Trust God’s plan. That was the moral of the story for Sunday, April 14th, when we thought we were going to be riding to Council Grove for our annual Tutu Day after the bike blessing at Douglas Avenue Assembly of God church. However, God blew some unseasonably cold weather our direction two days before our ride and while He warmed it up enough for a comfortable afternoon ride, He said “You won’t be going anywhere in the morning.” So, Lori Gibbs, Kathryn Langrehr and I feverishly texted back and forth and came up with a Plan B, which was to give God some time to do His thing with the weather; go to the bike blessing AFTER church services and then ride the short distance to Stearman Field in Benton for lunch.
I guess my use of All Caps when I typed “We are leaving at 12:15 SHARP” in my Facebook post scared the bejeebers out of everyone because when I arrived at 11:40 for the 11:45 arrival time, there were already about a dozen beautiful bikes and snazzy tutued bikers in the parking lot. As more Kitties joined us, Gary Friedman, our personal Krome Kitty photographer, snapped picture after picture of the greetings and frivolity. I’m going to make a detour in reporting on the day with a story that occurred the next day. Gary and I were on the phone talking about the link that he had created with all the pictures. During that conversation, he asked, “When you looked at all the pictures, what was the first thing that popped into your head?” “That we all love each other?” was my response, to which he replied, “That’s exactly right. Everyone is hugging one another and laughing with one another and anyone observing the interactions can see there is a great amount of love you all have for each other.” Amen to that!
As 12:15 SHARP approached, I did a quick check of my slip of paper that required using both sides to record the names because we had a WHOPPING 26 KITTIES signed up and confirmed that everyone was present and accounted for and properly tutued up. I held a brief meeting to give the instructions for how it was going to go down at the church and we mounted up. At 12:15 SHARP, we exited the QuikTrip parking lot with Photographer Gary Friedman doubling as Traffic Stopper Gary Friedman and Greg Friedman providing assistance.
While my son, Pastor Clayton, had left instructions for the congregation to not park on the very farthest west row of parking spaces so we could use it, that didn’t happen. But once again, God knew best because we all crowded into the very south row and it actually was better because we weren’t so spread out. Here’s where I have to take another detour in the story. Clayton later told me that he was in his closing prayer for services when they all heard the bikes come roaring into the parking lot. Everyone started shouting, “They’re here! They’re here!” He told me that he finished his prayer, but I have a feeling he pretty much lost his audience at that moment.
No sooner had we all gotten parked and started taking off helmets, people came pouring out of the church. Hugs were plentiful as the members of the church greeted us and welcomed us to Douglas Avenue Church. After gathering together, Pastor Clayton greeted us with a message and announced that he would be blessing not only the bikes, but our helmets and brake hands. He also said that since it was Palm Sunday, each of us would be given a palm. Gifts? We weren’t expecting gifts, but Kitties love gifts! Never underestimate the power of prayer (not for gifts!) as Pastor Clayton pointed out Larry, a member of the church, had prayed that God would intervene and allow him to be a part of this event. You see, Larry loves motorcycles, but he teaches Sunday School before services and had we’d been there earlier in the day, he would have completely missed the whole bike blessing event.
Pastor Clayton then gave a touching prayer by asking God to keep our bikes steadfast and upright; to keep us off the sand; and to allow us to see the beautiful country He created with a shield of protection around us. Following the blessing, Pastor Clayton and Pastor Brandon, went to each individual Kitty to say a prayer over us and anoint our helmets, heads, bikes and hands with blessed oil. In God’s infinite wisdom he thought there was one special Kitty who needed a double blessing. That special Kitty was Kim Jones and God brought both Pastors together at the same time to pray over her.
Following the blessings, several of the children from the church passed out the palms and we gathered under the church sign and the cross on the church for group pictures. We’ve had a lot of group pictures taken over the years, but hands down, the ones with these palms were the absolute best! The sun was shining brilliantly upon us and all the green against our black leather and what all that green symbolized made for some pretty spectacular pictures. Speaking of pictures, Photographer Gary Friedman and Novice Photographer Greg Friedman (yep, they’re brothers, although I see zero resemblance) captured each individual blessing and lots of candid shots of the event. While I had complete faith in Gary, I was a very worried about Greg. You see when I labeled him “Novice Photographer”, that’s exactly what I mean. If it ain’t a truck part, Greg ain’t taking a picture of it so to trust him with this important responsibility was a leap of faith. Thank you, God, for not letting him let me down…this time.
After stowing our palms in our saddle bags, we bid our farewells to our new church friends and prepared to leave; feeling a whole lot more blessed and grateful for everything Pastor Clayton, Pastor Brandon and all of Douglas Avenue Church did to make this day so special for us. Truth be told, they were as excited about us coming as we were about us going…eventually. Clayton told me a story of when he first announced to his church family that a big ole gang of lady bikers were coming on April 14th to be blessed that there were a couple of elderly women who were not in favor of having us. In their defense, they are from the era when bikers were a symbol of roughhousing, hooligans and ne’er-do-wells. Clayton’s response to them was, “After these ladies leave the church, they are going on an hour-long ride (this was when we thought we were going to Council Grove.) If we can play one small part in them thinking about God for that hour, then it’s our duty and our honor to do that for God.” The ladies’ response…”Amen Pastor!” And guess what? Those ladies were right there praying with us and for us on that Sunday morning! They probably took one look at our tutus and thought, these ain’t no Alley Kats; these are just a bunch of Pretty Kitties! (No offense Alikat!)
So, we fired up our bikes, revved the engines and honked our horns (which caught the attention of more than one neighbor!) and filed past the receiving line of well-wishers and palm-wavers, who were trying their darndest to out-hoot and out-holler the roar of our bikes. As I was leading the first string of Kitties to Benton, Pastor Clayton’s words to the elderly ladies replayed in my head. He was right, I DID think about God and all of my many blessings, so mission accomplished Douglas Avenue Church!
Without one missed turn or one gravel road (you’re welcome!), I led the king-sized group right to the closed gate that Stearman Field had promised me that morning would be open so we could park on the tarmac. As I sat there wondering how did this happen, Maureen Stout took matters into her own hands and squeeeezzzzed past the gate and one by one, we followed her lead. I briefly thought about saying something in my stern voice to the staff about that little fib they told me, but being so full of blessings made me think better of it. Hey, we all make mistakes, am I right? Yeah, remember that the next time I lead you down a gravel road!
What Stearman Field did get right was they had plenty of tables reserved for the Tutued Throng of Kitties that descended upon them. We all claimed our seats and starting de-layering as the day had warmed quite nicely. Orders were placed and the booming noise that has become synonymous with Lunchtime with the Kitties commenced.
I had given the job of selling 50/50 tickets at the QuikTrip to Bobbie Cole and she reported we had a staggering $62.00 up for grabs. Again, after having just left such a spiritual event, I resisted the urge to pray to God that He would let me win this ginormous pot, but I sure had my Kitty paws crossed! After I pimped all my wares that I had brought for eager Kitties to buy, we gave the honors of pulling the ticket to our kind waitress. It’s remarkable how quiet the Kitties can be when they’re waiting to hear a number called and there’s $62.00 at stake. After the waitress called out the number, all you heard was the rustle of tickets being looked at, until out of the blue, we heard, “That’s me!” “That’s me” turned out to be none other than Dawn Morse! Congratulations Dawn and not to be tooting our own horn, but did you all see that she just bought ANOTHER Valkyrie motorcycle? Let’s all say it together…You’re Welcome!
After settling up our tabs and taking some fun pictures by the bikes; with each other and at least 100 selfies (seriously, I do believe Suz Tiede got a selfie with every single Kitty!), it was time to start herding Kitties for the group lunch shot. Lori Gibbs happens to know the owners of the luxury hangar next door to Stearman Field so she real quick texted them to see if we could use their patio for our group picture. Of course, as soon as they heard, Kitties, tutus, and bikers, they couldn’t throw enough thumbs up her way! So, we’re all gathered, but wait…we need a photographer! Where the heck is Photographer Gary when you need him?! Lori ran back to Stearman Field and commandeered a lady to take the picture and as luck would have it, she was a professional photographer! That means two things: 1) she knows what the heck she’s doing; and 2) she brought her own professional camera! She snapped a few pictures with my non-professional camera phone and took some with her fancy schmancy camera. After checking to make sure we got a good one, I released the Kitties, who started scattering like crackheads at a drug raid. Not that we’re crackheads; although, I’ve been known to be a knucklehead on more than one occasion. I know what you’re all thinking…143rd St. Turn the page people!
Several of the Kitties announced they were going to Twister City, while the rest of us said we were pointing our noses home, in all kinds of directions. While we tried to have a plan for Twister City people to gather in one spot and everyone else in another, it didn’t quite work out that way. And because we went in different directions, we didn’t have a clear idea of who was going where and that caused one Kitty, Justine Busher, to be left behind…stranded…with a bike that refused to go. But with palms in her saddle bags and a blessing still fresh from this morning, God sent her three saviors of Bobbie Cole, Denise Johnson and Krista Cotterill, who were in a car. They were the last of the Kitties to leave Stearman Field and saw Justine on the side of the road. Justine was eventually able to get her bike started and the three saviors followed her home to make sure she was safe and sound. Thank you Krista, Bobbie and Denise!
And that’s not the only example of God intervening that day. This was reported to me the following Monday and it literally gave me goosebumps. Kim Jones, being one of the Twister City Kitties, was on her way home when a guy in a car who must have been on his phone, reading a book, trimming his nose hair, or doing anything other than paying attention, merged right into Kim’s lane without one iota of an idea that she was there. Her words to me were “I felt no fear or panic and had the wherewithal to speed up instead of slow down or he would have hit me. He never saw me. It didn’t even shake me up. Oh, and I also didn’t give him the finger!” Well, the mystery as to why Kim got that double blessing has been solved! God knew she was going to need it that day. With a strong shield of protection around her and a palm as her pilot, Kim avoided a serious tragedy. And let’s not overlook the “I also didn’t give him the finger!” If that’s not a sign of God working through Kim, I don’t know what is! When I told Pastor Clayton this story, he was overjoyed that a) Kim was OK; b) his prayer for our protection worked so quickly; c) the palm, which is a symbol of peace, allowed her to remain calm; and d) he had a new topic for a sermon. And what happened when Pastor Clayton told Pastor Brandon, the most enthusiastic man in all the land, about this? As you might expect, he shouted out with joy and praise to God!
Well, there you have it! I don’t know if it was the tutus or the bike blessing or everyone itching to get out on their bikes for the first official Kitty ride or a combination thereof, but it was the largest attended Kitty ride in our 15-year history! As a matter of fact, I did the math and 76% of the Club came out to play that day. I don’t know how that day could have been any better; well, maybe if I had won the 50/50 pot. That would have made it better.
Those on board for the Palm Pilot Road Trip were Janice Friedman (Queenie), Justine Busher, Lori Gibbs, Kristi Evans, Kathryn Langrehr (Lady), Stefany White (Curly), Alice Friedman (AliKat), Shelley Seidl, Bobbie Cole (Tink), Stephanie Rodriguez (BadA$$), Lily Nordyke (Sugar), Chris Emond (River), Sonja McCall, Kim Jones (Lil Pibble), Susan Riley, Tresny Janzen, Maureen Stout (Moonshine), Annette South (Howdy), Denise Johnson (Squirrel), Krista Cotterill, Suz Tiede (Sycho Suz), Nellie Taylor (BatKat), Linda Moreland (Ice), Deborah Barker (Shorty), Jan Brock, and Dawn Morse (da Vinci). We’s gots to get some Road Names assigned!