OnStar, Navigation, and Prayer

 

I recently spent some time being driven around some beautiful countryside in Colorado. I flew there from Melbourne, Australia, via Dallas, Texas. My good friend (GREAT friend!), Mindy joined me there from Oklahoma.

After we met each other in person at the airport, we picked up a rental car, a Chevy Impala… link here if anyone is interested.

*insert sappy sigh and glazed look* …and set off on our research adventure. Seeing as it was late afternoon by this time, we drove out from Denver toward the mountains, with Golden as tentative destination in mind.

And we got lost…

Several times…

As the sun set beautifully over the mountains and we drove around in circles looking for a motel to lay our heads for the night Mindy suddenly points to the rear view mirror. “Look!” she exclaims. “This car has OnStar!”

I’m sure I just blinked at her, a vacant look on my tired and altitude giddy face. OnStar? Might as well be speaking a foreign language… “What’s that?” I say.

Her hands grip the leather covered steering wheel and she grins at me. “I’ve seen ads for it on TV.”

I blink again.

“You just press the button and it calls them and they give you directions. Should we?” Her finger hovers over the pill size blue button at the base of the rear view mirror.

I shrug. “Might as well.”

She presses the button and the sound of a phone ringing fills the car. We wait, scarcely daring to breath.

A friendly lady answers. “Thank you for calling OnStar. My name is (I’ve forgotten it, sorry!), how may I help you?”

Mindy and I stare at each other as I mute the delighted squeal that tries to escape. Mindy gets it together quicker than I and calmly asks for directions to the closest hotel from where we are. Because, of course, our car is fitted with a GPS tracking system and they can do that sort of thing… The lady asks if we would like her to call the nearby motels and find out if they have a vacancy. Would we like that?

We do a quick happy dance, somewhat hindered by our seatbelts and the fact that we are sitting down. “Yes, please,” says Mindy.

The OnStar lady puts us on hold. The second the car is again filled with the sound of our quiet breaths. I look at Mindy. “How cool is that?” I squeak, not daring to break the wonder of the OnStar mood.

“I know!” she replies.

The lady comes back on and tells us what the 2 or 3 hotels she’s spoken to have said. We pick one and thank her. She sends the directions to our car and we follow the ‘turn left here 200 feet’, ‘continue along Washington St for 3 miles’ etc directions.

And then we miss a turn. And another. Soon we’re lost again.

Mindy presses the blue button. We get the directions again, and this time we find our hotel. ๐Ÿ™‚

~~Isn’t that just like prayer?~~

Think about it… we get stuck. Don’t know where to turn. Tired. Weary, muddled. Prayer is simply talking to God. We don’t even have to press a button to talk to him. He’s waiting to reassure us. Waiting to guide us. And if we, if I, get off track then no worries, with no condemnation he again sends us in the right direction.

~~

The next day we cruise toward the mountains, intent on finding the gold and silver mine that I spoke about in last weeks post. Various road signs flash past, some helpful, others, well, not… I haven’t got a map at this point in our journey, and we didn’t think to use Mindy’s iPhone to find out where we are. She points to the OnStar button. “I’ll just ask if we’re going in the right direction.”

I nod and enjoy the passing view.

OnStar is answered by a man this time.

Mindy speaks up over the sound of rushing traffic. Our car has a sunroof and we slide it back as often as possible. “Hi! I just want to know if we’re heading west on the I-70?”

“Yes, ma’am, you are.”

“Oh, good. Thanks, that’s all I wanted to know.”

She says goodbye and we continue on our way.

~~Isn’t that like prayer?~~

Lots of times I’ve stopped and asked God: “Am I going the right way?”, or, “Do you want me to do this?”, or, “Is this your will, am I walking in it?”

And he answers.

~~

View on the way to Georgetown.

Another time we were looking for a particular place and were both getting tired, stressed and ย a lil bit anxious. We pulled over into a quiet parking lot and locked the doors. Something I’m not used to, coming from a quiet country town where I don’t lock my car, whether I’m in it or not!

The little blue button is getting a bit addictive. Mindy presses it again and a lady answers. She gives us clear directions, and just the right words we needed to hear. Seeing as Mindy and I are both tired and a fair bit relieved we both cry “We love you, OnStar!”

The lady laughs and says she loves us too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t that sweet. Like a cyber group hug. ๐Ÿ™‚

~~Isn’t that like prayer?~~

God meets us in those situations that seem a tad bit desperate. He’s always calm, comforting, reassuring. Always says exactly what we need to hear. Note I said ‘need’ not ‘want’ to hear…

And when we cry out to him and tell him we love him, he answers with: “As the Father has loved me,ย so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9

For the LORD is good and his love enduresย forever; hisย faithfulness continues through all generations.ย Psalm 100:5

~~

I’ve learned that no matter how many flash gadgets and cool add-ons we get, nothing, not a single thing, can be as wonderful, faithful, loving or downright cool as God.

How about you? Have you encountered any electronic devices lately that drive you to prayer? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Have you ever heard of OnStar, or used it yourself?

I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless. ๐Ÿ™‚

Exploits of a Research Junkie

Recently I spent some time in the United States, both for the ACFW 2012 conference in Dallas, and then afterwards in Colorado for a research trip.

Today I’ll just focus on the Colorado trip, as Tanya Eavenson is graciously hosting me on her blogย in the next few days about what I got out of the conference.

So, without further ado here are some highlights of my trip…

In tiny Georgetown, CO we intended to visit an underground silver/gold mine and ride a historic steam trian. We get to the mine and it was shut for lunch so we go downtown and check out the antique shop… and I find the antique books. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, I’m a happy girl! Spent $104 and got: (all 1800’s or early 1900’s copies) a dictionary, Jo’s Boys by LM Alcott (signed!), Broken Dreams poem book (for one of my characters, Ethan, to quote), the Merchant of venice, Nursery Tales and The Children in the Scrub (a book about children in TASMANIA!!!). Most of those are cloth bound and in pretty good nick. ๐Ÿ™‚


We go back to the mine and meet the guy out front… then step into the workshop area and I’m hit by a certain… odour. “That smells like pot,” I say, never one to pull punches. “Yeah, it does that sometimes,” the weathered looking guy says. Mindy and I don a hard hat and dog tags, grab a flashlight and follow him into the mine. I stand a good couple of feet from him as he must have just finished a bong as we drove up, his breath REEKED! We hop on a mine car thingy and head on into the inky blackness, our flashlights lighting up sparkles and water drips. I learned lots of interesting stuff on the way in there. As we head back we stop at different side shafts and learn new stuff. At one point he lets us off and then takes off for a minute. Mindy starts freaking out, I didn’t. I thought, “Hey, this guy has been bragging about how he likes adrenaline and is a adrenaline junky and the crazy stuff he’s done, well if he has left us… then cool, I know the way out and we’ve got flashlights. No biggy. But, I thought he’d come back, and he did within a min or so… we learn more stuff and ooh and ah over the ore seams. THEN, he lights a candle and shows what it was like back then etc mining. We hop back on the cart and he then explains he’s going to light a stick of dynamite and we’ll have 20seconds to get out of there… so he takes his time lighting the stick in the wall and I’m the one who starts freaking out! I’m about 2 seconds off getting off that cart and running when he hops back on, blows the whistle (which I have no idea WHY!! we are the only freaking people for 1,000 feet in there!) and we take off. I plug my ears and it’s the longest 20 seconds of my life before I hear a nice BOOM behind me. Heart was pounding and skin clammy. Ok, maybe the clammy skin is from the damp air in the tunnel… but still… I shake my head.

We get out and look at our ore that we crushed and he starts talking mustangs. Oh goody! Man oh man he is as mad/wild as my character, Danny in my story. Perfect! So I pump him for info on mustangs and other stuff, explaining why I need to know for my book. We head over to the office and look at some pictures from that mine and area. His friend opens the adjoining door and I want to exit the building asap. MORE pot smoke drifts out in a dense cloud. I may or may not be stoned now for the 1st time in my life!! Our guide, Bill gets a bit excited and starts telling his friend about my book (I know… weird) and how his friend has written a 800 page book on mushrooms. I don’t know why I’m surprised… he probably lists every know species of Magic Mushies.

I don’t have enough cash to pay for the tour so we head back down town to get some from the only bank. I pop back into the antique shop to pick up my books and my credit card, then get my money out and head back to pay the guy. I pay him, shake hands, extract my hand from his grasp (it still smelled hours later) and thank him. He asks if I can send him a copy of my book. I raise my brows and say “It’s a Christian Romance story”. He laughs and says, “So, I’ve like read the Bible 3 times”. I tell him his nose will grow. He then says “Ok then, I’ll buy it from the bookstore.” I’m not sure if he’s talking about the Bible or my book and I don’t ask him to clarify… Mindy and I have nicknamed him “Bongo Bill”.

About 8pm it dawned on me that I now have the ability to describe exactly what it feels like to deal with explosions and will now be able to describe fear, as well as faith that God saves from my hero’s POV rather well.
My friend and I rode a historic train on the Georgetown Loop. Beautiful scenery and freezing air! I look lots of photos. Thank goodness they replaced the train bridge the year I was born, as it used to sway 5 feet in either direction when the train crossed it… and the bridge is 300 feet in the air. Yeah. Very thankful! We took the 2nd class carriage, as that’s what my characters would take. No heating for them, or for us. ๐Ÿ™‚
After the train ride I waded into the little creek that runs past the train line and winds its way through the mountains. I tasted the water, all just so I could describe its taste in my story via my characters. My feet FROZE as I was only wearing a pair of good ole thongs (flip flops to the non-Aussies). Turns out that the water is melted snow. Figures. No wonder I didn’t get feeling back into my feet until we’d been driving for at least half an hour with the heater on full blast!
The next day I took heaps of photos of appropriate ranch land for my books, went to the Molly Brown house in Denver, checked out Antique Row. Walked and walked and walked. Got some lovely items…. and I brought a cupboard to bring home. As you do. ๐Ÿ™‚
I scouted out lots of locations that my characters could live, and seeing as I’m writing a historical book which is set in a fictional town I have the advantage of being able to put together my own idea of what their surroundings look like. So many beautiful places to look at and see. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here is a short video of the scenery on the way into the mountains.
There you have it! I hope the snippets of my trip have been interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚ What is one thing you’d like to experience in the name of research, OR, what is one interesting thing that you have already experienced and wove into an existing story?