By Linda Porter Carlyle
Trevor Paul Monroe dug through his sock drawer. There they were! He sat down on the floor and yanked his thick hiking socks over his bare feet. Then he scrambled on his hands and knees over to the bed and pulled his hiking boots out from underneath it.
“Trevor! Are you ready?” Dad called from the kitchen.
“I’m coming!” Trevor called back, hurriedly making double knots in his laces so they wouldn’t come untied.
Trevor dashed down the hall. Brad thumped him on the head as he skidded into the kitchen. “What a slowpoke!” he teased.
Mom closed the lid of the cooler, and Dad bent to pick it up. He pretended it was too heavy to lift. “I can’t believe how much food it takes to fill up three growing boys!” he groaned.
“Did you remember to put in the trail mix?” Ben asked anxiously.
“Yes,” Mom answered, laughing. “I know nibbling trail mix is your favorite part of a hike!”
Mom locked the back door, and everybody piled into the van. The boys jostled for their favorite seats. Dad slid behind the steering wheel. “Let’s pray for our safety before we leave,” he said, bowing his head.
The boys settled down, and Dad began. “Dear Lord,” he prayed, “we just want to thank You for the opportunity to enjoy some time together in Your great outdoors. Please send Your angels to be with us. Keep us safe from danger. Amen.”
“Amen,” the family echoed.
Dad started the motor. They were off.
“We’re so blessed to live in such a beautiful place!” Mom said, taking a deep breath and relaxing in her seat. “We have the snow in the mountains in the winter. We have the apple blossoms and the pear blossoms in the spring. We have the lakes to enjoy in the summer and fall.”
“Can we play ‘Dollar-a-Deer’?” Trevor asked, bouncing on the seat. (“Dollar-a-Deer” was a special game Dad had invented years ago to help keep the boys interested in the scenery as they traveled. Whoever spotted the first deer on a trip was rewarded with a dollar bill.)
“Sure,” Dad agreed. “I think I brought some ones.”
The van traveled swiftly down the highway. The boys studied each pasture and peered at each group of trees they passed, hoping to see a grazing deer.
“Deer!” Mom shouted breathlessly just as the van entered the shadow beneath an overpass.
Crash! A big brown body bounced against the windshield.
When Trevor finally figured out what had happened, Dad was pulling the van off onto the shoulder of the highway. He braked to a stop and turned off the motor. He looked at Mom.
Mom stared back. She was covered with tiny bits of glass from the shattered windshield. There were bits of glass on her clothes. There was glass in her hair.
“Are you all OK?” Dad asked shakily.
“I’m fine!” Brad announced. He looked out the back window. “But I think the deer is dead!”
Trevor swung around to see too. Sure enough. A deer lay behind them on the side of the road. It was not moving.
Mom took a deep breath. “I’m fine!” she said in a surprised voice. “Nothing hurts! And the special safety glass didn’t cut me when it broke!”
“Maybe you’d better get out and brush off some of that glass,” Dad suggested. “I’m going to check the damage to the front of the van. You boys sit tight,” he added as he opened his door.
“Ah!” Brad complained. “I want to see too!”
Trevor watched cars whiz by on the highway. It wasn’t long until an Oregon State Police car passed them, slowed down, put on its flashing lights, and stopped. Two state troopers got out and walked back to the van.
Trevor strained his ears. He wished he could hear better what the troopers were saying. He had never been that close to an actual state trooper before. He watched as Dad and the troopers inspected the front of the van. Then one of the troopers walked back down the road to make sure the deer was really dead.
Finally, Trevor saw the troopers shake hands with Dad. They got back in their black and white car and drove away.
Dad and Mom both climbed into the van. “The troopers say the van is too damaged to drive,” Dad reported with a sigh. “They called for a tow truck to come and get us.”
“How are we going to get home?” Trevor asked. “Do we have to walk?”
“No,” Dad answered. “We’ll call somebody to come and pick us up.” He paused. He looked at Mom and then over the back of the seat at his boys. “Praise the Lord!” he said softly.
“Praise the Lord!” Mom echoed with a little smile.
Trevor frowned uncertainly. The van was so badly damaged that they couldn’t even drive home, a deer was dead, and Dad was praising the Lord?
Dad noticed the look on Trevor’s face. “We were all wearing our seat belts,” he said. “The van was well-built and absorbed the shock of hitting the deer just like it was meant to do. None of us are hurt at all. We have insurance that will pay for fixing the van. And, even though it is very sad the deer died, the state trooper said it probably died instantly and didn’t suffer. Praise the Lord!”
Trevor remembered Dad’s prayer asking God to send His angels with them. Suddenly, he pictured mighty angels flying on each side of the van, holding it straight and steady on the road when they hit the deer. Trevor understood. “Praise the Lord!” he said too.
“I can’t wait to get home and take a shower!” Mom exclaimed. “I think there’s even glass in my armpits!