The Long Way Home: God’s Provisions in the Midst of Disaster

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This is the story of how a major mistake (mine) led to an opportunity for blessing, through the budding faith of my seven-year-old son.

A Looong Week

It had been a long week.  The boys and I had journeyed to my folks’ house about two hours away, to stay the week with them while I conducted a few essential oils classes in the area.

I love doing those classes–inspiring others to ditch synthetic and often harmful products in favor of more natural and effective alternatives.  It’s very rewarding to introduce folks to a whole new way of caring for their families.  I get to meet lots of new ladies, establish new connections, educate, inform, equip, answer questions–all the things I love to do.

Three classes in one week is a tight schedule for me, though–the classes often run late into the night.  And then I still have to pack up, head home, decompress and get myself ready for bed.

And although we were staying with my parents–who love their grandsons and are a huge help in caring for them–I was still the only parent for the week.

Parenting for a week without Mr. Native Texan, on top of conducting three classes in four days, on top of all that goes into packing a car full of all the necessary items for life on my parents’ farm as well as all the supplies required for each class left me utterly drained by the end of that week.

The End is in Sight

My last class was Friday morning.  We had planned to stay with my parents through dinner that evening, and then head back to Virginia.  My brother was in town and we wanted to eat dinner with him, plus this schedule allowed the boys to have their normal rest time that afternoon.  It also gave me some time to pack up the car.

As we said our good-byes and struck out towards home later that evening, I was so very tired but the end was in sight.  In just over two hours, we would be reunited with Mr. Native Texan.  We would all sleep in our own beds that night and I would no longer be a single parent.  The classes were behind me, and although there were follow-up tasks to be completed, the majority of the work was finished.

It was almost time to breathe a big sigh of relief.  We were making good time, and I was thrilled to realize that we just  might make it home before it got really dark.  (I’m not a great nighttime driver.)  The boys and I were playing a rousing round of the Alphabet Game, and Older Brother and I were doing our best to “help” Little Brother spot the letters he knows.

As it turns out, this game requires more brain cells than I had available at the time.  And so, the brain cells necessary for recognizing turnpike exits were starved off by those engaged in spotting letters of the alphabet.

Disaster Strikes

It’s true that when both of us are present, Mr. Native Texan always drives.  It’s also true that I almost never drive all the way to and from my parents’ house alone.  So while I am rarely responsible for navigating that particular route, I have often been a passenger.  I should know where to exit the turnpike to continue on the correct route.

Instead, we sailed on past the proper exit–and many  more–alphabeting away.  Until suddenly I realized it was growing dark, and we were headed up and around an unfamiliar mountain.

Hmmm.  I don’t seem to remember crossing this mountain.  Come to think of it, none of this looks familiar.  And we’ve been on the turnpike for a looong time.

Well, the good thing about the PA Turnpike is its straight shot for us almost exactly to my parents’ backyard.  And the high speed limit, and the generally good condition of the roads, and the few number of exits all make for fairly streamlined travel.

But one of the great things about the turnpike–its few exits–can also be a very unfortunate thing.  If you miss your exit, there often isn’t another one for at least twenty miles or so.

From this point on, the details are rather fuzzy in my brain.  After missing who knows how many exits, at which point I looked around and realized we were long past our scheduled exit, I’m fairly confident we missed two more exits–the first one due to a panicked, last-second decision to stay on the turnpike rather than be exited into the middle of nowhere in the dark with no plan.  I think we missed the next exit while I was engaged in frantic conversation with Mr. Native Texan via my cell phone.

By this time, it was quite dark and I had no idea where we were.  After the frantic phone call to Mr. NT, yet another missed exit and the awful realization that it would now us take us longer to get home from our current location than it should have take from our original location (my parents’ house), I nearly had a mental breakdown.

We should have been almost home.  Instead, it was now completely dark and it was as though we were starting the journey over again, but from an unknown place and over an unknown route.  And now I was even more tired, and I was still the only parent on duty.

And all of it–all of it!–was entirely my fault.

One little missed exit.  (Well, technically it was many more than one missed exit, but it all started with that first crucial one.)

Hope in the Midst of Despair

I don’t often allow my children to witness my moments of personal despair, but this was one of those rare moments when I lacked all will power to contain myself in front of them.  I’m pretty sure I cried.  And it wasn’t a polite “I’m so sad” kind of crying.  No, it was more like a wild and violent “How in the world did I let this happen and whatever will become of us now?” cry.

The boys began to whimper and say things like “When will we see Daddy?  When will we get home?  We want to go home!”  My replies made it clear that now was not the time for questions or comments from the back seat.

Finally, I was able to map out a route with the use of my smartphone.  Never before have I been so thankful for googlemaps!

When all the dust settled and we had resigned ourselves to the long journey still ahead of us, Older Brother spoke up timidly from the backseat.

Mama?  I’ve been praying the whole time.

My breath caught in my throat, and I told him that was the best thing to do in a situation like this.  I asked what he had been praying.

That God will help us find the right way and we will get home soon and see Daddy.

I was completely humbled and encouraged in that moment, as I realized that in this hour of crisis, my seven-year-old son was doing the very thing I had failed to do.  I should have led the way by calmly bringing our requests before our Almighty God.  Instead, I completely lost my head and so my young son stepped in to do that which escaped his struggling mother.

As we traversed quite a few back country roads, with no real idea where we were–me desperately hoping for good car performance, in addition to no more missed turns or exits–we were able to discuss the things we were thankful for in the midst of our series of unfortunate events.

Our Thankfulness List:

  • A fully charged phone, which allowed us to follow the map all the way back to safety.

I almost didn’t charge the phone before leaving, but decided to plug it in at the last minute while we ate dinner with my parents.  In fact, I’d left it charging in their kitchen and had to turn back for it when we were just a few minutes down the road.

  • I’d discovered the missing phone in time to go back for it.

  • Googlemaps and smartphones!

I’d held out against smartphones for a long time, finally acquiring one this past January.

  • Safety and a reliable car on unfamiliar roads, out in the middle of nowhere.

I wouldn’t even let myself think about having a break down or car trouble out on one of those country roads, on a Friday night–me, a young(ish) mother alone with two small children.

  • Easy access to a bathroom at McDonald’s, just when we needed it, and with a well-lit parking lot.

Never have I been so thankful for McDonald’s! 🙂  I’d rather starve than eat their food, but we were more than happy to use their bathroom that night.

  • A full tank of gas.

Just as I’m unaccustomed to making the drive sans Mr. Native Texan, I must confess that I don’t often pump my own gas either.  He does such a great job of filling up the gas tank over the weekend, so I’ll have plenty of gas for each week’s activities.  On the way to my final class that very morning, I was startled to realize my gas gauge was on empty.  It made for a frantic detour and delayed arrival for class set-up, but it ensured that our gas tank was completely filled for our long nighttime trek.

  • A bright moon.

It was almost a full moon, and its brightness brought me some comfort and increased visibility in our unfamiliar surroundings.  My night vision is terrible, so every little bit of extra light is a big help!

  • The prayers of my young son.

I was thankful for the opportunity to be encouraged by Older Brother, and to encourage him in his role in our family.  I truly appreciated his prayers, and admired his response to our crisis–and was grateful for the chance to tell him so.


We finally did make it home.  The journey took more than twice as long as it should have and we arrived well past the boys’ bed time, but we’d been kept safe and had witnessed God’s provisions in the midst of our little disaster.

And I’ll never forget how my seven-year-old son rose to the occasion, petitioning God for safety and guidance on our Long Way Home.

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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>


  1. Sarah Zurin on 10/21/2013 at 1:28 pm

    God is so good! I always am very humbled when my children, spiritually, act more like an adult than I do……….it is no wonder Jesus said “Let the little children come to me”. They seem to have the right perspective on life far more quickly than I do at times. What a blessing for you to witness the spirit of God living inside your son!!

    • Kathleen on 10/22/2013 at 1:36 am

      “Humbled” is a good word for it. 🙂

  2. Renee Behringer on 10/22/2013 at 5:23 pm

    I have to echo Sarah! – And say that this is a great God-story. For your son and for you:)

    • Kathleen on 10/22/2013 at 7:26 pm

      Agreed. 🙂

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