We kept rolling down the highway, and as soon as we detected the tiniest bit of a signal, we pulled off the road and called in to the station. We finally were able to start the interview (it was about 8:15 by this time) and although we lost our signal a couple of times, we managed to get through it. Bethany and Kristin had been asleep in the back seat, and when the motion of the car stopped and they heard us talking loudly on the phone, they woke up. You know how teenage girls (and sometimes even adult women) can get the giggles for no apparent reason? As they looked out the windows, trying to figure out what was going on, they saw that we were sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere next to "Mom and Pop's Produce" and started getting tickled. And then, when they saw Mom and Pop, actually working in the garden beside the stand, they really set them off. I thought I was going to have to kick them out of the car for a few minutes, but they finally pulled it together! Even with all the bumps, this interview was really an exciting way to share God's goodness through Hannah's story.
We had another great oppportunity to share while we were there...at Oyster Bay Baptist Church in Gulf Shores. Brad's former baseball coach from OBU attends that church, and that is how this speaking opportunity came about. We came away feeling very blessed and encouraged after visiting with the staff and members there. They had been praying for us throughout Hannah's illness, so it felt like we already knew each other. It's pretty cool how the family of God is everywhere...no matter where you go!
It was also nice to get caught up with Coach Barrett. He and his wife taught our Sunday School class when we were college students, about five years after they lost their oldest son to neuroblastoma. We got an up-close look at a couple who had experienced a devastating loss and come out the other side. They were just the first of several couples God placed in our lives over the years...people who have lost children and not only survived, but thrived. We never suspected at that time what an impact their examples would have upon our lives as we faced a storm of our own.
The time on the beach was great too. It was a very interesting time to be on the gulf coast, with all the oil spill chaos going on. Idyllic scenes like this...
were intermingled with scenes like this....
It was really strange to see these guys with their heavy rubber boots and gloves walking around in the midst of all the people in bikinis and bare feet. We did run into a few of the infamous tar balls one day. We were coming in from a sand bar just off the regular beach (where we found 57 sand dollars, by the way) when we saw some of them floating in the water. I picked one up and squeezed it between my thumb and forefinger. When it smeared, I rubbed my hands together to try to get it off....and the more I rubbed, the "smearier" it got. I tried scraping it off in the wet sand to no avail. I finally had to go inside and scrub it off with soap. I'm sure there's a spiritual application here...something about how just a little "pinch" of sin can work its way deeper and deeper into your life...how we can't get it out by ourselves...how desperately we need cleansing...I'll let you complete the analogy!
We were so grateful for the opportunity to get away and have some time to recharge and relax together as a family. We arrived home last night, and are leaving again this afternoon...heading to El Dorado for Brad's 25th high school reunion. He has a very unique graduating class, in that they've stayed very close over the years. As a matter of fact, during Hannah's illness and after her death, his former class members surrounded us with love and support, even giving Hannah some very generous presents for her 17th birthday. We're looking forward to spending time this weekend getting caught up with some old friends, and having the opportunity to express our appreciation for all they've done for our family. We're also excited about sharing our testimony at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Sunday morning. This is the church where Brad grew up, and it will be a real blessing to be able to share with them. And...if you've followed my blog for any length of time...you also know I am excited about eating some hot Spudnuts tomorrow morning!!