I guess Tony Bennett left his in San Fransisco…but I left mine in Bakersfield…my heart, that is. That’s close enough, I reckon. I flew to Tulsa on December 13th. We began loading the 17ft. U-haul truck that afternoon. We soon discovered that the truck was too small. So we went for a 5 X 8 trailer to pull along behind…which meant our plans to tow the car went awry. So, I drove the truck and trailer…my son drove the car. We travelled from Bartlesville, OK to Okla City on Friday. Jr. was presiding over a wedding for good friend, Jay Morgan. Spent Friday night in motel. I left Saturday AM with the U-haul stuff. Doug, Kelly and Remi stayed for the 1 PM wedding. Then Doug took Kelly and Remi to the airport and left them to fly to Bakersfield from there. He got on the road and headed west to rendezvous with me in Albuquerque. There’s a lot more to say about the trip…but I will summarize this way…12 hours on the road Saturday…15 hours on Sunday…walkie talkies…infernal “meowing cat” beside me on the truck seat ALL THE WAY…tough, windy, icy weather starting out for the first 5o or so miles…awesome weather the rest of the way…grace of God which kept me from wrecking my kids’ furniture in the truck more than once, which kept me awake (did He keep that cat going?), which brought us safely in on Sunday night around 11 PM CA time. Then next day and a half was a blur of unloading things, deciding what we would leave in storage and what would go to Kelly’s parents’ home (where they are living for a time), returning U-haul truck and trailer, playing with, feeding, changing, holding Remi (8 months old now). Tuesday…just before noon, I stole into Remi’s room where she was about to nap. I kissed her beautiful face one more time…then I whispered into her tiny ear, “I am your Poppa Oakes. Remember me.” Then we left for the airport in Burbank. I got home to Ohio around two in the morning on Wednesday.
I want to thank those of you who breathed a word of prayer for us. Seriously, I appreciated it so much. It gave me strength along the way to know of my friends…my family in Jesus who went to the Throne for us. It gave me strength for leaving my son, my daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter, the Amazing Remi baby, in the foreign land of California. (We actually were stopped for an inspection at the California state line.) And I’m pretty sure it must have been your praying that kept the “cat” alive. I had spent quite a bit of time while driving and listening to its howls, planning its demise in various ways that would not point to me. The cat made the entire trip in good health (and in good voice).
During our trip, Vicki (my wife) called. I know she was feeling blue. She had been online looking for flights to CA. I booked a flight for her (for February) at the second motel in which we stayed. That lifted her spirits some. That’s for sure.
I have missed commenting on your blogsites…I have been able to do some checking in and reading. What you are saying…what you are wanting to do for Jesus…what you are wanting to offer other folks just like us…this is all GOOOOOOD! And it honors Him. And it blesses people who really need a break. You are like lights shining in a dark place (that seems to remind me of Another Who brought a Great Light to a people steeped in settled, thick darkness). You (like Him) help us find our way…encourage us to take the next step…strengthen us for our journey.
I left my heart in Bakersfield, but it didn’t break. That’s because my hope is in Heaven. I find my heart is in lots of places these days…it’s with a sister, a mother and brothers in my hometown of Bellbrook, OH…it’s with my wife’s family of faithful people who love our Lord… it’s with a friend in Lubbock, TX, and the growing “Open” church there he ministers with…it’s with a friend and his dear family in Withamsville, OH…it’s with some people (some I’ve met and some I will one day meet) who write out (on blogsites) their hearts about the wonderful differences Jesus makes in their world…it’s with a church in Dayton, OH, and Christians there who have known and blessed me from my youth…it’s with a church family and friends in Troy, OH, with whom I served, sorrowed and rejoiced for 18 years…it’s with a faithful little assembly of the Lord’s volunteers in Somerset, OH, who took a chance on me in 2003 and with whom I have worked ever since…it’s with a son and his family in CA…it’s with a daughter and her family in KY…it’s with a son and his wife in WV…and it’s with a beautiful Christian lady, who, for me, will always be the girl to whom my heart belongs. It is truly a wonder to me that God has graciously gifted me with you all. To have simply known you would be splendid beyond my dreams. To have been befriended by you is simply outlandish. To love and be loved by you is so far out of line with anything I could ever deserve or ask of Him…but, I AM SO GLAD FOR ALL OF YOU…FOR EACH OF YOU. Feel His pleasure in you today, please.