wait is a four letter word

3 oclockThe alarm went off at 3:00 AM, only a few hours after my head hit the pillow. Begrudgingly, I forced myself awake and moving to catch the 6:00 AM flight. At least the effort and pain of this early hour meant we would arrive to Albuquerque by 10:30 AM and enjoy a full day with my sister and my dad.

The departure to Houston was uneventful. We even received upgrades for that first flight, and we were about to arrive on time when the tower denied our landing because of fog in the area. The pilot first communicated that we would circle above the airport and wait for permission to land. Fifteen minutes later, the pilot informed us that we did not have enough fuel to wait any longer, and we would have to land at a nearby airport.

That detour cost approximately 60 minutes in the air there and back and another 40 minutes on the ground for re-fueling. Our connecting flight was long gone by then. Oh well, we thought, we could just wait for the airline to re-book us on the next flight.

When the automatic re-booking option came through on my phone, we would be arriving in Albuquerque… at 11:00 PM(!) with a detour through Denver. UGH! Basically the whole day lost, WAITING, sitting around in airports. Not my idea of fun.

We stopped at a service desk to check for better options, and I asked some friends to pray that we might find an earlier flight. The texts back and forth from my friends made me laugh and lightened the mood. In addition, they offered suggestions for using the waiting time:

  • Rest and relax
  • Stop at Starbucks 🙂
  • Eat something
  • Write a blog post on waiting!

We also walked, shopped, read, and enjoyed some “Face-Time” with our children. We eventually found an 8:00 PM arrival. All in all, the day was long, but we were safe and not much changed as a result. It did not take much effort to fill the time, and it helped to not get angry or irritated with people or circumstances along the way.

I remembered – once again – interruptions and delays are an inevitable part of life. We wait for relationships, jobs, disease cures, prodigal children to come home, and bucket-list dreams to come true. I can’t control them, but I can control my attitude as I wait.

How do you handle interruptions and delays in your life?


Photo credit: amyvdh / Foter / CC BY-NC

one night stand

empty airport

I looked forward to the family wedding get-together for months. All of my children would arrive from different locations for a few precious days of fun and celebration. We arranged for my two daughters’ flights to arrive close to ours for convenient pick-ups at the airport. We planned connecting flights with an hour between – just enough time to make it to the new gate; not too much time waiting around in airport lobbies. All details considered. Everything under control.

Ha! I should have know better. It is never that easy…

My husband and I departed on our first flight 20 minutes late. We ran to our next gate – we are too old for that – but sprinted on our flight just in time. Our luggage was not as fortunate.

My oldest daughter learned at check-in that her flight was re-routed to another city, and her connection would arrive a few hours later than planned. Not that big of an inconvenience – just an unplanned additional trip to the airport. We would be going to pick up our luggage anyway.

It was my “baby” who had the hardest time. Her first flight also departed late for some unknown reason. Although she and two others from her flight rushed through the airport for the connection and arrived with 10 minutes to spare, an impending storm motivated the crew to take off 10 minutes early(!)… and leave those three passengers behind.

IMG_0678My girl called out-of-breath and frustrated as she waited in line for a seat assignment on the next flight out. So began our saga. The plane was supposed to take off in a few hours, but as a dark, windy, torrential rain came down, the flight was delayed… and delayed… and delayed again. Finally, a gate change, new pilot, and many hours later, she texted me that she had boarded her flight. (Sigh of relief!)

But… a few minutes later, a call confirmed the worst. The pilot announced on the plane that he already had too many hours for the day. He could not fly that night… and neither could the passengers.

Everyone grumbled as they packed up belongings and left the plane to form long, angry lines at the gate desks to check on options… for the next day. By the time my daughter received a seat on a flight – for 6:00 PM (!), it was the middle of the night. Many others were stranded. Every nearby hotel was full, and I did not want her leaving the airport alone.

The airport would be her refuge. Grateful for a few piled airport blankets in the empty halls, my sweet girl made a bed in a corner that she assured me was lit and safe. I promised to keep the phone by my ear. I could “only” pray, nothing more. I don’t like that. Neither of us slept much. Morning could not come fast enough.

IMG_0681Around 6:00 AM, a fellow McDonald’s patron warmly greeted her with, “You look like you slept here last night too”.  At least she had company, and food, and a list of stand-by flights to attempt before the evening.

Once again, we tracked each flight with apps and text messages and emotion until – miraculously – she boarded the second stand-by flight and was on her way to the party!

I was thrilled to meet her at the airport with a big hug! I was also very proud of her level head, stable emotions, good attitude, and instinctive wisdom in adapting to the change of plans.

I wish I could say I always respond that well!

How do you handle changes and out-of-control situations?