My eye’s flicked open and I was awake. I shouldn’t have been though. Just three short hours earlier I had finally wrapped up the final must-do item on my trip prep list and flopped down on my bed. In the moments before I drifted off to sleep I wondered if my phone’s alarm would ring out loud even with its “Do Not Disturb” mode engaged. So I whispered a simple prayer: “Father, wake me gently right before my alarm.”
I thought planning this trip would be the biggest challenge before we left. I discovered, that hands down, shutting ones life down for six weeks trumped the scheduling. Every time I crossed one item off the list, two more would take its place. It wasn’t until the last night that items finally seemed willing to give up their place in the queue to empty space. When the last buckle snapped shut on my backpack I knew I had beaten the list but at the cost of sleep.
So when I finally hit the sack early Saturday morning I knew I’d be in deep slumber when 5:15 rolled around. But after my prayer, I didn’t worry about waking up. And sure enough Father gave me a gentle nudge. As I lay there in the pre-dawn darkness I wondered how close it was to wake-up time. The thought had barely formed when, sure enough, I confirmed that “Do Not Disturb” doesn’t silence the alarm.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed; it was time to travel. As I stood up, my swirling head confirmed the lack of sleep, but I smiled and relaxed. Father is present and he cares enough to wake me on time so this adventure gets rolling on schedule. The children have been at a fever pitch of excitement for several weeks building to a crescendo in the days leading up to blast-off. I didn’t want to screw up the first day. No worries! That waking nudge was the best gift I could have received here at the beginning.
It was Father’s confirmation that even here, at 36,000 feet over the western Pacific, His Spirit is with us as we cover the final three and half hours into Sydney. And that is my goal for this trip…that each of the children experience His presence, knowing that this is indeed our Father’s world. So my prayer is the same as two nights ago: “Gently wake us up Father to the reality of your presence. Let us respond to your nudge and let your Spirit guide us along the way.”
And now, eleven hours and 6000 miles from LAX the children are doing great at adapting to international long haul travel. Matthew’s biggest thrill has been receiving the free sleep mask. He’s sacked out next to me with his neck pillow and mask in place. He wakes periodically, shaking me from my reverie and asks again, “Do I get to keep this mask?” He responds to my yes with a grin, a fist pump and then he snaps it down in place and flops to one side. He hasn’t been pestering at all, just cute as a button in his Star Wars PJ’s as he takes in the wide-body jet with wide eyes.
The flights from Austin to LA were smooth and on time and we arrived at my sister Amy’s house excited to see her family. The cousins spent the entire 36 hours in constant motion and play of one sort or another. I thankfully got a full night’s sleep and Sunday’s dawn promised a perfect SoCal day. It didn’t disappoint. Our time together closed with an early Thanksgiving meal whipped up by Amy. Thanksgiving of course isn’t celebrated in Australia so stuffing ourselves with stuffing was nourishing to body and soul.
Our checkin for the fifteen hour flight to Sydney couldn’t have been smoother. No lines and twice more I was reminded of Father’s presence before we even cleared security. During checkin, the lady working the desk said, “Only four?” as she cast a glance at the children. Yes, only four. “I come from a family of eight siblings” she noted positively. How nice… “only four” is typically a comment reserved for home-school conventions. Usually people are gasping at four. This was just a little reassurance that Father’s favor doesn’t worry about family size.
Then just a few short minutes later one of the TSA officers took a shine to my little flock as we loaded our bins to go through xray. “Dad, are these your fine boys? And those lovely ladies too? Beautiful family sir. What a blessing! Step right this way”…and he whisked us through the simple metal detector instead of the full-body scanner. Nice!
As we settled on the plane I realized Matt and I sat in the wrong row. We had to move forward…to a bulkhead row. Three feet of leg room. No one reclining in my face. No extra cost! Yes! And the checkin lady had blocked out the seat next to us so the five of us have six seats between us in which to spread out. Yep, the nudging continues.
Sunset was in North America. Sunrise will occur on Australia. Yet we’ve never left His hand.
B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…Its a way of life.