Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lions, and Tigers, and Toddlers--oh my!

The Cowardly Lion in Dorothy’s Oz has nothing on me. The Great Oz behind the screen has no chance at making me brave, either. God, on the other hand, could grant me the gift of bravery, but no. He made me to be brave only through enough sustaining grace to make it through one day at a time, despite my fears that seem to always be knocking at my heart’s door.

When my brother rejoined the Navy as a chaplain, I knew that would mean traveling to see him. It’s just what family does. Ever since the twins turned two and were no longer able to ride in our laps on the plane, I’ve been dreading the requisite road trip to see the family. In the past year, I haven’t driven them anywhere over an hour’s drive away from home. I know…pathetic.

This week, though, I’m doing just that—driving from Louisiana to Washington D.C. with my parents and children to see my brother and his wife, our beloved Uncle Johnathan and Aunt Liza.

My cowardly side appeared again yesterday evening before our morning departure. “What are you thinking!?” Then, that nagging fear took hold, coming up with so many reasons why this was a bad idea. Wyatt has allergies or a cold, and if it’s the latter, it could get worse. In cramped quarters for two days, everybody is likely to catch it. Bad!!!

Then came the children who were so crazy excited, I had to send them to the grandparents’ house just so I could get everything ready. How could I survive two solid days in a van with three children I couldn’t stand for one hour before bedtime!? I sure didn’t’ know. But, I told God I was going to need a lot of help.

At breakfast this morning, Wyatt kept watching the digital clock atop the stove. “It’s 7:30,” he recounted, then with every minute Mama and Granddaddy were “late”, he continued, “It’s 7:31, 32, 34…”

It’s been a long day. I still think I’m crazy as a loon. And I can’t even think about tomorrow’s second day in the car or the return trip without feeling short of breath. As three very noisy eyes and mouths look at me while I finish typing this, all I can think is that Willie Nelson's lyrics "I Can't Wait to Be On the Road Again" show he obviously never traveled with three preschoolers...or he was in too altered a state to care. But so far, it really has been okay, albeit very tiring as always. Every bathroom break has been met with, “Is this Liza’s?” The kids have watched Mary Poppins, Veggie tales, and other vintage Disney movies they’ve never before been exposed to. Emerson has played with stickers. Amelia has played with my mother’s 1950s Besty McCall paper dolls. Wyatt has played with his dinosaurs.

And me? I’ve crocheted a little, read a little, written a little. But most of all? I’ve enjoyed the view of the Smoky Mountains I haven't seen in years. They've definitely lived up to their name today, misty rain and thick foggy clouds hovering just high enough to seem within reach if we had only brought a ladder with us.

To a flatlander like me, a dump truck load of dirt dumped in the back yard becomes a mountain, my children screaming “King of the Mountain” most every time they run up it’s two feet height. Real mountains jutting up out of the depths and stretching high above my head, the roads cut through solid rock so we can drive between them—it’s just beautiful, reminds me of how majestic is this God I serve who created both the depths of the Louisiana swamps and the heights of the Tennessee mountains.

When you pray, remember us this week—for traveling grace, lots of patience, an extra spoonful of kindness, good health, and restful sleep.

Photos: Our Librarian's "Barkley" (like Flat Stanley) playing paperdolls with Amelia while Wyatt watches "Milo & Otis," and Emerson rearranges stickers.


  1. You ARE brave :) And we love you for making the trek! See you soon!

  2. Yikes, my comment showed up on the wrong post! Oh well, I'm sure you'll get it, nonetheless...

  3. Safe -- and sane -- travels, Jennifer. I still remember the seven-hour trip to Chicago to see my grandparents as kids. Three of us in the backseat, the occasional swing of my dad's arm from the driver's seat whapping three sets of knees without missing a beat, and my mom passing around a pack of Lifesavers every couple of hours to keep us calm. How they did it then? Amazes still.