The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Journey -- Another Open Door

I've learned over the years that God closes some doors, and opens other doors.  Sometimes I try to open those He has closed, and sometimes I balk at stepping through those He opens.  More recently, though, I've been stunned at the doors He has opened, and I've simply walked right through, venturing on to the next step in Fernando's and my journey together.

One of those mind-boggling doors opened last week, and I ran through.  It opened in the form of a phone call:  "Can Christine drive for you on the 18th/19th?"  Every now and then, a driver is needed to get the truck operator (technically, he's a satellite uplink technician) from one job to the next, if those jobs are back-to-back; the operator needs to sleep between jobs and can't drive.  Fernando needed a driver, I had been cleared to drive, and the door opened.

Fernando had a transmission in Tulsa, Oklahoma on the evening of the 18th, then in Muncie, Indiana on the afternoon of the 19th.

Facts:  Tulsa and Muncie are 10.5 hours (straight-through driving) apart.  The time from the end of the Tulsa job (~11pm ET) to the on-site time of the Muncie job (12:30pm ET) was 13.5 hours.  You get the math.  This would be a bear of a drive, my first time out.  But the door opened, and like I said--I ran through it.

I was hired.  I am a truck driver.  *goofy grin*

Just in case you want to know just what it is I'm driving.

Wednesday, February 16.

I've never visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, but I've passed by it four times now--to and from, two times.  Fernando was driving this third time as we headed west toward Tulsa.

Fernando had a hankering for some St. Louis barbecue, and thanks to my brilliance (ha!) with the Google Maps app, I found a local diner for our late lunch.

We switched back and forth driving the SAT truck, and finally ended up in Oklahoma.  The next day was windy (an understatement!) with a smoke/fire warning (we smelled the smoke the night before when we arrived at our hotel).  Fernando and I knew I would need to be able to get as much sleep as possible that afternoon, since I would be driving all night.  He had run out of the sleeping aid he usually used, so we made a trip down the street to Walgreen's.  As we pulled out of the hotel and onto the street, the heavens parted and the Lord shone His glowing rays down on a huge ice cream cone with a rotating sign:  our hotel was directly next door to Andy's Frozen Custard!!

We got our sleep aid, saw a Chipotle, and stopped there to share a burrito for lunch.  Share = I ate not quite a fourth of Fernando's burrito.  :)

Dessert was a given.

Back at our hotel, I settled in for an afternoon of trying to get some sleep, while Fernando drove the truck to the University of Tulsa for the NCAA basketball game for which he was providing the uplink.  The sleep aid was effective, mostly, and I ended up sleeping on and off through the late afternoon and evening.  I ate some supper (microwave Asian noodle bowl--at least it was organic!) and waited for Fernando to return so we could get on the road.

And I waited.  He was stuck at the site until another truck moved out of the way...

Friday, February 19.

By the time we were loaded up, checked out, and on the road it was about 12:15am.  Remember the windy day?  It hadn't let up, and I drove down I-44 East, traveling back through Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.  It was interesting driving, to say the least, and a constant fight against the crosswind.  I have a new appreciation for semi truck drivers!

At one point I passed an accident--a semi had most likely been blown off the road on my right, the trailer twisted and mangled at its front, and the cab lying there, all beat up from rolling onto its side.  I prayed for strength and safety--and felt the prayers of my friends/family as the Lord buoyed me up and gave me His strength.

Driving all night is lonely.

The view from my seat at a rest stop somewhere in Missouri, 4:13am.

Lonely is okay, though.  Fernando slept in the reclined seat next to me, and I sang quietly to the music playing on my phone, and I was filled with His endurance for the journey.  Fernando cautioned me that I didn't have anything to prove, and we could tag-team drive if I needed that; I made it to about 9:30am without having to wake him up.  I pulled off somewhere in Illinois to gas up (chanting diesel, diesel, diesel!!!in my head), wake up Fernando, go to the bathroom, and drag my spent body into the passenger seat.

Although I didn't sleep until we reached our hotel, the rest of the morning was a blur:  driving, talking, stopping at Cracker Barrel for lunch, parking at the hotel.  Fernando drove to Ball State University to work the basketball game (1pm arrival for set-up), and I crashed for three hours.  Three hours can be completely refreshing!

Then, I had a friend to call--Magy, whose home was exactly 1.8 miles from our hotel.  She graciously picked me up and we spent the evening together, talking, reminiscing, and sharing dinner with her and her family.  They wanted to see Fernando, and were happy to drive down to the university, just 12 minutes away.  We met Mark (I'll get his job title wrong--I think it was the production manager?), who is from New Jersey!  Based on the fact that he and I share that birth state (that's what I say, anyway), he gave the L. family and me a mini tour of the production truck.

The L. family took their leave, with an open door for us to come back to their house after the job ended (I left my camera bag there, after all!), which we did before heading back to our hotel.

I experienced my first car rental adventure the next day, since I would drive home while Fernando continued on to Murfreesboro, TN for the next job.  The four hours in my rented Toyota Camry was a breeze, for sure!

Back home, I shared lively conversation with my guys, who had (mostly) cleaned my kitchen.  I whipped up a quick dinner, which my friend Becki and I shared together (she came to pick up her co-op order and to visit me for the evening.

Later on, as I relaxed on my couch and looked at the family room the guys had "decorated" in dorm-room style, I realized it didn't bother me.  I was home, I was useful, and I was blessed.  Nothing more was needed.

Today, this very afternoon, I savored the oolong tea I had been drinking routinely just a few weeks ago, while Fernando was gone all those January/February days.  Life had taken yet another turn, down yet another new road--employment, for me.  And not just a job, not just an open door for me.  For Fernando, too.  He had longed for this through all those years of travel with his job early on in our marriage:  longed for his wife to be able to accompany him, to experience everything--new sights, new adventures--he got to experience.

And now she can.

Back to life,

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Journey -- Together

Tuesday, February 9.

Fernando left again.  He backed the SAT truck out of the driveway, put it in drive, and pressed his foot on the accelerator, and he was off.  But something was different this time.

Here's Fernando, below, about an hour away from home, driving south to his next job.  This was obviously not a selfie--see both his hands?  That's because I took this picture with my phone.  This week, I left with Fernando.

The afternoon before, Fernando got the okay for me to accompany him on this trip, which would be a good indicator of my ability to adapt to life on the road, life with my husband while he works, life in hotel rooms and not-so-healthy-but-take-what-you-get food.  With just a few hours to prepare, I had suitcase and camera bag in hand.  And last Tuesday morning, I climbed up into the passenger seat of Arctek Purple and left home with my husband at the wheel.  God opened this door, and I walked through.

I actually rarely used my camera, since most of the views were as we drove along, heading south toward Texas, and work, and friends, and family.  That first evening, after a rest, food, and fuel stop, somewhere in Oklahoma, we watched the sun set in front of our eyes.  Colors from pink and purple to orange, red, and yellow spread from far to our left all the way across to the sun setting, then all the way as far as we could see on our right.  As our route turned south, I opened the window to capture a fragment of the majestic beauty.  We were truly on a new journey, to places we've never been, and God's presence is there, too.

This actually was a fun road trip, since I got to spend Wednesday with my dear friend and "sister" Janice and her daughters and granddaughter while Fernando did the uplink transmission for the NCAA college basketball game at SMU in Dallas.  We had Thursday and Friday to make our way to New Orleans, so we drove through Houston to visit Fernando's cousin and her family.  They fed us (a huge blessing, in my book!), even picking oranges and grapefruit from their backyard trees for dessert!!  *happy dance*

On Friday morning, after a hearty breakfast with our cousins, we headed over to Louisiana and New Orleans for the next job.  Bayous, swamps, lazy rivers, ponds--water, water everywhere!

Along I-10 in Louisiana, headed toward New Orleans.

We drove across so many bridges!  As we headed toward, and past, New Orleans (had to stay outside of the city), we crossed this bridge below.

We missed breakfast at the hotel in order to arrive on site (Tulane University in New Orleans) by 7:00a.m.  Arctek Purple is Fernando's work space, and that huge trailer is the production truck.  These work together to tape the event (NCAA basketball), get the signal to the satellite, and out to TVs everywhere.

It was fun to watch Fernando work his magic.  We like to joke that it's pixie dust that he uses, finding the satellite (the "bird"), tuning things (really, I have no idea), making sure the DSS is working and signals are correct and a whole bunch more of tech stuff I never knew existed.

My Papi Bear paused for a sweet pic before tip-off.

There were down times during the afternoon, so I had to get a picture of myself, too!

As we were preparing to leave, Fernando said his goodbyes to the production crew.  One guy, who glanced at me, told Fernando, "You be careful now."  A few looks and Fernando understood what he was saying.  His response:  "Um, that's my wife."  The guy was dumbfounded.  (Whatever...!)  I think others thought I was his, um, "road buddy," if you catch my drift.  No wonder I got some strange looks.  We'll have to rectify that on the next job site.  Sometimes it's funny that Fernando and I look so different, even in age, but sometimes it's tiring.  Mostly we just laugh about it.

Seeing that Valentine's Day was the next day, I texted with a friend who has a brother in New Orleans to find a great authentic restaurant where we wouldn't feel out of place in jeans, and where we could celebrate being together this week, and celebrate the love the Lord has blessed us with these past 28+ years.

One lady walking by came up to the truck and I chatted with her, then asked her for restaurant recommendations:  New Orleans Food & Spirits.  My texting friend Cindy confirmed with her brother that was a good, and casual, restaurant.  Even though it was north of the city, we decided to check it out.

Our local beers.

After I took a picture of our--quite impressive--drinks, the waitress offered to take our picture.

The food was amazing, the atmosphere hoppin', and the waitress helpful and so very friendly.

Together, at work and play--well, I was his road buddy, after all!!

Back to life,

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Monday, February 8, 2016

New Every Morning -- Eight Days

The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

Read previous segments here:

The Beginning
The Injury
The Furnace
The Waiting
The House
The Phone Call
The Truck
The Car
The Business
The Gift

Eight Days

Now that a month has gone by, it's time for an update.  Fernando's current work with Arctek is indeed a gift, as I called it in the last post.  Unwrap any gift, however, and you'll find not only gratefulness and excitement, but responsibility, and sometimes even burden as well.  Such is the case with this precious gift of work.

Off on his next job assignments.

Eight days.  That's the sum total of time I've seen my husband since he started working from January 4 through tonight..  Home late on a Saturday, or perhaps a Sunday afternoon, then gone again Monday afternoon, or Tuesday morning.  Precious days, or just hours, scattered here and there throughout the last month and a half, slivers of time we've held on to because it was trickling away.

Grateful?  Absolutely.  Bills are being paid, and the household is running more smoothly.
Exciting?  Definitely.  I'm excited for Fernando, who loves to travel and work with people; I love to see the photos he posts on Facebook, and I enjoy the stories he tells me over the phone of his adventures, the assignments, and the people he meets.

Then there's the responsibility, and the burden--both obviously Fernando's, since he's the one with the job.  But both mine, too.

I shoulder the responsibilities and burdens of home, and taking up those things I haven't normally had to do:  minor home repairs, new windshield wipers on the car, paying bills, even filling the car with gas. I've become the "business widow," the woman who stays behind while her man goes away to provide for his family.  Don't get me wrong--I'm not complaining!  There are blessings spread throughout the alone-ness...

Dog-sitting this bundle of (mostly) fun was a delight!

There's less laundry to do...

I'm still making delicious meals, and there are plenty of leftovers!

Our bed looks like this; I flip down a corner at night, and when I wake up, flip it back up and poof--the bed is made!

We've been through so much that I can't not think about those blessings!  The Lord has opened this door and ushered us through, each with our own responsibilities and burdens, at the same time walking the road together.  And, as the days apart tick away, I start looking forward to our days together.

The weight of Fernando's leave-taking becomes replaced with the anticipation of his return, this particular day being Jake's "Games 'n Grub" party he likes to throw for his birthday celebration late January.  I told the boys to make a sign and prop it up in the driveway so Fernando would have a parking space when I got home that evening.

Jake's cake--Almond Cream Cake--became more than just a birthday cake to me, and the celebration became in a sense more than just Jake's birthday.  Fernando would be home!

Happy birthday, Jake!  (Thanks, Vic, for grabbing my camera and taking this picture!)

This time, we had a day and a half together.  Fernando fell into bed 8:30 that night of the party, we attended church services the next morning, and we napped in the afternoon.  By Monday afternoon, he was driving away again.

Through the weight of watching Fernando leave, waving goodbye until the SAT truck disappears around the curve and turning away toward the responsibilities waiting for me just inside that front door, I take a breath.  Then one more, deep; I hold it for just a moment, then release it.  I shut the door, and turn to this new life.

Over the last (almost) three years, the Lord has brought to an end so many things in our lives--employment, homeschooling, self-sufficiency and complacency, even our church home.  He carried Fernando and me to this completely new road, not one we would ever have chosen for ourselves, not one we could ever have envisioned for the second half of our life together, but it's His way for us, by His leading.  He closed the door on yesterday, and opened a new one, a beginning, for today and tomorrow.

I'm now at the point where I feel like I can breathe again, where I can see His light along the road ahead, while knowing that when I look back I will see the depths of His grace in our lives.  It's time, and I step into the future, lit by His grace.

Back to life,

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