Monday, February 4, 2013

~Christmas Chaos or Blessing~? :)

~I've come to the conclusion that no matter what happens in life, one can either view an event as "chaotic" or "blessed", depending on the shade of glasses s/he's wearing!   :)
   No worries- our Christmas get-together with Richard's family in Springfield, Missouri was wonderful and lots of fun!! Our children had a BLAST playing with their cousins and visiting with grandma & grandpa Sorrell. We were able to see Christi & Derek's beautiful home they recently moved into, and an adorable Golden Retriever puppy at Matt's house (he raises Goldens).
Christmas was a lovely day enjoying good food and talking with family.
Richard & I would celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in February, but planned an anniversary trip to Sedona, Arizona during Christmas break. We thought it would be the "perfect" time for a trip. No school; kids could play with their cousins and spend more time with far away grandparents .....we were all set and ready to leave on an airplane the day after Christmas.

~Christmas night, chaos (or blessing) happened with one text message~
Richard received a text from our airline, that our flight the next morning had been canceled. After some hunting, we discovered it was because the Dallas airport had 2 inches of snow (being from the MidWest, this was rather frustrating).
The next available flight out of Springfield, Missouri, was two days later.
Richard debated between canceling our trip altogether (didn't want to wait that long for flight), or traveling to Tulsa's airport to catch an "out-of-the-way" flight to Atlanta (avoiding Dallas), on our way to Phoenix, Arizona.
During this decision-making process, I held myself together really well ... because people were watching.  I'm thankful we weren't at HOME, where I would have been tempted to pout. haha!!   :)   :)   We all act better when we're not at home- I'll admit it!!!!

~Richard's final decision was to drive to Tulsa the next morning, and catch the out-of-the-way flight to Atlanta~
I had been on an internal emotional roller coaster, wondering whether or not we were leaving on a trip, or returning home to Illinois. So when we took off for Tulsa, leaving the kids behind, I was slightly in shock.   :)  Should I be happy? Should I be disappointed that we didn't fly out of Springfield?  I decided to be happy.

~Once at the Tulsa airport, the airline workers at check-in gave us a hard time since we had changed airlines~
We arrived in Tulsa 2 hours before our scheduled flight, and ended up spending that whole time arguing with airport check-in people. Well .... Richard was the one dealing with them.
I was calmly (haha!) reading. I was tempted to be anxious or get upset, so I refused to watch or listen to what was going on. I buried my nose inside my new One Thousand Gifts book, by Ann Voskamp, and attempted to concentrate on the words I was reading.
Let's see... naming daily, ordinary things (or events) as "gifts", because today is a gift. A gift from God. Really?... Hmm... I read & prayed silently.
I periodically glanced up to see what Richard was doing. He had gone back and forth between airline counters four times (each counter). A manager finally came to the airline counter and fixed everything. We were ready to move on. Was I going to complain about the airport workers and that it ONLY took us an hour (or was it two) to move through check-in?
I thought it was best keeping my mouth shut, and just walk through security. The hassle during check-in was a "gift", I told myself.  :)   :)
We grabbed a bite to eat, found our gate, and then waited for our flight.

~The flight ended up delayed ... so we waited for 2 hours~
I struck up conversations with a couple different ladies, and we talked about the delays at the airport. I learned there were delayed and canceled flights everywhere; it had affected lots of people (not just us). One lady asked what I was reading. I hesitated telling I was counting my "gifts" .... so I  gave a general overview and told about the author. Looking back, I should have said more, but I honestly was in the middle of a "life lesson", and my tongue was tied.  Honestly!! The back cover of the book says in bold letters, "Wake up to a thousand blessings"~

~We breathed a little easier once we were on the plane ...we were a little closer to our destination~
The layover in Atlanta went smoothly, considering we had missed the plane we were suppose to be on (because of flight delay in Tulsa).
We left Atlanta around 10:10PM, and discovered we were riding FIRST CLASS!!!  Woohoo!  What a GIFT for them not to know where else to put us! :)  :)
I also continued to read One Thousand Gifts, and thanked God for His blessings on the trip so far (I admit that I also prayed for the pilot to drive safely).

~We arrived in Phoenix, 12:30 AM, Mountain Time (2:30 our time in Illinois)~
Richard & I were very tired (& hungry) as we walked into Phoenix's airport. We waited for our luggage at baggage claim.
My suitcase arrived with one wheel completely torn off; there was a 6 inch gaping hole in my suitcase. I was thankful nothing had fallen out, since the lining was still intact.
We waited for Richard's suitcase. Suddenly, a large, tall man grabbed a suitcase from the conveyor thingy- without looking at the tags--and briskly walked away. Richard & I both saw the man. Richard started after him, saying, "Excuse me, sir", but later told me that there had been an unfamiliar airline sticker on the suitcase, which made Richard think it may have indeed been the man's baggage ( and why he didn't pursue after him).
We waited and waited ... longer .... and longer.... until all the left-over baggage was taken to the baggage claim office.
Richard looked at me, and I looked back at him. We thought the same thing.
That man had indeed taken off with Richard's suitcase. "I don't have a good feeling about this," Richard said.
We spent more time waiting at baggage claim. The man's phone number was traced, but there was no answer, and no voicemail to leave a message. Richard copied down the man's number so he could try calling later. Richard would not have his suitcase yet- what to do, what to do!

It was ONLY a tad after 3AM our time, and we were both SO tired!
Richard walked through the airport without his suitcase, and scraped my broken suitcase along behind him (a suitcase with one wheel doesn't roll). I tried to think of something encouraging to say. I finally concluded that at least I HAD my suitcase. That was a great GIFT, right??

~2:30AM Phoenix time, waiting outside the airport for a shuttle to pick us up~
It had been a long time since we had been awake that time of night.
We felt like little kids again .... then realized we were the only ones standing in the median, still waiting for the hotel's shuttle. Richard made several calls on his iphone.
The shuttle driver finally arrived (after 30-45 minutes), once he discovered we were in a different location than where he had first assumed.  I later decided I had never (in 15 years) seen Richard so frustrated with customer service.
~We finally dropped into bed around 3AM Phoenix time~Exhausted! Only to discover the heater wasn't working~
We were asked if we wanted to change rooms. We told them to just bring us extra blankets~   :)  :)  :)
Yes- our GIFT was that we had finally arrived in Arizona safe & sound!!

Yes, I count the chaos as "gifts" ... crazy times teach us something that nothing else will.  :)  :)
~I'll share more photos next post~

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