It is the first day back to school after Christmas holidays. It is dark and an hour I have not seen for two weeks, yet the opportunity to spend some time with kids in a classroom again puts a spring in my step. It is cold, snowflakes float on air, and I begin scraping a weeks worth of freezing rain and snow off the car windshield. Allowing plenty of time for the car to warm up, I notice my window of on-time minutes narrowing. I chuckle as I remember a previous year's first day back, a day where I set my alarm but did not turn it on and woke up to a call from the school office. Thankfully that was Slave Lake and I was a quick five minute drive away. Not so today.
I prepare to brave icy country roads in thick warm boots, my purple parka pulled snugly around my face. The windshield scraper is no match for this mess, so I dash inside, grab the kettle and pour a little warm water on the windshield. Like magic the water spreads and melts stubborn ice.
Well, that was easy.
The car slowly grinds through crusty roads as we make our way to the highway, this trusty car and me. This car that has never given a reason for concern, well, except for that one time I came back from grocery shopping and the windows had rolled themselves down. That was weird, yet not weird enough for much of a second thought.
I pull onto the highway and pick up speed; just enough to keep the big trucks happy, but not enough to send me careening into the ditch. Glancing at the clock, I see I'll have to keep this up to get to school on time.
Cresting the top of a hill I hear a slight thunking sound.
That's funny, the doors just locked. Hmmm... they usually lock once I get in the car, maybe it's just slow today.
Thunk - thunk, thunk - thunk...
As if possessed by the spirit of Herbie, my car is now locking and unlocking itself as I skate down the road.
What in the world?
I try pushing the lock button, hoping to stop the madness. It doesn't stop.
Thunk - thunk, thunk - thunk...
Suddenly, lights on the dashboard brighten and then shut off.
Um... how fast am I going? I can't see!
Thankfully the headlights are still okay, so I gauge my speed relative to other drivers. Then,
Blink - blink - blink - blink...
What! Now the emergency lights are turning themselves on and off! I hit the emergency button in a panic and start to sweat with anxiety. That, and the embarrassment of driving a car that has come to life on its own. But the locks didn't listen, so why would the lights?
I feel like I am trapped in some kind of bad rap song as I thunk and blink down the road.
Do I pull off and see if restarting the car will stop the insanity?
I decide against it, worried that the car may not start again, and then... I'll be late. No one wants to be late on the first day back to school after Christmas. Then again, neither would anyone want to navigate highways in an angry Herbie-mobile. Yet here I am.
Hazard lights flashing, doors locking and un-locking and somehow we make it to the school parking lot.
Surely when I pull out the key the lights will shut off.
I stand bewildered outside my shut-off car, lights flashing and refusing to quit. I lock the car myself, I un-lock it myself.
Look - the locks are working, take a cue from the locks!
No such luck. I dash into school and quickly let the office know.
If anyone mentions a car in the parking lot with lights flashing - it's mine, and I don't know how to stop it, and I'll look at it at recess, and they just won't shut off!
Well, this was some entertainment for the office. Once settled in the classroom I make a quick call to Dad. Thank goodness he is home. I explain my plight, and have the reassurance that he will come to look at it. When my morning is done and I return to the car... all is well. Nothing out of place or amiss, perhaps the cold made for cranky electrical circuits.
You may think this is where the story ends. But no.
Arriving home with sighs of relief, the now-behaving car slides into soft snow on the side of the driveway. And gets stuck. Real stuck.
Stuck enough that it takes me one hour with a shovel and a few sticks I hauled out of the woods, on hands and knees crawling in deep snow, one hour to get it out. A good push from kind passers-by was the final act of freedom. I am thankful for those great people. I am also thankful they were the only ones who saw my redneck attempts to dislodge the undercarriage from a bank of packed snow.
So now she sits, my car (and me), awaiting our next adventure.
I just hope it does not involve locks, lights, sticks, or snow...
Happy New Year to you and yours! As I reflect back on 2013, I am deeply thankful for the people who walk this road with us. For those who have prayed, and continue to pray behind the scenes, for friends to laugh with, for family to love, we are ever grateful. Looking ahead at this bright, fresh year, I pray it will be one of restoration. Restored hope, restored joy, full restoration in our hearts as we continue to walk with God where He leads in every area of our life.
Thank you for reading here, thank you for holding us up. May 2014 be a year of fresh beginnings for you too.
Neal & Andrea
And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."