Road Trip!

Hey friends,

I am tired. I am not even going to sugar coat this…. I am just plain tired.  This summer is unlike any other in our home. My husband Mike is working a summer job for the first time since we’ve  been married (because two college kids…enough said), I am tutoring 20 hours each week, I have one kid living in Grand Rapids, and two almost-flown living here.  We are juggling schedules, cars, late nights, early mornings. We are trying to let our grown kids have some freedom while trying to squeeze in more college visits for #3… the whole thing has been more mentally exhausting this year than any before.  Let’s not even start on the school prep that is occupying brain space. It’s just just plain exhausting. 

And then Mike says, “Ya know Jacob is getting married. It’s in Green Bay. I love that kid…. we could do this.”  I totally hemmed and hawed….remember, I am tired. Another scheduling nightmare was all I could see.  So we delayed. And delayed. Up until the rsvp date (yes, we are those people) when Mike came back and said, “Kar, I really want to go.”  So I concede. Yes, please, call them…I hope it isn’t too late. We can do this. Let’s roadtrip. After I nap….because I am tired. 

The Friday of the wedding weekend arrived. Mike had done hotel arrangements; I had called my best friend in the world in Chicago and told her we were coming by for dinner. We had the code to my sister’s garage for a pit stop, my Amazon dress was packed, we threw a couple water bottles and a five-hour energy in the car, and we were off…just the two of us.

Waking up along the way

You see, Mike and I vacation together a lot. We try once a year to get away alone. But this time, it was so needed.  For the first hour, neither of us even talked. We just sat there….soaking in the fact that we needed to make ZERO decisions in the next 3 days.  And that felt like a giant weight of exhaustion just sliding away.

We slowly started talking– about us. About those first years of marriage when it was just us. He remembers so much more that I do, and listening to him retell those stories made us laugh out loud.

We rolled into Chicago, up to my best friend’s house. And another layer of exhaustion left– she and I don’t get to see each other enough, and here, totally on a whim, we are all together, as if days – not years – had gone by since I saw her last.  Years ago, Mike slid himself into our friendship, not entirely smoothly, but in a way that he will sit and chat with her hubby while Ann and I try not to pee our pants, laughing at what was and what is the best friendship ever. 

Best friends since we were five

A hug goodbye, and Mike and I roll into my old hometown. Mike knows it like he lived there (see, he remembers so much more than me.) We decide to grab a drink at a local dive bar, and then walk around town while I tell him stories of growing up there.

Exhaustion being replaced with the calm familiarity of us.

By the time we roll into Green Bay on Saturday (with time to spare to look at Lambeau), I no longer feel tired. I haven’t had to solve a problem, haven’t worried about who needs which car, or worried about that college tuition bill.  I have simply enjoyed the ride– figuratively and literally. And it felt better than getting a month of sleep for my tired soul.

Heading home refreshed

The wedding was adorable. We danced, laughed, talked, celebrated. But there was one thing that Mike said that will always stick with me…..

“Kar, they remind me of us.”

Yep.  They are young, excited, dying to begin their lives together. Exactly like we were 25 years ago…before we let the exhaustion of real life sneak in. And suddenly it was all back into perspective. Deep down, we still feel very much like those 22 year-olds, ready to conquer life together.

The trip home involved the Upper Peninsula’s two-lane roads, a big mighty Mac bridge, beautiful scenery…but moreso, conversation. We talked effortlessly about what we hope for each kiddo, what we pray about God’s plan, how each of us pictures our empty nest. We talked about US. 

Now home again, I am so thankful Mike wanted to go on a nine hour road trip in the middle of an exhausting, busy, crazy summer. My brain needed it. My heart needed it. My marriage was craving quiet time alone with each other. But I was too tired, spread too thin, to verbalize it; yet, God used this for good, to refocus on the most important thing. 

So there’s hope if you feel tired too…

In the lazy days of summer, it’s exhausting. I hear you. My best advice…. take inventory. Reconnect with your best friend, revisit your old town, watch two young kids promise forever to each other, and then look at your own life, and realize this stage will pass. But this life we are building is too amazing to spend being exhausted. Instead, keep your eyes on the road ahead, hold hands, and enjoy the ride. 

Who is your #5?

Not long ago, we had a very exciting day at our house. We had the opportunity to celebrate our 17-year-old son Caleb for being chosen for the all-league team for basketball. Now, if you knew this kid, you would know his heart has always been bigger than his height, and we were of course bursting with joy for him. His whole life, he has been that kid who had a ball in his hands–never legos, never toys–just a basketball. From the time he could walk, he could dribble. And his hard work and dedication definitely played into this celebration.

Caleb (center right) with his Lutheran High North teammates at the celebration game


This post isn’t really about that.

My husband and I were sitting DIRECTLY behind the bench of Catholic Central’s bench as they played for league champion.  None of our own kids were playing in this game, so it was super NON-STRESSFUL. I had a chance to get an up-close view at the emotions on the bench during a super close game.  CC was losing, but at each time-out, I was drawn to #5.

#5 sat at the very end of the bench. His shoes never touched the court. His hands never touched the ball. He wasn’t sweaty. But #5 was INVALUABLE to his teammates. At one time out, he said to the starters who were exhausted from a hard-fought game, “Just a little more!! They are ready to give up! You can’t give up now! They are just about to  break!!”  

At that  moment, I wanted to hug #5. He could have been upset that he wasn’t in; he could have sulked; he could have simply not cared. But he chose to lift up and encourage his team. Loudly, Boldy. In their face.

Every team (and classroom and school staff and family and workplace) needs a #5.  Who is that person that cheers you toward your goal? Who gets in your face to keep you focused? Who helps you see that you can reach the end, even when you are positive you can’t? Who reminds you that you ARE capable and worthy and important? That person is your #5. Thank them for that.

Who are you #5 to in your life? Every single player on that team has a role– someone shoots 3 pointers from outside the arc. Someone rebounds in the paint. #5 shouts encouragement for the entire 32 minutes of playing time. They have a role. YOU have a role. You are #5 to someone– don’t take that role lightly. In the crunch, they need you to whisper, shout, remind. Do it, regardless of who is listening. Do it, regardless of the score (because you know we all keep score for everything in life.) Do it, because they need it. 

2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

So, #5, I see you. I see what you did for your team. I see your role. And I thank you for reminding me of my role. And to the #5s in my life, thank you. I need you – during the easy games and during the hard ones. Keep shouting to me; I promise I am listening.

Back to Caleb– while yes, I am proud of him for those big shots, the way he plays offense or defense or whatever basketball term I should know by now, my biggest hope is that he KNOWS who his #5 is and that in return, he becomes #5 for others. 

My same challenge is for you, friends. Find your #5, and become a #5. After all, we all can use some extra cheering these days.