIDE range of interesting things!)  I’m not sure to this day why I enjoyed that so much.  But I do remember how it made me feel.  These people had things figured out.  They knew things about life that I didn’t know yet.  I felt a sense of security knowing that those ahead of me, with this knowledge of life, would be there for me as I grew and needed to know these things too.  It would probably be an eternity before I ever became an adult and I knew I had a lot to learn.

Fast forward years later when I was going to college at Western, and was more mature than the young eavesdropper that I used to be, my conversations would have sounded “older” to young kids listening too.   Even though I might have sounded older to those younger than me, there was still a lot I didn’t know.  Now I was asking those older than me how to get a job after school, how to choose the right person to marry, and how to navigate friend and family issues.  I still had to walk through unsettling experiences,  and was nervous about new territory I found myself in. 

And now married with two kids, life can still be awkward or overwhelming sometimes!  There are waters ahead of me that I haven’t navigated yet.  Some days I feel so frazzled dealing with issues that I could never have expected, or having faith questions that I thought I had already worked out.  I can look back on my past and see how God worked in my life then, but now there are new issues and new seasons.  I used to think that I would eventually reach a point in life where all the learning, stretching and personal growth wouldn’t be so necessary.  When I was younger, I would look at those who are my age now and think their lives looked pretty smooth sailing.   But now I know that God will never be done growing us.

I realize now that listening to the conversations of those older than me is one of God’s blessings.  I love the inter -generational women’s bible study I am apart of.  It’s so encouraging to hear strong women of faith relate scripture to their season in life.  I can file their wisdom away in my mind for when I reach that place one day.  One thing we all have in common is that we all have a past.  We have waters that have already been navigated.  And there are people in our lives, younger than us that need to hear that we made it through.  They need to hear how we made it, what we learned from it and what God revealed to us.  There are people in our lives, older than us, who could share what they have learned from their experiences.  That knowledge that looks out of reach, that season in life that looks unattainable, looked that way at some point to those who are there now.  Sharing these things is part of community.  It’s one way that God uses us to bless others. 

I picture one hand stretched behind us to share with others what we have already learned, and one hand stretched before us, ready to receive from those who have already been there. 

We are meant to build one another up, support, encourage, and continue to point each other to Jesus. I had the great privilege this summer to meet weekly with a group of amazing college aged women.  Each person in this group had signed up to be paired with an individual mentor.  It didn’t work out that there was enough mentors to give each person their own, so did I was challenged to do a little experiment called Wisdom Share.  I would meet with the group once a week throughout the summer, and act as the mentor for the group.  Each person could come with any question, concern, topic, heavy burden or praise to share that she wanted, and we as a group would listen, process, support encourage and pray.  Now let me be really honest here.  The title Wisdom Share, freaked me out a little bit!  I don’t know that I even called it that more than once myself, preferring to call it my Summer Group instead.  That sounded less intimidating.  All of a sudden my mind was attacked with a lot of questions that could have kept me from moving forward.  Who am I to say I have wisdom to impart to anyone?  What do I have to say that someone else couldn’t say in a much more eloquent, inspiring way?  Are you sure you want me to do this God?  Me?  I’ll be so inadequate…

Thankfully I had wise, loving people in my life encouraging me to move forward, and thankfully I listened to the Holy Spirit’s nudging me!  And something really wonderful happened…this group of women wowed me!  God wowed me!  I had no idea He wanted me to learn what I learned this summer.  But isn’t that the way it always goes?  God knows we have areas in our life that need to be stretched, even though we feel nice and comfy the way things already are.

They came each week with deep, tough questions, vulnerable, personal issues, faith struggles, praises, laughter and kindness.  I sat listening to them verbally process and navigate some waters I remembered going through, and some I hadn’t specifically experienced.  We talked about how God fit into experiences, relationships, our perceptions on life and so much more.  I gave my two cents each week, but the thing that really showed me God in action was the wealth of wisdom, grace and encouragement the group gave each other.  It wasn’t a one-way street, with them asking and me answering.  They shared insights, encouraged one another, bounced ideas off of me, and as a group, we felt a sense of growing, together.

I am so thankful I said yes to this experiment.  I am thankful for each individual woman I got to meet, and thankful for the fact that I have a larger community now.  When I see them, they can know that I include them in the people I care about, am praying for, and am invested in.  They know now that there is one more person in their lives who wants to see them grow in their relationship with Jesus, and that I’m here to listen when they need someone to talk to.  I’m no longer just another face in the sea of people at church on Sunday.

Being willing to reach your hand back for those behind you can feel a little risky at times, no matter how old you are.  You may think that you don’t have the wisdom to share with someone who has questions, fears, insecurities, or faith.  But I’ve learned a great lesson.  It’s not about always having just the right thing to say, but about being there, and saying “you matter”.   And it’s not all about trying to be the biggest blessing that person will ever experience in their life, but about a willingness to enter into a relationship where you will be blessing one another.  God is growing you too… Kristin Allen

 

With privilege comes responsibilty, right Mr. Weston?

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As many of you read a few weeks ago,  ( http://woundedcollision.com/blog/wise-words-from-a-budding-principal ) my son Aidan’s name was drawn out of a hat to be principal of the day. That day came and went and was such a joy! Many of you have asked about it how it went, so I thought I would share.

The week or so leading up the special day, Aidan was having meetings with the legit principal to make plans for the day. We were hearing bits and pieces of those conversations at home, but we were really unsure as to what was legend and what was real. At home, we were asking questions like “What do good principals do?“, eluding a few things. The night before I had Aidan write a list of the 10 things good principals do. The list was hilarious and of course said that good principals wear sport jerseys and hats and chew gum! So take note and make sure to buy your principal some Hubba Bubba for Christmas.

We kept reminding Aidan of one of our common mantras.

With privilege comes responsibility!

We would say to Aidan, “This is a privilege, so you have to be responsible!”  It occurred to me as his mom that this was an opportunity to really teach lessons on leadership and service. We had conversations about how good principals take care of their staff. So we asked “What are you going to do to take care of your staff?” The answer to that questions started our morning off with a huge platter of chocolate muffins, lemon scones, donuts, cinnamon rolls and of course Starbucks coffee for the teachers lounge.

When he woke up in the morning, he had 3 jerseys laid out on the couch. When asked what he was doing, he said that he needed to call a friend who didn’t have a jersey and ask which one he wanted. I responded by saying “Why don’t you pick which one you want to wear since you are the principal and you might get your picture taken and then give your friend his options?” Aidan got very upset and sat on the couch. I asked him what was wrong. He responded emotionally “Mom, you are making this about me and this isn’t about me. Please stop doing that. It’s putting pressure on me. I am trying to be nice to a friend.”  I’m was pretty sure this Principal just schooled me. After our little come to Jesus meeting, I allowed Aidan to lead. He was clearly leading responsibly and I was in need of some coffee.

As we journeyed up our hill onto the school grounds, kids were in sports jerseys and hats everywhere. Aidan was seeing his dream come true! We heard shouts of “Hey Mr. Weston!” from the slides and the basketball hoops. The first thing Principal Weston did was check in with the real principal. She handed him a name tag with his official title and gave him duties to perform of which he did! You know things like checking in on classes, supervising recess, delivering things to teachers, eating donuts.

As per Aidan’s request, kids filed in to the gym to have an all school assembly to watch the Guinness Book of World Records movie. Aidan stood at the entry doors giving high fives and hand booms and the kindergarteners seemed thrilled! Kids were chewing gum like crazy. It was that kind of gum chewing that gives you the willies. The kind with mouths open and drool and chomping and smacking! It was then that I second guessed our coffee delivery and realized these teachers were going to need something stronger to get through this day!  I was worried that the entire school was going to be covered in gum and I was going to have to volunteer my weekend scraping gum off desks. Aidan himself had convinced me that he needed to bring the most gum because of course he was the principal and needed to give gum to kids who didn’t have any. So off he went with pockets and cheeks stuffed with gum. I went and thanked the actual principal for the opportunity and for teaching Aidan what it looks like to be a leader and she looked at me smiling and said “ I told him the things he needed to say during the assembly, but he didn’t want to take notes or write any of it down so we will see how it goes.” Then she giggled. I was nervous. That didn’t sound good. He has never done public speaking! Here he was chewing like 5 pieces of gum and she handed him a microphone! “Oh dear  Lord”, I prayed.

Aidan said what he needed to say, quieter than maybe necessary, but he did it! And kids cheered! “Oh thank you Lord”, I prayed.  The kids watched a man ride his motorcycle through the most flames ever, another man be covered in the most bees ever and of course saw the most tattooed man there ever was covered in leopard spots, including his private parts! “Oh Lord, my son picked a video that mentioned tattoos on private parts. Please be with me,”  I prayed. The auditorium busted out in hysteria! “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”  I have to admit, so did I.

Rob and I left the assembly after seeing our boy who was given a privilege be responsible! As I watched over hundreds of kids heads and saw him with a microphone I had a sense. My son is not one to want attention like this. He is not one who is comfortable in the spotlight up in front of people and yet he was given this opportunity. I watched this and sensed God shaping Aidan for what is to come. I don’t mean microphones or being a principal or anything that literal. I mean God is getting him ready to lead, to influence, to shape the world around him. God is doing the same with you and I. If we are faithful with little, God gives us more. God has got more for Aidan, I can feel it. And He has more for you and I as we are faithful. God is shaping. God is calling. God is dishing out privileges and looking for people who will use that privilege to be leaders, to be responsible, to be faithful. It is those people God will use to change the world.

My little leader came home and we went out to dinner to celebrate! Rob and I didn’t get much detail out of him other than “My teeth hurt because I ate like 6 scones in the teacher’s  lounge and 46 pieces of gum.” Then he smiled a huge smile. Our next lesson became clear: Never partake in too much privilege!  In the midst of shaping, there is still more shaping and a lot of cavities to be filled! As his mom, I was grateful for the opportunity my son was given to lead, to learn, to grow and to be shaped for what God has for him in the future! Being a leader is not about being perfect, nor is it about being experienced, not is it about age. Being a leader is about taking the privilege God has put in front of you with who you are in that moment, in what you know and what you don’t and holding it with great faith and responsibility!

With privilege comes responsibility and with responsibility comes more privilege.

May we all chew gum, learn lessons and lead with great faith and care in the opportunities God puts before us!

 

The Danger of a red car: by Misha Thompson part 2

Continue reading Misha’s story…..

PART TWO

The boys came back and were emptying their gas container into my friend’s car. One of them came around to my side of the car. “So do you need that ride?” he asked, leaning against our window. 

“Look,” I got out of the car to explain, “the thing is I actually really do need a ride to the airport. But the thing also is that I need to know that you are safe.” I paused feeling my legs shaking. “That’s a good question,” he agreed. “No!” I answered a little too loudly, “please do not say that is a good question because that is exactly what I am afraid of. What if you take me off into some cornfield and hurt me?” He nodded sagely for his maybe-not-even-quite 18 years and said again, “Yeah, yeah, that’s a good point.”

He turned to his buddy and explained the dilemma. “I know…” his friend who was driving the car answered as he started to reach into his pocket. I watched his hand, looked at some of the images on his tattoos and felt total panic. What was he getting? What did he want? “I am going to die here by the side of this road,” I thought, “and somehow this trip will be a cautionary tale to all the young missionaries I left behind.”

Instead of a hidden weapon the guy pulled out his wallet and handed my friend who was watching a card. “This is my military ID,” he said to her, “why don’t you write down all my information and keep it and that way if anything happened to her you’d know who I am and I’d get in a whole lot of official trouble.” “Hmmmm,” I thought visualizing him being court marshaled as a part of the tale that would be told at my funeral, “that’s actually not such a bad idea.” As I was pondering the way this would all be written up in my obituary my friend started laughing. “No way!” she exclaimed looking at his card, “no way is this your last name.”

It turned out that this guy had the exact same – very obscure – last name that she did and as they were talking about it they discovered some distant relative they might even have in common. They were laughing and chatting it up like old family. I was going in the red car. That much was clear.

The young military guys loaded up my bags into the trunk and as I got in the back seat I watched my friend out the rear window drive off in the other direction hoping to get to work on time. I suddenly felt very alone. As I turned around and leaned back I had the clearest impression of Jesus sitting next to me. And He was crying. I was starting to get tired of feeling like I was in some crazy movie. “Jesus,” I whispered to him, “it’s one thing if you’re asking me to do all this insane stuff, it’s another thing if you are going to sit there crying and freak me out even more.” He looked me in the eye and all He said, so softly, was, “Thank you.” I started crying, too. “Okay,” I whispered, “Is there anything else you want me to do?”  “Ask the boy riding shotgun if he likes the movie Braveheart,” was all I heard Jesus say.

As we set off for the airport and exchanged names, the young and very muscular African-American guy riding shotgun turned out to be Anthony. I worked up more courage and as we talked I finally busted out with it. “Anthony,” I asked, “this is kind of a random question but do you like the movie Braveheart?” He turned around and looked me square in the eyes. “Yeah I do!” he almost shouted with enthusiasm, “That is my favorite movie!”

“Tell him he’s in the wrong army,” Jesus whispered to me again. I gave up all pretense of sanity at this point. “Well,” I said to Anthony, “I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do, and I kind of feel like He wants me to tell you that you’re in the wrong army.” I was trying very intently to avoid eye-contact with his buddy driving in the rear-view mirror. “I have this feeling that God wanted me to be here today,” I said, “to tell you this… to tell you that He loves you very much and that He has given you an incredibly brave heart and made you strong. That he knows you want to fight for freedom and that you’re really good at it, but that you joined the wrong army. He wants you to work for Him. He may have even brought me all the way from Colorado this weekend just to tell you this.”

For a split second there was total silence and then to my complete shock Anthony’s eyes welled up with tears. It was pretty awkward. And his friend kept watching me in the mirror like he wasn’t sure if he should be horrified or stunned by what I had just done to his buddy.

Anthony punched his friend in the arm. “Can you believe this?” He looked back at me again. “I was just talking to my Grandma last night,” he said, “and she said the exact same thing to me you just said. I told her no way, Grandma, this is what I gotta do and she told me, ‘Anthony, if God wants you in His army then God is going to find another way to tell you so, just so you know. But promise me this: when He does, you better listen!’ “And now,” Anthony said looking at me, “Now what am I supposed to do?”

That two and a half hour drive to the airport was one of the most sacred times I have ever had. As fast as I could get the words out to Anthony was as fast as the words kept coming to my heart from God for him. We had the most profound and beautiful conversation. One that marked me for life.

After the guys dropped me, safely, off at the airport I had a view overlooking some of the gorgeous mountain peaks you get to see flying out of that airport. The sun was just beginning to set and the snow on Mt. Ranier was turning all sorts of pastel colors. My hands, I have to admit, were still shaking, and I was taking deep breaths trying to figure out what exactly had just happened to me.

This one thought kept going through my head over and over What if I had missed that? What if I had missed all of that because I was simply too afraid? 

 

The Danger of a Red Car: by Misha Thompson part 1

I have known Misha for several years and every time I sit across from her, I am amazed by her passion and her desire and sensitivity to live life guided by God in every decision and move she makes. She truly sees God as personal, alive and speaking and she invites everyone around her to look for Him. Misha shares this story of how she has seen God first hand lead her very purposely. Read part one…. – Willow

I woke up one Friday and before I had even opened my eyes I heard a voice whisper: Tomorrow morning you are going to wake up in a different country. I squinted at the brightness coming through my blinds. It was a sunny morning in the Sangre de Cristo mountains and I could hear my roommate stirring in her room next door.

I was working with Youth with a Mission – or YWAM as it’s called – an interdenominational, non-profit missionary organization that trains 25,000 volunteers each year to serve around the world. I lived on a rustic ranch in Southern Colorado and I was helping to lead a six-month school full of young people enthusiastic about volunteering for others. But as far as I knew we had no plans to be going overseas any time this weekend.

I sat up in bed and had the distinct sense I should start packing. It was such a strong feeling that I actually started doing it. But packing for where? And for what? The only thing that came to my mind as I got up and stumbled around trying to think straight, was that one of my dearest friends had just had a baby. She lived in Vancouver, British Columbia and the more I put clothes in my duffel, the more I felt maybe I was supposed to go see her.

In fact, as my bag slowly filled, I had a distinct sense that I should go call our travel agent about tickets to Vancouver. But why would I suddenly be flying out to see her at such short notice? I didn’t know exactly what was going on and I felt pretty embarrassed by it all as my roommate came out and saw me packing.

I went down the hill on the ranch property where I lived and tried to scootch into the office without anyone noticing what I was doing. “Tim?” I asked quietly, calling the travel agent that we did a lot of bookings with, “I know this is a little last minute but I am wondering about any tickets to Vancouver, Canada … Do you know of any that could get me there by tomorrow morning?” I heard him typing away on his computer, and as far as I could tell no one in the office was overhearing my conversation.

“That’s weird,” I heard him mumble, he pecked and muttered some more. “Actually I would’ve laughed at you if I wasn’t looking right at this,” he said, “but there is some availability on a flight out of Colorado Springs super early tomorrow morning. I didn’t think there would be! You’re in luck!” I gulped and didn’t know exactly what to say. Ask him how much the ticket is, I felt the soft voice inside of me again.

“Well that’s the amazing thing,” Tim said back to me, “it’s a crazy price of around $413. It’s so reasonable I can hardly believe it.” This time I really swallowed hard. I knew enough about airline tickets to know this was amazing, but I also knew I had next to nothing in my bank account. Where was I supposed to get $400, and for that matter, why was I even booking an airline ticket to go on a trip I had no idea I was planning to go on?

I asked Tim to give me a little bit of time and I’d get back to him. “Sure,” he said, “but hurry. This is a great deal!” By now I had most definitely attracted some attention in the office and I had more than a few co-workers watching me curiously as I hung up. I felt all their eyes on me. “Going somewhere?” one friend asked. I looked around to find every one, at every desk, turned toward me.

“I’m not actually sure,” I said self-consciously and I slowly began to tell them what I had felt as I had woken up less than an hour before. To my complete shock a friend at the desk next to me handed me some cash. “I think it’s exciting,” she said, “Go find out why God told you that!” And the very folks I was afraid of letting down by jetting off, all nodded their heads around the room and offered to pray for me. I called my girlfriend in Canada and told her I was on the way.

By this time I was truly nervous. I had semi-hoped someone would challenge me on the lunacy of this little idea. I knew I could go and not be irresponsible. I knew I had the weekend off. But it just seemed so far-fetched and crazy! I had gone to bed the night before preparing to spend the weekend with our students and woken up suddenly planning to pack my bags on a trip I’d not even thought about until now.

Throughout the course of the morning the story of my crazy phone call began to spread through the dining hall and to our students and staff. To my complete surprise by lunchtime I had been given over $400 to buy the ticket Travel Agent Tim had told me about. Shaking my head over and over, I went back to the office and called to book the ticket. “Oh no,” Tim said when I told him I wanted to buy it, “I think I forgot to tell you – if you didn’t get back to me by noon the ticket went up by over $200.” My mouth dropped open.

Well, that settled it! I didn’t have to go? Maybe God was just seeing if I was willing to go? Maybe I was a little overzealous? But, admittedly relieved, I hung up the phone and shook my head to my now very invested co-workers. “The price went up, ” I explained, “I don’t have enough for the ticket anymore.” And just like that a couple other friends handed me the balance and picked up the phone for me and put it in my hand. I called Tim back, bought the ticket and arranged to stay that night at a friend’s house in the city. It appeared I was going.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about God, but one thing I did know that evening was that if He was going to this much trouble to make this trip happen, He probably had a purpose in it. And to be honest, that alone made me nervous. What was He up to? And why involve someone as frightened as me?

I made it to Canada safely – waking up on the flight in a different country exactly like God had said – and I had a beautiful time with my girlfriend Knowing what I know about God, that honestly would have been enough reason for Him to orchestrate the whole spontaneous trip. But all weekend long I had the nagging feeling that there was more.

Another friend who lived in Vancouver had offered to drive me back down to Seattle to catch my flight home. We chit-chatted a bit on the way to the border but as we were driving along my friend got more and more worried. “Mish,” she said, “this stop-and-go traffic is much worse than I expected. I may not have enough petrol. I have to be back at work by a certain time and I may not be able to get you all the way to the airport!”

By this time we had pulled up to the big Peace Arch border between Canada and Washington State and the lines were extremely long. Everywhere we looked, on every side, there were long stretches of people idling in their cars as frustrated as could be. As I looked around us I again heard that distinct whisper inside of me: There is a red car that is going to take you to the airport.

I looked at my friend’s car to double-check. Definitely not red. My heart sunk. I was not liking this trip after all. I was in long lines, at a big border, feeling like God had just told me that a different colored car than the one I was in was going to take me to the airport. Did He need reminding that His words sounded crazy and even potentially dangerous?

I looked behind us and all around us and noticed some sweet, elderly couples in red sedans. Oh, I thought, Okay. Maybe I needed to be really brave and ask these elderly couples if they were headed to SeaTac International Airport?

As I was debating both my sanity and my ride, the lines sped up and we were suddenly through the border and headed down the I-5 on the way to Seattle. No sooner had I taken a huge sigh of relief then the little VW bug we were in started coughing and sputtering and my it came to a complete stop on the side of the road. We were officially stuck.

Feeling broke, foolish and like a great inconvenience to my sweet friend I started praying hard… and paying attention to the color of every car that passed us on the highway. Green, blue, white, tan. So far, so safe. Then I heard the sound of a car pulling up behind us and I could vaguely see two young guys in the front seat.

The car was definitely and distinctly red.

As my friend and I looked at each other wide-eyed, the two young men got out of the car in tank tops and covered in tattoos. “God,” I thought fiercely, “it is very clear that this is satan’s red car and I would appreciate it very much if you would deal with it right now. And please,” I added a little less bossy, “can we not die?”

The boys were smiling as they sauntered over. “Hey ladies,” they called out, “looks like you ran out of gas. Can we be of any help?” My friend and I looked at each other alarm bells going off everywhere in our heads. “Hey,” they stopped and called out from behind our car, “we don’t want to make you nervous. We have a gas can in our car. Can we go get you some and bring it back for you?” I raised my eyebrows. Polite satan’s red car?

We thanked them (with our doors still locked) and said that would actually be very helpful and as they headed back to their car one of the guys called back “By the way,” he said, “we’re headed down to the airport if either of you need a ride?”

part two to come next…