Today, as I write – I am literally, out-of-town. In fact I am about 2000 miles away from home. I’ve temporarily checked out of my life back in Ohio to visit my ‘single-but unavailable’ son here in northern Arizona.
My traveling companions this time are my oldest daughter Grace and my two darling grand-girls (ages 2 and 3 mo). Until now, Grace has not had the opportunity to get-out-of-town to visit her ‘baby’ brother since he left home in 2007 to pursue an internship at The Heights Church in Prescott. Grace, like the rest of our family, has longed to see how our faith-filled musician has flourished since his arrival here almost four years ago to the day. Nor has Grace ever seen this part of the US. You could say it’s a bucket-list kind of trip for her, but for reasons far more notable than seeing one of the world’s seven wonders.
When you come as far west as we have a feeling of adventure kicks in because there really is so much to see and do in the vast out-west!
In years gone by as a new young mom, I made my first trip to the Grand Canyon state when I took a cross-country road trip (from Ohio) with a girlfriend. One memorable part of that trip was watching my eldest son take his first steps somewhere down near Tucson.
Many years later (in the early 90’s I think) I had the privilege of flying here in a private corporate jet with my husband and former board member and his wife and being served an incredible steak dinner by one of the pilots and eating the most delicious gourmet toffee I have ever had in my life! We flew into a private airport in Scottsdale and were wined and dined for an entire weekend at an FCA Tom Landry Golf event, where we actually met and sat one table away from the legend himself. It was a get-a-way that combined business with pleasure…but mostly – pleasure!
In more recent years I am thankful to have been able to break away from my busy life as a mom and get-out-of-town. During these back and forth trips I have:
- camped with hundreds of teen moms, volunteers, and fellow staff at Young Life’s Lost Canyon and witness lives transformed and bonding with so many people who continue to enrich my life to this day
- led the YoungLives Training Conference (Support Week, as we called it) and pour into the lives of so many precious women who had been called to reach teen moms with the love of Christ
- toured old cowboy town, Williams, the majestically magnificent mountainous ski town of Flagstaff and Sedona
- traveled on the famous Route 66 where I had to rescue a co-worker who ran out of gas
- stood in awe, at the rim of The Grand Canyon
- retreated to the guest house of dear friends so that God could heal some areas of my life
- spent long concentrated periods of time writing about my life in transition and who God uses the transition to change us from within
- hiked Watson Lake, the Prescott Dells, and Thumb Butte
- shopped in the charming cities of Scottsdale and of course, downtown Prescott (I get the feeling that locals don’t have as much appreciation for it as us out-of-towners do)
And I can’t forget to mention the pleasures of AZ food…
- I have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the country like Fogo de Chao; Manuel’s; some cute little wine bar in Scottsdale that I wish I knew the name of so I could again enjoy the most incredible fig and goat cheese bruschetta known to man; and my son’s favorite – only because there is not yet a Chipotle in Prescott – In-N-Out Burger…just to name a few.
When Grace and I first arrived, we talked with Brad about going to the Grand Canyon (since he too, even as a four-year AZ resident, has never been). But today is our last chance. We are out of time and need to make the most of the final moments that we are here. For my daughter Grace, her get-out-of-town agenda does not include any major sight-seeing this time; it’s much simpler – much purer; while she would love to see the Grand Canyon and is willing to spend a total of six hours in the car with two babies – she just wants to linger a little longer, on this, our last day out-of-town, with her baby brother and take in more of his life – in his town – with his AZ family and friends.
The Grand Canyon will always be there – and it’s going to be something she will have come back for in some distant future trip. As for today…well, let’s just say it just isn’t as important.
So what about you? What kind of get-out-of-town are you facing?
Maybe you’d love to get-out-of-town to be refreshed by God’s creation or time with a close friend or family member – but you just can’t for one reason or another. Maybe you’ve been putting off a get-out-of-town trip and you have no good reason NOT to just go! I say, book that flight, or get in your car and just go! You will be so glad you did.
For others reading this – I wonder if your get-out-of–town is something you need to do so that your heart can heal from some deep hurt you’ve been carrying. Why not ask others to help you arrange that much-needed get-a-way even if it’s just somewhere local – even for a day or a weekend.
As someone who understands, I want to encourage you to let Jesus meet you where you are; he longs to refresh and restore our weary souls.
Perhaps you or someone you know has recently had to get-out of-town for some other less desirable reason; a reason filled more with pain or duty – rather than that of pleasure.
For my oldest son, Todd (the one who took his first steps near Tucson and serves our country in the US Navy), his recent get-out-of-town meant deployment and leaving behind his family and friends, to head to Japan to serve the F-15 pilots who sacrificially lay down their lives to protect us and the cause of freedom. Or for our good friends Mark and Jackie, whose son was also recently deployed, their son’s get-out-of-town call came from the Air Force commanders who ‘invited’ their son to use his intelligence training skills on “tour” in Afghanistan. He left just a few weeks ago.
Get-out-of-town’s are not always pleasurable. Sometimes they are just, well… necessary. And sometimes they are even heroic in nature. No matter the nature of it, they are all part of the human journey.
This morning, as I began writing this blog in the early morning dawn of another day on the back courtyard porch of the Casa de Graber (our host family that has made this trip so incredibly wonderful), and while my son is preparing for a morning of worship at The Hts. Church where he serves on staff as an Assoc. Worship Pastor, and my daughter and grand-girls sleep peacefully in one of the upstairs guest rooms, I am reminded yet again of Justin Unger’ lyrics to his song, “It’s never just another day!” No! Today is my opportunity to embrace where I am – at this moment – in this place – with these people.
And as far as the rest of the day goes – I’m all in with Grace’s idea to simply enjoy the last few moments God has given us to spend time with my amazingly wonderful and charming son (who often brings me to tears when I see what God has done in his life and how he is using him here, 2000 miles away from the only home he ever knew); my very wise daughter (who has taught me a lot about what God’s grace really looks like); my two darling grand-girls; and some great friends I’ve had the privilege of spending time with on this trip.
Yet, it’s true that I have been here many times before. But this get-out-of-town has been something very special in so many ways. Not only have I enjoyed my time with my family, I was also able to reconnect with a few old friends that live here and have been part of my life-journey. So sweet indeed this visit has been.
As I fly home tomorrow – I will be praying for those of you who read this blog entry…Trusting that our Father God and his son Jesus Christ knows you by name – and that means he knows what you need.
So no matter what kind of planned or unplanned out-of-town getaway you are in need of, or will unexpectantly be asked to take, please know that behind it all is a God who loves you and will be faithful to meet you as you go.
Your get-out-of-town may simply need to be a few minutes at the Starbucks across town with a Bible to remind yourself of this one simple truth.
Until next time…Go ahead and get-out-of-town!