Furlough, for some, proves to be a learning time; a period of testing flexibility, patience, love, and responses; of examining expectations; of purifying motives; and of bonding with both family, friends, and churches. It really can be a mixed bag of exhaustion and excitement; of stepping out confidently in faith or wondering what is going on. Sometimes things go wrong; plans are suddenly changed; it rains on our party. Yet, even in the midst of those times (after a good heart- check-up and perhaps a needed spiritual cleansing), I realize God is so good. Here are some of the “not-what-I-expected-nor-ordered” occasions and the silver-lining in the midst.
- Cancelled meetings provided opportunities to be in several new churches.
- When locked out of the trailer recently the boys creatively came to the rescue.
- The phone Jerry needed for directions was miles away in my possession. We learn to pray, pay attention to details…and ask directions!
- We’ve learned to keep jugs of water available to do dishes or buckets to do “spit” baths. A smaller holding tank keeps us cautious about not filling it too quickly…yuck.
- Hauling water from church kitchens in a 5-gallon bucket presents reminders of experiences in rural Zimbabwe.
- Ironing big clothes on a small board, although awkward at times, is efficient.
- The hanging clothes occasionally end up in heaps, shaken down on the windy, bumpy, hilly roads (Pittsburgh and WV fit that description!). Smile (or sigh).
- Complaining doesn’t change the situation, so Bri’s motto is, “Shut up, pick ’em up, hang ’em up.”
- “All eyes” is helpful in double-checking the bathrooms for shampoos and body washes…which too often go unintended and unnoticed into “the ministry” at the State Campgrounds
- Speaking of which…Something was noticeably missing. I thought aloud, “Don’t tell me I forgot my TOWEL…! Yep, you forgot your towel. I SAID, ‘Don’t tell me!’…” Hoping nobody else was there to hear my conversation I hurriedly dried off with my pajamas, thanking the Lord for the benefits of early rising — trusting others probably weren’t there eavesdropping!
- The next day I remembered my towel, but my clothes awaited me in the trailer. That happened to be the day our neighbor also had an early start. At least my pajamas looked like a dress, and the weather made it conducive to wearing a coat. Ah, nobody dresses up for camping anyway!
- Why in the world would a toad hide out in the doorway of a church building? He must have been made of rubber because he was back in recluse even after my size 8 flattened him to the sidewalk. I don’t know who was more startled….! Did I ever mention I don’t like toads??
- I lost my glasses. The first time I walked across the bridge from ND to MN twice looking for them and praying. To my shame, it occurred to me that I don’t pray and seek for lost, eternal souls as fervently as I was doing for those temporal glasses blending into the weeds. Only God could have directed my eyes to my “second eyes,” as camouflaged as they were!
- When Grandma couldn’t find her glasses we prayed and then put feet to our prayers. They were in the last place we looked, right where she left them. Later Joshua came to MY rescue in finding my prescription glasses in the green grass…right where they had fallen when I traded them for sunglasses. Yes, I pray about things like that!!
- Our travels also took us down “Tornado Alley” in a tagalong trailer. We missed a few tornadoes–or should I say they missed us?!
- When there is not enough ampage for air conditioning we can use the built-in fan system, portable fans, or sit outside in the breeze or inside the cool church whenever possible.
- Different lighting wherever we park varies from pitch-black in a state park to full security lighting in a parking lot. It’s good to be tired enough to sleep wherever!
- Trying to remember from day to do where I am , where I’ve been, where I am going…without peeking at a calendar rates almost as a miracle. It’s good to know GOD knows and that He has promised to be with me.
- Remembering names or placing them with faces of dear people who have faithfully prayed for us, written, or even phoned can be challenging. Asking (even again) and writing them down helps. How fun to connect with experiences or stories shared!
Blessings are abundant when our eyes are on the Lord, our hormones are in balance, and our hearts and spirits are right. In fact, God’s goodness abounds even when those things aren’t right. We just have a harder time seeing.
All these things and more make for a very interesting and memorable furlough. And that’s just a glimpse!
Onward for the Lord,