I don't know about you, but I serve the funniest God ever. I mean, His sense of humour is priceless and His timing is spot on. The trick is He is one of those smart funny people who make jokes that I *know* are funny so I laugh right out loud, but I hope He doesn't say "Do you get it?" because I'll have to admit that I really have no clue what the joke was about but I didn't want Him to think I was severely delayed in my mental capacity.
That's what my Thursday was all about. This was kind of right up there with the WalMart fiasco in my books in terms of "frustration factor" but remarkably I did not lose it this time. I might actually be able to say that I was calm and pleasant all by the grace of God. So here goes:
Thursday July 10 from 11-3, the Ramada Inn was going to be hosting an Abeka Book Display. I was all pumped to go and order our math and, for the first time, language curriculum for our next school year. You get free shipping if you go in person and I'm all about saving, and not wasting, time and money. (ha ha. That will be ironically funny later.)
So I load the van with 7 fantastic children all who have gone to the bathroom and the baby having been fed. We are ready for the hour drive and looking forward to the promise of a Great Canadian Bagel after we do our shopping. I'm a happy momma.
The tunes are playing my songs (as opposed to Veggie Tales Campfire Songs), the kids are giggling in the backseat, the sun is shining. It is a good day to be on the 402. But hark, what red light from yonder dashboard breaks? It is the battery warning light....hmmmm. I'll have to tell my hubby when I get home.
Funny thing, that. That little light sure had my attention, as did the arrow on the 'battery level gage' (if that's what you call it). The arrow started slipping from half/normal to less than normal....kind of quick like. I turn off my happy tunes and my happy a/c. The arrow continues to dip. I turn off my lights. The arrow continues to dip. I notice we are approaching the turn off to get to my inlaws and I start praying that we would get that far and forget about Abeka and yummy bagels. The arrow dips faster. I pray harder.
I notice, my accelerator ain't acceleratin' so much. And my steering wheel is a lot more "arm strong" than "power"....
"Hey kids! Guess what? We're going to have a bit of an adventure today...and not necessarily a great one."
The car stalls completely, I put on my hazards, and we slowly make our way to the shoulder. Stuck. On the side of a major highway with 7 kids in the car, one water bottle, no cell phone, and 1 kilometre to go to the exit to my inlaws.
So I say to the kids "Let's just pray for a minute" and we ask that the Father will send the right person to help us at just the right time, and that we will be safe here on the side of the road (I couldn't get the van off the road quite as far as I might have liked).
I hop out and pop the hood (this much I can do) and then I wait for someone to notice that we are broken down and not just letting a little kid "water the weeds" if you know what I'm saying. As I wait and notice that no one is coming, I dig deep into my acting skills. I stand right by the driver's side corner of the hood where the oncoming traffic can see me and put one hand on my hip and one on my head, scratching my forehead in a confused manner, saying out loud (like they could hear me) "Wow, my car died. What should I do?"
For future reference: That doesn't work.
By the providence of God I was even wearing a skirt that day (wouldn't you if you were going to buy homeschool curriculum?) and I was not afraid to use it to my advantage should we get that desperate.
More acting. More flagging down of cars. More being looked at and ignored (yes, I saw you Mr. Business man and Friend in your pretty BMW on your cell phones and Blackberries. I saw you look at me, rubber neck, and then carry on. Nice. Don't worry. It is way cooler for a girl in a WHITE ANKLE LENGTH SKIRT to try to fix a car than for you to get your metrosexual selves all greasy. I get that. You may have even damaged your Manly manicure by dialing 911 for me. It's all good.) More sitting in the car making sure the kids are still not going mental. They are busily writing "Car Broke. Please Help Us" signs. Very industrious. Then I think the unthinkable: Also by the providence of God, I have my double stroller in the back and I know we are only 1km to the off ramp. Really? I'm going to try to walk to Strathroy? Oh my word.
So I pull out the stroller and set it up on the remarkably loose gravel. I give 'er a push to see how plausible this is (not very) and try to mentally envision how close the nearest building is to the exit. I know the OPP office is somewhere around there but how far and what else and SERIOUSLY!!!! and Oh Lord could someone just.pull.over.
But fret not. I'm not so self-centered as you might think. In that moment I thought of you. I did! I said, out loud even, "If I need to walk down the side of this stinkin' highway with my freakishly large family, it will make one awesome blog post."
But the walk of death was not meant to be. At just at that moment, I tried one more mime action. I waved with my left hand and made a "phone to the ear" move with the right all the while saying (in case someone could hear me *this* time) "Do you have a cell phone? I just need to call a tow truck".
Lo and behold, a man had pity on my plight and pulled over.
A great big, 18-wheeler, Freightliner truck, pulls over and backs up to my van. As the door of the cab popped open I heard angels singing and I prit'near skipped over to this man saying "Hurray and thank you for stopping".
Yahoo for Mike from Poland who works for Freightliner. He saved the day. He told me about his little grandson. He even tried to fix the car for me and then told me in his charming accent that "GMC makes no-think but junk". He let me use his cell and even offered to put all of us into his sleeper cab and drive us into Strathroy if we needed (looking back I should have TOTALLY taken him up on that offer. The kids would have had a blast, and talk about good blog stories).
He was the perfect guy to pull over at just the right time. God is good.
Then while we were waiting for superhero Father in Law to come to the rescue, our friendly neighbourhood OPP officer pulled up behind us wondering if we needed help and if he could call someone for us. Seems that someone saw "a woman on the side of the road with the hood up and a stroller" and thought that maybe the cop would want to come check it out.....ya think?
All in all it went well. We were happily on our way to my inlaws place after one and a half hours of sitting on the side of the road. It could have been worse.
But here is the ironic part: remember how I was going to this thing to "save money on shipping"? Okay. So Dad lovingly says "why don't you use my van and go in to buy the books anyway so at least the day isn't a total waste". Excellent idea. We get there with half an hour to spare before they close shop. I ask the beautiful woman at the Ramada counter which room Abeka is set up in. She looks at me like I'm speaking pidgin. Clearly the display is not there today. She most graciously calls 10 other hotels in the area to see if I just had the wrong location. nope. nope nope nope. nope nope. nope. nadda. zip.
So to console myself I take the 5 kids I had brought with me to Tim Horton's for a cookie because, well, we needed it.
When I returned home to my lovely abode later that night (having driven dad's van home and leaving mine in Strath to get fixed) I log on to Dear Abeka's website where they have apparently canceled EVERY.STINKIN'.DISPLAY for the rest of the summer....I think. There is no notice saying that, but the display locations are no longer anywhere near me. Nor near halfpint in August as previously advertised.
Ah yes. So in my attempt to save some cashola on shipping, I used my gas tank, my alternator, a remarkably small tow truck fee, Dad's gas tank in the van (3ce), and then one more trip there and back when Mom and Dad lovingly drove our fixed van out to us....all at $1.35 a litre....
and I still don't have my books.
BUT, and this is big, I NEVER got angry, frustrated, ticked, concerned, worried, freaked, mental, .... I was just waiting, and laughing, and being blown away by my Brilliantly amazing kids who (baby and 2 year old included) just hung out in the van, buckled up for an hour and a half with out any wailing, gnashing of teeth, or tearing of clothes.
The Lord is working in our hearts making us more and more like Him. I've been trying to figure out what that day was all about. Maybe that's it. Just a test to show me what is in my heart normally, and what He is beginning to put there instead. Of course the girls were trying ot convince me it is a sign from the Lord that we ought not to do Abeka math, or really any math at all, next year.
I'll wait for a burning bush on that one.