GPS or Map–Navigating the Trail to Confusion Flats

Palo Duro TXI knew trip was going to be an adventure when the man on the other end of the line said, “You’ll cross the Canadian River, then turn after you cross Chicken Creek.”

Chicken Creek. Love it.

Our quest was a 220 mile journey from Medicine Lodge, KS to Pampa, TX, to help with a Kicking Bear Youth Camp. It’s this ministry that we have kind of fallen into, and being empty nesters, have the freedom to take part in. And we get to act like ten year-olds again with no mom or dad there to make us behave. For more info go to or like Kicking Bear Base Camp on Facebook to check out the fun shenanigans.

So west we headed. In our area, my husband is an old hand when it comes to knowing every dirt road, creek crossing, and cow path in south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma. West Texas is new uncharted land for him and has been 32 years since my foot had fallen there.

He fired up his trusty GPS, the ‘Babe-In-A-Box.’

“How about we call her an actual name, like Agnes Jones?” I suggested. “Don’t you like that better?”

He peered over the top of his sunglasses and kept driving.

I chirped on, “Did we bring a map? I actually like a map better. No offense Agnes.”

One of my children informed me that maps are ‘stone age’, but I’m visual and like to lay map out across my lap. I want to see what is in proximity to where. Like how far Pampa is from Amarillo, and if I truly remember where Palo Duro Canyon is for after the trip. I need the big picture. Not necessarily the whole detailed plan, but only enough for me to be confident in where I’m headed.

Also, I am a compass rose gal. I’m friends with north, south, east, and west. Right and left does not come natural. At a moments notice I panic, have to clench which hand feels stronger, confirm that my wedding ring is located on my left hand and stick out my pointers and thumbs on both hands to see which forms the letter ‘L.’ by then a semi has eaten my lunch, and I need a defibrillator to jumpstart my ticket.

No, Agnes does not speak my lingo, and I have to scramble for readers to see her little blurry screen.

Agnes said not a word, but some odd reason, she directed us to drive around a block in Alva, OK and galavant through a roadside park in Buffalo, which we knew better.

As we boogied on down the road into the land where they pretty much grow only sand and rocks, my phone alerted me that since I am now traveling outside of the United States, sending messages could result in significant charges added to my bill. Interesting.

“Well, Cliff, I know they say that Texas is a whole other country, but I didn’t realize we needed visas to travel over the Kansas state line.

“It’s sure getting flat the farther we go and drier. These folks need rain in the worst way. When we get set up out tent, be sure and keep the flap zipped shut. I may have chased off a bear with a spatula last summer, but if a snake crawls in our tent, I be GONE!” No worries about us ever moving to the desert.

After a stretch of lonesome highway a sign appeared, pointing to The Mountain View Cemetery. This puzzles us, as well as the still silent Agnes. There is no sign of any kind of mountain, hill, or gopher mound for at least 100 miles.

I point to a sign in the ditch, “Now I can understand the thought behind South Flat Church of Christ .

Agnes pipes us and encourages us to head south.

“Wait! She left me,” Cliff exclaimed more bamboozled than a jilted husband who has come home to an empty house and a Dear John note, “I’ve just lost the signal.”

“Are you sure we don’t have a map?” Finally, at a post office stop in Booker, TX, Cliff retrieved an atlas from behind the back seat. (For the record, if you keep an eye out for a post office by looking for an American flag, well, it works real well–except on Flag Day. Yep, flags were flapping everywhere, just like they should be!)

Now we were set. Cliff had Agnes, I had Atlas. and the road stretched south out of Perryington.

But of course, not the highway number Agnes had directed.

“She can’t find me,’ Cliff sighed.

“Well, in a few miles it turns into Highway 70, and we are good to Chicken Creek.”

Sure enough we cross the Canadian River, which was about as wide as its line on the map, and ta-da, Chicken Creek and the Kicking Bear sign! We made it!

After a fabulous time at camp, we spent the next evening in Amarillo and proceeded to find our way to Palo Duro Canyon. At one stop Agnes, still pouting from being outed by something from the Santa Fe Trail Era, sent us to an intersection in semi-heavy traffic and said, “Turn right now.” Right was papered with a zillion ‘Do Not Enter! Wrong Way!” signs. The International sign for “NO” had been invented right at this very spot, I am sure. It was obvious Agnes needed updated. Cliff got us up and over and around an overpass and finally we journeyed south.

Now, I was on familiar land, but after being deceived by Agnes, guess who had a hard time believing me? “Is this the right road?’ ‘How much farther do we go east?’ and ‘As flat as this is, are you sure there is a canyon around here?’

As we dropped into the crevice, second only to the Grand Canyon, we took in the rich beauty of the area that we were blinded to, because we had been so doggoned worried about being lost. It was a totally different majesty.

While I’m not anti-GPS, this reminded me of how many times I listen to voices that sound legit, instead of going to the map of truth for myself. The danger of listening to the voices without the biblical filter, who wants to be led in circles again, and how do you know who to trust?

God gave us that Bible so we could have the whole picture laid out, to make following Him possible. The last place He wants for us to be lost in a land of despair. Not seeing it detailed to the inth degree builds our faith, with the Holy Spirit as our decoder of sorts.

Lord, please guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Turn my heart towards your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37



Mission USS Patience into Bugaboo Galaxy

Stardate: September 20, 2012. Time 6:45 a.m.

Mission: To successfully deploy the already fueled and packed F150 pick-up from the launch pad in Medicine Lodge, KS and arrive in under four hours in Topeka, KS for the arrival of most hallowed first grandchild.

Procedure: Robin, mother-in-waiting, would call when word came that she was being officially induced. It was possible, if every other baby in the area decided to emerge that day, she would be bumped.  Due to a little forgotten piece of info the night before, the doctor could tell she was well on her way naturally. No need to fire up the contraction jet fuel in the morning.  Had we known, we would have gone on to Emporia that night, giving us a quick skip of 45 minutes the hospital.

My foot tapped and my fingers drummed, while I listened on my side of our closed bathroom door.



Zing!  Ting! Crash!

I fumed as my husband’s favorite phone app, Angry Birds, flew through the air and crashed at this  life historic moment.  I almost broke my teeth off being patiently submissive.

Finally, we were strapped in and hit the road—straight to the town’s convenience store!

What???  The point of being ready to go, was we would be READY TO GO!!! 

This spot is the town’s social hub in the morning. “Hey, heard about your dad breaking his neck.  How’s he doing?’, and ‘So, where are you off to?’ 

Anyone who knows me understands that I love to turbo-boost into a conversation topics like this, but today was one of the few in my life’s history, where I wanted to scream and bulldoze over them.

But, I didn’t.

Finally, on the road, a discussion on which route to the room-a-zoom-zoom Turnpike would be best.  Straight to Wellington would laser Cliff’s eyes out with the rising sun.  But, wasn’t there construction to Haysvillle? Wichita meant lumbering through traffic.  We finally darted onto the 235 Bypass, we rarely use around Wichita, until…

….we got to a tricky forked exchange where you have to instantly choose which vein of traffic to join.  Captain Cliff chose wrong, and Spock had her mind flipping through her mental baby book under ‘water breaking’ since that was the lastest pressure filled text update. 

And, we were looping southeast instead of north!  Deep breathing helped to subside the panic, but every stinking semi in the galaxy pooped along in our lane.  Did they not have deadlines to meet?  For the love of asphalt, put the hammer down and go!

A text to Misty in Emporia warned that she had best be ready to execute a Duke’s of Hazard dive through the truck window as we drove by.  Her spine infused back was no excuse, and she’d need have a sack of Sonic greasy goodness in her grubby little hand.  She did. 

And of course, Emporia picks that day to do massive construction on the deadly roundabout which is like the Bermuda Triangle for semi-trucks.  Navigating it was as aggravating as a Rubiks cube, but we eventually broke some laws and jumped a curb or two onto the Turnpike.

Of course, we aren’t that familiar with Topeka.  Cliff’s GPS, still harboring a grudge that she wasn’t consulted on the bypass debacle, gave us the silent treatment, and I couldn’t read my hand-written Map Quest directions. 

In the parking garage, a disagreement had to pop up about which elevator to take.

But we made it!!!!  Whew!  Bring on the bambino!

  We visited with Robin and Karsten, learning that pidurals are truly God’s grace after the whole Eve incident.  When they came to check the process, a ‘pushing’ announcement was made.

We rejoiced down the hall to the waiting room, giddy with expectation. Watching people filter through……for 1 hour, 2 hours…..

A student nurse, that had attended Robin, cut through the waiting room to the elevator, her shift over.  She made eye contact, looked to the floor, and skittered to the steel doors. 

“Get her!  She has information!” I joked—kind of.   

She nervously smiled,  pondered the desperate looks on our faces, proudly looked up, and said, “Congratulations.”  Then, closed her little yap.  Firmly. 

Cliff said, “All we want to know is if everyone is healthy.”  She nodded and dashed through the open doors to be whisked away before the HIPA police tackled her. 

Whew!  The big question mark had been erased.  It shouldn’t be long.  Of course, it takes time to get everyone settled, cleaned up, and they were probably Skyping with the California set of grandparents, since they were so far away.

A review started on who made what baby predictions in our family pool.  Everyone was intent it was a boy, except me, who is always dead wrong.

Another hour ticked by.  Maybe something was wrong after all?  What did the nurse know? She was a only student.  Maybe we assumed her nod to mean, ‘yes they were fine’, when she might have just nodded out of nervousness.  Misty finally hopped up and sweetly interogated the nurses’ at the desk. 

Someone would be out soon.  Thank the Lord!

Karsten peeped around the swinging door, looking like an excited ghost, a proud daddy smile engraved on his face. 

“I can’t tell you what it is.  Robin wants to once they let you come back.  It shouldn’t be long.” 

Oh good night!  We have had enough of indefinite turbulence for a life time—starting nine months ago when we got the news that Bugaboo was on the way (Check out blogpost Bugaboo Hope) up to the last ten days, waiting to know if my dad would survive his bronc riding episode, or if he would be paralyzed for life. (A Lifetime of Bodily Discontent blogpost).  We are exhausted! No wonder Grandmas need naps.

Then, the big moment comes.  Bren Carter Burns gets officially introduced to the most impatient people in the universe—one branch of his zealous family tree.  Of course, he is an absolute miracle.  And so is his mama, who we learned God’s hand was on.  In fact, she had a scary time.  One we are glad the experts took as much time as possible to handle.  And it was also on the new daddy, whose first time holding his son, was torn between the hope in his arms and watching his wife’s dire circumstance unfold in a flurry of blue gowned activity.

So, when the uncle, who has to wait until after his game tonight, gets to put his 8lb nephew in a football hold, it will be all the sweeter.  And, when Grandma Lisa swoops in from California on Tuesday, she will have earned a sparkling patience jewel in her crown.  Then, in November, Uncle Kaj  will have his not-nearly long enough turn.  And at Christmas, there will be great celebration in Los Angeles, when a grandpa and two nieces will have sculpted the patience fruit into an intricate creation to share with Mr. Bren.  Finally!

(I’d put in a picture, but been having a time loading pictures on WordPress lately.  Also, I don’t have my favorite bible with me, so I can’t find the verse I was going to use.  Grrr…..wait….do you suppose He’s already having to mold and shape me on the patience thing?  AGAIN!)