Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right? Or should I say, one of those weeks?
My week began March 29th, the day I traveled from Southern Oregon to Mt. Hermon, California to take part in a Christian Writers' Conference.
The trip down offered no hint that things were about to turn bad. Spring had splashed the landscape with vibrant greens, reds, and yellows. And I was reminded how wonderful it is to be alive.
My friend Ann and I chatted all the way, cruising over the highway without mishap. There was very little traffic even when we approached the Bay Area. It was a good time. It was perfect.
We arrived at Mt. Herman in the late afternoon and were glad to see that the conference center was shaded by giant evergreens. They towered over us and made the rustic-looking resort look beautiful. Ann and I made our way into a warm, timbered lobby where we picked up our room keys and then set off in search of our accomodations. That's when the trouble began.
Finding a parking space was more difficult than I'd imagined. After trying to squeeze my Dodge Ram Pickup into a space made for a Volkswagon Beatle, I realized there'd be no parking near our room. We decided to unload our things and then find a parking spot.
When we stepped into our room, I must admit my first impression was shock and disappointment. It wasn't what I'd expected--too rustic. A princess mind-set bloomed and a bad attitude swept over me and took hold. I should have known I was in for it.
I'm never out of my Heavenly Father's sight; He knows everything. And He was about to deal with one of His kids.
Right off, I lost my room key and after a frantic search managed to locate it only to lose it again within the next few minutes. Another search ensued and finally the key was discovered on the ground hidden among natural bark mulch beneath the lofty cedars.
After several trips up and down the stairs to our second floor room, Ann and I were finally moved in. Now all I needed to do was find a parking spot. I drove about the grounds in search of something close, but ended up several blocks away in what I like to refer to as the "South Forty". By this time, my bad attitude was growing.
I have some physical challenges and walking long distances can be painful. I gimped back to my room and plopped down on the bed, figuring I ought to call my husband and let him know I'd arrived safely. Only problem was I'd left my cell phone in the truck. Oh brother!
More than a little disgruntled I hoofed it back to the truck, grabbed my phone and headed back. My gimp more pronounced and my lungs sucking air, I climbed the stairs to my room and tried to call my husband. There was no signal. Even I had to chuckle at this.
That night I prepared for bed and discovered I'd forgotten my toothbrush. I never forget my toothbrush. :-] As I climbed beneath my blankets I decided that all these frustrating events were beyond coincidence and wondered if God was speaking to me. Too tired to listen I went to sleep.
The following morning started out well. Breakfast was good and my table mates were terrific. However, just as breakfast came to a close a man stepped up to the microphone in front and explained that the power company was making repairs in the parking lot in the "South Forty" and that someone who owned a Dodge Ram Pickup from Oregon needed to move the truck.
This was beyond comprehension. I'd managed to park in the only space that was a problem for the power company. Grumbling, I trudged to the "South Forty" parking lot and moved my rig.
Little did I know that the week I'd never forget was just getting revved up. I'd been taking antibiotics for a sinus infection and that second night side affects kicked in. I'll spare you the gory details, but the toilet and I became well acquainted. It was a long night.
God had my attention, but not fully. There was so much to think about and do. I really didn't have the time.
My attitude did begin to improve. I began to hear and see inspiration all around me -- the beauty of the grounds, the interesting and committed people who had trekked from places all over the globe just to be part of this conference. I witnessed love and dedication from the teachers and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The next day I spent hours in class, which by the way was in the "South Forty". The session began in the morning, broke for lunch, then came together again for more great teaching in the afternoon. I could feel the strain on my back, but I pushed on. During the evening meal I met more terrific people, experienced some great conversations and listened to inspiring stories and a great speaker. I also took part in a get-acquainted party with my agent, her partner and several of their clients. We met out in the "South Forty", but by this time I didn't mind. The company was just too great. And when I hoofed it back to my room I thought everything was going to work out just fine.
That night while getting ready for bed, I bent over the sink to brush my teeth (with the new toothbrush I'd purchased at the campground store) and my bad back told me in no uncertain terms that it hadn't appreciated the long hikes, nor all the hours of sitting. I was in trouble.
I downed a handful of pills and shuffled to my bed, praying for relief. I slept little and in the middle of the night medicated again. I'd been through this before and knew what to do, but I also knew things were bad and I'd be laid up for the entire conference and would be lucky if I could drive home.
I lay in bed on a heating pad, medicated and anxious. I never have learned to appreciate pain. Ann, made sure I had something to eat at breakfast and lunch. My agent visited and offered to fly me home. Her care and concern touched me deeply. She's definitely not the run-of-the-mill kind of agent.
Now, God had my full attention. He is good and He is just. And I'm thankful He's a God of mercy.
People prayed, even those who didn't know me. I woke from a drugged sleep late in the afternoon and thought, Hmm. I don't feel too bad. I got up and walked around my room. I'm not feeling bad at all. Maybe I can take a shower. I showered and then wondered if I might be able to get dressed. I did. I also fixed my hair and put on some makeup and then I walked down the stairs and went to dinner. It was truly a miracle. I've lived with my cranky back for 16 years and I know how it works--when it's bad it stays that way for a good while.
Praising God for His goodness, I completed the conference--a place where the Holy Spirit is at work and inspiration and growth is expected. I saw God at work all around me and got a glimpse of my place in the big picture. I'm just a tiny piece of God's puzzle, but for a few hours I felt that by setting that piece in the right place, I could see His picture and was honored to be included. I'm not worthy.
I plan to go back next year and hope to return physically and spiritually stronger. I don't want to miss out on God's gifts. Even lying flat out on my bed was a gift--I felt loved by God's people. And most of all by a God who certainly doesn't have reason to love me, yet who chooses to do so.
Here's to next year and prayerfully to a better attitude and fewer unwelcome surprises.