Well, it has been a few weeks since we returned from our vacation in Arizona. I am back on the East Coast and trying to get back into a routine. I cannot believe those three weeks went by so fast. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with family. His grandma, the main reason we were there, was so happy and that just warmed our hearts. But after all that fun, it was necessary to return home. For those that follow my blog, you know we did not have a plan on how exactly we would return and we were on a limited budget. We did not have a reserved airplane ticket, nor train ticket, nor a means of driving back. We had decided from the beginning that that we would use this trip to learn to trust God and have him take care of the details!
So how exactly did we make it home? Towards the end of the three weeks we started looking at what military bases flew to the East Coast. As I explained in a previous flight, those flights (known as Space-A) are unreliable and they usually do not publish them until two to three days before. One of the first bases on our mind was Travis AFB in Northern California because they consistently seemed to have flights that fly to Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Logic told us that that was our best bet. To sweeten the pot, a deal came up to rent an RV for almost nothing from AZ to Northern California. That seemed to be the perfect plan. We would rent an RV, drive to Northern California, and then fly out of Travis. Yet for some reason, my husband and I were both hesitant. Something did not sit well with us and thankfully we decide to listen to that “still small voice.”
My husband had also called the base in San Diego and they told him they had a few flights the following week to Andrews AFB. The problem was that San Diego did not have flights as frequently to the East Coast and if the Andrews’ flights were cancelled, there was less of a chance we would be able to fly out of there. Yet for some reason, San Diego just seemed right to the both of us and we decided that was the route we would take. We rented a car and drove to San Diego the day before the next scheduled flight.
We arrived at our hotel at about 9 pm that night. Since we were in downtown San Diego, we thought it would be fun to take the girls to have ice cream at Ghirardelli’s even though it was past their bed time. They loved the fact that they were being allowed to stay up late!! After the ice cream we started walking back to the hotel. From the corner of my eye, I saw a homeless man asking for money. My husband read my mind and kindly gave me a dollar bill which I gave to my seven-year-old to put in his bucket. As I approached him, I felt a strong urge to sit right next to him and ask him if he would allow me to pray for him. He smiled and said yes. As my seven-year-old watched, I put my hand on his shoulder and just said a prayer of blessing. I wished him well, smiled, and we continued on our merry way. I asked myself, “Is this walking by the spirit?” It felt good to make a connection with a person that several months ago I would not have even acknowledged.
The next morning we arrived at the base bright and early. They had told us there would be 64 seats available and the terminal was full. And then the announcement came. The good news was the flight was still leaving, but the bad news was that they could only take 14 people. By the grace of God, we were one of those 14 although I felt bad for those that got left behind. Also, what we thought would be a direct flight to Andrews AFB in Maryland, would actually have two lay overs, one in a small island off the coast of California and another in Whidbey Island, WA. I have to admit that I was NOT jumping up and down with joy. The idea of a 30 minute flight followed by a three hour flight followed and then followed by a five-hour flight with a toddler was not my idea of a good time. However, I tried (very hard) to remind myself to just trust in God.
When we landed on the small island in California, we found out that the service members on the plane with us were almost towards the end of their BUD/S training. For those of you that do not know what BUD/S is, that is the training you must complete to become a Navy Seal. We had been sitting on an airplane with a bunch of future Navy Seals! As they picked up their bags and started on their way, I had to say a small inside prayer for them and I was smiling from ear-to-ear (Okay, when you have spent almost a decade studying war, little things like this excite you. Yes I am a little crazy). We got back on the plane and headed towards Whidbey Island.
I usually do not like looking outside an airplane window (I do not like heights). Yet, as we started our approach for the landing, I was mesmerized by the beauty before me. The snow capped mountains and the dark blue waters were amazing. At that point I felt like God was telling me, “I brought you here so that you could see the beauty of my creation.” I felt like God was showing off and rightfully so! When we stepped out of the airplane, I could smell the freshness of the air. I have hiked in many places, but the air there just seemed so untouched and unpolluted. For me, to have the opportunity to experience something so beautiful made the extra three hours worth it.
The rest of our trip was in retrospect pretty smooth. Before leaving Whidbey we were “stuck” on the runway watching fighter jets take off and land. My girls were giddy with joy looking out the window. It was like our own personal air show. Once in the air, my toddler fell asleep for most of the flight. While approaching Maryland, the pilot threatened us with severe turbulence up ahead, but that never materialized. Thank God! Turbulence is my enemy. We landed safely in Maryland and my sweet brother-in-law picked us up and he and my sister let us crash at their place for a few nights.
To some, the idea of driving from Tucson to San Diego, and then flying to Washington, before heading out to Maryland in a two-day period may seem insane, especially with kids. It may almost seem like it would be the trip from hell. Yet, when you put your trust in God and you stop to smell the roses, even something so crazy can turn out to be something so wonderful. And it really was!
We also worked on paying attention to those unexplainable promptings, putting logic aside, and just listening for God’s instructions. Logic told us Travis was the way to go. We chose San Diego because my husband and I felt pulled in that direction. There was not much logic behind that. As it turns out, there were no flights to Travis the entire week we had set aside to fly back. We would have been stranded there. The lesson is: Enjoy the ride and take the time to listen to the Creator of the heavens and the earth!