Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So much GRACE



Have you ever been the recipient of so much grace, that it overwhelms?

That was me two days ago as I was flying across the country with baby Emmalie, back home to our family.  I had been praying hard (and I know others were too - thank you) for my return trip.  My neck was acting up and was locked up as a result of holding Emmy in my arms for hours on end on the flights down a few days before.  On the return trip, I'd be alone with the baby and my painful neck. 

I decided I'd chronicle my trip home here so I'd never forget - and to publicly praise God - who deserves so much more than my offering for all He has done. 

It started the night before the trek home, as my sister, nephews and I were getting ready to drive two hours back to Nashville so we could sleep for a few hours in a hotel before they dropped us off to fly out the next morning.  Before leaving town, their chiropractor (who had just arrived back in town) told us we could meet him at the country club where he was golfing.  Yes, we met him on the front steps of a country club, where I proceeded to lie down on the brick steps and have my neck and upper back adjusted.  It resulted in immediate relief for me, and thankfulness exuding out of my bones... GRACE #1



We drove off into the night, arrived in music city, and crashed for four hours in a hotel at the airport.  I had been dreading this moment even before I arrived in Tennessee.  The saying goodbye part.  I tear up just thinking about it.  My sister and I are close.  Really close.  We cried like babies clinging to each other, after I clung to my nephews - wishing I could know them, truly know them, and I headed in to check-in for the long haul home after turning around to wave just one more time.  With my reddened face, I took a deep breath and headed toward my gate.  At the front of the eternal line at security, a kind couple offered to do anything they could to make going through security easy for me... GRACE #2


When I reached my gate, I checked to see if there were any empty seats on the plane for baby's car seat.  There wasn't.  Upon entering the airplane, a friendly flight attendant took my boarding pass to see what seat I was assigned to, and stated that they put me in the wrong seat mentioning something about oxygen masks and babies.  After moving a person or two, I was assigned to a new seat at the very front of the small aircraft (it was one of those planes with just three seats in each row, one on one side of the aisle, two on the other.)  I was given the bulkhead spot with tons of legroom and no seat in front of me.  GRACE #3


Now the flight attendant had to work to shuffle folks around to fill the seat next to me.  The lady across the aisle from me kept to herself and her kindle, never looking my way.  When the attendant asked her to move into the seat next to me, she flat out said no.  She didn't want to move.  Tears were starting to pool and people were staring.  There were others that said they didn't want to move to sit by me as well.  I was feeling fragile, having just said goodbye to my sister.  This wouldn't have bothered me on a normal day, but my heart was raw this 6 a.m. morning.  Then up pops this man, about ten years younger than my dad... he didn't mind sitting by a mama and her little baby.  At first, I was honestly praying for a kindly older woman.  One who loved babies, and wouldn't mind if my baby was squirmy or squealing. 


He sat down with a friendly smile.  We began to chit chat about baby Em and about where we were traveling to and from.  You know, the normal airplane seatmate conversation.  I found him to be a man of God pretty quickly.  Turns out he is a ministry leader and pastor originally from South Africa now living in the states, and has started 113 churches in Kenya and Uganda.  We had great conversation talking about our families, orphans, and ministry.  He offered to hold Emmalie whenever I needed.  He spoke words to me that resonated deep within.  Like he knew me already.  He encouraged me in my dreams - saying that God would use me.  Then as we were making our final descent into our destination, he spoke a blessing over me and my family that caused more tears to fall freely - all I could do was smile, nod, and whisper a thank you.  What a gift this man was to me that morning.  It was a reminder of God's faithfulness to me.  I believe God sent this man to show me that He cares and He knows.  GRACE #4


I waved goodbye to my new friend, who waited in the jet way to see if I needed any help getting off the plane and unfolding my stroller that was waiting for me.  I waved goodbye and thanked him once again and rushed toward my new gate.  I literally ran through O'Hare (no small airport) passing a cute little tea and sandwich shop (Argo Tea) as I zoomed by, wishing I had time to stop.  A 6 hour flight was just in front of me, and I knew they were starting to board already as I searched for my new terminal.  So I continued on, deciding to settle for some junky fast food that would be closer to my gate.


I finally reached gate L1, and what should sit just before my gate?  Argo Tea.  GRACE #5

I grabbed my sandwich, drink, and cookie for the long flight home, as I eyed the line to board my flight which was quickly dwindling.  It was go time. 


I stepped up to the desk to get my gate check ticket for the stroller and car seat.  Then I asked if there was any chance there was an empty seat for Emmalie.  I prayed there was an empty seat for her.  I was desperate, my aching neck was desperate for an empty seat.    She shook her head no as she stared at the screen.  She then looked up at me, and said there were no two seats together - and that I'd have to gate check my car seat too.  Then she surprised me and said, "Wait a minute," while she tapped at the keyboard as gate agents do. 

She then picked up the intercom calling a woman's name.  There was a slim to none chance she would still be in the boarding area, since there were only ten folks left in line.  A woman second in line looks over, gets out of line and comes over.  I was breathing a huge sigh of relief and belief all at the same time.  This woman had no problem moving up one row so that I could have her seat for Emmalie.  Tears began to threaten again as I thanked God again for His obvious goodness to me.  GRACE #6




Then the gate agent took it a step further, and called out the name of a man who was also supposed to be in our row.  He would have to move from the window seat to the aisle, since car seats have to go by the window, and she wanted to run that by him.  He too "happened" to still be in the boarding area even though the other one hundred eighty or more people were already packed in the jet.  He took one look at us, and smiled saying that he, kids, and airplanes didn't get along, and asking to be moved from our row.  This time, I was beaming - so happy someone didn't want to sit by us.  I told him I didn't take any offense, that in fact I was thrilled.  We now were the proud owners of a whole row of seats to ourselves.  GRACE # 7

It was the best plane ride I've ever had hands down.  My baby girl slept 3 hours of it (GRACE #8), and I enjoyed some peace and quiet, and a couple movies.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the grace God showed me that day.  It is impossible to deny the hand of God in the lives of those He calls His own.  He is REAL.  He is LOVING.  He is GOOD.  I'm sure you all have similar stories, and I pray He will continue to show Himself to us through the circumstances in our lives and as answers to our prayers. 



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9 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness...I cried and cried through this post. I LOVE hearing of the kindness of God and how He answers our requests more often in ways we could never imagine! Thank you so much for writing it for us to praise The Lord with you! Love you!!!

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  2. It's wonderful when you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it's God's hand you feel at your back guiding you through all of the difficulties. As awful as airline travel can be these days, you experienced true miracles, the first steps toward getting past the battered feelings of farewells.

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  3. How wonderful thank you for sharing all that my tears are falling just so thankful my baby girl was cared for so lovingly.....

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  4. yay! I have goosebumps and tears~ thanks for sharing how our loving God gave and gave to you! Love this post!

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  5. Awesome, awesome, of course!! I'm so curious to know the name of the pastor you sat next to on your first flight. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us!

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  6. What a beautiful testimony of God each need, each time. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Pastor? Or angel entertained...? hmmmm. Love Love Love!

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  8. Beautiful! I know what its like to fly alone with an infant. I had to make a last minute trip to Kansas, when my dad had a liver transplant. Mary was just over a year. My body was a wreck by the end of each flight from and to Anchorage.
    The blessing was, I was given 1st class tickets, and even though it was only one seat, it was spacious, and the service was out of this world!

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  9. HI Amanda,
    I absolutely LOVED hearing about all the ways God showed his GRACE to you. Your post has helped reminded me how God has shown His GRACE to ME during my lifetime. Too cool you got to sit by a fellow brother in Christ! God IS able to do more than we could ever expect or imagine! With God, nothing is impossible. That was a goose bump and tear jerker story in my book. Thank you so much for sharing.
    In Christ,
    Bethany

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