When It Rains…
God is doing something big in me. Through me. To me. At me. However you want to put it. Big. And then some.
There is a Sovereign earthquake rustling going on in my heart and in my soul.
And Satan is pissed off.
My dear friend and partner in writing crime and I have been separated for a couple weeks now. She went on vacation – and this was her stinking view
Don’t even get me started.
And then God dropped the bomb on me in the form of a book. God’s bombs are good bombs. Not always my favorite, but always good.
So, my dear partner in writing crime, let’s call her Thing One, (because yes, I am Thing Two. She’s first cause she’s, like, waaaay older. Hehehe. Can’t wait ‘til she reads that!) She fairly casually recommended for me to read this Interrupted book. Knowing I am such an avid reader somebody just spewed coffee from their mouth, she let me borrow hers.
Then she went out of town for two weeks.
God had Sovereignly brought the 2×4 to end all 2×4’s upside my head. And she was in flippin’ Ohio.
Now I know my geography is atrocious but I’m fairly certain that is way far north. And maybe west? So, all Thing One and I could do was text each other.
So, txt we did. Understatement of the century.
I would send her a quote from the book that the Holy Spirit used to cut me to my core. She would send me a quote so funny, I darn near had tears running down my legs. Back and forth, me sending funny quotes, then her sending heart conviction quotes, me sending thisauthorknowsmysecretthoughts quotes and her sending don’thavefoodinyourmouthwhenyoureadthis quotes. It was quite an interesting couple weeks of txting.
But, we couldn’t wait to actually get together, face to face and TALK about all God is saying/doing/leading/prompting/hittingusovertheheadconvicting/humbling/calling us to do.
Did I mention this kind of thing pisses Satan off? The thought of two people with a call from God to write a bunch of words that bring Jesus honor, and who are actually desperately trying to pursue a true live-like-Jesus-did-dangit type of mission…makes Satan furious. And boy did he show it.
We planned a meetingbeforethemeeting so we could get all the initial stuff thrown up out of our mouths. Then, we would have our FPT (Front Porch Time with her beloved rocking chairs) and then, once we’d gotten all our first few annoying and jumbled and rambling and baffled rounds out, we would invite our men to a meeting of the four of us.
Schedule was set. Confirmation was complete. It was done.
Satan was not.
My sweet Jacob got sick. Like, bad sick. Who gets sick in the summer in Texas? My kid does, that’s who. High fever out of nowhere. Not acting like himself. Sluggish. Weird croupy cough. In stinkin’ August, people. Not fun!
This could pose a problem for our first meetingbeforethemeeting so that we could then get ready for our FPT and then our meeting with our men. (I know, we’re bonkers)
But, it’s early. We still have a couple days, Jacob could bounce back.
In the wee hours of the night, some eight years ago, I will never forget the very millisecond Jacob breathed his first breath. I was forever changed.
But, now, in the wee hours of this night, I will never forget the sound of my eight-year-old baby as he tried to whisper/wheeze/gasp the words “Mama…I.…..can’t………breathe.”
It was true. Jacob was hardly gettig any air in. Old enough to be fully aware that this was serious, he was doing all he could. But, he just.couldn’t.breathe. After trying an initial breathing treatment, he still seemed about ready to pass out and unable to get good air in. (Confirmation this night: I do not belong in emergency situation) This is when my husband who never freaks out about anything, ever – we make a lovely pair, don’t we? – looked at me with a smidge of freak out in his eyes. This ‘bout sent me over the edge.
Riding in the ambulance with your child is unlike anything I’ve ever done. It is surreal. It is unnatural. It is scary.
My precious baby boy, whose thousands of tiny freckles take my breath away, and whose feet come far too close to being as big as mine – my baby with the curly, red hair – my toddler with the cutest ‘muscles’ face you’ve ever seen – my brilliant preschooler – my firstborn child – lay in that stretcher with a look on his face that pleaded “Mama, I’m going to be ok, right?”
Sola Deo Gloria.
To God’s glory, the amazing doctors and nursing staff at Cooks Children’s Hospital were able to open his airway and steady his breathing.
After three hours of treatments and tests, they released us to come home. No pneumonia. No bronchitis. Only croup. Very scary, but manageable.
Take that Satan! Booyah!
(T-minus eight hours until our meetingbeforethemeeting)
We all got home, and rested most of the day. i.e. Mama passed out in bed and wasn’t aware of what any of her other offspring were doing, only the one whose chest lay under her hand as they slept.
Because our meetingbeforethemeeting was technically at a kid function we both planned to attend and then subsequently isolate ourselves from the other Moms so we could talk about this big God thing – I couldn’t very well show up without my kid. “Don’t mind me, I’m just here to chat with her.” Nice.
Our first meetingbeforethemeeting now cancelled. FPT is all we had.
But, first, it’s church day.
We attend Saturday night service for many reasons. It began as a way for my lying-flat-all-day-long self to be able to attend church at all. The service was less crowded, so I could bring a pillow and take up four chairs without looking too much like a selfish lazy bumb. Then, it became a habit. (The Saturday night part, not the pillow-bringing, lazy bumb-looking part, praise God!) It also became a catalyst in our family’s enjoyment of our sacred Sundays. No plans. No ‘outsiders’. No errands. Just us. Team Holzberger sabbathing together.
But, tonight, our whole team couldn’t go.
Daddy would (ahem.) sacrifice and stay home with sweet recovering Jacob and I would take the other two rascals to church. Lord knows we all needed it.
Did I mention it was raining?
Rain? Ha! That won’t keep us away from church!
And it didn’t.
Although, for the record, the pounding thunder sounds fairly intense coming through the roof of a huge concrete and steel building.
Surely it’s not really that bad outside. I repeatedly thought allthewhile fully paying attention to the sermon.
Surely it’s not really that bad outside.
Surely it’s not really that bad outside.
Oh, but it ‘twas.
For those of you who don’t live in Texas, I am so sorry! we are an ‘anything worth doin’ is worth overdoin’ kind of state. I fit in quite nicely. You know what they say about everything being bigger here? That includes rainstorms. In the region of this fine state where I live, we generally get two types of rainstorms; light-and-annoying-but-just-enough-to-mess-up-your-fresh-car-wash-but-ain’t-gonna-do-a-dang-thing-for-your-dried-burnt-grass kind of storms, and then there’s the somebody-go-find-any-guy-named-Noah-cause-I-think-God-changed-His-mind-and-is-wiping-us-all-out-again kind of storms.
This was the latter.
Somehow the three kids and I got to my blessed Grace (the van) without being washed away. Did I mention Ryan was home? As in, inside and dry? Like, not at church this time? During the flood? Ok…just checking.
So, me and my two younger chicks get safely inside Grace, wring out our clothes, and laugh about how we…um, er, gracefully ran there all huddled up together. It was quite a sight to see.
Quick time check – 6:17pm. (Actually clock said 6:29pm but as all my friends know, that’s just ‘Holzberger time’)
T-minus two hours until FPT.
Ok, Drive home. Get kids fed something that resembles nutrition. Oh yeah! We got drenched in the rain…bath time = check. Cuggle. Sing songs. Say prayers. Tell them they ‘must go to sleep or else’ about six times. Then drive to Thing One’s house and finally talk about this God stuff. I can do this. I can do this. I can do hard things!!
We begin down our normal route home. In hindsight, I should have taken the major roads and not the back roads during a monsoon. Note to self. But, then we’d have missed all this…
As we approach what I’m fairly certain is slower moving cars ahead, I brace for delay. Literally not being able to see a car lengths past my Grace, I sloooow to a crawl. (They really should have a warp speed option for Texan’s windshield wipers. And while I love Grace dearly, windshield wiping is not her finest feature.)
Then I see what looks like two cars who’ve gone off into the ditch.
Oh no! Poor things! Then I see white lights. Blurred lights through all the rain. But, I’m certain they are white.
Wait a minute, don’t the white lights on the back of a car mean reverse!?!
Shootamonkey! Those people are driving backwards.
My brilliantandnotatallstuntedbybirthingandraisingthreechildren brain deduced that the road is so flooded up ahead that people are turning back…as in, backwards to avoid being ditch-dwellers like the other cars.
So, in my true nature of following everyone else’s lead (ahem.) I assure myself I can do this better. She said humbly.
Oh this is good! I should have gone the main roads anyway. In fact, I can do one better. I don’t want to just drive backwards. Instead, I’ll back up into one of these driveways that I can barely see off the side of the road and then turn around and drive safely going forwards in the other direction. Brilliant plan, self. Why, thank you, self.
May I introduce you to ditch-dweller #3? Me.
I would love to say the rapids swept me up into the ditch. And I very well may change my story to that someday, be prepared. But, really, I just made a false move, couldn’t see a bloomin’ thing, and slid in the mud perhaps? down into the ditch.
This would be an appropriate time to interlude a story of my incredible backwards driving history. Me and Tow-Mater are ranked nationally. I may or may not have bragged on num-er-ous occasions to my husband that I can back out of anywhere. I drove camp vans for goodness sakes.
A story for another time.
Anyway, there we sat. Me, and two of my children with Grace’s butt in a ditch rising with water. I didn’t panic at first. At first it was more like –
Crap! Ryan’s gonna kill me then tease me forever. This cannot cost us more money on top of Jacob’s ambulance ride and ER visit from THIS MORNING! Ugggghhhhh.
Oh no! What if I broke Grace? I can’t break Grace – not after all God did to get her to us. (LINK)]
Holy cow! How will we get out of here. Ryan can’t pack sick Jacob up and come get us. Oh no!!
Ok, STOP! Assess the situation. A – open the airway. B – check for breathing. No wait…that’s not right.
Then my precious baby girl interrupted my panic thoughts with “Maaaammaaaa, what did you do to our van!?!”
Nice. Thanks, only daughter of mine.
After about ten minutes (and four frantic phone calls) this lovely vision of a car pulled up to me. A gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) woman rolled down her window and yelled “Do you need help!?!”
I was on the phone with Ryan at the time trying to calmly get his advice without having to recount every single stinking detail to my methodical man about how the heck I did this. “Can I just explain it to you later, DEAR ONE, I am stuck in a ditch!”
I yelled back to this precious woman, “I don’t think so. Thanks!”
As if someone was trying to help me pick up dropped groceries. Or tie my freaking shoe. No, no…says the-woman-in-a-ditch-with-her-two-small-children-in-the-middle-of-a-flood….I’m good. I got this. Oh pride, be gone.
Then, reason, in the form of my husband’s voice came yelling through the phone “TAKE THE HELP!! CARRIE – TAKE THE HELP!!!!”
So, in true me fashion (Ahem. Ahem. Aheeeemmm.) I submitted to his advice and took the help.
Enter my rescuers.
This well dressed and handsome Knight-in-shining-prep-clothes rushed to my door with his umbrella. He calmly reassured my kids that everything was going to be ok. Abigail is screaming now cause “I DOOON’T WAAAANNNAA LEEEAVE MY VAAAAN, MAAAMMMAA!” Thanks, Abigail. You’re right. Let’s just hang out here in the van for a while. Wanna play Angry Birds on my phone? Sigh.
I scooped her up, trudged through the pouring rain while the Knight grabbed Benjamin and put our soaked, muddy, hysterical selves into their luxury SUV. Leather. Little TVs. Screen in the front for the GPS thingy. Grown-up wood paneling. I am fairly certain there was a mini-fridge somewhere. I immediately wanted to scream to my children, “If you put your muddy shoes all over these beautiful seats, sohelpme, I will send you back into the pouring rain!” Thankfully, for once, I refrained.
Me, frazzled? I know, shocker, huh?
I am a spazz when I am rested, prepared, ironed and freshly highlighted. So, God bless the poor unsuspecting people who pulled me outta a ditch. They did NOT know what they were getting themselves into. Fo’ sho’.
You know how you picture what it would be like to meet a famous person and you, unlike all the other losers, would completely hold it together and not slobber all over them and throw yourselves at their feet in a mess of snotty tears? You are bigger than that. But, then you see Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre (from NKOTB, like duh) at a table having lunch and you shriek so only dogs can hear, trip over your oversized jellies and MC Hammer pant’s cuffs, flinging a plate of spaghetti into Jordan’s face and landing your face dead square into Joey’s crotch.
Ya, it was pretty much like that. Only worse.
No, these people weren’t famous. But, oh what a fool I was.
I was nervous. Embarrassed. Frazzled. Confused. Scared. Sostinkingmadatmyself. Oh ya, and I looked like a wet poodle. Ps. I went suuuuper casual to church that night so I was wearing black yoga pants, a t-shirt, and sketchers.
I talked too much. Overcompensated even more. And basically blabbered all over these poor unsuspecting people who had just rescued me and my babies.
It went something like this –
“I am so sorry. I promise I’m a very good driver and also a very responsible Mom. I love Jesus and everything. In fact, we were coming back from church, where we go almost every single week. I even used to be on staff. (See? That’ll show them I’m not messed up! Ha!) And I am super cautious about driving, especially in the rain and especially with my babies in the van. I used to drive camp vans, and I’m actually very good at backing up! Goodness gracious. I don’t even know what happened to the road. It must have moved or something. I hope my van isn’t broken. God like gave us that van, you should hear the story. And just so you know, my husband is amazing and would be here in a heartbeat but he is at home with my son who was rushed to the emergency room at 3am this morning because he was not breathing! And although this is all so crazy, oh I am just so thankful I can even drive, I’ve been sick for the better part of the last five years and I just can’t even tell you how faithful God is. I couldn’t even sit up, ya know? Man, Satan is trying to kick me down today, specifically today, because he knows how much I wanna talk about this book. Oh you should totally read it! It’s changed my life for Jesus in such an amazing way. The enemy isn’t going to win tonight, though! In fact, he can Go To Hell! (Yes I said that in front of their precious two little girls in the back who most assuredly were going to have nightmares tonight, not about being washed away in a flood but about the crazy lady who jumped into their car. Sigh)
I may or may not have also mentioned my extreme labor with Abigail, being named after a country song, and my husband’s recent vasectomy. For the love of Pete, we were only about five miles from my house. Those poor people.
God, could you please bless my dear rescuers for A: picking us up, and more importantly for B: not throwing me back out after mile two.
We arrive home and then to top it all off, I cry. (Again, shocker.)
I hugged her neck (way longer than you should with a stranger) and whispered (not in a creepy way, but in a sincere way…I think.) “Thank you so much for helping me and my kids. It has been such a tough week. I honestly don’t know how to thank you.” I think she saw it in my eyes. Behind the fear, the frazzlement and the obvious insanity – I tell myself that she saw the glimpse of Mama desperation and gratitude I was trying so hard to display.
Then I cried and hugged her Knight and thanked him again and again.
I was quite certain they couldn’t back out of my driveway fast enough. They avoided the ditch on either side of my driveway just fine, for the record.
I watched them drive away and made the kids wave and wave. Ok well, I hope I don’t bump into them in the Target line. Her kids may start sucking their thumb and rocking back and forth while pointing at me.
We were home.
Soggy, but safe.
My Knight rushed out with my sweet Dad and off they went into the rain to rescue our Grace. With them, our dear friend who is a wicked strong guy with an ever bigger heart. These three men braved the elements, arrived at the ditch, on a mission to save my sweet van. It took them about three minutes. Dangit.
When Ryan sent this picture, my first thought was, Huh. I remember it being much scarier looking and
the raging rapids being a lot deeper than that.
Ryan and Dad and sweet James all got to their respective houses safely.
All was well.
T-plus 23 minutes past FPT. (Insert sad face.)
My repetitive thought – But what about FPT time? God, I know you wanted us to do this.
I txted Thing One to see what she thought. We went back and forth about what kind of crazy person rushes with her kid to the ER in an ambulance, then drives her van into a ditch and still gets back out into the rain.
Knowing Ryan would deny my request to take our only other vehicle out in this weather, I only asked because I told Thing One I still wanted to come. She and I are selfish and a little nuts right now, with this intense desire to know what God is trying to do in us, through us, at us, etc.
She asked her man. I asked mine.
Her man always has others best interest at heart. “She’s had a long weekend. I think she needs to rest.”
Ryan’s response – “Sure! Go.”
With all due respect to her man, who was technically probably wiser at the moment…we picked Ryan’s answer.
He knew how long we’d talked about this. He knew how desperately we needed to get phase one of this out of our mouths. He knew God was working. And Satan was working too.
I drove to her house, only thirty minutes later than we had planned, days and days ago. Before the ambulance. Before the ER. Before the flood. Before the ditch.
As I drove to Thing One’s house in what had now become the other type of Texas wimpy drizzly rainstorm…I could help but smile. God totally won.
I have no idea what He is going to do with me. I’m fairly certain He feels the same way always sometimes.
But, FPT happened.
It was precious. It was all about Jesus. To Him be the glory.
As far as what we discussed…you will have to wait ‘til tomorrow.
But, know this friend…when you are trying to do good for God – Satan will come. He fights mean. He fights dirty. He fights hard. You will lose if you fight back on your own. Guaranteed.
May I humbly encourage you to do the thing God’s called you to do.
Don’t waiver in doubt.
Don’t shrink back in fear.
Don’t get caught up in the complacent, self-serving, too-busy-with-soccer-and-and-school-and-work-and-errands-to-do-good-for-God cycle. I know that cycle well. It is a cycle that brings Satan pleasure. Flee from it with me.
Get back out in the rain and drive.
And tell Satan to GO TO HELL! (Please not in front of my rescuers children.) It is where he belongs and will be for all eternity. Amen.
But, for now, one more gigantic THANK YOU to the adorable family who rescued us. I promise, I really am completely normal. Which I know is what not normal people say, but I really do mean it.
Ps. Praise God from whom all blessings flow that the NKOTB story was purely hypothetical, yet completely possible in my world.