I have invented this thing called the “Randleman Contingency Plan.” I came up with it shortly after I married Jeremiah. We were newlyweds and I found our love for each other, intoxicating. I’d take a look at my new husband and wouldn’t be able to breathe if I entertained the thought of him getting into a motorcycle accident or not making it home from an out-of-town trip. I remember pointing my finger at him one day and saying, “Don’t you dare leave me a widow!"
I just loved him too much.
The Plan only solidified when we started having babies. I remember looking at each new child the doctor placed on my chest with such a fierce love; I couldn’t imagine abandoning them to fend for themselves. No one would ever love them as much as we loved them. I told my husband that we couldn’t dare leave them as orphans.
We just loved them too much.
And so I came up with the “Randleman Contingency Plan.” Essentially (and I know this is a little morbid), if one of us is going to die, then all of us are going to have to die. Because, I’m quite certain that is the only way my heart could possibly handle that type of pain.
Two weeks ago, we had what companies like to call a near miss - “a narrowly avoided collision or other accident.”
We were on our way home from a camping vacation at one of our favorite places: Spring Lake County Park. It’s a quaint 50-acre spring-fed lake that’s nestled in the heart of Greene County, Iowa. Time seems to stand still under the massive Cottonwood trees that always give off their seed late-June, making it appear that it’s snowing in the summer.
It’s the place where my parents met and my childhood summers were spent. It’s the place where Jeremiah spent camping and golfing at the neighboring golf course, Lakeside, as a boy. It’s the place where we dated and cruised around the park roads with me on the back of his Honda 919. It’s the place where we camped as husband and wife - every summer and with every baby. It’s just the place.
During our 10 days at Spring Lake, we experienced “Iowa summer” in all of its glory. The day we arrived, we experienced a Flash Flood. Mid-week we watched the radar closely while tornadoes twisted around two small towns near us. And on our last day, we got everything loaded up just in time to out-drive a lightning storm.
Amidst the circumstances beyond our control, there was something good in each day. The children spent hours playing in the puddles of the flooded fields and were elated when they found tadpoles and frogs. My husband was able to compete with his teenage nephews before dislocating his shoulder. I was able to run a few times before spraining my foot. We iced what hurt, hung up what got wet, chased what blew away, and when it was time to leave, no one wanted to go.
Our 4-hour trip home ended up taking 11-hours as we ended up breaking down in the small town of Atkins, Iowa - population 1,846.
We had simply stopped for fuel when my husband noticed that there was gas running out all over the ground under his Jeep. He ordered me to get the kids out. And get them out I did. (Moms are masters at the 5-point harness system.)
Dozens of phone calls were made in the hopes of getting the Jeep into a mechanic. We struck out and ended up having it towed home for the remaining 94-miles. Our two-year old cried when Bur, the tow-truck driver, drove his Daddy's Jeep away.
Graciously, a pastor friend and his daughter-in-law ended up showing up on a dead-end road and drove us (and our camper) to their church where we awaited my sister-in-law and her husband to rescue us - bringing our van and another friend’s truck to pull our camper home. (It pays to have friends!)
When the Jeep finally got into the shop, we found out that our trip home could have ended very, very badly.
It turns out that the Jeep was in fact running like I thought it was sounding - terrible. And that noise I heard was what we ran over. And whatever we ran over, was what blew the muffler out. And it was the blown-out muffler that melted a hole in the gas line. And it was the smoke from the melting gas line that I saw coming in through the AC vent.
Our mechanic told my husband (and I quote), “You guys were lucky that you didn’t go, 'Boom!'” Because, after he dropped the gas tank to fix the line, he came across a second, burned-through hole in another line. And then ended up finding yet another blistered hole in the actual gas tank itself. One back-fire and a little leaking gas later, and the Randleman’s could have left “Randleman Contingency Plan” style after all.
Now, I know that my Contingency Plan is contingent on something I have absolutely no control over. I also know that time is short and pain is real and things aren’t fair.
Ultimately, God is in control of the number of my days and the number of my family’s days. He can take whoever, however, and whenever He sees fit. Now selfishly, I hope that doesn’t happen for a long, long time. But, at the end of the day, He’s God and I’m not.
James 4:14 says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
If you want to know the whole truth, my hope and prayer is not that we would all die together, but that we would all live together. For Eternity. In Heaven. With Jesus.
Because I just love Him too much.