Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving and the last hour

I’m back from a glorious Thanksgiving with my family.

I got to see my sister pregnant for the first time. So sweet!

And I got to spend Thanksgiving with my entire family. If you’ve been around here in past years, you’ll know that Thanksgiving, while my favorite holiday of the year, has been a bit of a bummer for me. Normally, our Thanksgiving plans consist of just the five of us, so when I think about creating a beautiful meal, setting out the good china and silver, and having just five people around our table, it doesn’t set quite right with me.

So we’ve resorted to eating out. Still, a bummer, but better than the alternative. I think.

Anyway, this year was awesome. For so many reasons.

The week before we left, I had already started to dread the drive home. B wasn’t going to be able to drive home with us because he had to fly from Dallas to a business trip. I knew I had to make the 900 mile drive myself with the girls. Thankfully, I had two more drivers, and Julia was willing to help out in a pinch (*wink wink*), so I knew we’d be fine.

But the drive. Ugh. Nine hundred miles is just a LONG WAY.

We made it. In fact, we cruised. My girls are awesome travelers—lots of early training—so they just hunkered down and didn’t complain at all. We only made quick stops to go to the bathroom or to grab some ice cream, but aside from that we just didn’t stop.

We made the trip in 14 hours. Very nearly a record.

(Never let it be said that my small bladder is to blame for longer road trips. We managed just fine, thankyouverymuch.)

Anyway, somewhere along the way I had mentioned to the girls that the last hour of the trip was the worst for me. I knew the road like the back of my hand, and because of that, I just wanted to be HOME.

I also knew that, statistically, the last hour of the trip was the most dangerous. People put down their guard or something like that.

We had just passed what is, for me, that awful point where I feel like I can’t take it anymore—about one hour from home—when I noticed that the cars on the other side of the road were beginning to back up.

“Hey,” I said to the girls, “Check out the traffic on the other side of the road. We must have missed seeing an accident because the traffic is really backed up over there.”

There was probably a 2-mile traffic jam, but then traffic was moving again . . . for about a mile. Suddenly, we came upon fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars almost completely blocking the other side of the highway. Again. 

This time the accident looked serious.

We were marveling at the traffic—commenting about how these poor people would get through one terrible jam, thinking they were free of it, and one mile later come upon another back-up that was just as bad, if not worse, than the first—when all of a sudden we saw a THIRD crash. This time it was just a rear-end situation, probably common when traffic slows down suddenly, but still, three crashes in a stretch of about five miles.

We were amazed . . . and so grateful that the accidents were on the OTHER side of the highway and not on ours.

Needless to say, I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and slowed down just a bit.

One of my girls said, “Can you imagine having to sit in that mess? I feel sorry for the people further on down the highway—they don’t know what they’re about to go through. I feel like we should warn them or something.”

Now, I’m not one to over-spiritualize things, and I didn’t feel the need to point this out at the time, but the lesson was obvious to me and I kept turning it over in my mind for the rest of the car ride.

Here’s the thing. If you knew that your friend, family member, or co-worker was headed for a figurative traffic jam of epic proportions, wouldn’t you want to warn them?

Wouldn’t you want to say, “Hey, you’re heading down the wrong highway and you’re going to get caught up in a real mess. Try taking a different way.”

And yet, I have friends whom I know are headed down the wrong highway. I wonder, have I warned them? Have I spoken these exact words into their lives? Have I lived in such a way that my life speaks to them of an alternative route?

The last hour. It’s haunting. It’s dangerous. It’s tiring. And it’s the most important hour of the trip.

I'm not sure I'll ever look at a traffic jam the same again.



  1. So very, very true. I have many friends and loved ones that honestly, I do not know if they passed away if they would be in heaven or not. And I too wonder, have I done all I can to warn them of the danger of NOT knowing that you belong to Jesus? I pray that the Lord will give me MORE opportunities to share my faith.

  2. Our last (fill in the blank) is always so important. I want them all to count ... thanks for helping me to remember that.

    Grateful you arrived home safely.