The time I thought Southwest Airlines was pranking me

I used to love playing pranks on people. One time on April Fools Day when we were kids, my younger sister and I put cream cheese in my mom’s deodorant and she didn’t notice for like three days. It was spectacular. Two years ago, though, I thought an airline was playing a joke on me, and I quickly learned that what was going on was serious, and I could potentially be spending my last moments on earth running through the airport to get away from an explosion.

On April 1, 2012, I was flying back to Arkansas from being in Houston for a bridal shower. Noland and I were engaged, I was in full-fledged wedding planning mode, and it was nearing the end of my last semester of college, so I was also trying to graduate. It was a little chaotic, to say the least.

So my Dad and I go grab lunch at our favorite five-star culinary establishment, Whataburger, and he takes me to the airport. Every time my dad drops me off at the airport he always does two things: he kisses me on the head, and tells me he’s proud of me. And every time I walk away holding back tears, because there’s something that hits really deep when your dad tells you he’s proud of you, and this time was worse because I was in a really emotional/nostalgic season of my life.

Anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows that if you’re going to or from somewhere in Texas, you do the Texas two-step and take some really ridiculous route where you either have to go through Dallas or Austin to go wherever you’re going next. So I was going to Little Rock, but I had to change planes in Dallas. I get to Dallas, no big deal, have a quick 30-45 minute layover and I board my next plane for Little Rock.

As soon as I get to my seat, a flight attendant comes over the speakers and says, “I’m so sorry everyone, but TSA just called, and we’re going to have to de-plane. Please take all of your belongings with you, and get off the plane as quickly as possible.” 

The other thing anyone who has flown Southwest Airlines knows is that flight attendants double as stand up-comedians, which, next to bags flying free, is the best part of the whole experience. So my first thought is, “OK, funny Southwest — April fools. I’m not moving.”

Well then they turn the plane completely off. Have you ever been on a plane when that happens? It was eerie. At that point I knew whatever was going on was serious, and I could hear my heart beating through the unusual silence on the plane. In my already emotional, nostalgic, I just left home and I miss my family already state, I immediately started melting down a little bit.

I grabbed my backpack and followed my fellow travelers back into the terminal, and it was like a movie scene. TSA was herding people like sheep out of the terminal. Mothers were yelling for their children. People were scrambling and the TSA officers were yelling, “Move! Faster! Everybody out!”

My first thought was, “Oh my gosh. There’s a bomb in here.”

And then I thought, “Any moment Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are going to bust in and they’ll tell us we’re all extras on Speed 3.” (I learned in that moment that comedy was obviously a defense mechanism of mine when facing possible death.)

So I just start speed walk/jogging, weaving through people and praying under my breath, “Please, God, don’t let this be real.” I was on the verge of tears, by myself, confused and slightly terrified. I was picking up my phone to call my mom (Noland wasn’t my natural go-to yet, we were only engaged!), when I turned and saw a familiar face.

Standing there were a couple of friends of mine from Nashville, who were on the road playing music, flying from the Northeast leg of their tour to finish up in Texas. Ironically, I had just talked to this friend the previous day, and we both agreed we missed each other and we wish we’d known when we would see each other again. They pushed through the crowd to get to where I was, and instantly I was comforted and calmed — mostly by the nonchalant nature of my friend Drew, who was only mad that he was going to spend his first day off in 22 days stuck in the airport.

We snagged a table at Chili’s and he bought me a drink. We spent an hour or so catching up, and my mom, who I’d obviously freaked out by my previous panicked phone call, was very comforted to know I’d found some friends and everything was fine.

About an hour later, TSA made an announcement that everything was clear and we could head back to our gates to re-board. I hugged my friends goodbye and we went our separate ways. I got to my gate and they were just yelling out names from boarding passes that had been taken when we boarded the first time, handing them back to passengers. I thought this was a little bit alarming, considering we’d just dealt with a bomb threat, but I guess they were confident that the suspicious baggage’s owner was not on flight 2944 to Little Rock. I could have been anyone, but they trusted that I was Sara Krimm and gave me back my boarding pass.

I sat back down in my seat, and I was thankful that they were handing out complimentary drinks for the inconvenience, because well, my nerves were still a little high, and Joe Somebody sitting next to me could have been the potential criminal!

During my 50 minute flight from Dallas to Little Rock, I thought about how crazy everything that had just happened was, and I thought about how it’s so like God to take a massively chaotic, scary, potential disaster of a situation, and give us a really sweet gift in the middle of it. 

Maybe it was coincidental. But I like to think that God heard me tell my friend Ellie the previous day that I missed her, and He thought, smiling at His uncanny kindness, “They’re crossing paths in Dallas tomorrow and they don’t even know it.” And so He planted that little suspicious suitcase right there in the middle of Terminal B just so we could spend an hour together.

This is what He is in the business of doing. Taking our chaos, our fears, our disastrous moments and making a way through it. And that one hour at a table with my friends was like the still waters He promises He will lead us by, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Lost in the adventure of building something incredible

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On Monday night, Noland was leaving for a few hours for worship rehearsal at church, and I had a list of things I needed to accomplish while he was gone. There were to-do lists to make for work the next day. There were blog posts to schedule. There were wedding showers to prepare for, bridesmaid shoes to be purchased and bachelorette parties to plan. Lately it hadn’t seemed like I had enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I was supposed to.

In swept my coping mechanism: independence. “I’ve got this under control.” (Always my famous last words.)

I started feeling overwhelmed at the fact that I had so much to do, and frustrated that at 8 p.m. on a Monday that had started at 7 a.m., I was pretty much still working. I started thinking, “At what point does life reach this place of ‘I have to do all of this on my own'” — and  to-do lists and unfinished tasks are constantly hanging over my head, and I’m not sure when I got here, but I sat there on my couch and drifted into a daydream of my childhood.

Seventh grade. We lived in Tennessee at the time, on a big lot that backed up to a forest where the Little Harpeth River ran through. I was at that age when your friends were just whoever lived in your neighborhood, and I happened to be the only girl. So me, Jake, Jack, Andrew and Neil went exploring. We found a rope swing that might as well have been buried treasure, and we made it our summer project to build a treehouse there.

It. Was. Magical. 

By the end of the summer our treehouse had three stories, and hammocks hung from every level, and we’d swing into the river to cool off, play games and then get back to work. When we got hungry, we’d go sit on my back porch (my mom let no one near the house covered in all that mud), and eat Goldfish and drink Capri Suns.

Recalling all these things, I could swear that I could still smell the honeysuckle. I could feel that cold river on my skin, and the callouses on my hands from hammers and scrap wood. I could hear Andrew cracking jokes, Jack and Jake arguing about something ridiculous and Neil complaining about getting too dirty.

I was envious of care-free, 13 year old me. And I started thinking about all the things I loved about building that treehouse that summer. I loved dreaming something into existence from scratch. I loved that it was ours, and that really as long as our parents would let us, we could be out there ruling what seemed like the whole world. I loved that it was hands-on hard work, but the most exciting adventure I’d ever been on. I was accomplishing something great and having the time of my life.

At this thought, I laughed, because it was almost as if God had drawn me into this day dream of memories to remind me that my life isn’t really all that different from those days right now. I have a job that I love, and that I really am getting to pioneer and dream from the ground up, and have a lot of creative reign over. I work hard and I get to play hard. And, wouldn’t you know it, I work with a bunch of boys. (I suppose we should call them men, though.)

The part I seem to have forgotten, however, is that I’m allowed to (encouraged to, rather) come home and just keep being a kid after I’ve been hard at work. God still welcomes me home to the back porch, barefoot, dirty and all, and refreshes and cares for me. I’m not supposed to stay out there and stress about what still needs to be done. I’m just supposed to come running home to be with Him.

So right there in my living room on Monday night, I put down my to-do list, and I built a fort. A fortress, rather. A sacred space to just be a kid in His Presence. It’s been there all week, and we have laughed, cried, and shared secrets beneath that roof of blankets. 

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How quickly I become a calloused, independent adult, blinded by my to-do lists when all He wants is to be with me. How easily I stress over a job that mirrors one of my favorite childhood memories. He has given great gifts, and I am on an extraordinary adventure. I just fail to see it when I forget to look at my life through the eyes of a child.

So I’m returning to my child-like mind. Lost in the adventure of building something incredible. Confident that I need not worry, for He is building something in the unseen so much greater than what I’m doing.

I’m a renewed believer in happily ever after, because the ever afters will always be held by Him, and everything He holds is good.

Four things nannying taught me about God’s heart

Nanny DiariesFor the last year and a half, I had the privilege of helping a really great mom raise her kids. She entrusted me with her three most valuable possessions for about 20 hours every week, and truthfully, they blessed me way more than I think I ever could have blessed them.

There were a lot of things I dreamed about doing once I graduated college, but being a nanny was not one of them. It’s not exactly the most glamorous job. Sometimes I used to pretend I was like Jesse from the Disney channel to feel a little cooler about it. It was refining, it was exhausting, and I learned so much about myself and about God during that season.

Last Friday, I spent my last day with the Haynes kids. I hugged them all goodbye in the YMCA parking lot, and as soon as I turned around to walk to my car, I lost it. I still haven’t gotten the image of that precious little 8 year old boy with tears in his eyes out of my head.

All weekend I thought a lot about all the things God did in me during that year and a half. Because of those three kids, I have known a kind of love I didn’t know before, and I realized in processing it all these last few days that there are some major things I learned about God’s heart for me because of them.

1. My disobedience is offensive to Him. 

There’s a difference between babysitting on a weekend and nannying four to five days a week, literally helping someone raise their kids. The difference is that you have to actually parent them.

I figured out pretty quickly (and called my mom to repent for my disobedience growing up) that it is offensive when I’ve asked them to do something, and I know they hear me, and they don’t do it. I was never mad at them or unforgiving of them, but the whole time I was learning to check my own heart every time and ask God, “Are there places in my life I’m doing this to you?”

It was convicting. The answer was often, “Yes.”

1a. Even after I’ve offended Him, He still thinks I’m awesome. 

One of my favorite things about disciplining the kids was the conversation we would have about whatever their offense was, and how it always ended with a hug and a, “I’m not mad at you. I love you.” When I’m slow to obey God’s guidance and leadership in my life, we have a conversation about it and He corrects me. But it always ends with me knowing His affection for me.

2. He loves that I need His help.

There was this one day that one of the boys had taken his brand new bike for a ride around the neighborhood with friends. He was late in coming home so I walked down the street to where I knew he was, only to find him standing there, covered in mud, crying hysterically. 

His wheels were so coated in mud they wouldn’t even turn. To a 9 year old, this is truly the end of the world. I was trying so hard to hold back laughter. I had to explain to him that this isn’t a big deal, we can fix it, and he wasn’t in trouble. (He was still crying, saying he didn’t mean to be late and he didn’t mean to ruin his new bike.)

Well, since the wheels weren’t going anywhere covered in all that mud, I had to throw his bike over my shoulder and carry it home as we walked back together. And as he wept, I was still laughing, trying to calm him down and tell him it was going to be OK.

I think God and I have similar moments. Something happens that I didn’t see coming, and I feel like I should have been able to avoid it, so He comes walking over to meet me and I’m just weeping and in panic mode. I think in those moments He laughs at my silliness and says, “Sara, it’s going to be fine. You need my help, and I love that about you. This draws us closer to one another.”

3. It blesses His heart like crazy when I take Him at His word.

I will never forget this conversation I had with one of the kids last summer at Hawaiian Falls (a water park here in Waco). The boys wanted to go on this big, fast slide, and their sister was a little bit scared. She wanted to do it, but she stood there at the bottom, unsure of whether or not to actually climb all those stairs and come down the slide.

OK, so part of me only wanted to talk her into it so I didn’t have to sit at the kiddie pool all day, but this was a really special conversation.

I said, “Hey, Jesus lives in your heart, right?” She nodded yes. “Did you know that Jesus and fear can’t live in the same place? So you can just tell that fear, ‘No,’ and Jesus will carry you through whatever you’re scared of. It’s pretty easy, and it’s really fun!”

That was it! She believed me. We rode that slide 10 times that day. She knew I was telling the truth and she didn’t question it. That conversation has marked my relationship with Jesus ever since. Every time I’m scared of something, I just think, “Wait, Jesus and fear can’t live in the same place. You’re right, God. Let’s do this.”

4. He knows all the details of my life, so I don’t have to concern myself with them.

As I was getting ready to hand my job over to the new nanny, I was going through all the details I needed to train her on. Noland was asking me what all I needed to teach her, and as I explained it all to him he stopped me and said, “Are you gonna be ok? You’ve been loving those kids in the tiniest details of their lives for a long time.”

In my last few days, I couldn’t stop thinking about that. He was right. I knew everything about them. I knew when they got up and when they went to bed, how and when they got to and from school, what they wanted for lunch every day, when and where all their practices and activities were. I knew their favorite colors and favorite games, their best friends and their favorite snacks. 

And because they knew I was taking care of all those things, they never questioned it. This is the way God wants me to be with Him! He knows when I sit and when I rise. He discerns my going out and my lying down; He is familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139)

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared in this new season of my life. I’m in a new job that I don’t really feel comfortable in. I feel way under-qualified for the position I’ve been given. I get stressed about figuring out the details of my life on my own.

And I keep going back to this thought that truthfully, I’m just supposed to act like those kids did with me. Allowing Him to care for me without asking questions or doing the planning myself. Believing Him when He speaks and knowing that His presence will always drive out my fear. Being obedient to His call and knowing I need His help in every little area of my life.

The children will be the ones who inherit the Kingdom. I want to be one of them.