Friday, October 28, 2022

The Cattle Truck Miracle

My friend Author Sharon Connell ( shared a travel miracle story.


Kathy, I have a travel story that involves my move from Des Plaines, IL to Pensacola, FL when I went to Bible school there.

My son and his wife traveled from Pensacola to Des Plaines to help me move. We loaded the cars with my daughter's bicycle mounted on top of Ron's vehicle (fortunately, he was an avid bicyclist at the time and had a rack). 


We took off in the wee hours of the morning, a fourteen to fifteen hour journey to Pensacola. I followed Ron's vehicle from the start. If I wanted to stop somewhere, I'd flash my lights and he'd pull off the road to see what I wanted. All went well as we traveled from Illinois, through Indiana, to Tennessee, until dusk. 


We'd been following a cattle trailer pulled by one of those heavy-duty pickup trucks for many miles. If I remember right, there were about six to eight head of cattle in the trailer. It was as if we were playing leapfrog. He'd pull around us, and a little while later, we'd pull around him. We stopped at the same place for lunch and dinner that the cattle hauling pickup did each time.


After our last stop, my vehicle started to act up. We were in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, up and down the rolling hills, when my engine began to lose power. I also lost the lights. Ron apparently was in a conversation with his wife and hadn't noticed our car falling behind, nor did he hear the weak horn when I blew it. I told my daughter, Heatherlyn, then ten years old, to start praying because we were never going to make it up the next hill.


I'd been watching the reflectors on my daughter's bike spin as Ron traveled ahead of us. Now the reflectors were barely seen as my headlights dimmed to almost nothing. There were no other cars around, and the truck with the cattle trailer had passed us and moved on a little while ago. I prayed that my son would notice we weren't behind him anymore, but I had no idea how he'd find us unless he got off the road, entered the other direction, and then retraced the journey. I also had no idea how long it would be, and it was getting dark.


As my car started up the last hill, I pulled off onto the shoulder, and the engine died. My daughter and I prayed and asked God for His help. I was at the point of tears, but didn't want to cry and scare Heatherlyn. When I lifted my head, I saw Ron's car, driving backward on the shoulder, coming over the rolling hilltop in front of us, bike pedal reflectors spinning like mad. Praise God!


After I told Ron what happened, he tried the starter on my car, and it started right up. Huh? Lights came on, and everything seemed normal. He got out of the car and said he had no idea what was wrong. I said, I didn't either. He suggested we get off the highway at the next exit so he could find some light and check the engine. We did that, but he still couldn't find anything wrong, and the car didn't slow down again or lose the lights.


We decided to proceed with our journey to Pensacola and trust God to get us there. Ron said he'd follow us for the rest of the journey, and we took off. 


About half an hour later, what little traffic had accumulated on the road since we reentered had stopped. When we neared, we saw the highway patrol blocking everything in both directions, and some of the officers trying to round up cows in the median strip. The truck and trailer we'd been playing leapfrog with earlier was also in the median strip, the trailer on its side. Apparently, the driver had swerved to miss something running across the road, and the trailer toppled over onto the median strip in the process. No one was hurt in the accident, and all the cows were uninjured. Another praise God.


Not only had God kept us from being involved, and possibly injured, in this accident by giving my car a hiccup, but He protected the driver and the animals. 


I'll never forget that night. I used this incident in one of the scenes in my very first published novel. Another blessing. And a miracle. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Grace and Truth, To Be United with Christ, John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


Of course, a branch lying on the ground, not connected to the vine, will bear no fruit. Yet, Jesus says that if we sign on to be in his vineyard, we can bear much fruit and give glory to God.


Some of these words may sound harsh, but Jesus’ deep desire is that we stay with him.


Lord, prune me so that I will be more effective for you. Thank you that you allow me to ask you whatever I want. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Walking in New York City

After my family trip story last week, my friend Nina shared her and her husband’s recent trip with me.


Dave and I went to New York City for a few days. It had its glitches-


Dave was impatiently waiting in the taxi queue at JFK airport and I was on my phone when he suddenly said, “Quick, I got us an Uber!” And before I could say anything or ask questions, a man was loading my suitcase into the back of an SUV.  It was.... a fake Uber and it was quite the harrowing trip to our hotel.


Traffic was at a standstill so our driver pulled onto the shoulder and raced past everyone on his illegal lane.  Yikes.  I texted Dave- "We are in a FAKE UBER." Texted him NOT to pay by credit card, and that one should always, always use the Uber app.  Now we were in a stranger's car, illegally speeding towards Manhattan. It cost more than a cab, too. But, we survived.


We took a train from Grand Central Station one morning, up to Connecticut just so I could add one more state to my list.  Greenwich, CT is a pretty, tidy town but very, very wealthy.


How wealthy? Oh, we had a laugh later after we stopped into a second hand clothing store.  I wouldn't dare call it a thrift store because I picked up a used designer purse and looked at the little paper sales tag. $1559.  For a little pink purse. Gulp.  The gently used blouses started at $270.... and we said Good Day and walked quickly out of there!


We did get sandwiches for lunch and thankfully, those were not designer sandwiches, but it was a good fresh mozzarella and ripe tomato sandwich on crusty French bread.  Then we walked back to the train. I like that public transportation is so easy there- a train every 20 minutes back to the city.


I like to collect scents and smells and I'm glad my sense of smell is back. The smell of rain, of hot dogs and pretzels and the smell of horses and grass in Central Park. And often, the smell of weed.  It's legal and everywhere, more so than the occasional whiff of cigarette smoke on city streets.  I don't think we could go a block without the smell of pot coming from some corner or next to a shop or alleyway.


We got a lot of walking done, went to a few museums, and went to a musical- Six, about the six wives of Henry the eighth, told by six women in modern, diva pop style. Dave chose it and it was lively and fun and we were able to walk back to our hotel afterwards.


We were walking in the rain, single file, on the crowded sidewalk on the rainiest of Wednesdays when I had something odd happen. A man, coming in the opposite direction, grew frustrated by the slower people in front of him. He crossed to our side of the sidewalk and struck my umbrella as hard as he could, causing me to stumble.  Dave and I were stunned. Why would he do that? I wasn't in the way, wasn't stopped on the sidewalk. We chalked it up to him having personal problems and went on.  Then, on Friday, we were eating take out Cuban sandwiches at a little table on a sidewalk quite close to a city intersection. An older lady was getting ready to step out and across at the signal when a man came flying along on his bicycle in the wrong direction in the bike lane. The lady called out, "Hey, you almost hit me! You are going the wrong way!" And at hearing that, the man dismounted his bike, flung it down into the bike lane and stormed over to the woman. Swore and screamed at her. Spat on her. And then gave her a tremendous shove and stomped back to his bike. Bystanders and the woman and her husband were all stunned.


He rode off. The woman stared at him for a minute and continued on her way. Wow, I said to Dave, things could have been a lot worse for me.  Out of all the pleasant memories, the show, the walking to Grand Central Station, Central Park and the many thousands of perfectly decent people we passed and sometimes talked with, those two guys stick in my mind.  They are now part of the story of the trip, as much as the pilot in uniform who sat between us on the flight to New York, telling us wistfully that he was retiring at the end of the month, having reached the mandatory age limit for pilots.  I asked him what his favorite place to fly into was. “Aruba,” he said with a smile. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

First Family Trip since 2020

The last time we went on a family trip was in early March, 2020, right as things were closing down because of covid.


My mother recently moved into a senior living center, so we decided to go see her a couple weeks ago, and Caleb and Sarah said they wanted to go too.


We got a minivan, so we could be more comfortable. Sarah and Caleb, with his guide dog Hammy, sat in the back, Ping-Hwei in one of the middle seats, and Murray and I in the front.


Hammy is a very good dog, but he did sneak forward a few times, to just sit and watch Murray drive. Sometimes he moved forward with his head and shoulders between Murray and me, until Murray said, “The dog just licked my arm.”


After we’d traveled for a few hours and stopped, Sarah told me indignantly, “Caleb fed Hammy back there, and he slobbered all over me.”


As we got to Mom’s place Ping-Hwei said happily, “There’s the big dummy.” He and my brother Rodney have affectionately called each other that ever since they first met. I think it comes from the old TV show “Sanford and Son.” I was so glad the big dummy came to visit Mom while we were there.


It was often a crazy trip, trouble with the tail lights on the car, so that every time we started up again, Murray had to get out and make sure they were on. Trouble with the heat being on in the very back, even when Murray had the air conditioner on. Crazy hilly curvy country roads, busy city streets, trouble ordering food, no signs to be found on Mom’s building or our hotel.


We got up at two o’clock Saturday morning to leave early, so by the time we went to bed that night, we’d been up for twenty hours, and some of us were getting pretty grouchy. Yes! Me. I’ve got my hand up! But I was better the second night, and we had great hotel rooms with lovely breakfast provided, another thing we’d missed since we hadn’t been on a trip.


When we checked out Monday morning, the manager talked with us, just being polite, and Murray told him that Caleb used to work for another hotel chain. Caleb and the manager spent some time discussing how things had been different for both hotels for a while when covid was severe.


On our second day with Mom, we played two games of Scrabble. Sarah said she’d just watch, and Ping-Hwei did, too, but Caleb, Murray, Mom and I played. Murray kept getting a lot of points for each turn and Sarah said “What!” then, “You’re cheating,” and Ping-Hwei said, “Cheating.”


Another time, Sarah seemed to be trying to help Murray, and she said, “I don’t know why, but this time I’m rooting for Dad.”


Once Mom had to leave and go back to her room for a minute, so she told Sarah to play for her, and Sarah and Murray managed to get a triple word score for Mom. Murray won both games, but Mom was in second place at least once.


On Sunday night we visited Murray’s brother Myles’s and his family Heather and Melissa, and Murray’s brother Aaron came too. We had a lovely visit. Pizza dinner. And, happily, Melissa made a pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing from scratch. We were kind of full, but I said, “Oh, we’re definitely staying for dessert.”


Melissa has two six month old puppies, half poodle and half schnauzer. “Schnoodles,” Myles said. They were very excited, and wanted to play with Hammy. Even when Caleb let Hammy loose, he didn’t spend much time with the puppies, but when one of the puppies put his feet on my leg, Hammy quickly stood up and shoved his head on my lap, reminding me who was the dog I was supposed to be paying attention to.


I brought one of my braille Bible volumes to read along the drive, to help keep Murray up to date with his reading through the Bible in a year. Once when we stopped Caleb asked, “Was that Isaiah you were reading earlier? I thought it sounded like Isaiah.”


It was Isaiah.


It was so good to see Mom and Rodney. And even though we had some craziness on the trip, I love the people I got to share it with.