A Midweek Escape
I managed to do it. As if I was six years old and sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar, I cleared my responsibilities midweek no less, to escape to the mountains to ski. With stealth planning, I covered my bases. I cleared my urgent to do list. I made sure someone could see Ian out the door. I even planned for contingencies in my absence.
The weather did not disappoint. While the rest of the country was in a dangerous deep freeze, the southwest showed off its vanity with cloudless blue skies, white snow capped mountains and ideal ski condition temperatures. I picked up my friend Martha and we headed out of town to ski Santa Fe.
But… “Just in Case”
The previous evening, barely able to sleep with excitement, Doug and I chatted and prayed. I shared with him my reluctance to celebrate this hopeful sign. Maybe it’s because of my Calvinist roots, but I can’t seem to help it. I hold everything loosely even short term plans. I feel the need to be prepared for that other shoe to drop. I call it “Just in Case” living.
I said to Doug… “do you realize it has been 48 hours without any major drama. Forty-Eight hours!” As the words left my mouth I thought to myself, Debbie that was foolish. As if fate had influence on my future.
Let the ski day begin
Finally! We boarded the chair lift. As we continued our non-stop conversation, I couldn’t help but think, this is just too good to be true. How am I so lucky?
Anticipation was a ten, as I looked at the near perfect conditions below. And then, with my phone on silent, I felt the familiar buzz. Then another buzz in case I didn’t feel the first one. Now at the top, colder and a bit windy, I took out my phone so I could fully enjoy my virgin run.
Are you kidding me?!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Within ten seconds of each other I received “oh no” texts from each kid. In his typical you’re not going to believe it style, Ian’s text was short and troubling. It read…”Mom, I did a bad thing.”
And Becca, the low maintenance, rarely needs me kid, all the way from Madrid said, “Mom I’m in a predicament and I need to call you now.”
Quickly I fired off a “contact dad” text to each of them which came back with a notice, “message send failure” due to sketchy cell service. Are you freaking kidding me? Martha, calmed my panic and suggested a prayer. In that moment, grateful for her, I was out of options.
I skied down that first run trying to enjoy it. But the texts ignited my imagination and distraction was unavoidable. My mind tried desperately to read the tea leaves. What bad thing? What predicament?
I decided I had a simple choice. I could trust God and my contingencies and enjoy my day or try to get involved ineffectively and ruin my day.
After a few warm up runs, Martha and I split up. I was in search of perfect moguls which were not her cup of tea.
Whatever is true…
Alone on the lift, I used the time to pray. God, please reassure me. God, please protect my kids. God, please remind me of my limitations. God please help me to enjoy this day.
One of my favorite scriptures came to mind. Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Without recalling every adjective in the verse, I started at the beginning and I reviewed what I knew to be true…It is true that God nudged me to take a mental health day. It is true that cell service was undependable. It is true that Doug supported my escape. It is true that Doug is a capable back up. It is true that God is sovereign. It is true that I am not indispensable.
With a calmer spirit, I decided this predicament was by God’s grace. This was a test. Yes I trust Him with the big stuff. Do I trust Him with the little stuff? Do I trust Him with the uncertain stuff, with the stuff I don’t know whether it’s big or little?
A slice of heaven
It wasn’t long until I was “in the bump zone.” I discovered a run littered with Debbie sized moguls — moguls big enough to get lost in ecstasy, but small enough to maintain a good speed, keep my line, and remain in control. Imagining I was 20 years younger and with no lift lines, I was in heaven.
The chairlift did much more than transport me to the top of the mountain. Only in hindsight, I realize it was from the chairlift that I recognized His grace.
Grace from the Chairlift
Practically, the chair lift provided much needed rest. I am not always sensible when I need a break from mogul skiing. Likewise, I am not always sensible when I need a break from life. Instead I often muscle through. Muscling through on the moguls is downright dangerous. Muscling through life can be dangerous too. In my experience muscling through life leads to resentment, relational damage and a lack of joy. Rest is not a luxury. Sabbath rest is His design.
2. PRAYER then PRAISE
Skiing alone, the chair lift held me captive and gifted me time to pray. Without intention my prayers drifted from help me, help me, help me, to thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you God that I live in this part of the country. Thank you God for the glorious sunshine. Thank you God for my supportive husband. Thank you God that my body is holding up to be able to enjoy this. Thank you God for my kids who are learning contingencies and having to lean on you. Time spent with Him causes transformation.
Mogul runs are very different than cruising runs. It’s all about your focus. To ski a mogul run well, you first choose your line. Then, with skis pointed downhill, your eyes look to the next two or three bumps. If you look beyond that, bad things happen. While intently skiing the moguls, I couldn’t look up. From the chair lift though, I was forced to look up. The view was spectacular! And so it is in life. Look too far ahead and you lose your way. With your head down, plodding through, how easy is it to forget to look up? It’s only when you lift your gaze that you gain much needed perspective.
Proverbs 16:9 . “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Psalm 19:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Proverbs 3:5,6 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
The “Oh-no” texts
After our invigorating ski day, Martha and I packed up to drive home. Now eager to get down the mountain for cell service, curious to solve the mystery of the interrupting texts. What bad thing? What predicament?
Becca’s predicament was a flight ticket purchase error that had twelve hours for resolution. And worst case, she’d lose a ten euro refund.
And Ian’s bad thing? You won’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. After helping him to glue hair on a mask the night before I cautioned, “don’t touch it til it dries.” Ian’s bad thing… he touched it and our twenty minutes of effort fell off. #artistproblems
Over dinner Doug, Ian and I shared a good laugh over Ian’s ‘demand attention NOW’ text and my ‘jump to conclusions’ reaction. We joked about what things in the future WOULD warrant such a text.
Both of my men were especially gracious to endure my enthusiastic ski day re-enactment. And now with a full understanding of the oh-no texts, and a physically exhausted body, my heart was relaxed and full.
As if God knew all along, there was NO crisis. In the end, my circumstances were kind-of a test. Like it is for each of us every day. I love how practically God led me. Because of Him, my day was exceptional. Had I NOT received the interrupting texts I may have skied on without Him. Or had I not chosen to trust, imagine my frustration to have squandered the day.
Hitting the pillow especially hard that night, the Lord had my undivided attention. As I thanked Him, yet again, I heard Him say… one more thing Debbie… this “Just in Case” living has got to stop. Trust me!