Monday, July 29, 2013

Here I Raise my Ebenezer

Today, as I was sitting in my closet sorting clothes, the events of the past year hit me like a ton of bricks.  So many things have happened, so many things have changed, so many struggles, and so many huge blessings.  Almost like a silent movie, image after image, played in a steady stream, through my minds eye.  I started to tear up at the enormity of it all and I knew I needed to document it, to set it all down in writing,as an ebenezer of God's amazing, divine grace.  An ebenezer is a commemoration of divine assistance according to Miriam Webster's Dictionary.  In the Bible, Samuel had called on Israel to repent of their sins.  Their enemies, the Philestines, heard of this huge gathering Israelites , and decided to use it as an opportunity to attack.  But God showed Himself great and powerful and won the Israelites a great and wondrous victory.  "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto the Lord has helped us."  I Samuel 7:12 This blog is my personal Ebenezer, my banner staked in the ground, saying "By God's grace and God's grace alone, we have overcome."

It all started August of 2012, when we very unexpectedly had to leave our church, a church we were very involved in and loved.  I am not going into the details of the how's and why's on this blog, simply because that is superfluous to the point.  The point is, I was shattered and broken-hearted.  I am not a new Christian; I have seen my fair share of craziness and pain in the church.  After all the church is made up of us crazy, fallible humans.  For some reason, this particular thing, broke my heart as nothing in my previous church experience had.  We tried to get back into church but the more we visited different churches the more heart broken I became.  The church I loved, the church I grew up in and wanted my children to experience, the community of strong, faith filled Believer's, Sunday night and Wednesday night services, Sunday school, and real genuine heart-felt worship, no longer seemed to exist.  Instead we kept coming across what seemed to be a great big production of church; lots of lights, sermons timed down to the minute, worship that was hard to differentiate from a concert, children's church that entertained more than it taught.  I wept many, many tears of heart break and disillusionment.  I was not disillusioned in Christ, but my heart-broke for his bride.
Along with the heart break of losing our church, came the hurt and pain of lost relationships.  We live in a small town and that leaves very little room for healing.  Rumors fly, people speculate and the pain is compounded.

Time stops for no man and soon I was swept up in back to school madness, Holiday preparations, birthday parties, and all the extra planning, shopping, trimmings and trappings that go along with that.  In the midst of it all, I started having some serious health issues.  Because of some of the medications I am on, there was serious concern that it could be my heart.  I was admitted into the hospital over night, had many, many appointments and tests,and was ultimately blessed it was not my heart but another serious condition I had already been diagnosed with, rearing it's ugly head.  Blessedly, a change up in medication resolved most of the symptoms.
 Then it was Christmas.  What a fun, blessed day.  Things seemed to be working themselves out.  I was still heart broken but I had my wonderful family.

Then the bottom fell out again.  On December 27th my husband decided to make breakfast (he loves to cook big breakfast).  He put a pot of oil on the stove and left it on high, forgetting about it for a few minutes.  The pan burst into flames, not little flames but flames hot and high enough they melted parts of our hood above the stove. The fire was rapidly burning out of control, and our fire extinguisher would not work (lesson to be learned here folks:check the pressure in your fire extinguishers regularly.).  I was busily getting the boys out of the house and starting to call 911.  My husband, meanwhile, bravely carried the flaming pan of oil out of our house, so that we didn't lose the house.  It could have been way worse but he he did receive 3rd degree burns on his hand from the radiant heat of the pot.  He is a computer programmer, which of course uses his hands, so he was out of work on disability for six weeks.
We were so blessed his hand healed well, and did not become infected.  He has a nasty scar but of all the things that could have happened we are so blessed that was the extent of the damage (that and the need for a new stove, but I'm not complaining.  I love my new stove;)

During his six weeks of disability, my husband decided it was time to start looking for a new job.  He was blessed with an awesome job but they were downsizing.  His job was relatively secure but the downsizing had created a very stressful work environment.  
A week after he returned to work, our oldest son awoke in agonizing pain.  I rushed him to the hospital.  He had to have an appendectomy.  The surgery seemed to go well, so they released him the next day.  Unfortunately, we were back in the hospital the next day.  Paul had an incision site infection.  He was placed on antibiotics.  The infection healed but Paul was still in incredible pain.  He was stuck in one position on the sofa for nearly four months.  We went to doctor after doctor, had test after test, and yet no one could tell us why he was in such pain.  Paul's school was incredibly understanding and bent over backwards to work with us.  In the end, we had to homeschool him the last month of school.  He simply could not be there more than twenty minutes before the pain had him immobilized.
While all this was happening, my husband was still job hunting.  He had many, many offers and interviews but none were what he was looking for.  He was still working in a very stressful job and had the added stresses of looking for a job and a son who was in chronic pain.

Everything was closing in on me.  The incident at the church had raised hurts and pains from my past that needed to be dealt with.  The stresses of our marriage were coming to a head, not to mention the everyday stresses of being the mom of five boys, four of whom are on the autistic spectrum, and having an autoimmune disease myself.  I was a mess!  I put myself in therapy.  It was the absolute best decision I have ever made for myself!!  I cannot tell you how much this has revolutionized my life. I. AM. NOT. THE SAME PERSON!! 
I am blessed with a qualified, Christian therapist.  She challenges me, listens to me and prays with me.  

Then God moved!  Well to be honest, I believe He started moving with me going into therapy.  My husband found the perfect job he had been looking for.  He fits there perfectly and is challenged (boredom is one of the things that drives my husband bonkers).  He has found friends there.  I have never seen him this at peace in a job.
Both of our vehicles died within a month of each other.  We were kind of freaked out at how we were going to handle this but God made a way.  We bought two new vehicles, one brand new and the other had only 11,000 miles on it,  in a week!!  I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to have safe, reliable vehicles.  Not only are they reliable, they have all the extra's that I never imagined we would actually have, things like leather seats, seat warmers, remote starters, navigation.........the list goes on and on.  When God gives a gift, it is above and beyond what we could ever imagine.
Suddenly there is so much more peace in our home.  My boys have started maturing in ways that I had honestly started to give up on.  We have been able to go on several mini-vacations this summer.  In the past, this just wasn't an option both financially and because our boys just couldn't handle it.  Autism and change, even fun change, don't mix well.  It is awesome to see my boys growing and maturing.
Paul has finally started healing.  Most days he spends pain free, though he does still have the occasional pain attack.  The doctors never really discovered what caused all the pain and distress.  Many, many people have lifted him up in prayer.  I believe God has heard those prayers and is healing him.  Sometimes healing doesn't happen in our time, quickly and instantly.  Instead God uses the process to develop our character and spiritual walk.  I have seen both develop greatly in Paul through this process.

One last huge change is happening.  We are moving. That's right, the kingdom of Skiff is moving into a new castle.  We have been in this house for five and half years (longer than I have lived any place in my entire life) but it is time to move.  This is a very good thing for us.  I'll have more details concerning this in a later blog.

I finally feel healed enough to start church hunting again.  We have yet to find the place where we fit (our boys special needs makes this a little more difficult).  However, I finally, for the first time in a year, feel ready and EXCITED to find our new church home, our tribe if you will.

This past year has been hard, difficult, heart wrenchingly painful at times but that isn't what stands out the most when I look back.  What I see shining through all of it is God's amazing grace and provision.  This is my Ebenezer, my testimony of God's continuing victory on our behalf.   I'm going to end with the second verse of one of my favorite hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Have Truck Will Travel -Part 2

Finally we crossed the border into New Mexico!!! There was much rejoicing in the Skiffmobile 2.0, or as the boys call it, The Zebra. 
We drove into downtown Hobbs, and though it was quite artsy and fun, NOTHING was open.  Now, we had driven all the way to New Mexico with the promise of food for these boys.  Let me tell you, we were gonna find food come hell or high water!!  We drove around and finally found the food district (as I like to call it).  There were restaurants galore: steak houses, Mexican, Seafood, chicken, Chinese, and so many more.  So where did we eat, after driving ALL day from just outside of Ft Worth, TX all the way to exotic Hobbs, New Mexico, you ask?  We ate at Burger King of course.  That's right, 444 miles, 6 hours of driving, to eat at Burger King....with a play place! WhooHoo!!!  We Skiff's know how to live the high life.  As we were dining on our gourmet Burger King, my husband was barely coherent, he was so exhausted.  I could tell that there was no way he was up to driving back home.  I could have driven for a while but once it had gotten dark we'd be out of luck because I have terrible night vision.  Basically I would have been able to drive us back into the shinnery (the scrubland) and we'd have been stuck for the night, with all the lovely creatures that live out there.  Coyotes do not make great camping partners, in my humble opinion.  There was no choice, we needed a hotel for the night.  Hubby is blessed with a pretty flexible job so he was able to call into work for Monday without any major issues.  It helps that he goes in early and works late almost every day.  Lucky for us Hobbs had a plethora of choices in the hotel department.  We found a great hotel at a reasonable price, loaded all the kids back into the Zebra and headed to our suite for the night.  The boys had been stuck in a vehicle for two days straight at this point.  There was no way they were going to sit calmly in a hotel room.  They were literally bouncing off the walls (as in Benny was running into one wall, turning around and running into the other)!  We decided that the only way we would have a modicum of peace was to head over to Walmart, our clothier of choice on these impromptu Skiff getaways, pick up some swimsuits and other basic necessities and then spend the evening in the pool and the hot tub at the hotel.  Bliss would once again reign supreme.
In true Skiff style, we stepped out of the hotel to find a dust storm raging.  Never in my life have I seen anything like it.  There was fine dust blowing everywhere, so thick it was hard to see a few feet in front of you.  The wind whipped the dirt and sand at you like tiny bullets.  It coated the roof of your mouth and got into your eyes and nose.  Nasty, nasty stuff.  We made it to Walmart only to see the parking lot strewn with carts, blowing every which way.   Hubby parked where it would be unlikely for the truck to be hit by anything and we made our way through the store.  After digging through the racks and finding everyone's correct size  we headed to the front to check out.  As is the Walmart way, there were only a few registers open, with lines that nearly wrapped around the store, each moving at a snail's pace.  We were all hot and tired and cranky and just wanted to get into the dang pool already!!  Hubby and the boys went out to the truck whilst I waited in the Walmart line, like the seasoned pro I am.  FINALLY, it was my turn to check out.  I swiped my card and asked to get cash over because I need to do laundry at the hotel.  We had no extra clothing on this obviously well thought out and planned vacation.  After all, when we had left on Saturday we were only planning on going to the Peach Festival.......which shall be spoken of no more of in Skiffland.  So let it be written, so let it be done!
I told her I needed my cash back in two fives and a ten.  She said "I'm sorry ma'am we only give cash back in twenty dollar increments."  "I understand.  Can you give me a ten and two fives?" I asked.  "No ma'am.  As I said, we can only give out cash in twenty dollar increments."  Fine whatever.  I'll take the twenty.  Ain't nobody got time to school you on basic math right now! I think (Note I DID NOT SAY THIS, I simply thought it.  I'll repent later.  No one's perfect y'all).  I thanked her for my twenty and finally made it back to the truck.

We managed to get back to the hotel while the dust storm still swirled around us.  We wrangled everyone into their swimsuits and down to the pool.  It was worth every freakin' minute at Walmart, let me tell you!  The spa was pure bliss.  Hubby just laid back and completely unwound.  The kids all swam and swam and swam.  Then the most amazing thing happened: Jamie got into the spa.  Water has always been one of the things that calms Jamie when he is getting worked up.  After two days in the car he was very worked up.  On a scale of 1-10, Jamie was probably at a 9.The moment he stepped into the spa he completely relaxed like nothing I have ever seen.  He was a completely different kid after a few minutes.  Forget a pool, I told hubby, we need to get a hot tub!!
After everyone showered, I gathered up all the laundry and headed to the handy dandy hotel laundry facility. I took out the  $20 bill that the Walmart cashier had so graciously insisted on giving me.  But alas, the hotel change machine only took ones and fives.  I wish I had thought to ask the Walmart cashier for fives, oh wait I had! sigh.  I headed downstairs to ask the receptionist for change for the twenty.  "I'm so sorry." she said, not all that apologetically "I've had three people pay in cash and now I don't have anything smaller than a fifty.  I'm sure the Walmart down the street will give you change."  I thanked her and headed upstairs to beat my head on a wall. I dug through every pocket in my purse and my husband's wallet and came up with two fives!  Thank you Jesus!!!!! I had two loads to do because all my Peach Festival nasty clothes had to be washed in their own special load.  After buying soap for each load I was going to be short $1.75.......ugh.  I threw the nasty load into the washer and headed out to the truck to find $1.75 in quarters because there was no way, no how, that I was going to head back to that stupid Walmart for change!!! Had we been in the old Skiffmobile this would have been an easy task but this was Skiffmobile 2.0, a far superior vehicle in every way but there wasn't loose change floating around under seats!  I found one quarter.  I still needed $1.50.  I was so tired.  I REALLY didn't want to be on a quarter scavenger hunt, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep!  I found .50 in my purse front pocket.  Now I was short only $1.00.  It might as well have been a million!!  My nasty load was done and low and behold I found a dollar in the pocket of my freshly washed capris.   "PLEASE take this slightly wet, crumpled dollar." I silently begged the change machine.  It took it with no problem!  There was singing, there was dancing, there may have been a tear or two shed!!  Miracles do happen, even in hotel laundry rooms.  Finally around 1am , I piled my weary body into bed.  I slept soundly knowing all the laundry was clean!
The next morning we awoke to a monsoon, a literal monsoon!  It turns out in New Mexico the dust storms (also called a haboobs, according to the hotel staff) are often followed by a week long monsoon! 
The boys and hubby went downstairs for breakfast and I took the opportunity for a leisurely shower.  I actually took the time to put on my make-up BEFORE going to breakfast!!!  That right there is the true sign of a vacation in my book folks!  
By the time I made it down for breakfast most of the boys were already done eating.  I got to hang out with Sam and Jamie for a while and received all kinds of compliments on their behavior.  Proud mommy moments!  Then I was alone, at the breakfast table, with my coffee, texting with my sister friend.  Oh the luxury!!!!
It was time to hit the road.  The monsoon followed us the whole trip home.  We stopped a few times for meals, gas and bathroom breaks but mostly we were pushing to get home.  A gas station, somwhere in west Texas, had cool hand made memorabilia like wiggly snakes,  carved wooden horned toads, and bobble head armadillos.  The boys, who were driving us crazy in the truck by this point, picked out some souvenirs and quieted down for a while.  We pushed on, making pretty good time despite the rain. The rain was coming down in sheets, when we hit Fort Worth, at rush hour, in tons of construction.  As we were stuck in traffic, on an over pass, I got sick, again!!   Luckily, we were able to get off the road in downtown Fort Worth and I made it to a restroom.  I have decided Fort Worth doesn't like me and just  makes me sick.  It was an unexpected detour but my husband, who is a city guy at heart, really enjoyed seeing the city.  Then we were back on the highway again!  The construction made for an impossibly complicated trip.  None of the exits were signed well and traffic was at a stand still.  Once we made it to Grapevine, TX we decided to just get off the road, go to the mall food court for dinner and wait out traffic.  The kids had an absolute blast.  They each ordered what they wanted for dinner and then we went to the Legoland Discovery Center store.  Sam, my Lego maniac, was in absolute heaven.  They spent some money they had earned and it was time for the last, blessedly uneventful,leg of our trip.
The Bass Performing Arts Center, Fort Worth, TX
So what started out as a simple day trip to The Peach Festival, ended up with an 888 mile drive, two hotel stays, EMT's being called, the need for Depends, vomit, three desperate wardrobe changes  a dust storm, a monsoon, an amazingly heroic hubby, ghost towns, gas adventures, laundry mishaps, fun, laughter, beautiful scenery and  family memories that will always be treasured.  This is the Skiff life.  This is my life and I wouldn't trade it for the world!!!

Have Truck Will Travel-part 1

Have Truck, Will Travel.
 Starring Ms Kristine Skiff as "Mom"
Anna, TX,  a random Saturday morning in July, The Skiff House, headquarters of a woman called Mom.

I started my Saturday as any other lazy Saturday morning, scrolling down my Facebook feed.  I felt restless, itching to get out and do something different with the kids.  Suddenly, the answer presented itself, right there in my Facebook feed (never doubt the power of FB;)  My friend Whitney says her family was heading to the Peach Festival in Weatherford, TX, a mere hour and a half drive from The Skiff House.  I love peaches, the boys love festivals, the hubby loves driving the new truck; this was providence.
We ran a few errands and were on the road by eleven. The excitement in the truck was almost palpable.  It was going to be a fabulous day for Team Skiff.  By one pm we were parked and shuttled over to The Peach Festival.  It was hot but hey, this is TX, July is always hot.  I made sure everyone was wearing hats and sunblock and we started looking for the food!  It was an hour past lunch time and my boys were positive they were going to die from hunger any second.  

We didn't get many pictures at the Peach Festival but here is one
The lines surrounding the food trucks were massive.  I sent my husband and most of the boys to sit down at the shaded table while Sam and I waited in line, in 107 degree heat, on asphalt, in front of the the fryers and grills on the food trucks for forty five minutes.  We have a big family so our orders always take a while to make, add that to the hoards of hungry Peach Festival devotees and I knew we were in for a wait.  As the food came up, I sent Sam back to the table with it.  By the time he and I sat down we were both a little over heated.  Nothing a few minutes of sitting in the shade drinking lemonade won't cure, I foolishly thought.  After everyone finished eating, we started making our way through the festival, stopping first at a misting station for everyone to cool off.   Instead of cooling off  I started to feel pretty sick.  I looked over at my husband and told him I was sorry but I had to go.  We started making our way back to the shuttle stop, with every step I was feeling worse.  Suddenly, I was overcome with chills.  I knew this was really bad.  I looked up at my husband and said "I have to sit down NOW"   He kind of helped me/ shoved me into an alleyway out of the sun.  As I was sliding down to the ground all the noises faded away and my world turned black.  I don't think I was out for more than a few seconds. When I came to, I remember someone asking me if I was okay and calling for the paramedics.  My husband started dumping icy lemonade over my head (hey it's what we had).  The paramedics were there in under two minutes.  About this time Sam started feeling sick as well.  They loaded Sam and I up onto a golf cart and drove us to their cool down room.  I have to give a huge shout out to the Weatherford EMT's.  They were AWESOME!!  They piled ice cold rags on us, gave us cold water and allowed my husband to bring the truck to the cool down station so we wouldn't have to go back into the heat. 
*I am going to apologize in advance for the TMI but there really is no way to relay the rest of this part of our trip without the gory details.* Back to the story.  So, when I passed out it seems I had lost control over my bodily functions ( I'll allow you to use your imagination on exactly what that means;).  This was not immediately apparent to me because a) I had lemonade dumped all over me and b) I wasn't all that coherent for a while.  Once I was back in truck, it was very clear what had happened.  I needed to clean up and change my clothes and it couldn't happen fast enough.  As we pulled out, on the corner, was a plus sized consignment shop that was actually open.  If you are a plus sized woman you know what a miracle this is.  If not just take my word for it.....this was like manna from heaven level miraculous.  I bought the first loose fitting dress my size I could find, cleaned myself up in their private bathroom (Thank you small business owner!!) and we were off.  My husband kept trying to get Gatorade into me but my stomach was still pretty upset.  Ten minutes into our trip back I vomited all over my brand new truck!  It was terrible.  We were on a highway, with no where to pull over and nothing for me to 'aim' at.  My second outfit of the day was a completely gross mess.  The passenger side of my new truck was disgusting.  I was embarrassed and sick and in tears.  I looked at my husband and he said "That's it. We're getting a hotel for the night."  I have the most A-FREAKIN-MAZING husband.   The next exit just happened to have several hotels with suites, another miracle in my book (again we have a large family so we have to have a suite.....unless you have a large family you probably don't know what a pain in the neck it is to find lodging that fits your family).

My husband dropped us off at the hotel and went shopping for clothes for me for the first time in our 14 years of marriage!!!  I took a blessedly cool shower and wrapped myself in a hotel bedspread until he returned (yes I know that is DISGUSTING but it was a heck of a lot less disgusting than sitting around covered in vomit).  It is such a pain to shop for me, I usually just take a day and go by myself.   Not only did he find my right size, what he picked out was really cute and comfortable.  I may send him shopping for me more often;)  At this point he is already a super hero in my book but the next thing he did  made him the best man to ever walk the face of this earth other than Jesus......for real!!  He bought cleaning supplies and cleaned up my puke mess in the truck!!!!  I never asked or expected him to do that.  This is what true love looks like my friends.  Not only did he clean it but he cleaned it so well the truck looks brand new again! 

After I got showered it became apparent that the a/c units in our room were not going to cool the rooms off and the TV was broken so we had to change hotel rooms.  While we waited for the new room to cool off we brought the kids out for dinner (by this time it was after 8pm).  We ate dinner at Wendy's and let the boys get ice cream (they had been real troopers through all the craziness).  My hubby decided to bring the older two boys to a movie after dinner.  Unfortunately the days events had proven too much for Paul and he was starting to freak out.  So instead of going to the loud theater he went back to the hotel room with the younger boys and I.  Sam and hubby had a great father/son night at a blow em'up alien move, in a theater with a huge screen and reclining chairs.  The rest of the boys turned on the Food Network and fell asleep (my boys LOVE the food is comical how much.  Now at dinner they say things like "Mom, I can smell that you used oregano in the sauce." or "Mom I think you over seasoned the pasta" or "The onions you put in the roast really added to the overall flavor"  It is hilarious!)

The next morning dawned rainy and cool ( it was lovely)!  Sam and I were both feeling much better after a good nights rest. We ate the hot breakfast provided by the hotel (my guys very favorite part of any hotel stay).  We loaded up into the nice clean truck and were about to head home when hubby said "You know this is the farthest west we've been at the start of a trip.  We should try to redeem yesterday a bit by driving a little further west and having lunch."  What a great idea,  I agreed.  So we set out in the cool, rainy morning. We chatted, we laughed, we listened to music, we listened to Your's Truly, Johnny Dollar (the old time radio show).  The farther west we drove the more the landscape changed. Suddenly we were looking at more scrub and cacti.  Looming ahead of us were some amazing mesas.  The kids were antsy so we stopped at a rest stop and let them run free for a few moment.  What treasured moments of pure bliss.  Here are some pictures taken at the rest stop.
The boys walking off some energy

Boys and Trees:)

Alex discovering a black widow spider in the background

Paul reacting to the spider news

Alex and Benny

The Cacti (Jamie's favorite part)
Alex found a black widow spider, so we all loaded back up into the truck and continued on, each passing mile taking us farther west then we'd ever been.  Around 1 pm we reached Abilene and decided to stop for lunch.  Paul got upset and we couldn't figure out why. He just kept saying "I'm not going to eat because we're in the panhandle.  I'll just wait until we're home."  After much urging and prompting he finally blurted out, through tears mind you "I'm not going to eat in the panhandle because their meat won't be irradiated!"  Sam helpfully added "He's afraid he's going to get tapeworms!"  Both hubby and I tried to hold back our laughter as I explained that the panhandle of Texas was still a part of Texas and therefore their meat was still governed by the same laws as our meat at home.  He had no need to worry, his meat would be irradiated to his hearts content and he was in no danger of the horrors of tape worms.  After a few moments of convincing, Paul decided he would risk eating some chicken fingers at Dairy Queen.  He is still alive and tapeworm free so it is safe to assume that Abilene has well irradiated, tapeworm free meat.;) This very comical interlude was brought to you by Asperger's (the out of date diagnosis that is never out of fashion in Skiffdom).

We started looking for fun attractions around Abilene for the kids.  The plan was to do something fun and then head back home.  You know what they say about plans and Skiffs, they are like oil and water, they just don't mix. ;)  We narrowed down our options to a few cool local attractions and loaded back into the truck.  Paul spotted a GameStop across the street and still had lots of Birthday money burning a hole in his pocket.  We figured he could buy himself a new game for his 3-DS that would keep his mind off the meat irradiation process for the remainder of the trip.
Once he and hubby loaded back into the truck hubby looked at me and said "I really don't want to stop.  I just want to keep driving west."  "Ummmm, alright....sounds like fun" I said, while inside thinking "But you have to work tomorrow."
So we continue on our westward  drive.  After a bit we decide to stop for drinks.  I went inside the store, leaving hubby alone with Google maps, this turned out to be an error in judgement on my part.  After waiting in line loaded down with water bottles, I returned to the truck to find a very excited husband.  "Guess what?" he says.  "What?" I respond warily.  "We are only THREE hours away from the New Mexico border!!!"  "Wow.  I didn't realize we were so close" I say.  "I think we should drive to Hobbs New Mexico for dinner! We've never been to New Mexico!"  He says enthusiastically.  "It sounds fun but you have to work tomorrow and we would still have to drive home." I said reasonably.  "It's only a six hour dive back home.  I'll be fine." said the man.  "If you're sure."  I conceded.  And that was it.  We were back on the road, heading farther west.  The scenery became dramatically different.  There were miles and miles of wind mills in and around Sweetwater, TX.  I have seen wind farms before but nothing on this scale.  It was amazing.

The windmills faded away and then there were beautiful mesas all around us and miles upon miles of open scrubland.   I can not begin to describe the beauty of the wildness.  I love when nature is so big that I am reminded how very small I am.  We stopped on the side of the road a took some pictures while some of my boys watered the ditch (sometimes having all boys has it's perks;).  After we all piled back into the truck my husband looked over at me and said a little worriedly "I only have fifty seven miles left in the gas tank."   "It will be fine.  I saw a sign a little ways back for a town called Gail.  It is only another ten miles or so up the road.  We should be fine."  I offered helpfully (everyone should be blessed with such an observant wife;)  He breathed a sigh of relief and we continued on our merry way, admiring the beauty of God's handiwork.  Here are few pictures from our stop.  They in no way capture the sheer vastness of the open wilderness.  BEAUTIFUL!

We arrived in Gail, which was more like twenty miles up the road, and immediately started looking for a gas station.  We didn't see any but there was a nice size school sitting back from the road so I knew it must be a good sized town.  After a few minutes of gas station hunting we had found none, nada, nothing.  We turned around in the parking lot of that beautiful, good sized school.  This was when a sense of dread settled over me.  The sign read: Borden COUNTY School.  Grades Pre-K-12.  One school, for all the students, in all grades, in the entire county?!?  ?Yeah, we might be in trouble.  Just then we spotted a County Sheriff's SUV.  I convinced my husband to wave it down.  After all, who better to ask where to find gas than a member of law enforcement?  The Sheriff's Deputy pulled over next to us and rolled down his window.  "How can I help y'all?" He asked.  If you have ever seen the show Longmire, think of the Branch Connolly character and you will have a good idea of what this officer looked like.  He was definitely Longmire-esque sexy, in a cowboy cop kinda way....( hey even my husband saw the resemblance).  "Could you tell us where is the nearest gas station?"  My husband asked.  The sexy, Longmire-esque cop looks at us like "Why in the world would you need gasoline?"  Out loud he asks "What direction are y'all headed?"  I point west and say "That way."  He says "Yeah the next place that sells gasoline will be LaMesa."  "About how far is that?" I ask.  "Round about thirty miles."  We thank him nicely and he drove off.  Hubby looks at me and says "I have 38 miles left in the tank."  Now I was more than a bit worried but I put on a brave face as we started driving toward LaMesa, also know as The Gasoline Oasis, in Skiff folklore.
The boys were really antsy by this point and needing another bathroom break. The truck was dinging at us every two minutes to remind us that it needed fuel ( our truck has nagging down to a science, let me tell you!).  Hubby was getting pretty tired and was very worried about the gas situation.  This was no longer bliss.
Early on in our trip, my husband had said he wanted to know how far one tank of gas would get us in the new truck.  Well, we now know the answer to that very intriguing question.  One tank of gas will get us from Love's gas station in Anna, TX to the Stripes gas station in LaMesa, TX......exactly.  The truck was sputtering when we finally pulled into the station but we had made it!!  Some quick potty breaks and a full tank later we were back on our way to New Mexico.......Yay!  This is when we realized we had not taken the time zone change into our calculations when we had decided to New Mexico trip it.  Yeah, we still had another hour before we made it to New Mexico.  
At this point there was no point in turning around, we were soooooo close.  

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