The Great Christmas Interstate Adventure Of 2009

This Christmas and New Year season, we from Tennessee, to Pennsylvania, to North Carolina, and back to Tennessee.

For the first time in 20 years we live back in the United States, and this puts us in greater proximity to all of our extended family. All our children were together with us (Anna is 18 and is finishing her last year of high school living with her grandparents in North Carolina, Abbi is 16 and Ben is 13).

We were heading to Pennsylvania, where my family lives, for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents. Celebrations like these are so important for the grandchildren to see – which is why parties must occur on these kinds of “rite of passage” dates.

We set out on Dec. 18th evening in order to attempt to beat the big snow storm that was predicted to come.

The storm came early.

Along what was to be a 12 hour journey, we ended up sitting perfectly still, in traffic, for over 13.5 hours.

5.5 hours the first time – 8 hours the second time we stopped. Neither time was snow actually falling. The roads were simply bad, and the southern states are not equipped to handle such events speedily. During each of those time, I reflected how quickly things would be moving along in Canada under the same circumstances. Alas, we weren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.

On the Virginia portion of Interstate 81, we were stopped by an apparent sliding of a truck off the Interstate at approximately 11 pm.

What we didn’t know was that we would be left there, with no aid, along with our fellow travellers – until 7 am the next morning.

The last meal we had was breakfast earlier that day, and yet we had just gassed up our tank (A Cracker Barrel was closed just as we arrived, so we were turned away from our dinner meal).

What ensued was a night sitting in our car, dealing with food, bathroom and heat issues. At first all was well, but then I began to think, what is going to happen when one of my 3 girls needs to go to the bathroom? On the side of the road was only snow, the weather was cold, and there were no exits or semblances of civilization anywhere near us.

As well, motorists were sitting all around us – some were old, some were truck drivers, some had babies.

How One Deals With These Things

Stuck on a snowy, cold Interstate, with no place to go and no civilization around us, we did the following:

My son built a snow toilet for the family. An open drivers side door and passenger door formed a bathroom booth, and deeds were done. That was very, very funny, and the stories will persist for generations.

We caroled up and down the Interstate around 3 am, checking cars to make sure no one was in distress.

My son played on the Interstate with all of us – declaring what a privilege it was to play on an Interstate.

We rationed out Christmas cookies.

We gave Christmas treats to a trucker near us.

We turned our car on an off as needed for heat.

My wife read Christmas books to us that she had brought along.

We watched “The Christmas Miracle Of Jonathan Toomey” on my laptop.

We made calls from my mobile to my sister and brother, and emailed friends to pray for us.

We slept as best as possible in the car, 5 big bodies in a packed CRV.

Emailed and called the Virginia Department Of Transportation asking for some help.

We moved once again at 7 am, still unsure as to why this all happened.

While nerve wracking, and somewhat emotionally challenging, we have decided to call it the “Great Christmas Interstate Adventure of 2009.”

We felt the nearness of God, and we trust everyone else made it out okay. We will indeed think twice before we try to “beat a storm” again.

I’m in no mood to drive again any time soon; nor is my wife.

Happy New Year everyone. Step forward, with confidence in the One who goes before you into every challenge.

RELEASES FEB. 8, 2022 | Brazos press

Sheltering Mercy helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

Pre-Order below, and join my email list, to get author notes and updates about the book and events around it. If purchasing for Christmas gifts, soon you’ll be able to download a Christmas Gift Certificate PDF here so you have something for under the tree!).

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