2002: In flight to Las Vegas
Standing in the back of the plane during my first-ever four hour flight, I put my hands together like I was at a bluegrass revival service–yet nothing happened.
“No clap louder!”
This stewardess was nuts, I was doing exactly what she asked me to and that dang bathroom light was still on. So I put my elbows and my knees into it–a little butt action–and suddenly the entire back half of the plane broke out into laughter.
And this story is NOT even exaggerated–I swear on my life.
Perhaps it was because I asked her if the tiny toilet/sink compartment was the men’s room or the ladies room. Maybe it was from my previous white knuckled whimpers as we took off from the Kansas City International Airport; either way, this stewardess somehow knew I had no idea what I was doing.
And I assume she gathered from the people I was with (Shawn and our friend Scott) that I can take a joke. The same guys who brought us the Screaming Johnny’s prank, swear they had nothing to do this.
By the way–no matter what a stewardess tells you, the bathroom lights are NOT clappers. Don’t you dare clap-on or clap-off. JUST DON’T DO IT. It’s a trap!
Thing is, though, God knew what I needed in that moment. This unorthodox way was perfect for me and the laughter filling the back of the plane was exactly what I needed to calm my nerves.
God met me there–and on each trip since he has met me again and again.
Flight 87 to Mexico
2016: In flight to Rivera Maya, Mexico
As a 37 year old woman, and after already coming close to missing our flight because I forgot Shawn’s passport in between the jeep seats which was back at The Pear Tree Inn at our hotel in St. Louis (you can read about that in Part 1 of The Duncan’s In Mexico) by the time we boarded our flight to Mexico I was in no mood for jokes.
Honestly, I was terrified of landing in another country. People do this everyday–and I know that–but this was new to me. And with social issues and terrorism flooding the news, I was afraid. I just was, even though there was no actual threat I was facing.
But I knew God would meet me in the clear waters of the Caribbean, just like he did in the Atlantic six years ago.
Finally on the plane and you can’t see it but between my knees was a cup of hot coffee which was true reason for my smile. I was a frazzled mess of nerves after the passport incident and the fact that we could possibly die on the plane.
A Florida Road Trip
Our first ocean bound, 17 hour, road trip to Daytona Beach Florida happened after we agreed to a short low-pressure meeting about a timeshare.
It was our first family road trip, taken in the middle of potty training a three year old.
It was basically an 1,100 mile scenic tour of bathroom facilities from Missouri to Florida with one Olive Garden detour. From roadside parks to gas stations (and one especially urgent situation involving the freeway and use of a 7-11 Big Gulp cup) we experienced American culture through regional bathrooms and local gas station attendants.
When the Duncan’s finally entered the House of Travel, the door announced our arrival with a “BING BONG” and three unimpressed individuals watched as the entire family melted down right in front of their eyes.
Logan began to short circuit on the floor, spinning around on his head, running into walls, and laughing like a psycho. Connor, who successfully maintained dry pants for 1,100 miles, smiled and peed down his leg onto a vanilla scented rug.
Stranded in the Atlantic
Not that I think any of the above craziness had anything to do with what I am about to say happened, but I can’t imagine that these three people weren’t too upset when they informed me that my debit card was not sufficient for the time share offer. Not that we didn’t have money on it, but because it is a debit card attached to our checking account rather than an actual credit card.
No one mentioned this to us until we were 17 hours from home with nowhere to stay.
We didn’t budget for a hotel in Florida because we were told it was free. With the kids screaming in the backseat, my tears blurred palm tree lined streets.
Then God dried my eyes and reminded he was in control.
I didn’t even have to see it to know it was there.
I could feel it.
Life became still as wave heaped upon wave, and my eyes were overwhelmed with his glory. The horizon was void of any man-made creation other than a few sails flapping in the wind.
We pulled over and with my children in my now wet arms from a pee-soaked Connor, I praised God for choosing the perfect moment in which to allow me to see this.
As the tide crept close to our toes, and in the midst of fear and concern for the future, God met me right there in the tide.
Daytona Beach Florida. Baby Logan, Connor and Shawn.
God always introduces his glory into our most hopeless moments.
As waves of stress heap over waves of frustration, oceans of trouble often overwhelm our view, but we must continually gather together and come before Him to recognize the power of His design.
Peace filled my heart and praise filled my lungs, even though I had no idea where we would be staying–I knew whose hands we were in. God purposely reminded me of this before Shawn realized we had over budgeted our gas expenses which gave us just enough to purchase a two-night stay at the fabulous Budget Inn (possibly mafia run–with two cheek kisses upon check-in) located right on the Atlantic shore.
Landing in Mexico
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to begin our final descent into the Cancun airport. Thanks again for flying American Airlines.”
My brain works 24 hours a day to successfully drive me nuts. It doesn’t take vacations when we do, it takes the opportunity to work harder. Even with alll the possibilities of death floating in my brain–maybe the travel agents waiting for us at the airport are impostors seeking ransom–I dared to look down.
Looking down on the Earth, I realized this is must be how God sees it. So small while he is big, yet he cares enough to zoom in on our tiny little lives and make them matter.
Tears streamed down my face as I grabbed Shawn’s hand (who was honestly looking at me like I was insane and I’m used to that) but I have to tell you, this meant something to me.
This was big–it was so big.
God met me in the sky over the Caribbean. He breathed peace in my heart and reminded me that fear was not of him, and that while life would not always be perfect–absolutely perfect moments like this one were a gift from Him. I cherished it with everything I had.
From breaking it down in the back of a plane to Vegas (clap-on clap-off), to wading into the Atlantic waters stranded and far away from home, to descending into an unfamiliar country, God taught me trust and abandon.
And the days that followed were filled with adventures, and even though fear still gripped my heart (tarantulas in the jungle!) I kept on doing everything that scared me and God never failed to show up.
It was the trip of a lifetime.
To read the other two stories in this series: