A SHLEP excerpt, from Missouri, state # 4:
. . . As I made my way around camp I saw that everyone was packing up their trailers in preparation of leaving later in the day. I wasn’t ready to go yet; I didn’t even know which state I was headed to next. It made me feel left out; they were all going back to their normal lives, their jobs and families. All the things I wanted but didn’t feel like I had any chance of having again. Dreamy was sore and I felt guilty for her pain since I had taken her on the road. What was I doing this stupid trip for? I missed having a “normal” life, even though my life back in CA had been far from normal.
I missed my kids a lot; I was sure they all blamed me for blowing up the family and now I felt distanced from them. I missed the predictability of my days even though they were not very happy there. I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to live, how I was going to make ends meet financially. I felt out of place everywhere and with everyone.
I wandered into the mess hall while waiting for the dryer cycle to finish. Jane, Barb and Nancy were there. I knew that my eyes were red from crying. Nancy stood as I approached and asked, “Can we pray for you?”
No one had ever asked me that before. I’d never felt that desperate to ask anyone to and doubted it would help, but I nodded my head yes. We sat around the table and held hands and I started crying as Nancy prayed like I’d never heard anyone pray before.
“Dear heavenly Father, we ask You today to have mercy on our friend, Kathy. She is in great turmoil and needs Your loving embrace. She is lost and searching for your healing powers. We pray that you heal her mind, quiet her fears about her future and guide her steps on this quest. Keep her safe from all dangers on the road and in the woods. Keep her horses, Wildflower and Dreamy, and her dog, Tucker, safe as they accompany her through Your kingdom here on earth. Protect Tucker from his cancer, free him from any pain that he may be experiencing. Through the power and beauty of all that You have created in nature, let her see You and be inspired. Bring God-loving people onto her path to help and encourage her when she needs help. Let her be reunited with her children, whom she misses and loves dearly.”
Nancy said much more, then Barb and Jane did too. All I could do was cry and join them with “Amen.”
Jane handed me some tissues and I blew my nose. Each of them offered me a place to stay with my horses. They asked me about my finances and said that I could afford to live in the Midwest and suggested some places to look. Barb gave me a campground suggestion in Arkansas, which was the next eastern state on the path towards my Dad in Florida, and told me to avoid Pig’s Trail in getting there.
I felt vulnerable and said, “I feel stripped of my defenses and it’s scary. Thanks for being my friends and sticking with me even though I must be such a drag. I’ve never really talked about God before, except with my daughter. I know he gave me the strength to leave Bob. I just don’t know why he lets go of my hand sometimes.”
Nancy said, “Maybe you let go of his hand. God is always by your side.”
. . .