Sunday, February 23, 2014


The Lord delights in His children
He is Light
His face shines
and His Hand opens
He gives good things
He Loves
His Name is Love
we rejoice in You our Savior and King
all is yours
our joy
our pain
our past
and our future

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Destination Was Home

Ahava makes her own little "couch"
out of a plastic organizer and a pillow.
She was beginning to feel the changes
around her but was full of her
usual joy and happiness.
Bryan getting moving truck in the ice/snow storm
What I knew of home was packed up and driven halfway across the country neatly stacked like a live tetris game in a massive moving truck.  My excitement was peaked with the joy of the journey, the years of knowing the time would arrive and the unveiling of God's plan before me.  It was coming to life and I was in the midst of it wanting so desperately to succeed in my task...getting from there to here.  But it didn't go as planned, in fact it was one of the hardest experiences that I have had in a while.  Bryan drove the truck with Gracey.  A 3 day journey.  Within a week I was to follow with Ahava by plane.  I don't know about you, but trapping a 20 month old in a moving truck for 3 days doesn't sound fair to the parents or the child!!!  So plane it was to be.

Our friends coming to the hotel
to say good-bye to us.
Following a grueling week of packing and feeling as if our lives were one foot here and one foot there (that's kind of hard to do!!!), I made the choice to stay in a hotel for 4 days because I saw that another ice/snow storm may arrive. I planned on visiting Ahava's Grammy and continuing to our lake house for my final days in Texas, but didn't feel like it was wise since the last winter storm that hit was actually pretty bad and I didn't want to get stuck out in the middle of no where by myself with Ahava. It turned out to be a very wise decision. The ice and snow came the day we were to pick up the gigantic moving truck, melted just as Bryan pulled out and on his way and then came back for a round two that again crippled the city for days. I had a lot of last minute things to take care of, but they had to wait. We were stuck at the hotel and weren't going any where. I was so happy that the room had a full kitchen, served breakfast and even dinner as a part of the price!!! Ahava even had her own "room" (the kitchen and living space). Then came the packing and loading to go to our next place. I had Ahava ride the luggage rack down the hall to the elevator and then an employee helped save me and called a man to wheel the luggage the rest of the way to the car and help me load it all in. I thought I was leaving right away, but ended up driving across town to say "good-bye" to Josiah. How I love that little boy and miss him with every fiber of my being. I think about him so many times and imagine him playing with Ahava often.  Then Ahava napped and I continued on to Bryan's Mom's ranch.  We unloaded all of our luggage here (two carry-ons and two HUGE PACKED TO THE RIM bags) because we were giving her car back to her that she had been loaning us (Bryan was towing our other car, Stormy).  We stayed the night here and had fun, then packed up all of our things and put it in Bryan's Grandmother's car and headed to Fort Worth to his Aunt and Uncle's house.  All four of us had a pretty good ride.  We arrived in Fort Worth and unpacked the car and had to get Ahava and I set up to sleep there.  We enjoyed our time that night with everyone, including Ahava's second cousin who joined us, making 7 of us.  The next day, trying to get everything into all the bags I had, was a little tough, but with the old fashion trick of sitting on the top and zipping it...I got it done.  We were on the way.  At the airport Uncle Jerry brought us in and we paid our million dollar fee for our bag and got into the security line.  I had Ahava's stroller, a wheely bag and a backpack.  Of course I had to take out the water for her milk, take off my shoes, fold up the stroller and wrestle Ahava by myself.  But I survived that thinking it was the hardest part behind me.  Oh NO NO NO!  Only if I knew...poor me.  

Ahava can count pretty good now.
Every time we went on the
elevator in our hotel, she
would anticipate counting the
floors changing.
Grammy and Grandpa Gary
When we got to our gate I was relieved.  I set some stuff down, regrouped and started to find breakfast to take on the plane.  Ahava was very curious and active.  She ended up falling into the window sill and hurt her face, but seemed to get over it pretty quickly.  But the time arrived and went for boarding and we were still there.  We were still there???  Um....why??? Then the announcement came for the delay.   Then 20 minutes after that, the second announcement came and did you guess?...the third announcement came.  All in all, our flight was 2 hours late and I knew at that point we were no longer going to make our connection to home.  I began preparing to figure what to do.  I asked the person behind the counter and he was not very helpful.  I asked another woman and said "please help me" and she brought me over to another man who told me there was no more flights to home until 2 days from now, but there was a flight to a neighboring city that he could book me on.  So I told him to please do so.  At this point I felt pretty good.  If I were to miss my original flight to home, then I had the flight to the neighboring city all ready to go.  I also asked the attendant at the front to move us from the back of the plane as to give me an advantage to try and make both of those connections.  My original flight was at 3:15pm and the next one to the neighboring city was at 3:55pm.  When we finally got on the plane I was beyond surprised that the guy moved us up to the BEST seats ever!  It was a middle class seat in a section completely by itself.  I mean there was not a row in front of us, but a wall, and there was not a row in back of us, but a wall. It was like a little cubby for us.  The bathroom was right in front of us, but it was OUT OF ORDER!  I mean...come on...could this be any better?  The seat even had a leg rest!!!!!  WHOA!!!  A nice lady sat next to us and Ahava dazzled everyone with her cuteness and love.  It was Valentine's Day and she passed out heart stickers to all the Flight Attendants and even two pilots.  Finally we were landing.  I knew it was time to get my running shoes on.  Not only did we have to go to a different terminal in a HUGE airport I didn't know, we had to change airlines.
Ahava in her seat where we had our own little section!
I was so determined to get to either one of those flights that little did I know I would be regretting the decision immensely down the road, but I left Ahava's gate-checked stroller and began running FULL SPEED AHEAD (before anyone looses their jaw...the stroller I left behind was one that I did NOT like and was not intending to keep...I felt like it was more important to get home than it was to wait for them to unload the items since it was 2:45pm).  I ran with Ahava in arms, backpack on and carry-on in tow.  I ran out the terminal and down the long hall way (even had to slow my pace to breathe every now and then...and even talked to Ahava saying "we can do this!  WE CAN DO THIS!!!!!").  I got to the United Airlines counter to check-in.  They informed me it was too late to check-in for the original flight (and they ended up cancelling this one).  I told them about being confirmed on the back-up flight to the neighboring city.  They said there was no record of us being on that one at all.  I started to get a little worried.  I kept asking them what to do.  I knew I was running out of time.  One of their employee's asked the other, a manager came and then they figured out that I had to go to the American Airline counter (since they were the reason I missed my original flight and I purchased the ticket online through Orbitz and they split up our flights between two airlines).  So, knowing I had little time to try and make the back-up neighboring city flight, there I was, running my race again.  Down 2 terminals to the American Airline people.  I waited in line and then they punched some numbers in the computer and then they said I had to go back to the Untied people and get on the flight I wanted.  I began to panic.  I truly didn't have much energy.  Remember, I was still carrying Ahava and my carry-on's...running 2 terminals.  I finally got back to the United Airline people and was devastated when they said that I missed it. I COULD NOT EVEN BELIEVE IT.  It was all because of their "go back and forth"-ing that I now missed it.  It was only 3:30pm though and I didn't quite understand why I coulnd't try to make it still, but they said I would only be a "stand-by" because the flight is full and at that point I would still have to go through security and then to the satellite terminal by bus and wouldn't have a chance to make it.  So now what????  They said I could wait 2 days to have a flight home, or wait until morning to fly to the neighboring city.  They would not pay for a rental car or a hotel.  I began to cry.  I felt lost!  Knew no one, didn't know where I was, Ahava was hungry and crying through the whole ordeal.  So I knew I had to find my 2 checked in bags.  I asked the American Airline people and they said that United Airlines had them.  I went over to United (yes another back and forth between 2 terminals) and the United people said "go check baggage claim."  So I head down stairs to where it felt like a billion people were.  I asked one counter and she pointed to the other baggage claim area (this was one of the biggest airports in the country).  So I went there and there was a massive line (that intimidated me in ways I can't even explain), so I began to look in the "unclaimed" baggage sections.  All these poor lost bags!!!!  Then I saw one of my bags being pulled off the belt by the guy getting ready to lock it up as an "unclaimed".  I was so happy to see that one that I practically ripped it out of his hands.  I waited and waited for my second one.  But I never saw the 2nd one, the one with formula and diapers and I wouldn't end up seeing that one for days, but I didn't know.  Now my load was impossible without help.  I had to rent a luggage cart.  Ahava is beginning to have a break down now, so am I.  I wanted to be the child right then.  I wanted someone to come take care of me.  But I was expected to do that for Ahava,  I had to.  I wheeled the huge tank of a load over to the wall of phones. It didn't even make sense to me.  I felt like I was on a foreign planet.  They were trying to speak to me!  I knew it.  My goal was to get a Hotel room, find the shuttle to it and try to keep Ahava ok.  I called a place and tried again to decipher their instructions to go where they told me to for the shuttle to the hotel.  They said up one floor into the middle at 7. WHAT??????????  Really people!!!????!  So I had her repeat it again and figured I would just have to attempt it.  I sat Ahava on top of the luggage pile, held her with one hand and then used my wrist to propel the tower of luggage forward. I went up stairs and asked people where to go.  I had to wait outside in a little bus stop area and then began second guessing myself, but then the green van pulled up and we got our luggage in.  I had no car seat for Ahava, so I just held on tight.

Finally arriving at the hotel on Valentine's Day.
When we got to the hotel, I knew I had to try and relax.  At this point there was nothing I could do.  I was so tired and so was Ahava.  I got things set up the best I could and we went downstairs to the little cafĂ© and I ordered some soup.  We got up to the room and had a little picnic, but Ahava was so tired that she just began crying, chocked and threw up.  It smelled so bad.  I had to bathe her.  For her it was nearly 9pm for her body.  She went right to sleep.  I sat in the tiny bathroom (Valentine's Day remember?) eating the cold soup, feeling pretty sad and worn out.  I climbed into bed needing and appreciating the quietness.....ummm....the quietness.....REALLY??????????????  Banging, kids screaming, doors slamming....Olivia emerges from the bed and has a talk with the neighbor...back to what I was saying...appreciating the quietness and off to sleep I go.

When morning arrived, I found the reserve energy I had to get us up and down stairs for breakfast.  The only problem is that there was no breakfast.  I had Ahava in
Eating soup alone in the bathroom.  Poor me.

her highchair and was ready to eat a good meal before continuing on to home, but there was no meal included.  A bowl of cereal was probably about $10.00.  I decided to eat the last granola bar in my room.  So then it was packing everything up again.  I called for a luggage cart and the guy brought it up and just left it there at the door.  I mustered the strength to get it all on it and then put Ahava on as well and then try and control the thing down the hall into the elevator and then the lobby.  The cart had a mind of its own,  it was like a donkey that didn't want to be bothered.  Every inch of the way was a tug and pull to try and get it to go the direction I needed, never mind trying to keep Ahava afloat on top.  We got to the lobby and waited for the shuttle, and finally got the luggage in the van and back to the airport we go.  We arrived and they drop us off at the same location as before....right in the middle island between cars driving like crazy!!  I have to hold Ahava and get a luggage cart while trying to keep an eye on the luggage (they didn't drop us off directly near the cart renting dispenser).  I finally got the thing out of the rail and attempted to put the luggage on while trying to contain Ahava from running in the street in front of us and behind us.  There were so many people around and no one came to my rescue.  I had Ahava squeezed between my legs and started trying to lift my big bag...the attendant said "wait" and looked at me half annoyed and lifted it up on the cart.  Ahava resumed her place on top of the cart and off I went to check-in with the United counter agent.  There were thousands of people there.  I waited in a long long line and finally got up to the counter and tried to operate the check-in machine, ended up asking for help and then lifting my luggage to the weighing scale.  Ahava is trying to break free now.  I am trying my best to corral her.  The guy barks over to me that I am a pound over and need to take stuff out and put it in my carry-on as if it were a completely easy thing to do at this point.  Crowds of people were behind me, but there I was busting open my bag (which for some reason I totally blanked out of the code to get in for a moment!!!!).  Of course my personal belongings were right on top!  Right?  Yikes...but this was no time to get embarrassed.  I had to shift and shift I tried.  Finally, I don't know if I truly accomplished the task or if the ticketing agents began to have mercy on me, but the bag was tagged and off.  I head to security.

No stroller, bags and wild child in hand, I approach the line and was told to go to the family check-in line.  I was kind of relieved because there was NO line!!  She asked for my tickets and ID and I begin unzipping the pocket allotted to the items and they weren't there!!!  I had to pay for my bag (yes...again!!!!) and I remembered putting them in my bag during the "great shuffle 2014" and I couldn't find them.  I get on the floor, trying to keep a limb on Ahava somehow and finally find them and look up to a HUGE line in front of me.  People are everywhere.  I wait my turn.  I am beginning to get discouraged.  I take out the water, get off my shoes and juggle once again across the security section.  They swab my hands...not sure why and check my water, we are good to go.  I'm dreaming of home now.  Really ready to be there.  I get re-grouped, shoes on and hunt for our gate.  It is in the satellite terminal, so we get in line for the shuttle, get packed in like sardines on the bus and walk up a 2 story flight of stairs to the terminal.  I buy some lunch and we find the nursery room to eat, change and get out some of Ahava's energy.  Our gate is right across the way.  The time approaches for our loading time but we are delayed.  I wasn't too worried since it was the last leg.  But it was delayed again.  I asked for a direct flight home, but there was no room. We had to get home via this neighboring city.  Finally we were ready to board.  The attendant allowed me to pre-board.  Ahava and I went down the ramp, outside, into the plane, scrubbed our section as we always do and waited to take off to home!!!  But...oh no....really???? They said there was a slight delay due to a potential oil leak and they were fixing it.  Maintenance people were opening the plane and checking the problem.  They attempted to fix it, closed the cabin door and ran the propeller to make sure, but the oil leak was still there.  They came on the loud speaker and told us we had to de-board the plane.  Ahava was bucking and crying at this point.  She was so ready to sleep.  So we went off, they gave us our gate-checked bags and we waited in the airport.  I had no milk for Ahava.  They said we just had to sit and see what happens.  I asked the gate attendant what to do and if there was any other way we could get home.  The next flight to this place was full (and the flight to home that was the next day was full as well).  I began worrying.  I went into the nursery room with Ahava and got on my knees and began praying.  I asked my "Daddy to come get me and bring me home."  I was so tired and my body was hurting and screaming "STOP!!"  I came out and an old lady gave Ahava a yogurt to eat.  She did eat most of it.  Thank you Jesus!  Then I heard the radio call in from the plane and say the plane has been repaired and that we could board again.  So we trudged back on and Ahava fell asleep before take-off.  We ended up waiting a good amount of time before we had runway clearance.  But finally we were up in the air.  Ahava was asleep and I just imagined being home.  Towards the end of the flight we hit a lot of turbulence.  We were nearing our destination.  The pilot said he would try and land, but if he couldn't we would have to go to a different airport.  He said we were making our decent.  I knew we were close because I could see the ground, but that was when the plane began bouncing up and down and sideways and I knew that I needed to begin praying.  So I prayed and sang and prayed some more.  I honestly was scared.  I began texting Bryan illegally.  I know, I know, but we were just about to land.  He said he could see us!!!!!!!!!!!!  He could see us!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yay!!!  I could taste home now, I could feel Bryan's arms around me, we could finally be together and this nightmare would be over with!!!  But we didn't land.  Oh didn't land.  In fact we kept going north, and north and north so much so, that we ended up in the next state. 

We landed in a state and place I had never been.  It was a tiny airport without proper food or any stores, one baggage claim area, and far far FAR away from anything and anyone I knew.  We exited the plane outside and I waited for my gate-checked bag.  It was cold.  They brought out the gate-checked bags and mine wasn't on the rack.  It had my medicine, glasses and contact stuff as well as all of Ahava's things for the airport.  The man said that all bags for gate-check needed a tag and he got all the ones with tags on it.  Mine must have fell off.  I told the man that I needed my bag now and that it matched my back-pack and actually told him over and over that I need it please and started crying. He walked over to the plane "trunk" and got it as easy as that.  I said "thank you thank you thank you" and just cried. A man walking off the plane took off his jacket and wrapped it around Ahava and asked to carry my bag.  Him and his wife walked inside with us.  Another small piece of God's Love hidden within the chaos...there as plain as day ready to be noticed, and I did, and my tears began to be one of thankfulness for this man beside me.  I began examining what to do now. At first they were not going to de-board us, make us wait on the plane for who knows how long and perhaps attempt to fly back.  SO thankful that didn't happen!!!  Bryan and I (through our texting) decided he would drive the 2.5 hours to come get us and was hopeully already on his way.  The reception is bad in this area and he was not responding to any of my calls or texts. If we headed back, Bryan would again be a long distance away and would not know where we were.  All I knew was that he was on his way and we needed to stay put.   I needed my checked-in bag, but until they knew what they were doing with the flight and if they would attempt to fly back to the original landing place where we were unable to do so because the 50 mph wind, they couldn't release them to us.  But they did end up cancelling the flight's return and so put our luggage on the baggage belt in the airport.  Ahava and I exited the terminal and waited for our bag.  It finally came out and we got it down.  Perhaps the Check-in people at the other airport were right, the bag was slightly overweight.  I changed Ahava's diaper and was now down to the last one and it was ON HER BODY  translation: HELP ME!!!!!!!!!  I had no snacks and no milk for her.  The little tiny "store" (if you could even call it that) only had nuts and candy.  I knew she was hungry and saw a Mom with a child  and thought, "hmmmm, should I ask?" and I decided I needed to because Ahava needed food.  I explained our situation and asked her if she had any snacks I could give Ahava.  I know!!!  I was really not wanting to do that, but I needed to for Ahava.  She didn't have any snacks, but her Mom that came to pick them up at the airport, had a juice box Horizon Milk.  I thanked them and put it in her cup.  I got a blanket out and set it on the ground.  I took out some of her toys and coloring things and we camped out and watched the crowds come and go as they collected their luggage.  We waited for Bryan to come rescue us.

Ahava then saw a little girl playing with a ball and if you know anything about her, SHE LOVES BALLS and promptly headed that way.  I met her Mom and explained how we were stuck there and she offered us a whole zip lock bag of snacks and gave us a whole pile of diapers!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank You Jesus!!!!!!!! He always Provides!!!! Ahava and I waited some more, had a little picnic and she ran around the whole area as if she knew we would be here a while and might as well get used to it.  Flashes of the movie with Tom Hanks in it called "Terminal" played in my mind.  I so desperately didn't want to eat saltine's with mustard and ketchup for the next week. Ahava saw a child and headed that way and we were talking with a young girl, when Bryan walked in the door!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I just hugged and hugged him tighter and was so relieved to see him! We gathered our things and packed them away and headed to the car where Gracey was waiting for us!!!!!  By now we were all so tired, but so happy to be with each other.  We hunted for dinner and then got on the road home.  It was a FIVE HOUR (yes, yes YES I said 5 HOURS!!!!!!) drive home on the windiest road you could ever imagine.  Gracey actually threw up on me 2 times during that drive home.  Ahava was upset for a while and I tried my best to calm her.  I knew the last place she wanted to be was strapped in a car, but we had no choice.  So there I was driving to a house I had never been in, thinking about how to get Ahava to her room and then me showered and to bed.  Ahava had never been "transferred" to her bed from anything, so I was truly praying she wouldn't wake up when we put her in a room to sleep that she had never even seen.  We planned it out pretty good though, and when we finally pulled up to the house at 10pm (which is midnight for Ahava and I) Bryan jumped out while Ahava and I stayed in the car and he got her bed and stuff all ready and we stepped out on our new drive way.  When we brought her in we changed her and got her to bed and she went back to sleep pretty good!

First picture in new house.  We
are so very blessed.
I had to shower whether I wanted to or not!  It was a must!  Bryan and Gracey were in bed now.  I was so happy to be home.  All was quiet within the house, a house that soon would be transformed into a home with laughter, worship, cooking and many adventures in the world the Lord has made. And although the tiredness pulled my body down, my heart beckoned me further and my spirit pricked with interpretation, nourishment and sharpening.  I got under the covers and waited upon the Lord.  I wanted to hear His Voice and He spoke to my spirit and told me oh so gently.

It was a matter of focus.  Every time I took my focus off from where I was going and why, I got overwhelmed, anxious and scared.  If I were to look around me in my current situation only without having focus on the end and being where I was going, it swallowed me up to where I felt like I couldn't do anything.  But when I made the decision to flip around my thinking and focused on where I was going (home!!!) I was able to gather
First walk in our new neighborhood
myself and try and do what needed to be done. The end result, getting home, made the difference between breaking down and trusting that God would eventually get us where we needed to go.  Just like the fact that we, as Believers, should cause our minds to focus and remember where we are going eternally and that life, itself, is just one big long trip to getting there. We must remember why and Who we live for, not what may be happening on the journey.  It will be full of ups and downs and times where we are being tossed and turned all different directions and you don't even know where you are, but knowing you have a home and it WILL BE  there when you get there, gives us strength.  We must focus on Eternity and being Home in the end with our Savior saying, "Well done good and faithful servant." Knowing the outcome on the trip grounded my emotions so I could think clearly in the midst of so much coming my way.  I knew I had a house, a family, a church family and the promises and Love of a Father waiting with new purpose for my life in this new place.  This can be a powerful tool against the *nemy in our lives as well.  We can find the strength to overcome ANY situations if we remember the goal and focus on where we are going.  We go toward the Light, toward our Savior and King, toward His Voice and His Truth.  God is amazingly beautiful and just like He told me during this ordeal," Olivia, I know where you are.  I know you don't know where you are, but I do, and I am your Daddy and I will take care of you."  As I laid in bed that night, I again felt these words penetrate my spirit and I relaxed in my Daddy's arms. It didn't  mean I did not struggle for the bulk of the trip, because I really did. But as I kept coming back to my focus of wanting to go home, it became bearable and it became joyous even at times.  God distinctly put some sweet surprises in my path as well that I could have ignored, but chose to attribute to His Love and provision.  I had to chose to open my eyes just like I did long ago when I had to find beauty in the smaller things in front of me (and there are SO many if we just stop, listen and look).  God never promised easiness along the road, but He did promise He would be there with us when the tough stuff happens.  We need to continue keeping focus on the end result, on heaven and on spending eternity with our King, Father and rescuer and stop just seeing what is in front of us that is causing pain, anger and fear.  It is a lesson I am still processing through my adventures getting here, but one I will not forget.  We have a great purpose and God Loves us as His children so much and is wanting to show you His Love in situations like these and He has a peaceful Home for us, a goal beyond any of our dreams.  He is good and I Praise HIS Name!!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Off the Charts CUTIE

So many things are happening lately that I only have a moment to post a couple pictures of Squirrel. She is such an amazing child!  FULL of happiness and joy.  She says so many words that I can't keep track of them anymore.  My favorite right now is her "hello" which sounds like "Looo" and sometimes has an "H" sounds to it.  She will take my cellphone (which she is convinced is really HERS and lets me borrow sometimes) holds it to her ear and says "Loo?" over and over.  It makes me laugh so hard.  We traveled to her doctor appointment check ups the other day and she weighed 19 1/2 pounds and that was ON THE GROWTH CURVE FOR HER NON ADJUSTED AGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoa!  She was at a 6% for her weight and height for a 20 month old.  If she was born on time, she would only be 16 months, but I feel like the gap is slowly closing to even having to refer to her non-adjusted age anymore.  Developmentally, she is beyond a 20 month old.  She is so very smart.  She knows her animal sounds, she can count, and name parts of her body!  She is a sponge right now.  Still, the best thing I see in her is a sensitivity to Jesus, worship, the animals and little creatures God made, music and dancing.  She lifts her hands in praise to God so many times.  When we were driving home from Fort Worth I put some worship on and looked back in the mirror and there she was with her hands raised in praise!  I want her to know Jesus more and more.

She was really dancing in this picture!!!!