In the Messy Middle

Recently I recorded a short Reflections podcast called Messy Middles for my website The gist of it is that at the start or end of a project, commitment, or goal we are filled with enthusiasm and energy. But it’s in the messy middle that dreams fade, marriages fail, jobs lose their luster, and parenting seems not quite so fun.

Phase 2 Challenges

Well, this week we hit the messy middle of our trip. Since we started Phase 2 on June 6, we’ve been through Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. We’re currently in Nebraska. As we’ve traveled through the heartland, we’ve discovered the beauty and isolation of wide, open spaces on the prairie. As we compared that to the southern hospitality and beautiful spots we found in the south, we felt a bit of a letdown from the constant discovery of people and places that inundated Phase 1.

Add to that a combination of the following weather factors: 1) a brutal heat wave of mid-90s temperatures that Mark suffered through on the bike and depleted my energy in tearing down and setting up camp each day 2) crazy headwinds in Kansas and Nebraska that reduced Mark’s bike speed to 6-7 mph. He describes it as if you’re pedaling uphill the whole time. It was also difficult keeping the travel trailer on the road, especially when big rigs created powerful drafts as they passed. In Kansas, they were flying by at speeds of about 80 mph. I was so concerned for Mark riding next to these, that I tried to talk him into giving it up for the day, but he wouldn’t hear of it. I don’t know how he kept from being sucked into their path. You can listen to the video below for Mark’s take on the wind.

Then this week Mark and I are also battling various health challenges. Mine has been a resurgence of my migraine issues (one trigger being the wind and weather) that made for a very miserable night. In the middle of a 7-hour siege of migraine sickness, my jubilance over the trip was hard to find. My camper transformed from cute to crowded, my bed from cozy to cramped, and this trip from carefully calculated to crazy. I wanted my bed at home, and I wanted it now.

As I was praying through that long night, God reminded me of my one word (actually two words) for the year: pace yourself. And I felt Him impressing upon me the thought one day at a time. Encouragement right when I needed it.

Ultimately, we realized we need to make our weekend breaks a priority. We’ve been pushing pretty hard the last four weeks. To keep strong physically and mentally, we need to take a break on the weekends. We spent this weekend in Hastings, Nebraska, and have truly enjoyed our downtime, including some sightseeing. Fun fact: We discovered that Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings by Edward Perkins. We saw the building where he came up with the formula for this staple of my childhood.

So … it’s Monday again, and we’re back on the road. Ready to go for a new week. Thanks for journeying with us. We’re looking forward to one day at a time as we ride through the messy middle of our trip.

Kick up some dust!

One thought on “In the Messy Middle

  1. Jane VanOsdol

    Sorry, guys! I keep saying we’re in Nevada, but we’re in Nebraska! I’ve fixed the references in the article.

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