August of 2001 was not a good time for me. It had been a painful year on many fronts. I was already spent before August brought a series of disasters which included Nani breaking her foot, my house flooding twice in the same day from totally unrelated problems, while I was home sick with bronchitis and asthma. All this while trying to set up my classroom and teach the first week of school.
I was in full whine mode. In fact, my conversation with the Lord was going something like “don’t tell me you’ve got everything covered, because I don’t think you’re paying any attention at all, and I’m not sure you ever have, and I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel, and I don’t want to talk about it”.
(I never said I’m not a willful brat and I’m sure that’s not lost on God. But if I’ve learned anything it’s that God does not need me to pretend with Him. He’s big enough to handle anything I’m feeling.)
This quiet time was interrupted by my phone ringing. The voice on the other end, said tentatively “I don’t know if you will remember me, my name is George Holt. I picked you up on the highway a few years back.” Dumbstruck by the timing of his call, I assured Mr. Holt that I had not, nor would I ever, forget him. And here’s why.
In August of 1987, we were in Houston where Nani had just had surgery to receive a cochlear implant as part of the FDA testing program. The protocol required that she stay in the hospital for 4-5 days, and then in the Houston area for 2 weeks for follow-up. Frank and I took our oldest daughter, Ashley to Houston with us. Our youngest, Meghan, just 20 months old remained in Austin with her grandparents.
That was the plan. But day 2 into the hospital stay the plan changed. I woke up that morning with the sense that something was very wrong back in Austin, and I needed to call home.
Long story short-the news at home was not good. Meghan was sick, feverish, and in pain with a red, hot and swollen knee. After a flurry of phone calls to get things in motion, we waited for news from her doctor. A LONG 2 hours later we knew she was very sick, and being admitted to the hospital. Frank and I started planning the logistics of having 2 children in the hospital in different cities. We decided he would stay in Houston and I would fly to Austin with Ashley.
Nani’s surgeon rounded about that time. Hearing our news and our new plan he told us very somberly that we both needed to return to Austin immediately. He made plans to have an Austin colleague provide Nani’s post surgical care and discharged her. He assured us that she would be fine, but cautioned us several times to keep her out of the heat.
It was 105 when we left Houston. Thirty minutes later we were on the side of the road with a bad transmission. Nani was in the heat.
And I felt light years away from my very sick baby in Austin.
As we pulled off the highway that day, a car pulled off behind us as though we were driving in tandem. An older gentleman got out, introduced himself as George Holt, and asked where we were headed. He suggested that since he was also headed to Austin he could drive the girls and me back while Frank stayed with the car.
Frank and I looked at each other for a long moment, then nodded in agreement. We had to get Nani out of that heat and at least one of us needed to get to Meghan in Austin. Just minutes after breaking down, the girls and I were on our way to Austin with a complete stranger.
Not long into our drive, I’m thinking OH MY GOSH, what have we done! At that same moment Mr. Holt says, “just about now your husband is wondering if he’ll ever see his wife and daughters again.” My stomach dropped to a new low as I waited for him to tell me just how he was going to kill us.
But what sweet Mr. Holt tells me is that he traveled each week on business and was not able to take part in any ministries at his church because of his schedule. He asked the Lord to give him a ministry and believed the Lord told him his ministry was to pull off the road every time he saw someone broken down. I’m sure he could see me visibly relax. I knew it was no coincidence that he was behind us that day. We were driving in tandem, we just didn’t know it.
14 years later, Mr. Holt and I visited on the phone for a few minutes. He told me he was cleaning out his desk and came across the thank you notes Frank and I had each written him. He said he had always wondered how things turned out for us and thought he would call.
Hanging up the phone that day I realized it was the second time the Lord used Mr. Holt to get me back on the road.