Never Lost


I feel a blog coming on. About being lost. Not that we’re ever lost—just temporarily misplaced. Misplacement happens often.

Alan and I just returned from a mini-vacation packed with adventure. The adventure wasn’t in the vacationing, it was in adverse events and circumstances.

For example, we were scheduled to leave on Friday, but when we got the car serviced, the garage found a split tire rim. It was mid-afternoon on Monday before we were able to pack supplies into the vehicle and begin our adventure.

We were only 20 miles from home when we got lost the first time. Alan had wisely printed off map directions for reaching our destination on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. We dutifully took a left turn off the main road—as the map directed—to the first roundabout. Then we went around the roundabout again, and again, and again. None of the four roads leading off the roundabout were marked with any sort of directional signs and one of them looked like a cow trail through the countryside. We gave up on the map directions, went back to the main road, and miraculously found the next turnoff without the map.

Getting to Skye from where we live involves taking miles of one-lane roads with occasional passing lanes. Thus driving the number of required miles to our destination would have taken a little over an hour in the U.S., but took four hours. By the time we got there, it was late.

Our first stop was for food. Unfortunately, the restaurant we had enjoyed so much on our first visit was closed. Almost everything was closed. As a U.S. citizen accustomed to 24-hour restaurant service, I was irritated.

Back on the road, we followed the directions given to us by the retreat we had booked. Skye is 60 miles long with many stretches of 40 MPH speed limits and steep, winding stretches. It turns to one lane when you pass the last major village, and drivers must dodge sheep. It was getting late when we took an impossible looking 90-degree turn and vertical hill leading to the retreat—or so we hoped. However, the road we were on split and went off in two different directions, neither of which were marked. Both roads went over cattle guards, so after driving down both of them a short distance, we finally picked one and went with it. Need I mention that it was the wrong one? We figured that out when we realized that we were driving around in circles and passing the same landmarks again and again. That meant going all the way back up the road to the fork and taking the other road. It was getting late and dark and after four hours of driving, we all needed a break. All includes our 50-pound rough collie dog.

So…down the new road looking for the fourth house on the right after we got to some place that starts with a “K” that I can’t begin to either spell or pronounce. Again, we failed to find our destination. It was nearly dark by then and the road we were on was becoming so rough and the scenery so wild that we suspected we were lost yet again. We were.

two thatched

When we turned around to go back—not sure where we were going back to since we hadn’t found anything resembling our destination yet—Alan spied a sign on the door of an old building with an aluminum add-on. The retreat!

Within a few minutes of finally reaching our destination, we thought about returning home minus the “vacation.” The bedroom, an upstairs loft, had such low, slopping ceilings that Alan and I had to walk around the bed bent double, and even then we kept banging our heads, backs, and shoulders against the ceiling. Then there was the problem with the dog. The dog is no problem. She’s a dream! The problem was the slippery, narrow, steep, open staircase. Angel Joy is recovering from a nerve disorder that had made her lame. To go up steps, she must lean against a wall and crawl up. When she tried that on the slick stairs, she slid back down three steps and tumbled off the landing at the bottom. She refused to try again. So we had to put the dog on her bed and use it as a stretcher to carry her up and down the stairs. Oh…and did I mention that she weighs 50 pounds and that the stairs were steep and slick?

We toughed it out and actually had a great time except for the head-hitting and dog-carrying details. We left a day early, driving four hours through snow.

Some call Skye a place that God created just to show off. We would agree. Every scenic combination in the whole of Scotland is repeated on the island. From the only true mountain in the UK to castles—both ruined and restored—the island has it all. Even a glass bottom boat that takes visitors out to view seals, otters, and other wildlife.

Yup. We enjoyed our vacation, even the adverse bits and pieces. Life is that way. Good days and bad. The good are fun and the bad are character building—or so we’ve been told. And after this? Heaven. So we’ve got it made even if we don’t ever get back to Skye to see all the parts we missed while we were temporarily misplaced!

We never get lost.

castle moil close

Mother’s Day – Don’t Leave the Kids Behind!

The most exciting event of my life occurred on Mother’s Day when my son was four. Count Your Many Blessings, name them one by one rang out as the invitational hymn and Luke left my side, walked down the aisle, and asked Jesus to come into his heart.

That memory is more important to me than ever on this Mother’s Day as USMC Major Luke Gaines Parker celebrates another day with Jesus and I endure my first Mother’s Day without his cheerful, enthusiastic voice starting off the day with, “Good morning, Mom. I love you! Happy Mother’s Day!”

The magnitude of the decision he made 33 years ago is my peace and hope in a rest-of-my-life without him because it assures me that, just like the Jesus he served, Luke is in Heaven. This separation is painful – but temporary.

Luke gave me a Bible for Christmas in 1992, when he was sixteen. He paid for it with earnings from his first job. Two years later, I gave him a Bible when he entered the U.S. Marine Corps. He carried his Bible with him for the rest of his life, including his six deployments to war zones, and read it nearly every day. Like the Bible he bought me, nearly every page is marked, underlined, or has notes written into the margins. I cherish both Bibles and keep them visible on my desk as constant reminders of how marvelously privileged and honored I was to have a son who walked in God’s Truth.

When I look back to Luke’s childhood, I regret all the things I couldn’t buy for him because – as a single parent – I couldn’t afford them. I regret never having had enough money to take him to Disney Land or on a vacation. But what Luke and I did share is bigger and greater than all of my regrets combined: a love for Jesus Christ Who gave up His life on the cross for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him in a place where there is no death, sickness, dying, sorrow or tears. Wow! Luke’s plane crash on Nov. 17, 2013, wasn’t the end – it is the beginning.

You mothers reading this Mother’s Day blog may suffer the same insecurities that I did as a parent if your finances aren’t long enough to stretch to meet expenses. Don’t fret. More than things you can buy for them, your children need your time. More than expensive vacations and trips, your children need your love.

One of Luke’s most cherished memories was living in poverty in the Nevada Desert in a cabin with no electricity, no running water, and an outhouse for a bathroom. Luke loved it because he could have me – my time and love. Instead of running between two and three jobs to make ends meet, I was teaching him at “home” and spending every day and night with him. He mentioned that as a highlight of his life in every Mother’s Day card he sent, and in nearly every phone call.

Don’t waste time and energy agonizing over what you can’t give your children. If you spend time and love on them and teach them about Jesus, you are a successful parent. The only thing we have here on earth that can follow us to heaven is our children. Make sure they know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Don’t leave the kids behind!

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