(Our family is on a five month RV trip. We are journeying West from Dallas, TX and making our way up the Western coastline finishing in Washington state before we streamline our way back to CO for the summer.)
After a great week in Las Vegas, we moved out of the hotel and drove back to the Phoenix RV Park having devised a plan to retrieve my vehicle from Denver. We considered shipping it via long-haul truck but opted, instead, to fly out ourselves and drive it back.
The trip to Colorado would also give us a chance to check on our house remodel at the ranch thus killing two birds with one stone. Now, with the burst water pipe and ensuing floodwaters at our South Denver suburban home, we had another remodeling project on our hands. This stone had better be big, as we need to kill many more than two birds during our brief visit.
The morning of our flight, John received this text from his business partner:
Had our first break in. Drills and rivet guns gone. Drove through garage door to get in.
We shook our heads, staring at the words. His manufacturing plant in Denver was broken into along with a string of other businesses in the industrial area. No one was hurt. Major equipment wasn’t damaged. Authorities were notified.
We began the RV trip three weeks ago and we’d had THREE incidents in THREE weeks:
- Mini Cooper totaled.
- Denver house flooded from a burst water pipe.
- Thieves broke into John’s plant.
Birds, it seemed, were attacking from everywhere. A bird-dog might serve us better than a stone at this point. Fearfully, we boarded the flight that afternoon. With Blake in charge of his younger siblings for three nights, we felt it necessary to review the details of our will with him. At this point, no topic was off-limits.
Seemed weird making hotel reservations in Colorado where we own two houses but are unable to sleep at either. No water at one house and no walls at the other. I felt discouraged.
During the plane flight my mind wrestled with my heart. We knew for certain that God stirred up the desire in our hearts to pursue this RV journey. Even clearer was its purpose. Initially, we knew that this close-quarter travel would build unbreakable bonds in our family. Tie knots between unmatched DNA genes and untrusting birds in our nest nearly nine years after giving them our last name.
Our adoption road has been more than bumpy. It’s been more like driving into large potholes and waiting for a tow truck driver that never arrives. I keep thinking that the superimposed warts on my face will begin to slowly fade and even disappear as Nanny McPhee’s do when the kids under her wings begin to love and trust her.
It just hasn’t happened that way. In many ways, loving and parenting these kids has made me more loving and accepting of people and, in other ways, I’ve become more cynical. If this RV trip was about family bonding, I was in.
Another, less apparent, purpose for this RV trip surfaced that was sure to pull on John’s faith appendages like when a kid tugs Stretch Armstrong’s arms and legs beyond their joints. John felt God’s spirit urging him to lead our family in nightly devotions and pray aloud for our family’s struggles, health, and protection.
John had never prayed aloud. Ever. He also felt led to share his faith with his West coast customers and be willing to pray aloud with his customers if they felt comfortable to share life’s struggles with him. John went all in, too.
For the past three weeks, John’s impact on our family and countless men and women in the sign industry was immeasurable. God was at work. We knew that these three random incidents were anything but random. The prince of this world was trying to distract us from the will of the Father.
It’s hard to blindly follow God’s leading when things are in shambles, but I love the paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:18 in The Message:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
We landed in a snow-white Denver landscape and hired a car service to deliver us to our Denver doorsteps and my SUV in the garage. We took a few moments to walk around the house and assess the damage in person.
The restoration company had removed damaged drywall and baseboards from the flooded areas. Oversized fans blew air into walls, on the main floor hardwoods, and under the basement carpet. All of the family room furniture was shoved into the kitchen. Furniture in the basement was scattered. A musty smell hung in the air.
The upstairs was untouched. Drywall and carpets in tact. Beds made. Furniture still in place. Seemingly perfect. Reminded me how I’ve lived my life in the past. My third floor appearance didn’t always reflect what I was feeling down in the basement. Living through gut wrenching situations, walls crumbling, floors heaving beneath me, yet smiling and pretending that everything was hunky dory.
Several years ago, I fervently prayed for a changed life. It took a flood, a near soul drowning in 2010 before I allowed the son of a carpenter to perform the necessary heart renovations to live a vulnerable life before others. I stared into my bedroom, thankful that the gal that moved into this house ten years ago wasn’t the same one standing in it today.
We each grabbed a heavy coat from our closet and headed to dinner with friends before checking into the hotel. Eight hours of sleep later, we drove, in the snow, to meet our contractor and see our blueprints come to life in a newly framed interior.
Mounds of fresh, mountain snow greeted us along with thirty-degree temperatures. With plastic for windows and doors, we were thankful for the only part of the house that wasn’t being demolished: the fireplace. Our contractor kept us warm with a roaring fire while we spent five hours reviewing details with the electrician, the plumber, the tile installer, and the painter.
I walked through my two-by-four framed oasis envisioning myself holding a freshly brewed cappuccino from my built-in espresso machine with warmed, tile floors beneath my feet looking out onto my covered porch surrounded by mountain and lake views.
This part of the trip was a wonderful distraction. We fell in love with this mountain land and purchased the former guest ranch in January 2012. We didn’t fall in love with the existing house. We toyed with the idea of building a new house from the ground up but sticker shock and the reality of spending only six months a year in it prevented that idea from happening.
We decided to gut the existing 1,800 square foot home, rework the layout, and rebuild it to our liking. I was ready to lay down a sleeping bag on the cold floor and stay. But I had a mammogram scheduled back in Denver for the following day. One more bird to stone before we hit the road back to Phoenix.
Insurance claim filed, damages assessed, repairs scheduled, and a vehicle procured made the trip to Colorado a success. We finished out the week in Phoenix and looked forward to a change of scenery in San Diego, CA. Only an overnight in Yuma, AZ and a tour of the Peanut Factory were between the Pacific Ocean and us. This bird would fly.
Next Stop: San Diego, CA