8:00 p.m. last night I was driving down the mountain to Phoenix in my Mom's old Buick. I'm two thirds of the way there, in the pitch of dark. In the middle of nowhere. Coasting down a hill. As the road leveled off, I needed to give it some gas to maintain speed. Nothing. The engine revved but didn't accelerate. What? Foot off the gas. Hm. Let's try that again. Foot on the gas. Vroooom! No acceleration. Holy cow, I'd better pull over.
Thankfully, this portion of road had a decent shoulder in which to pull off (Blessing #1). Unfortunately, it was littered with broken glass but I had no choice. I had to pull over. When I did, it looked like the engine was smoking. Great. Hmm, but before I came to the glass I heard the tires crunching a whole lot like there was gravel. Maybe it's just dirt catching up to me. So I let off the brake, coasted about 15 feet and stopped again. Still smoking. Definitely smoking. Great.
Opening up the hood confirmed what was already obvious; the car was smoking. Mom's car has a hood light so the engine compartment was entirely lit up. Very nice. Thankfully, I also had a big flashlight with me. (Blessing #2) I've gotten in the habit of taking the big flashlight with me to work every morning just in case I need to stop at the store after work and I get home after dark. I have about a 50 foot walk to get to the back door. In the woods without a flash light, that's kind of scary. Thus the flashlight. Yeah! Thank You, God. I was able to see my way around the car, watch my footing, flash into the brush off the edge of the road, and feel safe considering I was in javelina and rattle snake country. That flashlight also enabled me to see the problem. My mom's car was bleeding. Red transmission fluid was running downhill out from underneath the front. I was in big trouble.
I pulled out my cell phone and wondered if I could get any service. Yes! I was in a pocket with service! (Blessing #3) Since no one was stopping to help me, and I'd feel a tad nervous if they did, I was SO glad I had service. And an almost full battery, having just recharged it the night before. (Blessing #4) I called my brother, where I was headed, and remembered that he was at the Jimmy Buffet concert. He answered and gave me some direction. I called my other brother, who was at work in the Emergency Room and didn't hear his phone. I left a message he never got. (He told me today there was no message so he thought I just "butt dialed" him.) Then I called The Fisherman who was even farther out of town than I was, in the other direction.
All in all, I placed over 20 calls in 90 minutes. Both brother and husband said to call them back after the next task was accomplished. It was a telephoning circus. Since brother was at a concert and The Fisherman, and his evidently equally-internet impaired friend, couldn't get me a number to the nearest Highway Patrol (what a scene that must have been), the settled upon advice was to call 911 and tell them it's not an emergency but I'd like to have a DPS (Dept. of Public Safety) officer come give me some support and protection while I figured out what to do next. Piece of cake; they patched me right through. Of course, there was no visible mile marker so I couldn't tell them exactly where I was. But I could tell them sort of where I was, because (Blessing #5) just minutes before the car trouble I'd wondered where the heck I was on the journey and decided I had not yet reached the hill before Sunflower. "Somewhere between Payson and Sunflower," I told them. That was enough; they'd send someone right out.
I had no idea who to call next or how to find their number to call them. Did I want it towed all the way to Phoenix? Back to Payson? How much is this going to cost, for crying out loud? I'd cross that bridge when things settled down a little.
OK. DPS called. Officer on the way. Call The Fisherman and update him. Done. Hang up. Decide I'll call my co-worker and ask her to pray for me. Thumb is hovering over the Send button, and ... wait, what's that I see out of the corner of my eye? Someone's pulling off the road in front of me. Relief and concern simultaneously present themselves. I look up the road at them and see it's.....a tow truck! No kidding! I couldn't believe it. (Blessing #6!!) My jaw literally dropped. It had been about 7 seconds since I'd hung up with The Fisherman. I called him back, saying, "You're not going to believe this..." I stayed on the phone with him while the driver approached and handed me his card.
Good advice from The Fisherman to his far away and vulnerable wife: call DPS back and ask them to verify this guy's legitimate. I was relieved to hear them say, "Oh yes, we know him. He's on our rotation of guys we refer to in cases like yours." (Blessing #7) This guy was so patient and understanding. He simply waited for me while I did all this checking right in front of him. He even shined his flashlight on his business card for me when I needed to tell The Fisherman and DPS who he was. (Blessing #8)
He hooked me up and pulled the car onto the flat bed of his tow truck. (Although it's really not a "tow" anymore, is it? It's more of a ride.) DPS arrived, giving face-to-face confirmation that this man and his tow service is reputable. (Blessing #9) Good thing because I had a 70 mile ride with him to my brother's mechanic's shop. We had nice conversations about his family and living off the grid, as he does, too.
I arrived "home" to my brother's at 11:00 p.m. and $360 poorer. But...all in one piece and safe and sound. (Blessing #10) Blessing #11 is that during this whole ordeal, I was not afraid. I can honestly say that I was actually trusting God the whole time, calmly dealing with the unknowns and trusting that it would all get worked out somehow. That's amazing for me. And a huge blessing indeed.
Blessing #12 is kind of silly, but when you think about it, it's not. I debated, driving through Payson, whether I should take the time to stop for a restroom break. I realized I could probably make it the 90 minutes to Phoenix, but eventually decided to go ahead and stop. Given the long delay, I'm certainly glad I did. That could have been a problem.
The next blessing is that I was actually going down to Phoenix at all. I was disappointed that I had to go, given the fact that I have much to do at home in the next 10 days and couldn't really afford the time to make this trip. But, the registration on Mom's car had lapsed and couldn't be renewed until it went through the Emissions Test. The car is registered in Phoenix; my county doesn't require emissions tests and therefore has no testing stations. In 10 days I'm headed to the CLASS Christian Writers' Conference and really needed to get the registration up to date before that trip. I've been borrowing Mom's car from "the estate" for most of the summer because of it's air conditioning, and have been hanging onto it for this upcoming trip. There was no way around it: I had to drive all the way to Phoenix to get the test so I could renew the tags. Blessing #13 is that I had to make this trip. If I didn't, this serious roadside trouble could have happened on my trip to New Mexico in unfamiliar territory where many segments of road have only a 3 inch shoulder. If it had happened then, it would have been much more dangerous, much more costly, much more upsetting and I wouldn't have made it to the conference.
So, all in all, and crazy as it sounds, that whole awful ordeal last night was a blessing itself and was full of other blessings. I came through the other side of it with a deep sense of God's protection, provision, and favor.
P.S. Sorry for these incredibly long posts of late!