you made it here

“Look around, YOU MADE IT HERE”

Sitting in Willow Creek Community Church the first week of August, I accepted the deep breath the man on stage offered. A conference attendee, only made possible with a blessed invitation from Lukas’ boss’ boss, I sat next to my good looking man and his work counterparts.

And it felt like a miracle.

The day before, Lukas and I left the house at 10:55ish. I’d spent weeks prepping to leave the kids for 3 full days. Both Tabby and James are used to having me home, as their primary caregiver. Tabby had experienced me gone for multiple days earlier in her life but it had only been “over nighters” since James was born and I could count those over nights away from the kids on one hand.

Getting in the car to head to the airport was a big deal. it felt like a miracle I even made it to the vehicle, let alone the airport, let alone the Delta Sky Club, let alone onto the Chicago bound airplane with all of Lukas work peeps, let alone…Indianapolis?

That wasn’t a typo. Ninety mins into a short delay, the plane ride and my private showing of the movie Fatherhood, the pilot told us weather in Chicago would force him to make some decisions. First decision was an attempt to go around the system of rain, thunder and lightening and circle until we were given clearance. Okay? No big deal. We rerouted, we circled, I kept watching my movie. About twenty minutes later the pilot was telling us Chicago still hadn’t opened the airport to incoming flights. Since planes run on fuel, and not hopes and prayers, we’d be landing in Indianapolis to fill the tank.

Okay? No big deal. Let’s land this thing and refuel, we’ll be back in the air in no time.

Or not.

Spirits were high on the plane as passengers received grace for themselves and others while we waited fifteen minutes for the pilot to find out more. Soon he was informing us he didn’t have a determined time of departure so we’d be deplaning. Indianapolis airport was welcoming us with open arms, snacks and bottled water.

We got off the plane and sat to hang out. Estimated time of departure was about an hour delay. Let’s go eat dinner.

We were traveling with eight out of the eighteen total team members who were attending the conference. Two others had a plane rerouted to Charlotte. A couple were stuck in the Atlanta airport and the folks who’d left on the flight before us were lounging by the pool at the hotel…kidding…sort of. They’d made our dinner reservation for the cities best Chicago deep dish pizza and spent time relaxing in preparation for the big following day. What we’d all hoped to be doing!

After dinner we ventured over to the gate and it looked like we wouldn’t be boarding anytime soon. See, Chicago opened its airways but our amazing pilot had reached his hours limit and therefore we were going nowhere. A pilot was being flown in from somewhere else and we’d be back in the air…in an hour or so.

At this point, it’s around 6pm central time, 7pm eastern. My kiddos had had a great day with babysitter Anna, we’d FaceTimed Tabby to show her the airplane and the airport and nighttime went smoothly for them. Hallelujah for this mama’s heart who was missing them like crazy!

Our crew found a spot in the airport to call home base and me and another wife got lost in convo about kids and life and love. The other part of the group played cards, learning a new game and getting laughs in to pass the time.

Then around 7:30 (at this point times, start to get a little hazy. We’d been traveling for almost eight hours and time no longer became relevant. We’d get there when we got there!) the pilot made it to Indy. Wahoo!! Let’s go! We made our way back to the gate and stood in the same spot we’d stood earlier as we watched the scheduled minute for take off tick by.

They told us we were taking off soon.

And soon. And soon. And soon. And soon.

8pm passed, 9pm approached. It’s unclear when we finally boarded the plane, finally settled back into our seats, finally took off for the “25 minute flight to Chicago”.

Forty five minutes later we touched down at the O’Hare airport. Deplaned…again…and navigated the trek to baggage claim and the rental car lot.

We’d made it to Chicago. We did it. My head could hit the pillow of the hotel bed in less than an hour…if the rental car train would actually move.

Something was blocking the doors and she wouldn’t budge. I say “she” because every thirty seconds “she” would come over the intercom and repeat which stop we were currently and which stop we would approach, whenever we finally got moving. Those pauses at each stop probably only lasted two minutes but they felt like twenty hours after the day we’d had.

Rental cars selected, hotel found, we rode the escalator up to the front desk to check-in. Our clock’s read 12:01am, 1am at home. Our alarm would be going off in less than 7 hours. Lukas asked — “do you want to know what time we would have gotten here if we didn’t stop at the airport earlier and kept driving to Chicago” I laughed. By the way he asked it, I knew it was t going to make me feel better but I said yes, anyway. 10:30pm. We would have made it to Chicago almost 2 hours earlier if we’d driven from Atlanta.

We could have flown all the way to GERMANY, where we had attended another Global Leadership Conference when we worked for a company before getting back into the Chick-fil-as family.

But what could we do?? “Rejoice rejoice, we have no choice.” Our heads hit the pillow like rocks, and AM wake up call came fast.

When one of the first things said day one of the conference was “you made it, here!” my body and my heart took a giant, deep breath. Against a good number of odds, I was in that seat, my seat, to be reminded I AM A LEADER.

Chick-fil-A’s goal is to be the world’s most caring company. They prioritize customers and know that the way to do so is to prioritize their own people. Not just the people who’s names appear on the paychecks but the ones at home who support them, as well. My family experiences this world class care time and time again, this trip was one example of that.

It had been a LONG time since I sat in any kind of audience learning, growing, being challenged. I soaked it all up, took copious amounts of notes, and was so filled up, when we returned home to soon encounter two babies with their first “fevers at the same time”, it hardly phased me. My perspective was so big. My vision was so clear. And I have this amazing group of people inviting me into their team, to thank.

xoxo, va

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