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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

Carried by Prayer

Stacey: Two weeks ago on Josh’s birthday we learned that his grandfather had died. On his birthday. In Iowa.

Joshua is the first grandchild on this side of the family and we are all very close. There was no way he couldn’t be there. I was hoping that I would get to join him as well. Then – we saw the airline prices. Absolutely undo-able for even one of us. So, we found ourselves, late at night still on Josh’s birthday, sitting by a campfire in the side yard just staring. Neither of us knew what to say. We really couldn’t figure out what to do.

We agreed: He couldn’t fly. He couldn’t miss it. He couldn’t take the car. We only have one and there is only one of him.

Then we realized: what we lack in money we can make up for in time. Thanks to our wonderfully supportive and flexible work environment we do have time to play with. So before we knew it we decided to throw all three children in the car and drive from Portland, Oregon to Iowa.

OK, for the record: we don’t take road trips. The longest we have driven with all three of our children is 6 hours to the Redwoods. The Redwoods were spectacular but barely worth what we had to go through to get there. And we have not even attempted something comparable since. So looking down the barrel of 1600 miles (according to Mapquest) and around 24 hours of driving (one way) I was far less than optimistic. But as soon as we had made the decision, we just seemed to know it was the right one and we jumped up from the fire and threw ourselves whole hog into packing and prepping the car (which was 1000 miles overdue for an oil change and in desperate need of two new tires).

Part of my job was clearing our work calendar. To give you an idea of just how freaked out I was about the trip with the children this is an excerpt of what I wrote to our staff:

“So, with faith that God will provide we are undertaking the psychotic step of driving with the whole family to Iowa starting tomorrow morning.

“Psychotic” is obviously an exaggeration, but I am completely uncertain and “un-confident” in our children’s ability to handle this amount of car travel.”

My boss wrote back one line that began: “Psychotic actually seems just about right” and ended with his blessings and promises of prayer. Most of our friends, family and colleagues wrote with their promises of prayer for the larger family and prayer for our journey.

Turns out it is 1800 miles (200 more than we thought). And the children…

…were a dream. They were great. They stayed occupied with the activities I brought for them. They were patient. They did as they were told. They napped. They joined us in the rosary and they looked at the whole thing as an adventure. And the car…

…not a problem in the world. Smooth sailing 1800 miles there and 1800 miles back. We are now due for another oil change which I am sure we won’t put off.

I don’t know if I have ever so fully felt like I was floating on the wings of prayer like I did for that 9 day trip. Travel was almost completely ideal. Not easy, but no problems or hitches with the car or roads, or food, or lodging, or family. We would get calls or texts from folks checking in and letting us know they were praying for us. When we arrived folks were so kind saying what a hard long journey it must have been. But the truth of it is, I feel like the entire time we were in a state of grace, carried by their prayer. It was amazing.