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Recently, a new study came out listing the Top 40 Signs You’re Getting Old. Among them were simple things like forgetting names, losing hair (or growing it in unwelcome places), and misplacing everyday items. There was a nod to complaining about new aches and pains, and moaning about ailments. As I kid, I clearly remember asking about moaning from my grandparents’ friends. It’s frightening to think that I’m now the age they were when I asked my innocent questions.

After reviewing this list, ticking off several boxes along the way, I noticed a glaring omission, at least one that surfaces in all of the circles I’m in – toileting issues. I am not referring to that stage in life when you’re negotiating with a toddler terrorist who refuses to poop in the potty. I’m referring to the war stories we trade like Pokemon cards. These stories range from simple oopsies (like a shart in the lineup at Walmart) to full blown Def-con 1 situations! This is one such story…

A few weeks ago, I woke up with an uncomfortable sensation low in my gut, long before my alarm started blaring. It was early because I had to be at a church “up north” by 9 a.m. to help lead worship. I managed to dress and grab a bite to eat in between 3 “rest stops” in 30 minutes. By 8:20, I was still feeling uncomfortable, so I popped another pepto and with my Bible in one hand and a change of clothes in a bag in the other, Little Guy and I headed out the door.

We stopped at the gas station five minutes later.

Once we hit the highway and the seat warmer was toasty, we sailed happily along. And then we got off the highway… and ended up lost on a windy, hilly country road in the middle of nowhere. I don’t just mean a place where there weren’t Tim Horton’s on every corner. I’m talking fields. Empty, snow-covered fields alarmingly absent of trees. I know this because I was scouting out an escape route.

With pressure mounting and prayer intensifying, we pulled over to check the map again. We were so close. Tears of relief wet my lids. When I pulled beside the little blue car in the parking lot, I did a double-fist-pump in the air. Then I realized the driver in the other car was not my colleague for the morning, but a rather pasty-faced, startled young man. I smiled and looked away.

Ten minutes passed.

Nothing stirred, except my digestive track.  I started to feel a chill running up to my shoulders, so I  tried to distract myself by reviewing what I had eaten the day before. The only suspect was one little homemade star-shaped cookie, filled with strawberry jam and lightly iced with a vanilla glaze. I hadn’t eaten sugary treats for over a month.

The inevitable wave of panic was still growing when my colleague arrived in his van. With his family – young, innocent babes who were going to witness a terrible tragedy if a keyholder didn’t show up soon. Deep breaths.

Another painfully long 5 minutes passed before he did.

Not knowing if he was a keyholder, I let my colleague and his son walk in first. I waited, debating whether I should text him. I knew that once I moved from this seat, the legions in my body would unfurl their wings and my chance of making it would be small. I wasn’t prepared to move an inch until I was certain.

I finally bolted from the car and down the driveway with as much dignity and lady-likeness I could muster in this precarious predicament. I rushed ahead of Big Guy and my colleague’s wife and daughter, who, upon seeing the wild look in my eyes and the beaded sweat on my brown, warned her daughter to let me go ahead (she’s a great Mom)!

I went straight to the loo. I would visit that sanctuary at least twice during the rehearsal. But I feared what would transpire once the service began. You see, the piano was on the far left side of the platform, the door to the loo in back right corner. The aisles were narrow; the room small. There would be no escaping without everyone seeing me. I popped another pepto!

I survived rehearsal, but as the counter on the screen hit 3 minutes, the demon inside me started to writhe. “Sorry!” I blurted as I hustled from the room. By now I had sweat through my clothes.

The pastors were praying when I returned, so I sat in the chairs behind them. When they finished, they glared hard at the back door, evidently wondering if I was coming back. I don’t know how much my colleague shared with the pastor but just before he headed up to start the service, he whispered sweetly, “We prayed for you”.

Fortunately, God answers prayer! I made it home.

I’m heading to my folks this weekend, and praying for an uneventful trip!

Happy Weekend!