Monday, July 20, 2009

I Should be Writing

I should be writing but its hard to find time.

Here is my latest article. It came out in March 2009. It's the story of how I got started riding a dirt bike. My original title was: "When God Rode a Dirt Bike." For some reason the editors suggested I send in some alternative titles. But the first title was the best because...I tried to think of a title that would grab their attention. You see, they get thousands of articles each month and can't print them all.

The article IS about God on my bike...

They asked me to send in some pictures, too. It was a nice surprise to be on the front page.

For those of you who have is the article.
My sons' and husband's names have been changed.
There is a picture at the bottom of the post--taken at the dry lake bed (6 years ago) when this happened.

Off-Road Riding With God

"C'mon Mom," said Cody, "Go riding with us!"

"You’re going to love it. Honest!” My husband Tom swung his leg over my son’s red motorcycle. "Cody is ready for more horsepower, so I’m buying him a four-fifty and giving his bike to you!”

I looked at the big red dirt bike with fear. “Me? On that?” Not a chance.

“C’mon, Mom!” said Cody.

“Yeah!” said my younger son, Dylan. “Pop a wheelie!”

I had never seen two teen boys look so excited about having their mother go somewhere with them.

Several months before, my husband had approached me with the idea of buying off- road motorcycles for the family.

“I need something I can do with the boys,” he reasoned. “I feel like we’re drifting apart.”

I liked the idea of the boys venturing into the backcountry with their father. But motorcycling wasn’t for me. I wanted to stay home and put my feet up. Parenting teenage boys had been difficult lately and I told Tom I needed a break—but I didn’t mean a leg!

“Just sit on it!” urged Cody.

“Pleeeeeeeeze Mom?” pleaded Dylan.

I felt myself weaken. Maybe it would do me good to get out. In recent weeks my heart had grown heavy due to escalating battles with our teen sons. I secretly wondered if my parenting decisions were good ones. I tried to give my anxious thoughts over to the Lord in prayer, but five minutes later I was worrying again.

Maybe the motorcycles would pull the family together again—and we needed some fun.

“What do you think?” my husband grinned.

“I’ll give it a try,” I said. Besides, I wasn’t a complete newbie. As newlyweds, Tom and I had ridden a few times with friends.

The rest of the week was a blur of shopping for boots, trying on helmets, and sliding into chest protectors. Next, Tom had me in the backyard practicing figure-eights, clutch control, and navigating around the dog’s water bowl. I had a lot of brushing up to do.

Before I could change my mind…Saturday arrived.

With four bikes in tow, we headed out into the California desert. Gazing out the window at a sea of sagebrush, I felt anxious. What would happen if I fell, veered off an embankment, or worse yet—stalled my bike while climbing a big hill? And if I made it to the top, how would I get down?

Tom elbowed me playfully, “We’re going to hit some gnarly single track today, okay?”

“Yeeeaaaa!” the boys cheered.

Blank stare.

Tom reached over and patted my knee. “It’s okay, sweetheart. We’re going to have fun today. I promise!”

“Uh huh,” I smiled faintly.

It seemed like we crossed the entire Southwest before stopping near a large dry lakebed and unloaded the bikes. Trails spread out around the parched lake like spider webs awaiting unsuspecting prey.

I started my bike and cautiously sputtered out over the lake to practice my shifting. Ten minutes later Cody whisked by, motioning to me.

“We’re heading out to the trails. Do you want to come?”

Not wanting to be left behind, I turned and followed Cody. He hit the trail in a blaze of dust, leaving me chasing his green bike through a maze of rock and sand. Finally we caught up with Tom and Dylan who had stopped to wait for us. Tom pointed ahead. My heart sank to my boots. The trail threaded along the base of the mountains then suddenly turned upward into a rock-strewn hill of doom.

“I’m not going up that hill!” I yelled over the rumbling motorcycles. Tom nodded and gave me a thumbs up. I gave him a thumbs down. He laughed. I glared.

“Watch me,” he shouted into my helmet. “Remember what I told you. Let your bike do the work!”

Tom hammered the throttle, dumped his clutch, and quickly climbed the hill. Cody and Dylan took off after him. The boys crested the top and disappeared. Looking like a speck at the top of the hill, Tom signaled for me to come up. What was I going to do now? No way was I going up that hill. What if my bike stalled or hit one of those rocks! Maybe I should turn around and head back. Which way was the truck again? The dirt trails curled in all directions and I knew deep down I had to keep going.

Let the bike do the work! I heard Tom’s voice in my head. Suddenly I remembered hearing that message before—during my quiet times with God. “Let me do the work,” the Lord seemed to say. I was trying to conquer the tough hills of parenting alone—in my own strength. At the end of the day, I would crawl into bed feeling cracked and worn out, just like an old dirt bike tire. In those moments the Lord would gently say, “Don’t forget about me. I’m here to help.”
I stared up at the towering hill before me and took a deep breath.

“Okay, Lord, we’ll do this together. You do your part and I’ll do mine.”

I flicked my bike into gear, and faced the hill. Ready, Lord? Let’s go! I twisted the throttle. The bike swerved over the sandy soil, and with the engine screaming, it grabbed the hill and started clawing its way up. Up and up we went.

When my front wheel hit a rocky section the bike sputtered. Oh no! It’s going to stall! I shifted down, hit the gas and hung on. With stones flying from under my back tire we climbed the last few feet to the top. Whew! I can’t believe we made it! You’re pretty good at this, Lord!
I slipped off my dusty goggles and looked around. Sculpted hills of all shapes and colors rose from the desert floor. The view was breathtaking.

“Go Baby!” shouted my husband.

From the bottom of the hill, two small forms waved and cheered. At that moment I knew that if God could bring me safely up this bumpy hill, he certainly could guide me along the ups and downs of parenting teen boys.

About five minutes later, I heard a shout from the bottom of the hill. The bikes were rumbling again. Tom motioned for me to follow him down the hill. Over the roar of the engines I could hear that old doubting voice. What if my brakes go out on the way down? What if I hit a rock and go careening over the handlebars? What if—Wait a minute. I couldn’t let those “what if’s” hold the same power over me anymore.

I wasn’t alone—not on my motorcycle and not in life. I wouldn’t be going down the hill all by myself. I had my riding partner with me! God would do his part and I would do mine.

I adjusted my goggles. Okay Lord! Let’s ride!


Karen said...

Wow! I am so glad you shared this SHOULD definitely be writing! What a wonderful testimony of the strength and power of our loving God...

I loved how you ended with "I wasn’t alone—not on my motorcycle and not in life. I wouldn’t be going down the hill all by myself. I had my riding partner with me! God would do his part and I would do mine."

Dawn said...

Absolutely wonderful! I remember when you were submitting it and they wanted to change the title, which they did. But the article is so apropos - I would be scared spitless, and know I wouldn't be able to do it, but you did! I remember when I first started visiting you, seeing that picture of you in your helmet on the bike - I thought you'd been doing it forever. What a great article. Congratulations!

Willow said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing, you brave woman!

Dawn said...

BTW - I still like your title better!

Re your comment today - the saddest thing about those yards - it's the front yard for all the world to see. Strange!