By: Reba Phelps
As I pulled off of the Interstate in picturesque Cheyenne, Wyoming for gas I purposefully did not look at the price on the well lit and welcoming sign. It was what it was at that point. The gas station signs brought so much disappointment to my bank account on our recent trip. My Buick was gently reminding me that it was time for a refill. My weary traveling body needed a stretch and a piping hot cup of ambition, as Dolly Parton’s song so famously said.
Once I exited my car, my daughter trotted inside to see what kind of road snack she would need to continue our journey home. The gas pump area was packed with travelers. Some had small cars like mine and some were large trucks pulling travel trailers. I shuddered as I thought about their gas bill. It was none of my business but I just assumed that they were overrun with disposable income, buying gas without a painful look on their faces.
One of the fun things my daughters and I always do on road trips is look at other license plates. Most are so much prettier than our Louisiana license plates. Some have plates on the front of the cars and on the back. Some are clearly far from home while some are locals. It is innocent entertainment to break up the doldrums.
As I inserted the gas nozzle into my thirsty Buick I heard a sweet lady’s voice say, “Oh my dear, you are far from home or did you rent that car with a Louisiana license plate?”
With a somewhat cheerful smile I said, “No ma’am, it is not rented. I am from Louisiana.”
There was an instant frown on her aged but well preserved face that I chalked up to me calling her “ma’am”. We were not in the South where it is expected and appreciated.
“What do you mean, did you drive all this way by yourself?”. I could tell that she was so confused and concerned as to why I would be so far from home.
I went on to explain that we drove my oldest daughter to Idaho. We made a vacation out of it, we were leaving the breathtaking mountains and we were now on our way back to the humidity of Louisiana. I even told her we did the very same thing last year but took a different route this year. I was truly telling this stranger my whole life story at the gas pump. Maybe we were both visiting to ignore the inevitable pain of watching the gas pump rack up dollars upon dollars?
Just when I heard the click of the pump signifying that the thirsty tank was now full, my new friend told me, “You are so brave driving that far from home all by yourself, you be careful going back to the South.”
For a brief moment, I thought maybe she didn’t see that I had my youngest daughter with me. I was not alone. Wait, was she making a comment about us not having a man along for our trip?
I refused to let any part of our visit end with anything but positive vibes.
Brave. Wow. She called me brave. Hmmm….and all of a sudden I felt brave and a little proud. I was truly feeling like I had accomplished something great.
When we hopped back into my road-worn Louisiana Buick, I thanked the Lord for the little reminder from a new friend that I was brave for taking this journey. But I also thanked him for his traveling grace that he showered over our trip. I thanked him for the special memories made between mom and daughters that will last a lifetime. I also took the time to thank him for the time I was able to spend with him while driving down the road. While the girls were deep into their current streaming service, I had alone time listening to praise music and talking to the Lord as we crossed many state lines.
I may have forgotten to thank the Lord that the gas prices were not any higher than they were. I will have to add that to my next conversation with him.
My Louisiana license plate amassed right at four thousand miles on this journey and not one of those miles did we not feel the love and security that only our Savior could provide.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”