I heard this after my flights to visit family - “How can you not see God in every little thing, in every little moment?” It was a meaningful phrase in a great song by Leanna Crawford that I heard last Monday while picking up some groceries. I’d just gotten home after a 12-hour delayed flight, and thought, how fitting… especially after my trip to see some of my family the end of June.
I was nervous about going through the airports... 1) Elmira to Detroit to Nashville, 2) Nashville to Minneapolis, and 3) Minneapolis to Detroit to Elmira... and sure enough, we had a hitch, or should I echo a friend calling it a hiccup. I'd prayed before leaving home that God would guide me through the maze of huge terminals, cities unto themselves, and He answered my prayer way better than I could have dreamed!
Friday, June 23 – As a sub, was invited to attend a breakfast staff meeting at the middle school. I heard the principal speak kind words about someone… which turned out to be me… greatly surprised, I promptly forgot everything she’d said, next congratulating a friend and fellow sub sitting next to me for her own award. Then it was home to recheck my backpack, with my sister-in-law Diane and her husband Mark driving me to the airport. Elmira/Corning Regional Airport is small, updated a few years back, easy to get around in, but there was still an underlying nervousness about flying. Yes, I’ve flown before… alone in 2004 to CA to help Emily move to SD, with Ed in 2006 to Sioux Falls, SD for Em’s graduation with her master’s, and in 1980 we took toddler Jenn to visit my family in Texas, but, still… I was very nervous about getting lost in the big city airports.
Enter a nice couple who sat near me as we exchanged smiles and greetings. They chose to sit near me again after we ran the gauntlet of x-rays filming our bodies and belongings. Striking up a conversation, I learned they were flying from their home on Keuka Lake to Texas to visit a daughter. Long story short, our words tipped each other off that we were all Christians. They knew Spencer well as their grandson works at Renovation House rehabilitation center! They eagerly gave advice on what to do, where to go, and how to get help in the huge terminals… very welcome advice that I put to good use! My seatmate to Detroit was a young man heading off to study bio-engineering in England.
Safely arriving at Nashville late on the 23rd, got help from those in uniform for where to exit the building to find my niece Nina who easily found me! It was awesome to see her and Chris and their three children, Teagan, Kinley and Nadiya, and to visit with my brother Charlie and wife Monica, both with recent health issues, keeping them in my prayers. Chris and Nina’s coffee shop in Lebanon, TN, Split Bean Roasting Company (website sells their different flavors), has a welcoming, down-home atmosphere. Their menu includes delicious coffee made with Chris’s coffee-grinding expertise, soft drinks, sweet treats, soups, and breakfast fare, wishing I could eat and drink from their specialties to give a 5-star rating. And then we learned they were just ranked 4th in the top 10 best coffee shops in the entire state of Tennessee! Congratulations and way to go, Chris and Nina!!
On the 25th, I was returned to the Nashville airport for my flight to Minneapolis, another major hub. As the seats at the gate filled up, a young man sat near me. He struck up a conversation, learning he’d been in Lebanon to visit his sister, where I’d visited Nina and her family, returning home to his wife and kids in Minneapolis. He was involved in his church’s prison ministry, bringing the Gospel to prisoners, assisting those being released in learning to support themselves on re-entering society.
At the airport, Nick and Emily picked me up in the 3rd of 4 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving 1-1/2 hours home to Sauk Rapids. We took day trips, like walking through Munsinger & Clemens Gardens, home to beautiful floral gardens spread out over 20 acres along the Mississippi River in St. Cloud, across the river from the university where Nick is a math professor. You know I want to go back and admire the amazing beauty again, thinking maybe I could transplant a few ideas to my own gardens!
I also visited a distant McNeill cousin, Marjorie and her husband John. They gave me a tour of Northfield’s St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges, beautiful campuses from which Marjorie retired as librarian. They showed me the bank, now museum, in Northfield where the James/Younger Gang and compatriots attempted to rob the safe in 1876. Jesse and Frank James fled while others were either killed or later captured, bullet holes still visible in the outside bank walls. Inside the museum, sharing with staff that I was from Upstate New York, south of Ithaca, a gentleman overheard me, saying he has family at Cornell University, and has driven through my town of Spencer! Marjorie and John’s home is beautifully arrayed with family antiques (a living museum), and a unique dumbwaiter John (an engineer) had made between the kitchen and lower patio, all while showing me their welcoming friendship.
Home with Em again, we walked around the pond behind their property, seeing ducks, a pair of Sandhill cranes, played games with my Grands, and watched special National Park shows. We walked along the Mississippi, and toured Sauk Rapids’ Benton County Museum. It was the only house in the large community to survive the F4 tornado on April 14-15, 1886 which destroyed every building, bridge and railroad track, leaving the city stranded with no way in and no way out for a time. Killing 72 people in its path, it’s the deadliest tornado on record in Minnesota. That house survived due to its uniquely-built granite walls with an air space between two adjacent walls of solid granite stones. We visited the small but well-kept Pine Grove Zoo in Little Falls, thoroughly enjoying the variety of animals. After a relaxing picnic lunch in the primeval pine grove next to the zoo, we drove to Charles Lindbergh’s home/museum also in Little Falls, his favorite place growing up, set on the banks overlooking the Mississippi, watching newsreels about him and his solo flight across the Atlantic to Paris, learning more than I had previously known about him and his family.
Saying goodbye… I spent over 18 hours in the Detroit airport for my flight home to Elmira with delay after delay, finally getting home late Monday morning instead of Sunday evening. But in the waiting, I met a sweet lady. Sitting next to me, I learned Joy was from California, flying east to visit her daughter who lives 5 minutes from the Elmira airport! We shared stories of our lives, finding we had much in common, also sharing our Christian faith. Her family and home had survived the 2018 Carr Fire in northern California, as they helped others in the neighborhood who lost everything, including some who lost loved ones.
Another lady walked past me who looked very familiar, but I just couldn’t place her, so I decided to just go ask. Connie recognized me, told me who she was, and it was an aha moment! I knew her years ago as Ed’s mom’s hairdresser who lived locally, was widowed, remarried, now living in North Carolina, on the same flight to visit her daughter here who I also know! And then we met a young man and his wife with 2 kids from Newfield whose dad drove bus with my Aunt Lois for many years! Trust me, we all had a great time chatting and laughing together! Small world indeed!
Remember I said God blessed me more than I could have imagined on this trip? Not only with special family time, and getting to sit in “my” old saddle from years ago when riding War Bugg, but spending the night together, we 3 ladies shared stories of how God blessed our lives despite major difficulties we had each dealt with. We chose to ignore the negativity of a lady who emphasized we’d have a lot of trouble trying to get flights out, while I and others instead thanked the one crew member and desk clerk for their helpful kindnesses. We three supported each other and spent the night at Gate 35, keeping each other awake overnight, charging our phones, chatting about our families and life in general.
Though our Monday 8 a.m. flight to Elmira was delayed for an hour, boarding and lift-off went smoothly, and we were all very thankful to be heading home. Now it’s hard to believe my trip was ending just a week ago, the reward I’d looked forward to as the school year drew to a close.
I was so impressed and thankful for the many ways God blessed me with just the right person at just the right time… and for the blessings of visiting with family! After getting home, picking up some groceries, I took a much-needed nap… not something I’m fond of doing. Sleeping for 4-1/2 hours, I woke up with a start at 5:30 p.m., wondering whose room this was and where I was! Interesting tricks your mind can play when sleep has eluded you for too many hours… and home life resumed its normal routine, finishing two purse orders, baking for our local farmer’s market, enjoying each simple day back home. God bless you this week in all you do, too!