Georgia On My Mind

Step back a couple days to Monday June 24.  I'm sitting in the airport composing a blog, eager with excitement...  Here's how it started.

"Flashback October 2008....

...first time i left my kid behind for a "trip" overseas.  (I say 'kid' because she was the only one I had at the time... funny to think about that, because I can't even remember what that was like anymore...)  In this picture I was just seeing her again for the first time in a couple weeks.  Here we are, 5 years later, and I'm super excited to be taking her along for her very first trip.

And so far, before leaving the airport, she's only asked 4,192,736.3 questions.

My brain is tired."


Little did I know that at that point, it was far from the state of tired that it was going to reach...

Before you go any further, just like the past two days I experienced, this is VERY long.  And I probably sound like I'm complaining a bit from time to time, but I want you to know in the midst of not liking what was going on, I felt the hand of God on us the entire time, and knew He was among us, knitting together every detail.  I can say without hesitation He was completely sovereign in this. But if you wanna know the details of what kept us from our trip, I invite you to keep reading... there's a great story at the end you don't wanna miss anyway...  ;)

That sweet little excited face up there, (and Reese's face too of course...) ;) never made it to our desired destination.  Instead it made it to Chicago O'Hare Airport, home of the friendliest and most helpful airline employees that anyone could find in the world.  (insert thick sarcasm here)

We didn't make it to the precious church awaiting us in Gori, Georgia.  We didn't make it to the sweet Douglas family and their 5 kiddos. We didn't see Warsaw, Poland like we had planned to do during our 9 hour layover.  

 Instead we saw a bunch of this...

Just to put you right into the story I should let you know the first (and possibly only way so far) that we can now say that, in hindsight, we could see and understand God's hand in all of this, started with the first... well the only... flight we made it on.  The first leg of our trip found our team of 16 taking two planes to Chicago, first 9 of us leaving at about 545pm, then the other 7 of us around 640pm.  Before we left TSC at 3:00 we already knew that the 640 flight was delayed and would prevent 7 of us from reaching Chicago in time to make the connecting flight to Poland.  And so began the phone calls to airlines and travel agents...

To make this long part shorter, God did an amazing thing and worked it out that all 7 of us were put on standby and were miraculously able to take that first flight (which, did I mention was itself delayed and didn't take off until 8pm) all together.  After it was all said and done, we quickly realized how blessed we were that he allowed us all to stay together.  

So we land in Chicago about 940.  Frantically checking flight schedules we learned that our flight to Poland had been delayed as well.  Whew...  Until we were informed that there was no gate for us to pull into so we couldn't get off the plane.  Uh-oh.  Oh wait, our flight to Poland has been delayed yet again.  Whew.  

Oh wait, we are going to have to sit on this runway for. an. hour. before someone finally gets us inside that airport.

Hour goes by.  We are all finally of the plane and had been told on the phone by American Airlines to book it to talk to someone at the Polish Airlines desk, that even if we had to rebook, we would have to do so through them.  Quick, 16 people, leave terminal 3 to find the trams that will take us to the International terminal 5.  

Wait 15 minutes for tram.  Run some more to terminal 5.

International terminal is nearly empty.  :(

One lady is left at Polish Airlines desk.  "I'm sorry, that flight has just left.  Please go back to terminal 3, AA will have to rebook your flight."

are. you. kidding. me.

back to tram.  wait some more.  run some more.

(are you tired yet?)

arrive at AA counter.  very helpful, warm, fuzzy, loving supervisor says... why yes, i do see that I have about 6-8 people at the ticket counters, but they're tired and ready to go home so I will not let them help you.  i will however, put you on cots here in the airport and let you talk to someone again at 330 am when we re-open if you'd like.

so there you have it.  I wish this were the part of the story where it totally takes a turn for the better and everything works out.  but it didn't.  we booked hotels (thank you, hotwire) and were shuttled to our rooms for the night. my sweet husband was on the phone with airlines all night.  no really, all night.  with a heavy heart he woke me at 330... "baby, i've talked with every airline that could possibly fly us somewhere in Europe that would get us to Georgia.  i can't believe i'm saying this, but i don't think there's any way we're going to make it.  I'm gonna go wake up a few of the guys and talk to them about it."

He did, and at 5am he and Jason Darby were shuttled 30 min back to the airport to spend about 3 hours with a ticketing agent, and were told that they could possibly get us all there, if some people went through Germany, some through France, some through Jordan, and the list went on to about 3-4 other countries... and it would probably take about 45 hours and a few flights in between before we all made it back together.

that is of course, if everything works like it should.

I know this is getting long. I wish I could say it was nearly over...

they made the very tough decision that in the interest of everyone's safety, and not getting lost or stranded amidst several countries in Europe, that we would rent cars and return home.  

so about 830-9am or so i hear a tap on the door.  it's superman, coming to, after over 24 hours, finally catch a little sleep.  he also learned while at the airport that polish airlines had our luggage, and since their next flight didn't leave until 550 that night, they wouldn't open until 2pm.

breakfast, a meeting to break the news to the team that we would be trying to reschedule in a month, and lunch commenced, then we were on our way back to O'Hare to retreive our luggage.  We were informed by the same agent that had spoken to us the night before that she felt there was a good chance if we waited a couple more hours, we might make standby and get there just a day late after all.  Trying hard not to get our hopes up, we decided to wait and see if indeed the Lord would open the door.  But since I'm here in my bed typing right now, you have probably figured that we did not.  Luggage was finally retrieved, and by 7pm we were headed home.

I should include, though, a very big highlight of this two day fiasco...  

Monday morning while getting ready to leave, Reagan and I were discussing the possibility of sightseeing in Warsaw during our layover, and I had the thought of four of us making the "O-H-I-O" like any good Buckeye would do in a foreign place.  Then it ocurred to me... "reagan, we have GOT to trick Andy Willett (Michigan fan extraordinaire) into being the 'I' in that picture!"  So it was decided...

Waiting at the ticketing counter to either get on a plane or get our bags back, I decided it was now or never.  Four of us were at the counter, Reagan, me, Chad Whittenburg, and Andy.  So I filled Chad in on what we needed him to do.  He said it was a tough thing to participate in being an SEC man himself, but he decided to take one for the team.  Sam Smith gladly took my phone to snap the shot.  I said to the three of them... "here, let's get a shot of the deliberators here at the counter" and when I gave the cue, reagan, myself, and chad put our arms in the air...  

by the time he realized what was going on, he tried to run, but it was too late...  16 voices began filling that terminal with crazy laughter.  I couldn't believe we did it.  I might just frame this shot of the four of us and put it in my office.  right next to pictures of my kids, showing one of the proudest moments of. my. life.

I've gotta give him credit... he took it like a man.

In fact, in light of every circumstance that we were faced with over the past two days, everyone of the 16 people on our team of adults and teenagers (and reese) :) handled themselves remarkably well.  I was so impressed by their attitudes, their respect for and trust in reagan as team leader, and their ability to keep pushing through no matter what. 

We know God's hand was on us, from tangible ways like keeping us together when we were supposed to have been separated (which would have ensued even more chaos.)  And in other ways where we can't see and have NO idea why he didn't let us get there, we've had to trust that there is a reason that we very well may NEVER know this side of heaven.  We know we did everything in our power to get there, so at the end of the day we can say with confidence that HE very firmly closed the door this week and just did not let us through it.

The scripture that kept ringing in my ears over these two days was Proverbs 16:9...  "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."  So we are going to try to make plans again... hopefully in a month, we'll see...  in the end, I'm finding a really big security in seeing just how big my God is.  At any moment he could've calmed the weather and gotten us where we needed to be at the time we needed to be there.  But He didn't.  And while some people might question Him, (and understandably so) I'm finding peace in just saying 'ok', and in seeing the ways instead, that He chose to show us just how large and in charge He is.  Thank you, Lord, for graciously allowing me to see your hand on my life over the past two days.  In your hand is exactly where I want to be.


one for the win column....

Disclaimer: what you are about to read is not always the norm when it comes to how I handle stressful situations.  I've been asking God to do a work in my life and in the ways in how I treat my husband and kids when I'm stressed, and I've felt so incredibly blessed by how I have seen his hand in the past week that if for no other reason than using this as a reminder of his goodness to me, I just had to write it down!

ok, carry on...

So I've already said a little bit about what the rest of my month looks like.  It's full. It's busy. It's definitely not chillin at home, cooking on my grill, playing cards on the deck, and watching my babies play together in the backyard.  (I love our backyard by the way...  it's way too much work, but its one of my most favorite things about our home.)  One of the most exciting things about this month to me, is the arrival of not one, but TWO new baby girls into our family, and even more exciting to me is the fact that I'm not giving birth to either of them!  ;)  And more than ANYTHING I wanna be there to see them come into the world.  (I know that's a private thing for a lot of ladies but for me, I'm all like 'gather all the girls in my family, bring on the popsicles and let's have a party!  Yea babies! Time to celebrate!')  With all that is going on presently though, as much as I tried to work and re-work the schedule, I've had to come to terms with something...  I might. have. to. miss. it.  (Unlike the birth of my own children, who had to be medically coaxed from my womb, my sister spits em out in a matter of hours it seems. So wrong...)

This means something that I reeeeallllly really (really) want is out of my control.  This tends to make me grouchy and unpleasant to be around. 

Hey it's not something I'm proud of... but it is what it is.  Being unable to control things has proven time and time again to be one of the greatest joy robbers in my life. 

And you know who usually takes the brunt of my pouting? Yep... my three sweets.  And I just didn't wanna be that lady today. 

So, I made a list of exactly what needed to be done today, (aka a list of things that I COULD control) turned my brain off to everything else, (including the nagging tug that keeps screeching in my ear, what if you miss it, what if you miss it?!?) and made of point of trying to be patient and thoughtful of them, enjoying those sweet cherubs today, in spite of the chaos of packing us all up and getting us out the door for camp.  By some miracle, I didn't yell at Ty when he spilled 75% of his 'swuffee' in his car seat after I told him not to take the lid off.  I didn't kill myself at dinner time because I didn't pack their dinners and chose to let them eat the camp food instead.  And I let Reese have candy like all the other campers during the movie night even though it was nearly 10 o'clock.  Let me tell you what happened as a result...

My kids hate HATE showers because they don't like water spraying in their faces.  All three of them showered without a single tear or a whine tonight.  (Well, except for Tess when I pulled her out...) When I made a big deal out of what a good job Ty did , he even gave me an overjoyed 'you're welcome Mama!' And somewhere in there was a '  you're da best mama in da world.'  All three kids went to sleep with giggles and smiles instead of fussing over bedtime.

I have to think its because their hearts were full (instead of nagged and torn down by a grouchy mama not getting her way...)  which has in turn filled mine up.  

If there is one thing that I want to do well in this life, it's that I want to look back on the few precious years I got to raise my babies, and know that I didn't miss anything about them because I was too caught up in lesser important things... (like obsession about things out of my control)... For them to know how great I think they are... And to know that I have their hearts, but even more than that, that Jesus has their hearts.  I just want to know that I enjoyed them to the fullest and gave them the best in me that I had to give.  

As far as this week goes, I feel like we're off to a good start...


Got an itch...

This blog may be the most inconsistent thing I've ever done... or not done...  I have grand dreams of writing and printing every year with hopes of having a great annual keepsake to help me be able to recall the events of our years, our kids, and whatnot...  kinda like exercising- hoping it's never to late to start again I guess.

We are about to embark on, wait for it... our 10th year of CrossCamp.  TEN YEARS...  that landmark of a number is in all honesty one of the biggest reasons I'm going back.  Definitely not because I'm eager to chase around wild child #3 all week.  And I have poison ivy again.  (Hence the title...) and shortly after that's all said and done, I head back to the Buckeye State for several days to welcome nieces #4 and #5 into the world, only to then leave my littles there, bring my big kid home, pack us up again and fly to Europe for 10 days.  All of these things are reason for great excitement, but instead tonight, my heart is just overwhelmed with it all.  ALL of the preparation, the emotion of leaving my babies behind, (and being away on the youngest's 2nd birthday) and not to mention the LAUNDRY... I think I just wanna stay home and take 'em to the pool every day instead.

But tonight I stumbled on this lady...  www.aimee-weaver.blogspot.com one of my favorite home decor/thrifting bloggers... and was reminded of a picture she painted that I really wanna put in my house... if you look back two posts you'll see it...  it says

so I think I'll take it to heart.  Thank you God, for speaking your restful spirit into my heart tonight.  Let it resonate through my mind as I sleep and make this reminder carry over into my day as I worship you tomorrow.  In all of your mercy and grace, whisper this to me everytime I need to hear it... 

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.