A few months ago my friend Melissa and I decided that we needed to spend some quality time together. Away from our lives. We found a weekend we were both free. And slowly. Very slowly began planning a camping trip. Eventually we decided we wanted to go to Holland, Michigan. We started inviting people and planning things.
We were getting close to the leaving point, and I began to have doubts. Fears. Lots of fears. I kept having these dreams in which I would break my neck while camping. In the lake, under a tree, in the bathroom, in a crash. I was nervous. And I was slowly and rather convincingly talking myself out of going. That I shouldn’t go.
On Friday, the day we were leaving, I received a text from my friend Joel expressing doubts in the trip, about two hours into his 12 hour drive from Maryland to Huntington. He asked me to pray. I did, and I should have spoken up, but for some reason I didn’t. Joel came out, and he left with the first car to go up in the afternoon.
I had been watching the weather all day and a massive storm was heading straight for Holland. It was just going to pound the west side of Michigan. But in a matter of minutes the path of the storm shifted and completely devastated Fort Wayne instead. It’s caused a good deal of trouble and tragedy in Fort Wayne, but it left our weekend safe.
It took me two hours to get through the city and down to Huntington. A drive that ordinarily takes 40 minutes. Traffic lights were out all over the city. Power was out everywhere. Trees were ripped from the ground by their roots. Houses were crushed. Vehicles crushed.
Outside a Montessori school near my parents’ house.
On Landin Road in New Haven, when trying to get home after the storm
More of the devastation after the storm. This is in New Haven.
The calm after the storm that tore through Allen County
Melissa and Margo’s basement was flooded by a backed up sewage pipe, so we waited for the plumber to finish up before we could leave. We left about two hours later than planned, and after a long drive finally made it to camp.
Strangers were meeting for the first time. Friendships were already forming. And after a long day in the sun at the beach and several sunburns we came back to camp on Saturday. Later in the night the conversations took a beautiful turn in their focus, and without much detail let me just tell you how ridiculous God is. He’s just such a goof. God needed Joel to be there to be there for someone else. I’m not expressly sure why I needed to be there, but I’m so glad I was. I’m so glad everyone was. It was a beautiful night, and some very powerful things came out of it. Some wonderful truth. Some very painful truth. And all of it so perfectly orchestrated. Even when we got home. We unloaded the cars and got on our ways just moments before another storm crashed through Huntington. I only regret one thing about the whole trip. That I didn’t trust God from the start. I even came home to see the electricity was restored to our house and that the city was working on my brother’s house, which had it’s cables pulled from the house.
On the way up to Holland, we couldn’t ignore our need to stop at Martin’s in Warsaw for muffins.
I went to bed about 2:30 a.m. on “Friday” night, and got up Saturday around 5:30 to see the sun just beginning to rise.
I spent my open morning with God and then in Rant by Chuck Palahniuk.
Chris “The Beard,” Stephen and Melissa joined me in the next couple of hours, and we had a 7 a.m. book club at the fire. Just the quiet, our books and our friends.
Brandon, our resident wrestler.
This is my favorite picture from the whole weekend. Joel. Exactly as I’d expect him.
My neon toes in the sand
Holland’s beautiful coast
Joel started digging a hole. A horrible sand castle was built. Stephen wanted a tunnel. Brandon began a second hole. This is the result. Before Joel accidentally crushed it.
His voice was raspy. His articulation was poor. But man could he strum. In downtown Holland
Even with sunscreen, this is what happened. My nails matching my shirt and flesh was not intentional.
This pic stitch is courtesy Kari. Please note that Joel and I are making the same face. Also it’s a good summary.
Soon Melissa will post pictures from the weekend, and I will, of course, share them with you. As well as, I’m sure, more thoughts on how beautifully God moves. I still feel like I could cry at any moment for how perfectly God works. My friends, please, don’t let me become someone who is so easily distracted by life’s pains, by the deserts of my days. I want to revel in the beautiful blessings I’m constantly lavished with. In my friends, in my family, in my life.