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Archive for February 7th, 2014

DON'T PACK YOUR UNDERWEAR!.

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The only words worse to hear than “I’m sorry, your flight has been cancelled,” are the ones that say, “Ma’am, we don’t know the location of your luggage.” And last Wednesday at Ft. Lauderdale’s Airport, three hundred twenty-five miles from our destination, we heard both schedule-shattering-statements.DSCF4389

My husband went directly to car rental, while I attempted to retrieve our luggage. All Jacksonville bound passengers stood and waited. An hour passed while three claims agents searched records, made phone calls, and searched the plane for our luggage.

With no success, one threw her hands in the air and said, “I have no idea where any of your bags are. We have no numbers on them. They’re probably sitting on a runway in Houston or on their way to Baltimore.”

My heart plunged to my boots as I realized during the chaos I misplaced my jacket that held a pin I had given to our daughter DSCF4418the Christmas before she died. Distraught would have described me. Perfectly.

I’m sure many of you feel my pain, but we’re first-timers. I’d love to tell you my reaction was one of mercy and grace. Not so much.

Now I understand why those hundred pound sweet things tote their roller bags down the plane aisles, hoist them to the seats but can’t lift and smash them into tiny overhead bins. I’ve viewed them with disdain through the years and checked all my luggage. Never again.

In the rain and at night, it took seven hours to drive to Jacksonville. And the reality of the situation soaked into my brain.

I had no clean clothes. No cosmetics. No clean underwear. Not DSCF4356even a comb or toothbrush. And we had to be at a celebration early next day at an Air Force base in Georgia where my son was to take his “fini” flight in his A10 Warthog.

The jeans and sweater on my body were it. I had lost my jacket. So I wallowed in poor-pitiful-pearl mode, contemplating what I would look like by morning.

In the middle of my despair that small voice whispered, “Think about those wandering the streets tonight who only have the clothes on their back.” I know, I whined, but I have to go to a party tomorrow and that brand new outfit I bought to wear is who-knows-where. How could I possibly go in the clothes I had on? What would everyone think?

We arrived at 10 PM to spend the night with my BFF, Pat, and her husband, Rick. Pat had a pot of chicken soup on the stove, our bed turned down, and pajamas laid out for both my husband and me. With my last conscious thought and a full tummy Wednesday night I thanked the Lord Jesus for caring friends.

In the wee hours of the morning I startled awake and scriptures began pouring through my mind:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:6-7 NAS).

Hope was resurrected. I shouldn’t be anxious. God knew the DSCF4347location of our luggage. Maybe the bags would be at the airport in the morning and we could pick them up on the way out of town. Then Paul’s words came:

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NAS).

My stomach knotted. Anxiousness rushed back in and I knew the luggage would not be there in the morning. And I cried, “but God—”

And these words flashed neon.

“And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (I Timothy 6:8 NAS).

I lay there stunned as my whole being digested God’s words and I squirmed. His words hung in my mind, reprimanding me. My whole focus had been on me. My new outfit. My trip. My son. And I was ashamed.

Glancing around the darkened room, familiar, treasured objects from years past caught my attention and reminded me I was warm, dry, fed, and with friends who loved me and I loved them. Memories of our families and past good times lined up and marched single file through my melting heart. And I thanked God for Pat’s warm jammies and she and Rick’s friendship.

Next morning Pat laid out a lovely lavender sweater and jacket for me to use. In the bathroom she shared her stash of makeup samples and we left for the festivities, relatively put together.

This day was not about me, it was a celebration of our son, Michael, and his successes. Who would even notice what I had on. And I flushed that streak of pride down the toilet.
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It was a grand day with family, giving honor to our son and daughter-in-love, and to the men who give their lives for our freedom to be Americans. And I was grateful to them and to the Lord God. And delighted to be included in this Air Force tradition.DSCF4399

Late Thursday evening our luggage was located, in Jacksonville, and we picked it up on our way back to Ft. Lauderdale to return the rent car and catch the returning flight to Dallas. As we pulled into the Lauderdale airport I told Dick I wanted to check lost and found for my jacket. He said, “Honey, don’t get your hopes up.”

A very nice young man asked if he could help. I gave him a description of the jacket and the pin. And he returned in a moment with my jacket, complete with the pin. I cried tears of gratitude and joy! He smiled and said, “And it was a passenger who found it.”

Yes, a passenger who may or may not have known that God guided DSCF4384their heart and actions that day to teach this old lady to wait on the Lord. He’s in control of all things. I am not.

However, next time I fly I will not pack my underwear, nor my cosmetics, nor a clean change of clothes. And I’ll be first in line this weekend to purchase one of those detestable roller bags to stuff in those crowded overhead bins—just in case.

I know many of you reading this blog have likewise suffered painful experiences that taught you humbling lessons. Please share them with us in the box marked comments. God allows us to go through hard lessons so we can share what He’s taught us.

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