Notes from Jan

A Gift Along the Way

October 29, 2015

Windshield wipers swatted away as I drove south on I-95 today.   Passing trucks doused my Prius  while I gritted my teeth  and gripped the wheel, trying to keep from being blown off the road.  Yesterday’s leg of the journey, all sunshine and sweet thoughts.  Today’s?  intermittent fog and unrelenting rain.  Relieved to check into the Holiday Inn Express where free internet access allows me to vent, reflect and connect with the Net before I head for bed.

This is my first long trip by myself.  Heading to North Carolina to see family and friends.  Jud or the kids were always with me before.  It’s not that I’m afraid. This is just one more reminder of how much life’s changed since Jud died.  I always loved driving, that hasn’t changed.  Have ever since my Daddy held me on his lap and let me turn that wheel back and forth while we sat parked in front of the house or even when he drove in the days long before seat belt laws and car seats with yellow hazard stickers.

When  I was 13 and 14 , Mr. Gann, a deacon in Daddy’s church, let me practice and  learn on his old Ford. On many Sunday afternoons, you’d find me at their farm in Georgia, shifting and jerking that Blue Ford around on rutted fields with his daughter and my friend, Janet, riding shotgun.  What a sight, two teens bouncing around like  cowgirls taming  a wild mustang.  Not a Ford Mustang, to be sure.

Someday when I’m older, my kids, if I’m not smart enough to catch on myself, will ask for the keys and I’ll need to relinquish one more aspect of life that I’ve loved. I hope I’ll do it with understanding, grace and  a grateful heart that they love me enough to protect me (and others on the road).  I love the freedom of jumping in the car and going somewhere, sometimes with windows rolled down(that tells you something about my age) and hair mussed just enough to let me know I’ve been somewhere.

Well, yesterday, somewhere  ended up being a Cracker Barrel in Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Not going to get a bunch of stars from Michelin unless it’s for quality of tires parked around the building.  I ordered the vegetable plate.  Makes me think it’s healthy, all but the fried okra. Jud usually got the chicken and dumplings with unsweet tea.

What’s not to like about a place with a wide front porch filled with rocking chairs and country music breaking your heart! Inside, if you’re alone, you can challenge yourself, trying to remove all but one of those pegs in the table game they put to distract you while you wait for your sweet tea to arrive.  Or you can check out the walls covered in antique gadgets, signs and old photos.  I’m always a little on edge that I might find one of my relatives  framed and hanging out on one of those walls.  Don’t think I’ve ever seen one with a smile.  All seem so severe and somber  looking like they could be of Scandinavian descent where such traits are valued.

Today, as I drove through drenching rain, I thought about Kate who informed her Daddy at church last Sunday that she wants to be “bath-tized.”  Randy Matthews who usually sits in front of us, laughed and said, “she’s in the wrong church for that.” (Episcopal)  That Swedish and Norwegian Baptist heritage has a way of showing up, demanding a fair hearing.

Music lifts my spirits, no matter what the weather, but especially when it’s miserable outside. Today John Rutter’s music altered my mood until his requiem came on. I can just cry for so long and then I have to do something, which this time was to insert another CD: Christmas with the Irish Tenors.  I know it’s October but if marketers can start promoting Halloween at the end of August, I figure I can crank up the Christmas carols whenever, wherever.   I upped the volume the second I heard, JOY to the World. It didn’t take long to change the atmosphere inside me or the Prius and before the carol ended, the fog lifted  outside.  Don’t ask me how. I’m clueless.  All I know is that JOY showed up. JOY to the world, for sure.  JOY to me in a rain sloshed Prius.  God’s gift along the way.

So I belted it out, defiant and triumphant as I gripped the wheel and tapped my left foot and sensed God’s good company.  God’s presence reminding me of the truth,”the Lord has come.”  Jesus, the Christ,  came and stayed and on this late October day, didn’t seem to mind the ride on I-95 South nor the stop at Cracker Barrel.



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  • Reply susan October 29, 2015 at 2:43 am

    I hope you’ll consider a trip over to Greensboro to visit us. we love you, Jan and you are always welcome.

  • Reply Mark Taylor October 29, 2015 at 2:56 am

    What a sweet description of this first-time-alone road trip. We can all picture that Cracker Barrel, even if we haven’t been to that specific store. Blessings as you travel and visit with family.

  • Reply Jim Trent October 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Ah, the Tar Heel state. Do have good times with relatives and friends.

  • Reply Wendy Lane October 31, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    If you’re ever wanting to stop around the DC area we would SO LOVE to have you stay with us!!! Or, we could meet you somewhere if it was a good stopping time, but you didn’t want to stay over. Just a thought 🙂 love you! and YES! Joy to the world because the Lord has come! <3

  • Reply C wilkie November 1, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Remembering this precious day some 40+ years ago when we were blessed with our Heather – a gift from our Lord. While celebrating new life, we grieved the loss of our mutual friend Chuck Hinton. The fact being: the lord give the and takes away. I much prefer His “giveths”

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