Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An unexpected gift......Philadelphia (Part 4)

My intention in going to Philadelphia was to spend just as much time as I possibly could with my grandmother.
Afterall, she is 96, and it's not just "over the river and through the woods" to her home!
This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I wanted to make the most of every minute!
So as I sat next to her wheelchair on that Saturday afternoon, she asked me if I wanted to go to church the next morning.
Of course I did, but I was wondering if she would be able to go (not quite yet), and how I would find my way there.
She called up her life-long friend, Bonnie, who graciously agreed to come pick me up at 10 am.
So it was all set.

What a joy to worship with that small community of believers at Llanarch Hills Chapel.

There was no Sunday School that morning since the teacher was out-of-town, but Bonnie started quietly, reverently playing the organ at 10:45 am.
I don't think we left until 12:45.
What a beautifully refreshing service that had no time constraints.
No one was in a rush to "get through" the service.
Bonnie's husband led the singing, and at one point encouraged the congregation to seek out stillness.
He pointed out how difficult it is in our culture to find a peaceful place.
"It doesn't just come to us.  You have to seek it out," he said.
I was reminded that during my little trip here, I had the opportunity to just be quiet.....not hurried.
That in the stillness.....is where we learn who God is.
To sit in His presence and be comforted.
"Be still, and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

I am so glad for the quiet and peace I was able to enjoy on this trip because no one could have prepared me enough for the impeding storm that I would step right into upon returning home in the next few days.

Monday, July 30, 2012

An unexpected gift.....Philadelphia (Part 3)

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path....Psalm 27:11

When the plane landed, I had absolutely no idea where to go.
First of all, when I stepped into the tunnel leading me to the gate, the temperature outside felt no different than Dallas.
The temperature that day in Philadelphia was warmer (106 degrees) than it was at home.  Seriously?
Anyway, I had to figure out how to get outside of the airport and find my way to the car rental place.
I was completely disoriented for a minute and had no idea which way I needed to go and where I was in the airport in relation to an outside door.
But by just looking up at the signs.....I was able to find exactly where I needed to be.
(Sometimes we can make everything much more difficult than it really is by not accepting the answers God has already put in our path.)
My dad had called me several days before to make sure I knew where I was going, and how to get out of the airport, and where to find the car rental building.
He told me I just needed to find the shuttle outside the baggage claim.
So I followed the signs to the baggage claim, and there was the sign for the car rental shuttle.
"Car Rental.....Zone 2"
"And where is Zone 2?"  I wondered out loud.
Right outside the door!
"So how do you find your shuttle?" I wondered again.
Here comes a shuttle for "Hertz."
"Is that the shuttle I need?  Do all the buses take you to the same place even if you are renting from another company?"
Within 10 seconds, the "Enterprise" shuttle drove up.
I flagged it down and climbed on board.
In about 5 minutes I was dropped off at the door.
It took just a few more minutes to fill out the paperwork, and I was in "my car".

Several days before heading out "on my own," I did some google mapping.
I didn't have a GPS, and I can't figure out how to use the GPS on my phone.
(Yes, I'm bright that way!)
So I printed off all these maps so I would know how to get to the nursing home (where my grandmother was at the time) from the airport.
The kind fellow who helped me get into this car also pointed me in the right direction.
Sometimes we all need a nudge in the right direction, don't we?
(Can you spare a few seconds to help a fellow journeyer find their way?  It'll only take a few seconds, but it could really encourage them to keep on!  And aren't we all at different places in our own personal journeys?)
Within 20 minutes I was pulling into the parking lot.

What an extraordinarily glad reunion that was!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

An unexpected gift.....Philadelphia (Part 2)

I was so excited to get there that I was totally not bothered that my seat was on the very last row, at the very back of the plane......right up against the bathrooms.
I was so giddy that I found it funny that about an hour and a half into this three-hour flight there was a line down the aisle to get into said bathrooms.
And that after awhile a certain odor puffed out the doors when someone would try to leave the bathroom unnoticed!
While we all were boarding this plane, a very nice lady stood in front of me with 3 or 4 middle-school-age boys.
She commented on how put together I looked.
"Put together?" I thought.
I felt it necessary to clear up her false idea of me, so I told her this was a treat for me, and that I'm usually very disheveled with all I have going on with my 6 children still at home.
She was curious about their ages, but more curious about who was taking care of them.
As she found her seat closer to the front of the plane, I mentioned to her that I had friends who had graciously agreed to care for my children that day, and that my husband would be with them the following 4 days.
"That is really special," she said.
"Some husbands would never do something like that.  My husband never would want to do that."
I smiled as I continued the walk to my seat WAAAAAY in the back.
I was thinking about what a wonderful man I married, and that he truly does love to stay home surrounded by his children, and my heart was swelling.
Later, as we were waiting for take-off, this lady came to the back of the plane and stood by my seat.
"You must have some really nice friends?  A good support group? I moved here from Philadelphia several years ago to the White Rock Area," she said, "I learned something about living in a neighborhood that has some money.  Nobody helps each other {with their children.}"
Again, I felt it necessary to clear up any false impression she may have had of me.
"Then clearly you can see that I don't come from a neighborhood that has money,"  I laughed.
She smiled and continued, "If you ask for help, they can refer you to a nanny.  'Here's a number to this service, give them a call.'  Nobody helps each other out.  It's just really nice that you have so many people to  help you."
At that moment, she got up and went back to her seat.
And my heart soared into the clouds with how blessed I am.

Monday, July 23, 2012

An unexpected gift......Philadelphia (Part 1)

Does Jesus care about our heart's burdens and desires...no matter how small or trivial?
I say, YES!!

At the beginning of June, I was delighted that my grandmother would be celebrating her 96th birthday.
She is my mother's mother, and she lives all by herself in an apartment in a lovely town right outside of Philadelphia.
She is a delight to us all.
But how I have missed spending time with her.
The last time I got to visit her, my oldest daughter was just a year old....14 years ago.
But when her birthday came around this year, she got sick......really sick.
She called the paramedics for herself, and off they whisked her to the local hospital.
She was diagnosed with a nasty bladder infection that had traveled into her bloodstream.
We were all so concerned for her.
I asked for prayer for her on facebook, and mentioned how much I miss her and that I sure wish I could go see her.
I think I said something like:  "I sure wish I could walk into her room with flowers to wish her a happy birthday."
So a long-time friend, who I haven't spoken with in years, sent me a message asking if she bought a ticket for me to go, could I just up and go?
Say that again??
Well.....ummmm......let me think about that?
Right NOW?
Next week?
I told her I would have to seriously think about it.
I also began praying about this.
It really wasn't an easy decision.
Lots of details to figure out......lodging.....child care....transportation once I got there.
I talked with my husband and several other people, and they all agreed (separately) that I should take this opportunity.
I felt that if I didn't go now, I would never have another chance, and that I would so regret that decision.
But with my responsibilities at our church's VBS, I felt committed to staying home until that was over.
That meant not leaving until July.
We finally decided on the dates when my husband would have his regular days off without having to use any vacation time.  He even thought if he put in early enough, that he could get a Saturday off as well.
So we choose the dates of Saturday, July 7 through Wednesday, July 11.
And I booked my flight.
Within days, my husband finds out that he cannot get that Saturday off after all, so I immediately began asking friends/family if they could help out.
Very quickly, I had all my children farmed out for Friday night and all day Saturday....in groups of 2.
My dearest, long-time friend then agreed to come get me at 6 am on Saturday morning to drive me to the airport since my husband has to be to work at 5 am.
I offered to buy her breakfast and the deal was sealed!!
As the weeks to my trip started ticking down.....my grandmother had a set-back.
She had gotten well enough to move to a nursing rehabilitation facility, but started to run fever again.
She was put back in the hospital with fever, breathing problems, and an intestinal virus.
Her daughters and the nursing staff decided that it might not be a good idea for her to ever go back to her apartment.
So I was worried that her apartment would be closed up and I would have to get a hotel (which we really couldn't afford with a car rental.)
VBS came and went, as did the 4th of July, and her apartment was still available for me to use.

My husband reserved a car for me online, my MIL handed me some spending money in an envelope, and all I had to do was figure out how to pack 5 days worth of girl stuff into two limited carry-on bags.
Does Jesus care?
Oh, YES!

Do you fly often?
Have you any idea the hoops you have to jump through these days to get through security at an airport?
I was so nervous that I had missed a detail and that I would have to leave something behind or check a bag at $25 a pop that I was almost shaking!!
But the Friday evening before my flight, my husband and I got all our children dropped off to their respective sleepover spots and we got to enjoy a date night by ourselves!!
The next morning, my sweet friend was at our home by 6 am, and we were off to breakfast together!!
She dropped me off at the airport an hour and half before my flight, and a nice lady helped me get checked in on one of those computer things within 30 seconds!
When I got to security, this is what I saw:

Remarkably, that line went much faster than I thought it would.
The security guys were very nice and everyone was so polite and I got through
with no hassles.
A nice lady suggested that I skip the "train" to my gate and gave me a shortcut:

I arrived at my gate with 20 minutes to spare, so I filled up my empty water bottle with a Crystal Light "Pure" packet and I was praising the Lord!!

Philadelphia, here I come!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Happy 4th of July!

(Indoor smores on a scorching hot day!)

(She asked me if she could "paint her face" for going to see fireworks.
In my mind, I thought she meant a little flag or something on her cheek......)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vacation Bible School!!

Oh my.
This summer has just shifted into turbo speed, and I'm hanging on for dear life!!
Seriously, it has been like a tsunami and I tried so hard to carefully plan so it wouldn't become like that.
Because of this, I've had to let the non-essentials go lately, and my blog falls into that category.
Over the next week or so though, I'm going to try to put the brakes on this ride and get caught up.
Please, patience....grace?

Just after I left off posting, we stepped off into our final week of VBS for the summer.....at our church.
I had the delightful opportunity of directing and coordinating the drama every morning.
It was SO. much. work!
It took SO. much. time!
But it was SO worth it.
Our oldest daughter had her stage debut and had the part of the ditzy girl.
She really enjoyed learning what it takes to act and pull together a daily skit that can be used of God
to share the gospel with children!!

(I tried to include a picture of each of my children enjoying their time,
and this picture is of the puppets that Ashlyn participated in during song time.)

*I did not get a picture of Aryn because every time she saw me, she would cry.