MY PARKA

I’m just a little giddy to finally be an official Friday Night Lights mom. It was the last game in the regular season. Ninth grade players joined the big guys… stood out there with that senior high team in a showdown with our fiercest rivals. And we took the win! Warriors are headed to the playoffs with a home field advantage next week. 

I didn’t start the day feeling giddy about traveling an hour and a half to a football game after a long, exhausting week. I really wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Mostly, MOSTLY, because it was going to be cold. I hate to be cold. I’m old and fat; things should have turned the corner for me about five or ten years ago – it’s the heat I shouldn’t be able to tolerate. It happens to everyone when they get old and fat, right? Don’t get me wrong, I break the bank running the air conditioner during those long hot Arkansas summers, but I’ll take the humidity induced body melt over icy toes every single time.

I have a legitimate background for my adversity to cold. I’ve been traumatized in a place called Minnesota. In the winter. More than once. My repeated vow to never spend another winter day in Minnesota was usually followed by a failed attempt to spit on the ground, because my spit froze before it hit the snow. It actually froze on my lips and that really, really hurt. Why would I leave a world of iced tea and porch swings for sub zero torture? Because my mother is from Minnesota. That’s why.

When I was growing up, we would  head North every summer for a pleasant vacation with the Minnesota family. But every five years or so, just when I lost my edge, we would go to that God forsaken snow covered tundra for a “winter vacation”. Don’t ever use the words “winter vacation” with me unless you’re referring to Jamaica. I mean it. 

Here are a few facts about the Great White North that I like to impress my bless-your-heart Southern sweeties with:

*They plugged their cars in way before the word hybrid was part of any language. Antifreeze?? Haha! Combustible engines freeze in Minnesota. Seriously.

*The car washes have garage doors. Refer to the spit reference above to figure that one out. 

*The fire hydrants are four to five feet tall… so that they can be seen peeking out of the four to five feet of snow in the winter. (How can anything burn in that much frozen moisture?)

*My mother’s Easter greeting has way too often been a live video of snow falling on her porch. The egg hunt is a son-of-a-gun for those poor kids whose parents just toss the white eggs out in the yard. Okay, I’m a little jealous of that prank. 

*Number one Minnesota mind blowing tidbit: the newspaper article my mother once sent with the school board report. They voted to allow school to be closed when the wind chill reached fifty-two degrees below zero. I honestly think I’d punch someone in the face if they voted against that life changing policy. 

There are, however, a few things from Minnesota that are cooler than the weather… my mother for one. She’s a tough broad – not easily broken. Except that time she broke her wrist ice skating… this past Spring… at the age of seventy-five. SMH. I have a bunch of awesome cousins that played a mean game of lakeside hide and seek in the day. The Ole R. Mangseth Memorial Ski Jump is pretty cool. It’s a 70 meter that Olympic teams use for practice. And ol’ Ole was my great grandfather.  I have my great grandmother’s Norwegian Christmas cookie recipes. And I have a parka. 

I bought my parka at Glen’s Army Navy Store in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It was on a rack of military issue sub zero outerwear. It is the motherload of winter coats. Down filled and water resistant. Pockets inside and out that fasten to protect the contents. Elastic inside the wrists of the sleeves. One of those furry hoods that zips all the way until only your eyes peek out. Okay, it looks a little like a black version of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit, but bring on the blizzard because that parka is out of this world.

My parka has hung unused in the back of spare bedroom closets for a year or more at times. It doesn’t get very cold in Arkansas, but I don’t like ANY kind of cold. When the forecast for Friday Night Lights shows a Friday Night Low of 32°, I break out my parka. 

So it was with warmth in my heart and warmth in my parka that I cheered our Warriors on to victory tonight. I was thankful, VERY thankful, for my parka. 

In truth, I’m thankful for Minnesota and all the life lessons and gifts it has given me. I’m reminded that there are a lot of things around us that are mind blowing, shocking, uncomfortable. It would be downright dangerous to venture outside on a winter day in Minnesota without protection. And it’s dangerous to venture out into this world that is not our home without the protection God provides. 

Be very alert my friends. There is unimaginable evil lurking around us. Sometimes it sneaks up like a gentle falling snow. Sometimes it blinds us like a blizzard. Be alert but don’t fear! You are protected by God’s might and power!  You just have to put your parka on.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

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