Posted in Christian living, flying

What would I give?

blogDSCN7912“He who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity;  for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.”  ~Henry Taylor

One day last week,  middle daughter and I watched the movie Evan Almighty.    We’ve viewed it before, but both of us just wanted to veg out and watch something light-hearted.

I remembered the basic story line of the movie  – God tells Evan to build an ark – but one of the things I’d forgotten was near the end when Morgan Freeman (as God) converses with Steve Carrell (as Evan) and draws the letters ARK in the dirt.  Turns out what God wanted Evan to do was an Act of Random Kindness (ARK).

That thought reminded me of an action we witnessed during our recent trip south to move oldest daughter back to our home state.  We were settling into our seats for the first leg of our flight.  I turned around to see where middle daughter was located since her assigned seat wasn’t in our row.   My husband nudged me and said, “Look, do you see that?”

A well-dressed gentleman already seated in the airplane’s full first class section must have noticed a man in uniform – a military man  – board the plane.   The gentleman came back to the coach section, spoke quietly to the soldier, and without making a production out of it, offered his seat in first class to the serviceman.

“What a wonderful thing to do!” I thought.  It blessed my heart to see someone honor and respect one of our military,  especially since it was the 10th anniversary weekend of 9-11.  That definitely was one of those acts of random kindness and I doubt if very many people sitting on that plane even noticed what took place.

On our next flight, which again had full first class and coach compartments, I noticed a member of the military sat in the row in front of me.   No one on that plane offered him a first class seat.  And that made me start to ponder this question – what compels a person to give up something of value for another person?  And more importantly, am I willing to sacrifice for someone else, even a complete stranger?

The gentleman on our first flight willingly gave up his expensive seat and, by all appearances, he did so without wanting to claim any glory, thanks, or attention for himself.  That’s a truly giving person – one who expects nothing in return.

Witnessing those two separate events made me contemplate some questions on the rest of the flight.  And today, I can’t stop thinking this over and confronting myself.  What am I willing to give up?  Would I give up a better, more expensive seat on an airplane to a soldier?  Would I even think to do such a thing, would it cross my mind, or would I be so preoccupied with myself that I wouldn’t even notice that soldier?  Do I even pause to realize the sacrifices our military personnel make for me?

I’d like to think that I do.  After all, I am a former military wife.  I know the sacrifices our countrymen and women in the armed forces make each day just so I can live in freedom.  I believe I understand what any person who serves others gives up, be they firefighters, police, or medical personnel just to protect and rescue people like me.

Likewise, I think I’m someone who notices others, especially when they need help.  But the truth of the matter is, I can be just as selfish as anyone.   Am I selfless only when it doesn’t impact me that much?  When I don’t have to really sacrifice anything?  Am I only willing to give up things that don’t matter to me or aren’t that important?  I may feel satisfied when I give unwanted or unworn items to Goodwill, but would I be willing to give a favorite item to someone who needed it?

Maybe giving up a first class seat to another wasn’t a big deal for that gentleman.  But the impact it made on me is a big deal.  When I consider what God has done for me, what He has given up so I may live, I am dumbstruck.  God, the Father, sacrificed his only Son on the cross to pay for my transgressions. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ 1 John 4:10

Jesus, the Son, gave up everything for me.  He gave up His home in glory for a time to come to earth and live among us as one of us.  Then He made the ultimate sacrifice, experienced the pain and agony of the cross, and gave up His very life for me, for all of us.     1 John 2:2  says, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Any sacrifice I may offer can never compare.  So what must I do?  I believe the answer is live for Him.  God’s Word tells me, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  ~Ephesians 5:1-2

Hebrews 13:16 also reminds me, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  But to give just for the sake of sacrifice means nothing, so I must endeavor to do everything I can, give up whatever I need to, in love so others may come to know Him by my acts.  “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” ~ Mark 12:33

Yes, I may perform an ARK, an act of random kindness, but the important aspect is will others see Jesus in me? Do I accomplish my ARKs for His glory, not my own?

As I contemplate these thoughts in today’s book of Opportunity, Chapter 9, Page 19, I marvel at the way God speaks to me even while witnessing one small act of random kindness on a crowded airplane.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in flying, moving, new beginnings, thankfulness, traveling, weekends

Coming to a city near us

All last weekend, it felt like my family was in the movie “Madagascar”  because our theme song was “Move It.”

I felt like King Julian, that crazy ol’ lemur in the movie who sings “I like to move it, move it.  She likes to move it, move it.  He likes to move it, move it.  You like to…MOVE IT!”

blogDSCN7913If you follow my blog, you know that I’m not fond of flying anymore.  But in the interest of time, I boarded that magic silver jetliner which transported hubby, middle daughter, and me to the Deep South last Friday for a mission – to help oldest daughter move back to our home state, to the city near us.  [happy dance here]

We arrived safely (no problems or delays) in her southern city late Friday night.  Oldest daughter and boyfriend (aka BF) picked us up at the airport and whisked us off to her apartment, which was in various stages of disarray with moving boxes, suitcases, packing tape, etc.

A crew of daughter’s work friends arrived early Saturday morning and after a hearty breakfast from Chick-fil-A, (I’ve never eaten chicken in a biscuit for breakfast before, but it was good!), we started loading up the U-Haul truck for the trek back home.  MOVE IT!

I watched with tears in my eyes as oldest daughter hugged her friends goodbye and they had a crying moment.  I find moving is always bittersweet – sad because you leave good friends and memories behind, yet exciting as you venture on to a new chapter in your life.

blogDSCN7914All loaded and locked down, apartment cleared out and cleaned, we left the city oldest daughter has called home for the last four years with a caravan  – MOVE IT! – hubby and I in the U-Haul, daughters and BF in oldest daughter’s car, to our destination stop for the night.

BF’s gracious parents invited us to stay at their home, which also gave us the opportunity to finally meet them.   We were treated to showers, comfortable beds, and a delectable breakfast the next morning and the joy of meeting daughter’s boyfriend’s wonderful family.

Joining us were BF’s sister and brother-in-law who offered to travel back home with us to help unload.  What a blessing they were!  We packed our overnight cases once again, climbed in the vehicles, and hit the road.  This time we had us a convoy with the truck, daughter’s car, and BF’s car.  MOVE IT! 

blogDSCN7916After our several hours long trip, we arrived in the city near us where we unloaded some of daughter’s furniture and belongings in the apartment she will soon share with middle daughter and her roommate.   MOVE IT!

Since middle daughter will move out of the apartment next spring when she marries fiancé, we decided to take advantage of the U-Haul and move some of her furniture to – you guessed it – our basement for storage.  So once again, we loaded the truck with a few pieces of middle daughter’s larger furniture mixed in with the rest of oldest daughter’s belongings to store.  MOVE IT!

By this time, old mom and dad were starting to drag from all the physical exertion,  long nights, early mornings, not to mention all the hours of driving.   Our little caravan headed to our home in the country, where all of us (7 humans and oh, did I mention a CAT?) were so relieved and happy to be out of the vehicles.

But the task wasn’t over yet.  MOVE IT!  After dinner, we still had to unload the truck and cart all of middle daughter’s furniture, some of oldest daughter’s furniture, and all her boxes of stuff to be stored into our basement.  By then, it was dark, a little rainy, it was late, and hubby needed to return to work the next day.  Oldest daughter also needed to arise early in the morning to attend orientation for her new job in the city.  MOVE IT!

The next morning, Dad and Daughter left for work, and the rest of us lounged a bit, but not long because after breakfast, BF and his sister and bro-in-law needed to be on the road again back to their home.  MOVE IT!

After everyone departed, my move it energy depleted, I couldn’t move it if I tried.  I confess I spent the afternoon on the couch in dreamland and after a 3-hour nap(!), I realized middle daughter was conked out as well.

The only creatures at our house who seemed to be ready to move it were the two cats (ours and oldest daughter’s), but that’s another story for another day.  Today in Chapter 9, Page 15, in my book of Opportunity, I’m so grateful God granted us safe travel.  And I’m elated He provided a new job for oldest daughter in the city near us.  I will cherish the couple of weeks that she stays here with us in the empty nest until she moves into the city apartment.

But I’m still feeling the effects of ‘moving it’ so I’m headed for the couch…again.  If you’re feeling the urge to ‘MOVE IT,’ please don’t call me.  Right now, I don’t like to move it, move it, no matter how much King Julian’s little ditty usually makes me want to dance.

Copyright  ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in family, flying, Home, Life, traveling

No flight plan, part 2

blogflyingThis wasn’t the flight plan we filed.

We arrived at the airport very early that morning and the departure screen screamed out our first problem of the day – our flight had been cancelled.

We scurried to the check-in counter to be told that there were no other flights on that airline to our destination, but we could be scheduled for a flight the next day!

That was not an option because daughter had just recently returned from a three-week trip to Africa and, with no vacation days left, had to report for work Monday morning. When asked why our flight was cancelled, we were told that our pilot didn’t show up.  What???

The solution was to book us on another airline because we had to get home.  Satisfied with two new tickets in hand and happy to get away from the long line of angry customers, we left the counter and started walking away.

Daughter said, “OK, now we’re flying to Charlotte and from there to our final destination.”  I looked at my ticket and said, “Huh?  No, we’re flying to Houston and then to our home airport!”

Yep, the two of us, who were traveling together, were booked on separate airlines, going in opposite directions and arriving at our final destination many hours apart.    Back to the counter we trotted, which by now was surrounded by throngs of angry would-be passengers.

After a long wait, I realized my flight was calling for final check-ins, so I ran over to encounter another long line there.   What to do?  Check in and fly to Houston?  Wait and see if we can get on another flight together?  Go…wait…go…wait??

Finally, daughter, who had been standing in line at the original airline counter, gets waited on and explains that we need to be on the same stinkin’ plane, for crying out loud! Suddenly, daughter yells above the din, “Wait, Mom!!!  Don’t go!!  They’re getting us on another flight together!”

Relieved, I rushed back to airline counter one and my daughter.   Again we walked away with fresh new tickets, comparing them to find success – we’re both flying to Atlanta on the same plane and then to our destination together.  Finally!  And that’s when we notice our departure time.  Twelve hours from now!

blogA flyingWhat do you do to entertain yourself when you’re stuck in a small city airport for 12 hours and you’ve already turned in your rental car?  And you’ve only brought small carry-on bags, so you don’t have a lot of entertainment fodder with you?  Let’s just say we learned every nook and cranny of that airport and then some.

The nightmare continued when we checked in for our flight all those hours later.  Standing in the long queue for security screening, we were shocked to get pulled out of the line.  Daughter was escorted one way, I was escorted another.

Apparently, the haggard, exhausted looks on our faces made us appear to be would-be terrorists!   I realize now that our names were probably red-flagged because we had been jostled around from flight to flight that day, but hey, that wasn’t our doing! Blame that on the airline!

Our carry-on bags and purses were taken from us, opened and searched thoroughly while we were instructed to sit facing each other.   And as I sat there, shoeless, without my ID, my purse or my carry-on, the screeners took their sweet time examining our belongings first and then us.

Yes, I was frisked and so was my daughter and this was years before the latest TSA security measures.   And still we sat and sat….and by this time, I fumed because I was certain the delay was going to make us miss our flight…which we waited 12 hours to board!

And that’s when it hit me.  We could have driven by car and been almost home by then.  Instead, we literally sprinted to our boarding gate, endured two flights, a layover, and finally arrived at our city airport after midnight.

There we waited another 45 minutes for a shuttle to transport us to the outer parking lot where daughter’s car sat.  We slumped into her car, totally exhausted, and braced for the hour’s drive home.

The trip that should have taken us just a few hours by plane took almost 19 hours!  By the time we actually arrived at our house, we realized that if we had traveled by car we would have been home by dinner time and soundly sleeping in our beds for several hours.

Hassle?  Absolutely.  Stressful?  Without a doubt!  Totally exhausting? Unbelievably.  And that’s why I fear flying.  I would much rather be master of my own trip than place myself at the mercy of airlines and security screeners.   So on this 13th page, Chapter 4, in my book of Opportunity and on any day, I’d much rather say, “Road trip!”

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in family, flying, Life, traveling

No flight plan, Part 1

blogDSCN7913Airline tickets for $39.  That ad attracted my attention for about a nano-second.

I used to love to travel by plane; now I’d rather pull out my own toenails.  In the past, I thought there was no better way to travel than flying.

Jump on an airplane on one coast of the country, be on the other coast in six hours, as opposed to driving for six days? No better way to go, I used to think.  I know because I’ve done both.

Flying used to be enjoyable, an adventure I willingly embarked upon even with three small children in tow.  I loved the sensation of lifting off into the air, peering out jet windows to catch glimpses of wispy, cotton candy clouds floating beside me, observing the patchwork of fields, mountain tops, or rambling threads of rivers and roads beneath us thousands of feet down.  Equally enthralling was catching the breath-taking view of a city all aglow in brilliant lights outlined in the dark of an inky black night sky.  Glorious.

Landing thrilled me even more!  I loved the sensation of gradually making the descent, feeling your ears pop, watching the ground get closer, closer, closer until you felt the bump of the plane’s tires touching down.  Then came the amazing part for me….flying on the ground, traveling at such a high rate of speed you wondered if the plane would ever be able to stop, but finally brakes grabbed hold and the plane came to a halt.  Exhilarating!

For certain, flying used to be fun.  Now I’d rather avoid it at all costs.  Unless there’s a dire emergency, you’d have to pay me to fly.  I’m not afraid of flying; instead I fear and loathe everything prior to and in between the actual flights.

“If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport,” someone named George Winters apparently once said.  Well, Mr. Winters, times have changed.  Now I believe it’s actually easier getting to the airport than it is getting through the airport.

I understand the necessity for security; really in today’s unsafe world, I get that.  But given the choice, after my last flying experience, I’m done with that mode of transportation.

My last venture by airplane occurred before the rash of outrageously crazy TSA screening stories that you watch on internet videos or hear about from a neighbor.  You know, the ones about 3-year-olds getting stripped and frisked and people having to remove prosthetics or endure some humiliating ordeal.

Flying just isn’t in my plans; I don’t care how low air fares drop.  I’ve got my own crazy story which sealed the deal when it comes to my disdain for air travel, and I haven’t flown since then.   A few years ago, I flew south with oldest daughter for a weekend.  Her career necessitated a move there, and we embarked on an apartment finding quest.

Our flight departed late in the day, so we had no time for dinner.  The only sustenance we received on our short flight to our next lay-over was a glass of water.  No individual bottle of water.  The flight attendant rolled down the aisle with a large communal bottle from which she poured water into a plastic cup for those of us thirsty travelers.  No food, of course – not even a tiny little bag of peanuts.

We ran to our next flight at our layover.  Again no time for food; and again, no food on the plane.  Arriving at our destination close to midnight, we were starving when we checked into our downtown hotel, where the only hot meal we could find was a vending machine Hot Pocket warmed up in a microwave.

Our trip on the ground was successful – she found a great apartment, we explored the city a bit, enjoyed our meals and one delight for me was sipping Southern sweet tea.

Because of all the waiting in line necessary for security screening and because we needed to turn in our rental car, we arrived at the airport very early Sunday morning for the airline’s first flight out to our home destination.  That Sunday unfolded as one of the longest days of my life!

And that story will unfold on tomorrow’s blog.   I’m tired just thinking about it on this 12th page of Chapter 4 in my Opportunity book.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com