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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In This Car

We just rolled in from our first out of state family vacation.  We took a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas with the kiddos.  You know you haven’t taken your kids too far from home when your daughter asks, “Do they speak another language in Arkansas?”  I assured her that our destination was indeed far (10 hours in the car), but not quite THAT far.

The road trip there was itself an adventure.  But my friends, Donna and Melissa, each equipped me with some “must-haves” for a long ride in the car.  Donna lent me some nifty travel bingo cards she had made and laminated and Melissa insisted that I have Mad Libs to make the trip fly by.  For the life of me I couldn’t remember what Mad Libs were until I saw the book at a Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way.

How could I forget Mad Libs?!  Being a lover of words, that was one of my very favorite pastimes as a kiddo!  So, I grabbed the world’s greatest word game off that shelf and couldn’t wait to get back in the car (I thought I’d NEVER say that!)

My six-year-old daughter wanted me to share the story that she created while I drove and my husband asked her for nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives.  The edition we bought was “Camp Daze,” so the stories all related to summer camp.  Here goes:

“The most important game you will play at camp is tennis.  Tennis is popular with young people, soft people, and even with elderly skunks.  Playing tennis gets you out in the nasty air and is really stinky exercise.  You can wear special rats made especially for the court.  The most important part of tennis is the serve.  To serve, you throw the macho man high in the air and hit it into your opponent’s miserable sasquatch.  Then you rush up to the Loch Ness Monster and sleep.  The various strokes in tennis are called the overhand mountain, the hardy volley, and the back-liver return.  And, if you win, you must remember to run up and leap carefully over the grass.  Then slap your opponent on the bear and say, ‘Wow!’”

Another funny one was about a camp kitchen inspection:

“Inspectors from the State Department of Health and Motels came here today to inspect the crunchy kitchen and to make sure that our lumpy cooks were washing their underarms before preparing our smelly meals.  And, that there are no little aardvarks or tarantulas running around in the kitchen and spreading grass.  They checked the lunch prepared by our dietitian Lou Holtz.  We had spaghetti and garbage can balls.  On Tuesdays, we have boiled pelican with rice.  On Wednesdays, we have a choice of zoo soup or a boat omelet with oil sauce.  The inspector found a lot of ants in the salad and said there was too much hair in the milk.  In the future, we will have less bacon to eat and more turnips.  But, I bet it will still taste bruised.”

Kids always laugh at words like smelly, stinky, yucky, and nasty.  So, the car was full of giggles for much of the way.  After pit-stops, hungry stops, gas stops, and stops to stretch our legs, we finally crossed the Texas state line!  Seriously.  If you’ve traveled to ANYWHERE from Texas, you will know that getting OUT of Texas is the biggest obstacle!  Whew!

Anyway, after we arrived and got settled into our “home away from home,” we had such a wonderful time.  We mined for quartz crystals, rode roller coasters at Magic Springs theme park, swam at Crystal Falls, discovered cool sciency things at Mid-America Science Museum, fished at beautiful lakes, took long walks in the woods, and just enjoyed carefree timelessness with the fam.

When our nine days came to an end, it was difficult to leave.  Why?  We had nothing there…no material items that is.  All we brought were a few clothes, a couple of fishing poles, a camera, and ourselves.  It was hard to leave because of the memories we made there.  We knew we’d take the memories with us, but the distraction-free time we had there was hard to say good-bye to.

Aside from the fact that we would terribly miss our extended family (who all live in Texas), I think it would have been easy to just stay.  We didn’t have any “stuff” to clutter our time there.  What do I mean?  Well, Janel Esker of Liguori Publications had some absolutely amazing reminders in last week’s church bulletin that I want to share with you.

“We all could use a good Hoarders-like-clean-out of our homes, closets, and cars.  We have a lot of stuff.  And stuff requires work – cleaning, maintenance, and storage.  The number of storage facilities in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years.  Think about that:  We need buildings to do nothing but house stuff we can no longer fit into our homes.”

“In itself, stuff isn’t bad.  The problem occurs when stuff turns into clutter and it clutters our homes, our lives, and our hearts, and it certainly can clutter our relationship with God.”

“Think of the time we spend protecting our stuff with insurance, lockboxes, and alarms.  Think of the energy we expend deciding who will get our stuff after we’re gone – which child or relative should have which piece of jewelry or collectible.  Think how often we complain about not having more stuff when we ought to be living every day with immense gratitude for all we already have.  Such time and energy could be spent much more fruitfully in service to God and to each other.”

“Do our possessions possess us?”

Wow.  Aren’t her words powerful?  It feels so good to de-clutter…on so many levels.

To end this week’s Sips, I wanted to share one final thought.  Many times, while driving home, we’ve seen smoke in the direction of our house.  Living in the country, many folks have burn piles, so it’s a common sight.  I don’t know how many times we’ve prayed that it wasn’t a home burning (like ours).  But, each occasion has given me a quiet opportunity to remember what truly matters.  With my husband in the seat beside me and our three kids in the back, I remember that what actually matters to right here in this car.

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