*This post is an accounting of our journey of being stranded in Atlanta. It is long because I don't want to forget who helped us or how we saw God take care of us. Please do not feel obligated to read all the details!
Snow! Snow! It is going to snow! It seems when the forecast calls for snow in Alabama everyone is excited. People run to the store and stock up on the essentials (bread and milk), the local weather blog (www.alabamawx.com) slows down due to heavy traffic mode, and we gather up snow gear so we are prepared to play in the white snow.
This time, though, snow meant so much more to us as Giann and I had a trip planned to the mountains of Colorado. We thought we would be more worried about snow in Colorado at this time of the year. Never it did cross our minds that snow in Alabama would affect our plans. Upon seeing the forecast, we alter our return trip to try to "beat" the winter storm and its effects.
It wasn't to be.
As our pastor says...."God is Sovereign. Delta is responsible."
At least for the first leg of our return trip. Delta was late arriving into Denver. Thus, they were late leaving...which made us miss our connecting flight into Birmingham on Sunday night. Which, by the way, was the LAST flight that landed at the Birmingham airport Sunday.
Yes...I know. God is Sovereign.
And it took Delta 3+ hours to cancel our flight. They actually boarded our plane, changed pilots (ours timed out), and then cancelled the flight. It was after midnight Sunday night. We got off the plane...thankful all we had was carry-on luggage...and made our way down the concourse.
I called Craig and said find us a hotel room. Of course, because it was so late and we were one of the last flights to be cancelled, ALL the hotels around the airport were full.
Naturally. God is Sovereign. Delta is responsible. (I am not dogging Delta. Just was frustrated at the time. Very frustrated.)
As Craig was online and on the phone, we sat down and I began to pray. "Lord, we are tired. We have been up and traveling for a long time. One of our sessions on Saturday was about wrestling prayers and your Sovereignty. I am wrestling but I am tired of wrestling. Just move. "
Craig secured us a room but we had to take a taxi.
IF taxis were running. It was now 12:30-45 a.m.
We located someone in uniform on the concourse....Atlanta Fire and Rescue personnel. Very helpful men who advised that some were running and directed us where to go.
We made our way to the trams and rode to the main terminal. We found "Ground Transportation Information Desk". No one was in line. And there sat an Atlanta Police Officer. We asked for additional information and she advised that the taxi line was OUTSIDE and it was over an HOUR WAIT. She asked me to try a different hotel that may have a shuttle running so I did as she asked.
It didn't work.
In the meantime, an elderly hispanic couple appeared needing help. She spoke fluent Spanish! She was helping them and us. Pretty soon, she said, "Come on. I am going to take you both to the taxis myself and see if I can get someone I personally know to take you to your hotel." Did you catch that?
She personally escorted us to the taxi line, bypassed the 35+ people in the line, took us straight to the person coordinating who got the next taxi, and had him get us a taxi. We were outside less than 10 minutes!
Coincidence? Hardly. God is Sovereign.
Arrived at our hotel at 2:45 a.m. Greeted by friendly staff who found herself working overtime and stuck at the hotel.
Felt like we had arrived at a temporary refuge.
Coincidence? Hardly. God is Sovereign.
Monday...all flights out of Atlanta are cancelled. Roads are closed here and no way we could get to the airport if we needed to anyway. Major accidents everywhere...interstates are closed...they project close to 1000 semi-trucks are going to spend the night on I285 (the loop around Atlanta) due to icing and accidents.
Food...breakfast is provided at the hotel but nothing else is here. No in hotel restaurant and the only restaurant within walking distance is about a block away. However walking is very icy.
Enters "Welcome". The General Manager at this restaurant. That is his first name - I promise. Mr. Welcome has gone out to secure food for his staff that is stuck here as well and will be spending the night. Remember the girl who greeted us at 2:45 am? she is back on duty. I ask for help re: food and she says Mr. Welcome is all about customer service and would probably help us. She calls him on his cell and he picks up food for Giann and myself. Upon his return, he is concerned that it is going to be enough for us. His concern is genuine and he doesn't appeared bothered by our request.
Genuine concern. Truly an answer to prayer because when you are in need and the one asking for help it is more difficult to ask when you think you are putting someone out or you perceive they really do not want to help you.
Monday night, as Craig and I talk through options for getting home, we realize that things are looking dim. Atlanta is in an awful mess and projections for this area did not look favorable either. So, we agree to reassess early Tuesday morning.
Today arrives and we start to assess the situation. Craig calls someone he works with that lives a little farther east from where we are to obtain some better information re: the roads, etc. There seems to be a small window of time that if Craig can get in here, we could get out. But the recommendation is to only come in a 4WD truck. Ummm... we don't have one of those.
Again, God is Sovereign. You see...He wove our hearts together over ten years ago with some dear friends who do have one and not only that, who wouldn't let Craig come alone. So as I post this, our Knights are not coming on a white horse to save these two damsels in distress!
Our Rescuers are coming in a 4WD pickup to save two very tired, but thankful, modern day women who much prefer a pickup than a sweaty ol' horse anyway.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
A great Hawaiian saying is "Imua!" which means to move forward with confidence and courage. It's a great word for the upcoming new year as we explore new opportunities and perhaps face fears.
This week, I put into practice "imua" by facing my fear of ziplining. Yes, I stepped off a wooden platform to soar across 1800 feet of the world's fifth largest caldera located in Kauai. Encouraged by my teenage daughters, I faced my fear of not being in control of my destiny and took a leap of faith.
The excellent guides, Mitch and Chris of Outfitters Kauai prepared us well for our ultimate "black diamond" zipline adventure. We did several practice runs on what I thought were "big ziplines" but little did I know what was really awaiting. The guides constantly reminded us that the most important lesson we all needed to learn to be safe was to "trust our gear."
True wisdom that I needed to hear. For too long in life, I have "held on tightly" when what I should have done was to "let go and let God." He provides "the gear" that we need to sustain us through the difficult moments of life as we soar across jungles.
So I guess my advice would be this: "Face your fear and trust God's gear." IMUA!!
What fear do you need to face this year? What have you been holding on too tightly? What does "imua" mean to you?
Margaret McSweeney is the founder of Pearl Girls (www.pearlgirls.info), the host of Kitchen Chat (http://margaretmcsweeney.com/kitchen-chat/), and an author. Her book, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, was published in 2009. Margaret is fast at work on a fiction manuscript (or three) and can be found blogging at From Finance to Fiction (http://fromfinancetofiction.blogspot.com).