1321 words. a million emotions.

If you know my oldest World Changer, you would know that he’s not the most timely packer for trips. He always thinks he has plenty of time. Deep down somewhere he longs for a simple life that doesn’t include stuff cluttering up his life. He would love to just live out of a back pack and have a bed roll… but life requires a bit more than that when you leave for college. One simply must have a few things to be included in civilization here in America.

Knowing we had a 14 hour drive to college this year I wanted to get going as soon as possible, and of course that didn’t translate into anything remotely into “you need to pack sooner than later” to the world changer who hates stuff. It wasn’t really a surprise when I woke up at 3am to find him carrying all the totes and stuff down stairs.. totes and stuff that should have been loaded into the car the previous day.

Here’s where I struggle as a parent. I could swoop in and save the day and help him out.. or I could just silently hope someday his future wife will. This particular time I chose to pray for his someday bride- may she have the patience of Job… and then I just was perturbed.

It all brings to mind watching my dad load pigs into the trailer when he had to move them. Seldom did they want to go up a ramp and into a dark trailer, so dad had to get behind them and push them up with a board or his leg.. and if they still didn’t go he grabbed their ear and turned their head and the pig wouldn’t have a choice but to obey and get ta getting with it’s job of walking up that ramp. In retrospect… I wish I would have trained our little piggy packer better when he was little because grabbing the ear of my 19 year old son seemed to be a little awkward.

Well, we did finally end up leaving and as we carpooled across the great state of IA and then NE the air of angst and being late was packed in the Lead Singer and I’s car and as hard as we tried we couldn’t throw it out the window. Everything I said pissed him off and everything he said made me want to jump out and flip him off on my way. It was just a really bad day.

and then… IMG_7354

At the time of course in our amped up emotional state we weren’t grateful that it was just a “weeper thing”  with the water pump, whatever that is. I could however write a book on car troubles on car trips, but the Lead has been so amazing in the past years to just rent us a car on our trips that I was severely out of practice playing the game of car break down.

The car was over heating and leaking coolant. It being Saturday afternoon- nothing was open. So we decided to chance it to Denver still 4 hours away. Have you even traveled through western NE and eastern CO?  The landscape is void of everything and there are large cow operations that fill the air with pungent smells. If a car were to break down it would be a very long and smelly wait till help could come. Knowing this, we watched that dial on the dash barely breathing. Getting stuck on that road would have been a sort of personal hell for the Lead and I. So we prayed that dial to not show us that the car was over heating, and we prayed hard.

In those four hours I contacted my sisters and my small group- pray I told them.. We were not in a great situation.. and I knew we only had the mountains up ahead. Life is a whole new story in the mountains.

Because the Changer forgot his computer screen at home we had to stop at Best Buy in west Denver and purchase a new one for him. Here’s where you need to know that this didn’t make me happy on ANY level…but whatever.  There we were, it was 7:00 and we still had 2 hours uphill to drop this changer off at college.. and daylight was slipping away.

Did I tell you my reason for wanting to leave early?

I didn’t?

It was the last two hours.. driving in the mountains is WAY more fun and entertaining in the daylight. The Rockies are like your reward for making the long trek west from Iowa and the realization of not seeing them made me super duper sad… and this screen buying gig.. was not helping.

We hit the first hill with our broken car at sunset. I snapped a picture to send to my sisters who were praying us up that mountain. I didn’t snap a picture of my son’s car right behind us with his hood open and him laying underneath putting his exhaust pipe back on… Life just got incredibly hard and I got a headache.

Carpooling in the dark is hard. Carpooling in the mountains is hard. Two broken cars carpooling in the dark in the mountains brings it to a whole other level.


We would replay this scenario over and over again the next two and a half hours. Barely breathing up each hill. Quick calls to tell the car behind us that we need to pull over and add coolant…all in the dark. It’s been a long time since I was that stressed. It was a nightmare actually. I meticulously counted down the miles with my GPS, writing and rewriting the “what if we break down here” plans in my head over and over again. The big one was the 10 miles you lose cell reception right before the final destination and I knew it was coming…

It sounds very first world problemish to be freaked out about something like this I know- people break down all the time, people have car issues all the time, we have had our share of car issues….but this night driving in the mountains with a disabled car really threw me over the edge… and I hardly ever get thrown there. Later,  I would tell the Lead that I would rather do a mountain pass in a snowstorm than what we just did.

Well we did make it, and I laid in my sketchy hotel bed and cried real tears in a flood of emotions that I had been holding in for 6 hours.

The next morning we rose early, said tearful goodbyes to our son and we stopped down the mountain in Denver to replace the water pump.  Down the mountain only had two harrowing uphills that we had to stop after, and things seem less stressful in the daylight anyways.

It wasn’t the trip I had planned from the get go and I am just now weeping over the fact that God in his wisdom orchestrated every choice we made, every mile we drove, every raw emotion we felt. He melted my heart again to Him and His plans and the power of prayer.

Maybe I am the one who refuses to go up that ramp into the dark, and God had to grab my ear and force me there. I hate car problems. I hate leaving my son at a school so far away. I hate having cranky days as a wife. I hate buying screens. I hated this trip to CO in a physical sense, and right this minute I still feel God’s grip on my ear forcing me look to Him…. and I know I’m just like a pig who needed to be moved up a ramp into something dark and scary to again be reminded that I don’t have to fear anything.

He’s got this. All of it.



and then she was 18.

You came into the world two weeks early and not in the comfy cozy Kansas hospital we had thought, but a middle of Iowa hospital whose birthing room was the linen closet. God was just warming us up for your personality through the fun of your birth. IMG_0471-2



When you grew into a toddler  your grandma used to say to me, “You are going to have your hands full when that girl is a teenager.” She of course was well grounded in saying that. You were a handful when you were little. Always wanting things your way, your will was tough and mighty. You made me crazy on so many occasions. You made me doubt myself over and over again, and you challenged me on everything. EVERYTHING. So much so that our dialog went like this.. “Who is going to win Emerald?” and you would say (or I’d make you say,) “You.” And then we could get on with our life at the moment until the next time you decided you wanted to win. Typing that out makes me think you will be in counseling for that, so I am sorry, I just didn’t know what else to do, and I refused to be ruled by a little one who had the will of  superman.


I honestly don’t know when the switch happened, but it did. You started to become easier, more fun. Full of ideas and energy. You smiled constantly. Even when someone was trying to scold you for doing something wrong….and I had to explain to strangers and teachers and relatives that she always smiles.. and they’d have to just be ok with that.


Today, you are 18. I couldn’t be more proud of the person you have become.  I have watched you love the unloved through mission trips and awkward situations, care for little people both in your family and the community, and you work extremely hard at whatever you have chosen to do even if that means you don’t finish first or on top. You are tireless and I honestly don’t know how you run on 4 hours of sleep over and over again.


I admire your tact in situations that require leadership that you can provide, and your way of lifting burdens of those around you in any circumstance. You are a helper, and a friend to many.


Oh Em, I am oozing with gratefulness for the person you have become. You step in when needed to save the day, and still manage to smile through anything. Your heart is good and your steps are sure… God most certainly made up for my parenting inadequacy when you were little. My only wish on this day is that your grandma could have experienced how amazing of a young lady you have turned into. She would have had to eat her words.. and that for me would have been slightly delightful.