All Roads Lead to New Glarus Pt. 1- A Travel/Memoir Series – Retelling of a Story

My father once said, “All roads lead to New Glarus.” Throughout the years a small town in Southwestern Wisconsin seems to have repeated itself in significance. Our tapestry has been woven traveling through, in and around this lovely weekend getaway spot. The rolling hills and deeply cut valleys reminded the early Swiss settlers of their homeland.

I’ll never forget the first time I found myself in New Glarus, Wisconsin. It was a late August afternoon, and the air was starting to smell like newly sharpened pencils. Locusts played their organ-grinding songs, and all that grows grew golden. Thoughts of going back to school lurked in the back of my mind, causing me to capture each moment and savor it like a piece of creamy, milk chocolate melting slowly over my tongue. Every hour was precious freedom.

My family strolled down the main street of a town proclaiming to be “America’s Swiss Village.” With almost-black rough wood beams criss-crossing over white stucco, the buildings looked like they could have been in Glarus, Switzerland. Under the windows, geraniums spilled out of flower boxes. Passing a storefront with sausages hanging in the window, my nose crinkled trying to distinguish the fragrance of spice and uncooked red meat, an odor foreign to my young nose. Church bells broke into exultation, signaling that it was half past the hour.

New Glarus Photos
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As my father opened the door to the New Glarus Baking Company, the unfamiliar tunes of an accordion playing bouncy polka music blasted into the street. A shaft of light streamed down the staircase and beckoned us to follow it’s guidance to the pinnacle and into the tea room.

I sat on the smooth, wooden chair, my feet almost touching the ground. the side of the table at which I sat was against the wall, facing the window. My parents sat across from me. They were surrounded by the bright sunshine, which created halos around their forms like the paintings on Eastern Orthodox icons. The tables were adorned with white linen cloths and napkins and in the center of each one was a bud vase with a silk red carnation reaching towards the ceiling. The waitress came to take our order wearing a customary Swiss peasant dress. She looked like a member of the Van Trap Family.

New Glarus Images
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Soon after ordering, my father was drinking a cup of coffee. Mother was checking a glass for water spots. I, on the other hand, was about to dive into a biscuit with a creamy chicken gravy, topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. My mouth watered. The sound of silver on china now accompanied the accordion as the velvety flavors exploded in my mouth.

Looking down on the last bite, I realized that just as I was about to enjoy the last of this delectable treat, I was also enjoying the last moment of my family vacation. Surprisingly, new notebooks, pens and shoes seemed like a welcome adventure after spending lazy days in the summer heat. I leaned back in my chair satisfied with my meal and with my fifth grade summer vacation.

To read the next installment of this story click here.

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Advent-ure – All Roads Lead To New Glarus (Even here!!) Day 10 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Advent – the coming or arrival of something extremely important.
What could appear less important than a baby born in a stable-cave?
and yet
the significance of this night moved stars to proclaim His coming.
the planets aligned, so to speak.

I have been on an adventure.
A Journey toward the coming or arrival of something extremely important.
This is why I most identify with the Wise Men in the Nativity Story.
I am searching and looking for Him.

Today’s prompt is to share a photo of your advent calendar. Whether you have a candle wreath, or pockets filled with felt objects to place in a nativity or on a Christmas tree, I’d love to see how your family marks the time until this coming of Someone extremely important.

I received this beautiful advent candelabra as a Christmas gift from my parents. It’s imported from Germany, but it was purchased in, you guessed it! New Glarus. Even this part of my journey from advent to epiphany follows the New Glarus road.

I’ve written a poem about this journey, called Journey From Advent to Epiphany.

There were no entries for the Salvation Army bell ringer.

The winner for the picture of the gift was Debbie from Heart Choices.

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:

Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!

Saturday Morning Serial – A New Link-Up Community

I am creating a new village of sorts, a Link-Up Village, and I’d like to invite you to visit. I love your company and it would make my day to sit out on the front porch with you with a cup of tea. So much of who I am thus far as a blogger is due to the influence that so many of you have had on my writing.

When I’m in a writing rut, I find that creating a series on my blog, or reading another blogger’s series will get me thinking outside of the box, and start the creative juices flowing. It primes the pump of an otherwise drying well. Blogging series can be used as a writing prompt so that you don’t have to wait until a bolt of lightening hits you with the perfect idea or words to write.

Welcome to a new link-up community, the Saturday Morning Serial Linkup. This is a community for bloggers who have or who participate in a series of blog posts on their blog. For instance, does your blog feature a weekly roundup of your favorite posts, or do you have a weekly guest post on your blog? Perhaps you are writing a blog book by posting a chapter a week or you write or feature a poem once a month. Whichever the case, the Saturday Morning Serial is for you to connect with others and to benefit from the creativity of others. Seeing what other bloggers have written and the series they have created inspires me and I am sure you will find that they inspire you too.

At the moment, I am finishing up a series of blog posts called, All Roads Lead to New Glarus. These weekly installments are mostly a memoir series, (although I take creative liberties here and there.) I am taking a break from All Roads Lead To New Glarus this week in order to fully explain this new community, but will be back next week.

Here are a few housekeeping rules. 1. Fill out the InLinkz form below. 2. Please include the Saturday Morning Serial Linkup button provided on this site somewhere on your post. 3. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) stay awhile! Go visiting other people in this virtual village. I think your heart will be warmed as you savor their words. Let them know how much you appreciate the Creator’s touch on their life. Oh, and by the way, invite other people to visit our village as well!

So are you ready?

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A Big Mistake – New Glarus Series – Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

If you need to catch up in the New Glarus Series click here.

Photo by Matt McGillivray

John and I arrived in Wisconsin on the unseasonably warm Friday evening before Memorial Day. My father was just finishing the mowing on the acre of property. Their home, being an “earth home” had the unusual feature of having grass on top, and the riding mower was grazing the roof at the time. Mama was outside finishing Wisconsin brats on the grill, and I pulled into the long black driveway, shaking away the remnants of memories from the accident. Sue was gone now. After almost a year, Steve had been interested in me, but I told him to go away, and now he was dating someone else. I was surprised at how much that stung. John was unbuckling his seat belt, climbing out of the car, and running toward Papa so that he could ride on the mower with him.

I sat in the car for a moment watching the light turn the trees into black shadows against the almost green sky. Mama’s face showed up in the window. It startled me.

“Are you gonna get out?” she said giggling.

Darkness deepened as the evening wore on, and Daddy, Mama, John and I went to the back of the yard to make a campfire to roast marshmallows and s’mores. It felt as though summer was official, with the first real cookout and campfire. The trees flickered orange and the flames warmed our front sides in the chilly late spring air…and I wondered. What would it be like coming up to Wisconsin, to New Glarus, or living life for that matter, with Steve and the kids? Would it have been so terrible?

Mama was running back from the garage with John. They were going to look for flashlights. Daddy leaned back on a log, “You seem awfully quiet this visit. Is everything okay?”

“I’m just glad to be here for a few days. It’s good to clear my mind,” I answered.

“Mommy! Grandma and I are going to go for a walk in the dark, do you want to come?”

“Okay,” glad to escape my father’s probing, I responded with fake enthusiasm. The first fireflies flickered in a circle around five-year-old John’s head, crowning him prince of the land, for that was what he was.

“Grandma! Lightening bugs! Can we get some jars and catch some?” Mama and John skipped back into the house to look for some mason jars to poke holes in, leaving me to amble across the nearly black lawn alone. Daddy was putting out the campfire, and my hands were sticky from marshmallows, so I decided to go in and wash them.

As I opened the connecting garage door, I heard this, “Spencer and Esther have never caught fireflies. They don’t have a mommy anymore.”

“Yes, honey, I know,” Mama responded.

“I think they might get a new mommy soon though. Spencer said that Kevin might be his brother soon.”

“Really? That would be so nice for all of them!”

“I wanted to be Spencer’s brother.”

The wind caught the door behind me slamming it shut.

I jumped as though I’d been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

“Hello, you two!” I quickly recovered. “My hands are all sticky, but I’ll help you catch fireflies when I’m done washing them.”

My heart pounded as I went to the bathroom. I heard Mama and John chatting, and I looked in the mirror above the sink. Eyes rimmed pink, and face splotchy from tears, it was then that I realized, I had made a terrible mistake.

To continue on with this story click here.


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Disbelieving Divorce – New Glarus Series- Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

As I lived alone in shame and pain, I cried out to God…Who am I? If you need to catch up on the New Glarus series, click here.

Broken beyond belief…

Useless damaged goods.

Where do I go from here?

If I am not Mrs. then who am I?

If I’m not Christian married mother

What. Am. I?

My mother always said my mouth would get me into trouble someday.

These are those days.

I could not stay silent.

Stay silent when he turned his back on me, on us, on God.

I paid the price.

Discarded like a piece of trash,

Crumpled like a written mistake.

Hurt. Alone. Frightened.

Strong hands pick me up.

A few people look past my shame.

They risk their reputation

To uphold mine.

The sun still shines but it is dark

and I wonder if I will ever see light again.

Thirteen years of precious life.

Gone. Spent. On the wrong person?

Perhaps.  In the wrong way?


I. Don’t. Believe. in Divorce.

But Divorced I Am.


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Welcome to the Saturday Morning Serial Linkup! Here’s what you need to do to participate. If you have a weekly series you post, whether fiction or nonfiction, please feel free to join our community. First, you’ll need to fill out the form below. Then you’ll need to add our Saturday Morning Serial Linkup Button to your series blog post. Lastly, you’ll need to visit some of the fine writers who will be adding their posts here. It would also be great to hear from you! So comments here would be appreciated!!

Let’s get started!

Birthday Surprise – New Glarus Series – Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

If you need to catch up on All Roads Lead To New Glarus click here.

It was J.’s 5th birthday, so I invited a few of his friends and their parents over for a party. I included Dave and Jerri‘s two girls, J.’s best friend, Steve and his two children, and another single mom, Karen, and her son, as well as the neighborhood children to whom J. had given the Batman toys to.

Everything was about Batman and Mario that year, so I convinced J. to let his party have a Mario theme so that the girls on his list would enjoy themselves as well as the boys. Armed with cupcakes, and a Pin the Hat on Luigi Game, we braced ourselves for a trailer full of noisy children.

It had been a few months since I’d had a “real” conversation with Steve, but I wasn’t concerned about the party feeling awkward. I mean, it was Steve, he was like my brother, I’m sure we were big enough to set aside the awkwardness of the past few months, for the sake of the children. I was sure that he’d stay and help and even be the life of the party, because that’s the wonderful kind of guy Steve was.

J. looked out the front window in the kitchen, waiting for the first car to pull up.

“How long until the party starts, Mom?”

Always looking for a teaching opportunity, I begin to explain to J. that when the long hand on the rooster kitchen clock points at the twelve, it will be time for his friends to come. J. pulled a chair to the window to wait, his warm breath creating a foggy cloud. I went to the bathroom to freshen up.

“Mom, Aunt Jerri is here!”

“Okay, honey, can you let her in? I’ll be there in a minute.”

Even though there was no blood relation, J. always called my friends Dave and Jerri, “Aunt” and “Uncle” and considered their girls his cousins.

I entered the room as Jerri was taking the coats from the girls.

“I can’t believe you’re here first!” I teased, as Jerri was notorious for always being late.

“Well, I have a few errands to run, and I wondered if you’d mind if I left for a little bit.”

“No, that’s fine. Your girls are never any trouble at all.”

“Thanks, there’s a few sales I want to catch, and it will be so much easier without the two of them. What time will you be finishing up? I’ll help you clean up if you’d like.”

“We’ll be done around 3, but take your time, we aren’t doing anything this evening.”

The girls were standing shyly in my living room watching J. play Mario Kart. J. offered to let them play too. They nodded no, silently. My little man was too young to notice a girl-boy difference, but the girls were older and feeling a little timid.

Jerri was about to go out the door, when Steve and the kids walked up the sidewalk.

“Well, hello!” Jerri gave Steve a knowing look and a quick hug.


S. ran in to play video games with J. while E. wrapped herself around my leg. I picked her up. She had on pink flowered leggings, a red sweatshirt that obviously belonged to her much larger brother, and her bright orange hair looked like it hadn’t been combed in days. Her glasses clanked against mine. Jerri and Steve chatted while I got a much needed hug from this mismatched girl.

The neighborhood children came, and the other single mom, Karen, arrived as well. Her son went running in to play with S., and the party was complete, except that every parent had excused themselves, with errands to run, leaving me with 10 children all between the ages of 3-7, all by my lonesome. It was the longest two hours of my life. One girl got gum in her hair, they hated the Pin the Hat on Luigi game, and there was cupcake frosting ground into my already hideous carpet.

To add to my irritation, it seemed as though Steve had left with Karen, but surely I was imagining things. I became even more suspicious, however, when they were the first to come back as well. The two of them came in smiling ear to ear, Steve talked non-stop to her in my kitchen. He was obviously flirting.

A rush of hot lava came up from my toes to my ears. The nerve of him! Flirting with a woman in my kitchen! The same kitchen in which he rescued me from my gas bill. I calmed myself, reminding myself that I had told him to go away four months ago. They left together, with hardly a word for me, and eyes only for each other.

I had started to clean up when Jerri returned. She came in, threw her coat on the couch, and asked where I kept my rubber gloves so that she help with the dishes. I pointed quietly under the sink.

“You’re awfully quiet. Did the kids wear you out?”


“I got all of my shopping done. Thanks for taking the girls.”

J. and the two girls were giggling in the corner with some of J.’s new presents.

“You’re welcome.”

“Kim, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lied, trying to sound perky. I swallowed, “Hey, I did notice something kind of strange today, though.” Dishes clanked in the sink, and I grabbed a dishtowel to dry. “It seemed like Steve and Karen were ‘together’. I’m sure I was just imagining things, I mean I know how friendly he is and everything.”

“No, you were right. They’ve been dating for about a month now. You didn’t know?”

“No,” Anger welled up inside me again.

I changed the subject, because I didn’t want Jerri to know that I was upset. I didn’t even want to let me know that I was upset. I’d have to think about this later. So we talked about the children, shopping, church and the party. Soon, she gathered up the girls and her headlights faded down the road, and without any warning I cried. I cried because it had been a long day with too many children and not enough adults. I cried because I felt so alone in trying to raise my boy and provide for him. And for some reason, I cried because Steve had gone on to another woman, and the feeling was a little too familiar.  And  with this emotion, I surprised myself, because I didn’t think I would care, but I did.  I really did.

For the next story click here.
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Snow Angel – New Glarus Series – Saturday Morning Serial Linkup

If you need to catch up on All Roads Lead To New Glarus click here.

It was an early snowstorm.  The kind that disappoints trick or treators everywhere.  Costumes are dragged through the slushy stuff of snow; more than a foot of heavy snow that year. It started late on Saturday, and continued all night long.  I awakened in my trailer to the blue-white light of a winter wonderland.

I had to get to work.  I did computer work at church between the morning and evening services, and I knew that digging myself out would be up to me especially since I had uninvited Steve from my life.  Plus, he and his kids were staying overnight at the nearest Holidome, which was about 45 minutes away.

After a hot shower, (thanks to Steve), I started laying out J.’s clothes for church and figuring out what I’d wear while shoveling.  I stumbled into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee so that it would be ready when I came back in.

I squinted in the early morning light.  Were my eyes playing tricks on me?  Was that my car, already scraped and ready to go?  What was that brown and red thing on the hood?  Forgetting the layers I’d assembled for my task, I threw on my jacket and boots.  My eyes smarted from the dazzling sunshine on the snow.  Someone had indeed dug me out!  And the item on my hood?  A stuffed animal holding a note.

Dear Kim,

I hope you aren’t angry, but I couldn’t sleep this morning knowing that you’d have to shovel all of this heavy snow yourself.

Drive carefully,


A swirl of emotions twirled their way around my insides.  My heart melted a fraction at his kindness.  Steve had driven an hour and a half round trip to make sure I could make it to work.

For the next installment of the All Roads Lead to New Glarus Series, click here.

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Brotherly Love – New Glarus Series

If you need to catch up on All Roads Lead To New Glarus click here.

Steve started calling. A lot. And looking at me funny too. I didn’t know how to tell him that I just didn’t see him that way. He had always been a brother to me. I wanted to help him with the children after Sue died, but it had been eight months now. Why couldn’t I just say it? I had already let things get out of control by allowing him to help with the gas bill and by letting him take me out to dinner. Somehow, I sent the wrong message. My “safe” friend, was no longer safe. I determined that next time he called I would let him know.

It was a Friday evening when the phone rang.

“Hey, it’s me,” the now even more familiar voice came over the line.

“Hi, I’m glad you called. I wanted to talk to you about something.”

The thing about Steve is that he’s like a puppy. He’s always so excited to see everyone, and so optimistic. He never assumes that bad news is about to follow.

“How about if we talk it over at Chucky Cheese with the kids?” I could practically hear a tail wagging.

“No, I think I’d rather do it over the phone.”

“Alright. What’s on your mind?”

Suddenly I was afraid that I’d read too much into his behavior. I mean, it would be totally embarrassing if he didn’t have feelings for me and I assumed that he did.

“Well, I wanted to thank you for the help with the gas bill and for being so kind.”

“It was no big deal.”

“Yes, well, our relationship has gotten…um…complicated.”


“I mean, It was always safe to be friends with you because we were both married and our spouses were friends too, and now that’s all changed. It’s different. We’re both single…and…I wanted to make sure that you know how much I appreciate your friendship because I’ve always thought of you as the brother I never had.”

Silence again.

“But I wouldn’t want to hurt you or give you the wrong impression.”

“So I take it that going out to dinner with me tonight isn’t a good idea.”

“I’m afraid not.”

Pause. “You’ll let me know if you change your mind?”

“You’ll be the first to know.”

“I’ll see you around at church.”

“I’ll be there.”

The phone went dead. I felt nauseous. He was obviously disappointed.

For the next story click here.

Ask And You Shall Receive – New Glarus Series

If you need to catch up on All Roads Lead To New Glarus click here.

I raced to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, glaring at the shower head as it sent icy projectiles toward my body.  I couldn’t pay the gas bill, which meant no heat, no hot water and no stove or oven.

Thankfully, it was still autumn, so my little trailer warmed up enough during the heat of the day, making it bearable without heat. But it still got a little chilly in the morning and evening.  For little J., I microwaved water in my largest bowl and added it to his bathwater.  As far as food preparation goes, any food that we cooked had to be made in the microwave or grilled.

Of course, I didn’t tell anyone.  I was so ashamed that I couldn’t take care of J. and myself on my own.  My plan was to become current on the gas bill over the summer and get my gas reconnected before winter so that we could heat our home.  But now, it was September, and I had the money for the bill, but not for the restart fee.

I knelt beside my bed.  “Lord,” I prayed, “You know what we have need of before we even ask.  Please help me to take care of this gas bill before winter.  Thank you for hearing my prayers.  I ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

The phone rang.  It was Steve.  “Hi!  How’s my favorite nanny today?”

“Oh, hi Steve.  I’m fine.  Did you need someone to watch the kids for you?”  I guessed this because every time he called me a “nanny”, it was because he needed a babysitter.  He seemed to be able to do what I was unable to do.  He could ask for help.  As a widower and a salesman, he needed childcare at the drop of a hat.  I was sure that I was first on his list.

“Could you?” he answered, “I have a late appointment tonight.  So I was hoping I could drop the kids off around six.  Could the kids sleep over?  I’ll pick them up from church tomorrow morning.”

“Sure! It will be fun!”  I wondered what I would feed the children without a stove or oven.

I peered into my refrigerator.  I had hamburger thawing, but what was I going to make in the microwave with hamburger?

There was a knock at the door.

“Hello, Vince!”  Vince was the assistant to the association manager at the trailer park.

“Hi, Kim.  I came here to give you this,” he paused.  “I’m sorry.”

I looked at the bright yellow card.  This card is to inform you that if your grass isn’t cut in the next two days you will be charged $40 for the park landscapers.

“My lawnmower is broken,” I sighed, “$40!  But, my lot is the size of a postage stamp.”

“They try to make it expensive enough so that people won’t rely on the groundsmen mowing their lawn.”

“I see…well, thanks Vince.”

The screen door slammed between us.  Overwhelmed, tears began to fill my eyes. I covered my face and took a deep breath.

J. looked up from his game of Mario Kart.  “What’s wrong Mama?”

“It’s nothing.  Mama’s being silly.  God will take care of us.  He always does. Your friends are coming over later!”  I often tried to change the subject when I was caught in an emotional moment.

I went out to the shed and found the garden clippers.  My yard is the size of a postage stamp when using an electric lawn mower, but it’s the size of Wrigley Field when trying to cut the lawn with garden clippers, I thought.

The late morning sun was already warmer than I’d expected, and I wanted to finish before Steve and the kids came over.  Clip.  Clip. Chop.  After about an hour, the yard started resembling a child with a bad haircut.  Tufts of long grass stood above parts that were hacked short to the ground. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it even.  Open blisters began to form on my soft, unworked hands.

I saw my neighbor, Mrs. Olsen.  Looking through her window while doing dishes, she dried her hands. I sighed.  I knew that she was going to offer to help in some way, and I felt guilty.  She was the elderly, widowed woman.  I should be helping her.

“Dear!  What are you doing?” she asked after opening her window.

Standing up from a crouch I answered, “Vince came by to let me know that if I let my grass get any longer that I was going to be charged $40 for maintenance to come and mow my lawn.  My lawn mower is broken.”

“Why don’t you borrow mine?  In fact, I have an old push mower you can have.”

“Oh, Mrs. Olsen, I couldn’t.”

“Why couldn’t you?  I’m not using it.”

“Really?” My voice caught in my throat, “That would be so wonderful.”

“It’s too hard for me to push, and my son bought me one of those new fangled self-propelled mowers.”

“Thank you so much!”  My hands and my back were relieved, but my soul was sick.  I should be the one blessing Mrs. Olsen, not the other way around.

The new lawn mower was a little rusty and hard to push, but at least it cut evenly.  I rushed to finish before Steve and the kids got to the house.

Sweat trickled down the back of my neck, and I remembered how cold the shower would be later.  I took a break to start the grill.  I only had three matches.  Pouring the liquid starter on the coals, I struck the first of the three.  The wind blew it out.  I struck another.  The coals did not catch.  As I held the last match in my hand, Steve’s familiar mini-van pulled up.

The kids poured out of the car, one hugging each of my legs. Steve ambled to the grill.

“What have you been up to, today?”  Steve had a knack for asking the one question that would irritate you most.

My throat was tight from the tears wanting to spill out as a flowing river.  But I swallowed them away.  “Just stuff around the house,” I said.

“Want me to start the coal for you?”

“Sure,” I was thankful to give the responsibility of that last match to someone else.

A breeze picked up, the match blew out.

“Can you get me some more matches?  This one blew out.”

“Oh, dear.  I think that was my last one,” I answered as casually as I could.

“No big deal.  You have a gas stove, right?”


He bent down and picked up a stick.  “I’ll start this stick on fire on your stove, and then start the coals.”

“No, that’s okay,” I practically panted.  He can’t find out!  “I need to get matches anyway.  I’ll go to the store and get some.  The coal can wait.”

“That’s silly!  You don’t want to throw all of the kids in the car just to get some matches.”  He was walking up the stairs.  “I’ll just go in and start this stick on fire.  I only hope I can keep it burning all the way to the grill.”

I was feeling panicky.  How could I stop him?  I didn’t want this truth exposed!  I ran up the stairs past him.

“Maybe I have some matches somewhere else.”  I started opening drawers everywhere, praying for a book of matches.

Steve walked up to the stove.  He turned the dial.  Nothing happened.  He turned the dial again.  I shut the drawer I was looking in, afraid to look up.

From the corner of my eye, I could see that Steve was facing me.  Opening another drawer, I pretended to fiddle around.  He came behind me and closed it.

“Your gas is shut off, isn’t it?” he whispered.

The stress of the day caught up with me, and I could only nod because of the tears spilling from my eyes.  He reached over and held me, and I cried.  I cried because of the months of cold showers.  I cried because of the blisters on my hands.  But mostly, I cried because I felt naked and exposed, and yet somehow relieved.

“How long has it been off?”

I was still in his arms, and it was beginning to feel a little awkward.  I pried my sweaty, dirty self away and grabbed a napkin to blow my nose on.  “It’s been a few months.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”  he asked.

“Because, I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone.  I wanted to know that it was God who took care of it, not my whining.”

“Well, God is taking care of it.  He’s taking care of it by using me. Here,” he grabbed a napkin, “You have charcoal on your face.”  He was gently wiping my forehead.  “I’ve got an idea.  I think I’ll call my appointment to see if I can reschedule.  Why don’t you clean up the best you can without any hot water, and I’ll take you and the kids out to eat?”

“I don’t know.  You need to work, and….”

“And nothing,” he plopped down on my couch, “I’m not moving until you say yes.”

As I took that last freezing shower, I went over the events of the afternoon.  I remembered the prayer on my knees that morning, and I was thankful for friends and neighbors who were willing to help.  I was thankful to have shared my burden with such a kind heart. But most of all, I was grateful that God answered my need, in spite of the pride.

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The Polar Express Trip to Disney World – New Glarus Series

If you need to catch up on All Roads Lead to New Glarus click here.

The conductor called, “All aboard!” and I felt like a character from the Polar Express. Except that it was hot because I was in Florida, and it wasn’t Christmas Eve. But, just like the passengers of the Polar Express, we were on a journey of faith. Would we believe that God was a kind and loving Father? The face attached to the little hand I held was very serious, as if the conductor were some sort of priest, and the train a cathedral. We stepped on board, found a seat and covered ourselves with the blanket a stranger had given us on the first leg of this trip. Five year old J. knelt on his seat in the over-air-conditioned train, so that he could watch the activity as we pulled out of Orlando while I reflected on how we got here, and how God answered the prayers of a little boy.

It was the night of my friend Sue’s memorial service and I was tucking then 4 year old J. into bed. We were about to say our prayers. J. prayed for his friends S. and E., Sue’s children, and for Uncle Steve. And then, without any warning, before I could explain to J. the dangers of doing such a thing, he asked God for a trip to Disney World. Long pause. I believe that we can come to God with our desires, but I had seen so many people disappointed, and I didn’t want my son’s faith setback. As a single mom, I was struggling to provide milk let alone a vacation.

J. sensed my discomfort. “Mommy, my Sunday School teacher said that we could ask God for anything.” I snapped myself out of deep thought.

“You can. God wants you to talk to Him.”

“My teacher said that when I need to trust God, I can give a seed to show I believe Him.”

“That’s right. There are many times in the Bible when someone gave something even though they had very little, and God took care of their need.”

“Well, I don’t need to go to Disney World, but I sure would like to. So, tomorrow, can I give some of my toys away to the neighbors who don’t know God?”

As a parent, so many thoughts swirled in my mind. Do I want him to think that we give to get? What if he gives his toys away and nothing happens? But still, tears began to fill my eyes at the simplicity of my son’s faith.

“Sure, honey. Tomorrow we’ll go through your toys.”

I secretly hoped J. would forget about the previous night’s prayer, but the moment he awoke I heard the clatter of plastic in his room.

“Mom?” he called out.

“Yes, honey?”

“Could you bring me two big garbage bags?”


I went to the sink to grab the box of garbage bags. J. was making two piles.

“I want to give some of my toys to Carter and some of them to Nathan,” he smiled.

The Christmas before, I had found a K-Mart that was going out of business. J. loved Batman, and I was able to buy a lot of Batman toys for 75% off. They were J.’s favorite! He had Mr. Freeze, and several models of the Bat-mobile, he played with them daily.

I had to hold my tongue as I watched my son, choose his best toys to give to the neighborhood boys. “Maybe Carter and Nathan will know how much God loves them, when I give them my best toys!” J. was excited.

So, on a chilly October Saturday morning, J. and I made some deliveries with sacks of toys, just like Santa. J. was too shy to do the talking when we got to the boys’ homes, but he was on a high the rest of the day. “I hope Carter likes Mr. Freeze as much as I did,” he said over lunch.

Every night, for months following J. ended his prayers by saying, “…and God, thank you for our trip to Disney World. Amen.”

He never complained about missing his toys, or doubted that God would hear his request. One Sunday after church, the most unlikely person came up to me and said, “We’ve heard that J. has been asking God for a trip to Disney World…we’d like to help make that happen.”

And so, like a whirlwind, God came in and took care of our transportation…Amtrak…which was awesome because the only thing J. loved more than Batman was trains. Then God took care of our accommodations. The rest I had to use my faith on, but I knew that if God had gotten us that far, that He would finish the rest.

Disney World was like a beautiful dream. When we walked through the gates, I had to work hard to keep from sobbing at the perfection of everything. Employees played tag with J. We watched fireworks late at night. J. and I walked the parks from the time they opened until the time they closed. It was truly the Magic Kingdom. I found myself saying to J., “I can’t believe we’re really here.”

“Why not, Mommy? I asked God.”

I was humbled. J. never doubted that God wanted a good thing for us. I had doubted every step of the way. I guess that is why Jesus instructed us to come to Him as little children. My child had taught me a lesson.

I looked out of the train window, now fogged by J’s breath. “Thank you God, for being my boy’s Father, and thank you for being so good to us, even though I doubted your Goodness.”

For the next chapter in this series, click here.

Counting graces with Ann:

#11 – Grateful that my garage sale is over!

#12 – I get to serve God by serving people this week! What a privelege!

#13 – The Golden shaft of a sunshower…

#14 – Autumn shadows

#15 – The dog’s tail wagging in welcome.

#16 – Pumpkin flavored anything.

#17 – My son’s first day of school…ever…at 18!!