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I really like to travel. Let me clarify: I especially like to travel when the travel involves an airplane. I love to fly. It may sound odd to some, but I just enjoy the whole experience. And I should probably do some more clarifying here: when I say “whole experience” I’m talking about arriving early enough to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks with my daughter, raid the magazine rack at the little shop by our gate, then sit and sip while we wait for our boarding call.

Obviously there are things that are not so appealing when it comes to flying. There are the long lines when you are trying to check your bag at 3:05AM but American Airlines doesn’t open their counters until 3:30AM. Then there is the frustration of trying to get to your gate via the shuttle at 3:45 AM, but the airport counters don’t open until 4:00AM. So, of course, no one is there to let you through. Then there was that time you were TSA PreCheck (praise Him!!!) and you set off the security alarm because your beautiful, creative daughter decided to up the comfort-factor in her travel pillow by inserting an aromatherapy satchel inside it. Apparently on that security screen that aromatherapy satchel looked a lot like something else, and TSA was doing its best to save all of those on our flight from the dangerous effects of lavender and vanilla. Traveling friends, it is NEVER a good idea to put a satchel of aromatherapy in your travel pillow if you are planning to go through TSA. You have been warned. I have never felt so thoroughly checked in all my life.

Then, certainly, you are not a true traveler until your bags have been lost. Check. We were heading to New York, a dream come true for both me and Abby. We flew into La Guardia on an evening flight and made our typical bathroom break after we got off the plane, then headed straight to get our luggage. We watched familiar faces from our flight getting their bags off the belt, and kept thinking “Okay, ours will be next…” but ours never did arrive on that belt. So off to customer service we went, only to discover that our bags had decided to go to North Carolina instead of New York. It was getting later, and we still had to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel. They gathered all my information and told us our bags should be delivered some time overnight. As there was nothing further we could do, we loaded into a taxi and headed to our hotel in Manhattan. After many phone calls to the airline, the taxi company that was delivering our bags, and the hotel front desk - our bags finally arrived around 2:30PM the next day. We were obviously thankful they arrived, but it was quite frustrating they were lost in the first place.

So, sure. There are things that aren’t fabulous about flying. Nonetheless, if I could board a plane every week to go somewhere, I would. There is something so freeing and adventurous about it. Something about sitting on the plane is very relaxing to me. It’s like a mandatory “be still” for the length of your flight…not only physically, but mentally as well. I like to look at magazines and also read my book that I’ve chosen for that particular trip. Sometimes I try to catch up on some sleep if I’ve had a rude 2:00AM wake-up call. Other times I just like to sit there. No phone, no magazine, no book. Just me and my thoughts. Pulled back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, forced to be still at a cruising altitude of 36,000 feet.

Most recently, on a flight headed home, I found myself being still, staring out the window at the vast stretch of white fluffy clouds that always look so inviting…the little girl in me imagines what it would feel like to dance across them and how soft they would feel under my bare feet as I floated through them. Does anyone else have these thoughts? I mean you’re just so close to them when you’re up so high, I just want to reach out and touch one of them. Anyhow, back to me staring out the window at the clouds. Abby was asleep. I had thumbed through every magazine within reach, and read as much as my tired eyes would allow. The use of my phone was gone, so the flippant check of Instagram, Facebook, e-mails and texts was off the table. I was definitely tired but not tired enough to drift off. With a good stretch still left in my flight, there I sat, with nothing but my thoughts. As my thoughts began rolling around in my head, I found myself reflecting on how faithful God has been to me and the the goodness He has flooded my life with. I recalled seasons where past mistakes had tried to steer my life in the opposite direction of what God had for me, but I wasn’t filled with regret as I sat looking at those clouds out the window. When I thought of those seasons, my heart welled up with gratitude because I could see the precious Hand of my Father bringing things back into alignment. I could see His grace and His mercy, holding me together in times when I felt I would shatter under the weight of it all. I recognized His mighty restoration power at work, opening doors of favor for me and making a way where there seemed to be none. I was so grateful and thankful as I thought about how good my God is. I quietly said to Him as I thanked Him, “Lord, I just wish I could hug you for a really long time so I could communicate to You how thankful I am for all You have done for me, and all You continue to do for me.” And yet, while I can’t physically hug Him right now, (but believe me it’s one of the first things I want to do when I see Him face to face! Imagine!) I can do what Psalm 103:1-2 in the Bible says:

“O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me—body, emotions, mind, and will—every part of who I am—praise His holy name. O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a grateful heart; sing and never forget all the good He has done.”

Friends, take a moment today to reflect on His goodness. Sing a song from a grateful heart and never forget all the good He has done.

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