Lost Passport (Mission Trip Lesson #2)…

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This is me and my pastor’s wife (hereafter “K”).  We’ve been friends for years now.  She is artistic, I am task-oriented.  Sometimes, I keep her grounded… sometimes, she encourages me to step out of my box.

Our group had a perfect trip, but our trip home had some hiccups.  We, by the grace of God, made it on the plane out of Mexico.  We landed in Atlanta.  We were hurrying to get on our plane home.  The six of us came around the corner to the US Customs area.  My son and I were in the back of the group.  The others were scanning their passports.  I told my son to get out his passport.  His reply… “I don’t have it, I put it in your bag.”  Excuse me? What?!  “Son, it’s not in my bag!”  Him… “maybe I left it on the plane.”

That is when I lost my mind.  I sat on the floor, emptied my bag, and confirmed that I didn’t have his passport.  All kinds of things went through my mind… we can’t get back in the US without his passport… we will miss our next flight… how could he lose his passport and be so nonchalant about it?!  I sat there and cried… for about 15 seconds.  Then, God said to me “it will be ok, I’m here… get up.” Then, my military spouse self kicked in.  I told my son to go tell the others that we didn’t have his passport.  We all got together and I told them with truest sincerity to go catch the flight home.  My son and I could rent a car and drive home, if we had to.  I didn’t want them to miss the flight.  We’d be ok.  I’m used to being independent.  We were in America, so I was ok.

I reassured my friends that it was ok to go.  They went.  My son and I sat.  We waited for around 20 minutes, which seemed like eternity, for someone to go look on the plane for his passport.  I called my husband, texted my mom.  Then, my phone rang… it was K.  She said “I’m down in baggage claim.  The other mom went to try to catch the plane.  I am here waiting for you.  I am not leaving you.”

Y’all, even now typing those words has me teared up.  I am a military spouse.  I am beyond accustomed to being left, to handling it alone, to being the one that stays behind.  To hear someone say to me “I am not leaving you” was profound.  To have someone choose to stay, to pick me, to lose her ride home… there are no words. I don’t think I’ve had anyone say that to me before.

We ended up getting my son’s passport and getting reunited with K.  She was at a ticket counter trying her best to get us home.  The other mom (hereafter K2), had missed our last flight even with best efforts not to.  We were all stuck.  I watched K as she worked through every scenario to get us all home.  Normally, I am the “doer,” she is the “visionary.”  At that point, all I could do was sit and watch… my brain was fried… I was done.  I was so proud of her for taking care of all of us (I think she was even proud of herself).  I knew it was out of her comfort zone, but she rocked it! I couldn’t find words to tell her what that whole event meant to me and I’d probably cry like a baby if I tried.

Sometimes, we just need someone to be there… to say “I’m not leaving you.”  God is with us all the time and while sometimes we may be physically alone, He is with us.  I knew that God was with me.  He told me it would be ok and I believed that.  But, I can’t tell you what it meant to have this human tell me she was with me.

Do you know someone who is going through a hard time?  Call them, text them, tell them that you are with them… you are not leaving them… hold their hand… cry… just be there.  It means more than you know.

After note: In NO way am I throwing K2 under the bus.  She had a new foster baby to get home to and medical appointments to take her father to.  She is a rock star in her own right and my next blog is focused on the lesson I learned from her.

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Peace…

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TogetherThere we were at the airport… looking like dorks.  We were trying to take a picture of ourselves before he left.  We were joking and laughing and couldn’t get a good shot.  It didn’t help that it was 5AM and we were on day 2 of our early morning airport arrival.  There was a guy sitting directly in front of us.  I think he thought we were crazy.  I laughed to myself thinking that I would never see that guy again, but my husband would probably end up sitting next to him on the plane.

It’s been almost two weeks since he left.  It feels like more.  I can’t speak for him, but I did much better on this good-bye.  I was devastated a year ago.  I had such a fear of the unknown.  Two years is a long time.  I didn’t know how we would do it… if our marriage could withstand it… if I could manage that long with no help.  I don’t know if this will make sense, but this time I was just able to focus on the good-bye.  I didn’t have all of the fear.  I am sad because he is gone, but now I know that we can do it… I know that our marriage can withstand it… and I know that I can manage.

No day is easy.  In fact, they are all quite difficult, but we make it.  I discovered a peace the day he left.  A confidence that we can get through this.  It may not be pretty, but there is an end in sight.  And, ultimately this is only temporary.

God has sustained us this past year.  He has surrounded us with people who lift us up when we need it most.  The people who God put in our lives bless us every day.  I pray that I live my life to bless others in return.

 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

The Gift…

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photo by Ann May Photography

photo by Ann May Photography

The past few days have been a whirlwind to say the least!  We enjoyed having my husband home more than words.  Being able to hold him, smell him, and hear his heartbeat after so long were gifts that my soul craved.

The past few days were a series of gifts.  Gifts for which we will never be able to fully express our gratitude.  The gift of most of the cost of his plane ticket being given to us by our church family.  The gift of a limo ride to and from the airport.  The gift of Ann May Photography taking pictures for us at the airport.  The gift of friends waiting at the entrance of our neighborhood to give my husband a true hero’s welcome.  All that was just the first few hours!

We were able to spend time with family and most of our friends on New Year’s Eve.  I’ve written a blog about “Showing Up.”  Sometimes, that’s all you need to do to show someone you care.  We are very loved and I know my husband felt that from the time he stepped off the plane and into our arms.

We managed to work in some fun activities while he was home.  We saw a few movies, went to St Augustine, Florida, and the three boys took a helicopter ride with Old City Helicopters.  My husband was able to see my youngest son’s basketball practice and his first game of the season.  We witnessed the marriage of two great people.  We even shared a few meals with some great friends.

The most important gift was my husband and I got to accompany our youngest son as he professed his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior and witness him being baptized.

We also got a surprise gift of an added day to share together.  My fried brain thought that he was supposed to leave on Wednesday.  We went all the way to the airport and tried to check in to get his boarding pass before we realized he wasn’t supposed to leave until Thursday.  While waking up at 3:30am was a huge pain for us and for our friend that came over at 4:30am to sit with our boys, it was so nice to leave that airport holding his hand.

I titled this “The Gift” because I truly feel that every moment of these past few days was a gift from God.  Our time together and the love that was shown to us was the best present I’ve ever gotten.  It was like all the good that we’ve ever done came back to us in a flood.  It was a wonderful experience filled with memories that will last forever.  Thank you to everyone that spent even a moment with us, making it happen, or simply praying for us.  (Pictures below)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17