Tag Archives: funny

Stuck in Montreal

I’m currently avoiding two research papers, so I thought I’d engage in some good, old fashioned procrastination and tell a story. A couple weeks ago, I told you a little about what the Lord was doing in my heart over our Spring Break adventure to Europe. This is one of many stories from that trip. It’s not a deep or profound story, just a funny one. It’s the story of fourteen college students who were just trying to make it back to the States. Sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy a laugh on this dreary Thursday night.

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It was a spring break for the books. What had initially started as a few friends dreaming about a post-graduation trip had spiraled into this much larger group of best friends planning to galavant through Europe for twelve days in March. The week was jam-packed with six countries, thousands of miles of driving rental cars, a new hostel every night, and long days of sightseeing and skiing. By the morning of our departure from Belgium, we were exhausted but our hearts were content. The week had been full of the kind of laughter and memories that don’t fade with time.

A 5am wake-up call on Tuesday morning had us all packed up and ready to make the 3 hour drive from Brugge back to Brussels. Speeding through traffic, the biggest concern of the morning was whether or not we would make it back to the airport for an 8:30 rental car drop off. There were also concerns about whether or not people were going to be sick in the cars; traveling sickness, dinners that don’t sit well, and fervent driving made for some tense moments. Yet, consistent with the flawlessness of the rest of the trip, each of three cars made it to the airport on time. Saying goodbye to the one member of the crew with a different flight (which would be to his ultimate benefit), our group of thirteen settled down at our gate. We boarded our 10:30am flight from Brussels to Montreal.

Knowing all about jet lag, we knew not to fall asleep on the flight. There was some light dozing, especially given our general exhaustion and early wake-up, but we knew that we were going east-to-west. And we knew that it was daytime in Chicago. We had to stay awake to reset our body clocks. So we entertained ourselves with movies, conversations, and reminiscing about the trip. We rotated seats, found comfortable positions, and shared all the food we had stowed in our carry-ons. Towards the end of the six hour flight, attention shifted from entertainment to preparation; we had 45 minutes to make our connecting flight and everyone needed to be ready to go. No one was getting left behind. We were all going to make it back to Wheaton by 5:30pm. We’d be back in time for people’s Tuesday night classes (after all, we’d already missed the rest of Monday and Tuesday classes – per a calculated decision to visit Paris and Brugge).

The flight debarked and we jogged through Canadian customs to our next gate. Delayed. We hadn’t yet sat down when we got wind of the storm that was looming overhead. Rumors of canceled flights buzzed all around us and the airport quickly turned into a ghost town. Canceled. Deliberations about what we would do if the storm got worse began, while everyone maintained hope that it wouldn’t come to that. After talking to AirCanada representatives, we were all put on an 8pm flight, optimistic that they were still going to try and get flights out in what was quickly becoming a dangerous blizzard. It hadn’t even been an hour after getting our new boarding passes that we were informed that all flights out of Montreal had been canceled. We were definitely not making it back to Wheaton by Tuesday.

We were given taxi, meal, and hotel vouchers for the night. Deciding to enjoy the now empty terminal, we took our time at dinner, enjoying another night of being together. We picked up our checked bags that had never even made it onto another plane. Through Canadian customs again, we finally made our way to the taxi pick-up. Little could have prepared us for what we saw next – a line wrapping around the baggage claim terminal several times. Shocked, we asked around to see just what this line was for and how quickly it was moving.

It was the line to get a taxi. It was rumored to be four hours long.

9pm turned into 10pm, which turned into 11pm Montreal time. On our Belgium schedule, it was nearing 5am. We’d officially been up for over 24 hours. And you could tell. Everyone was losing it.

Taxis were having trouble getting through the blizzard, meaning they were coming infrequently. And there were a lot of people trying to get out of the airport. Committed to the idea of sleeping in a hotel bed, and having already waited for three hours without much progress, we ordered Ubers. They weren’t coming fast, but it was more promising than the taxi situation. Splitting up, we said goodbye to half the group and piled in an Uber XL.

17265106_10203060488990244_7776941568471860566_nWhat followed was the most surreal Uber experience of my life, aided by the sleep deprivation I was operating from. Our Uber driver insisted on keeping the windows open, to keep them from fogging. As we were being snowed on in the backseat, traffic turned what should have been a 15 minute drive into a 2 hour one. We barely moved outside of the airport terminal for the first 45 minutes. Even though the other group’s Uber had left after ours, not taking the highway had saved them several minutes. Although, at one point they had gotten stuck in a snow back and had to push the car, so I suppose it all evens out. When they reached the hotel, apparently they asked if we had checked in yet. Obviously, we hadn’t. The only logical assumption was that we had crashed and died. Yet, without international data plans, they had no way of contacting us. And we had no way of reassuring them that we were still just stuck, wet, cold, and sleepy on the highway.

After the most expensive Uber of our lives, we finally pulled up to the hotel. The lady behind the desk handed me a key. I grabbed my backpack and upon finding that we were unable to work the elevator, we hiked up to our room. My friend following close behind, I unlocked the door and flew into the room, wanting to crash upon the bed. Much to my surprise, there were already people in the beds. Hm. We’d been given keys to someone else’s room. Pushing my friend out the door, shh-ing her along the way, I dropped my stuff and ran back down the stairs. I was hysterical. Uncontrollable laughter made it difficult to form coherent words. I managed, between laughs, to get out that someone was already in that room. The woman asked if I was serious. I was. It was 2am. I was very serious.

We finally got to sleep. In a room without other guests.

The next morning, we made our way over to the airport bright and early, ready to get home and convinced we couldn’t miss our 1:00pm flight. At least it wasn’t snowing anymore. We hadn’t even all gotten through customs and security when talk began circling back – the flight had been canceled. Sitting at the gate of yet another canceled flight, we watched this time as a plane took off for O’Hare. Too bad all the flights were full. Too bad the airports were all backed up.

The kind AirCanada woman informed us that the next open flight was scheduled for 11:15am – on Thursday. Everyone lost it, in their own personal way. Anger. Tears. Silence. Verbal processing. This meant missing almost an entire week of classes, job interviews, meetings, and appointments. Our homework was hundreds of miles away and we were still stuck in Montreal. Going back through customs to the front desk, we inquired about hotel and meal tickets. Since it was only 2pm on Wednesday, we had a long way to go until Thursday.

One of the guys who’d planned the trip chatted with the woman. Was there anyway that any of us could get on a flight before Thursday? I’m not sure what happened in those fifteen minutes that he talked to this attendant, but somewhere, in his persistence, she found 9 seats on a flight from Montreal to Toronto, then Toronto to O’Hare. The catch? It was leaving in thirty minutes.

Like in a scene from a movie, we threw nine passports at this woman and proceeded to have nine passports and eighteen boarding passes thrown back at us. We exchanged them while we ran. She said she’d work on the rest of the paperwork but that we needed to go. Calling the gate, she demanded that they keep it open for the nine students who would be running up to it. Then we sprinted. Through security. Through customs. With all of our luggage, because there was no time to check anything. This motley crew of college students was not about to miss the flight. And we didn’t.

Now, one would think that’s where the eventful proceedings end, except that when we got to Toronto, settled into the gate fifteen minutes before boarding, there was an announcement over the loud speaker: can I please see MacMath, McDonald, Westergren, LaRusso, Bergthold, Fritz, McGee . . . That’s us. We shuffled over, like the desperate students we were. She asked if we had any of the necessary paperwork to get on the flight, besides the boarding passes; we didn’t. She said she’d work on it while they began boarding. The paperwork never came. Even though we had boarding passes, they wouldn’t scan without the other documents. Whether because they sensed our desperation or were convinced they could work out the details later, the kind people of AirCanada let us on the flight. Officially undocumented, having been through Canadian customs multiple times, with a dozen previous flight registrations, and carrying luggage bigger than the overhead bins – we finally boarded our flight to O’Hare.

I’ve never been so relieved to see the Chicago skyline. There may or may not have been tears.

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And so concluded the extra day of spring break that none of us had anticipated. It was the most surreal traveling experience that I’ve had to date. A memorable 48-hours with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.

And I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Hanging with the Stars

One of my friends convinced me to go to this ministry she helps run. It’s called Hanging with a Star. You basically watch and love on adults with special needs, which gives their caregivers a little break. A couple weeks ago we took them to a Wheaton basketball game. Today, we went Christmas shopping at Target and then helped them wrap their gifts.

I love serving and caring for people, but if I’m honest, the reason I initially went was more to love my friend than it was for the Stars. I’ve never had experience working with anyone with special needs, much less adults. I think I just assumed I didn’t have a “heart” for people with disabilities because I haven’t ever really been around them.

I’m so grateful I was wrong. I’m so grateful I do have a heart for these people because Jesus has a heart for them. I’m grateful that in trying to care for the Stars, they turned around to love and encourage me in such meaningful ways. I’m grateful for the ways they make me laugh and smile. They bring out fearless, extraverted, childlike, confident, caring pieces of me that frankly I didn’t know I had. I’m grateful for who they each are and the ways they demonstrate love and community among one another. I’m grateful that they welcome us in every couple weeks. I was grateful that Ric remembered who I was from the basketball game. I’m grateful that I got to walk around Target with him today.

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Here’s a couple things you should know about Ric . . .

  • He’s a speed-walker when it comes to shopping. I’d glance for an extra second at something and when I looked back he would be halfway down the isle. I spent most of the time jogging around Target to keep up with him. For someone who’s got a lot of things trying to weigh him down and hold him back, Ric lives life at a vibrant pace. Kind of like how he threw off his jacket and took off with the cart, he strips off everything that holds him back. He’s not afraid to just go.
  • He can’t really talk. He understands a lot and can make sounds or motions, but it’s hard for him to form words. This makes Ric an amazing listener. Since we finished our shopping twice as fast as everyone else (see previous comment), we ended up having to wait in the Target café area. Besides giving quick answers to my questions and telling me that everyone else was taking too long, all Ric did was listen. He didn’t give his opinion or advice. He didn’t seem uninterested. He simply smiled and listened. To stories about my family and friends, to my recent boy interactions, to things I love about Christmas, to what Jesus has been teaching me.
  • He was very excited to buy Christmas socks for the girls on his list. He picked out ones with penguins and ones with a dog and I wasn’t about to argue with a choice he was so obviously pleased with. Ric found joy in the simplest things. He laughed when I tripped over myself trying to catch up to him. He laughed when I ran around a pole because the isles were crowded. He smiled when a Christmas song came on and he asked me to dance. Ric saw the joy in the seemingly insignificant things and wasn’t afraid to make them the big things that brought him life.
  • Ric was also not afraid to ask for help. I’d mention, mostly to myself, that I didn’t know where something was, and when I turned around, Ric was tapping on someone’s shoulder and motioning me over to ask them where it was. He seemed to understand, better than I do, that things are better when you reach out to others. Shopping for him wasn’t about going it alone but depending on others. Who knew that Target could be a place of such vulnerability? As it turned out, there was only one card matching game in the whole store and we wouldn’t have found it if this lady hadn’t shown us where it was.

Not only did I enjoy my time with my sweet friend Ric, I learned a lot from him today. And I kind of think that’s who we should surround ourselves with.

I Live a Messy Life

Here’s a glimpse into some of the things that I call my life:

  • There’s a big difference between the energy I’m exerting when I say I’m “going for a run” and when the METRA train pulls into the College Avenue station and I’m a block away from the platform.
  • The only points I got marked off on my driving test (despite not having actually taken a real driver’s ed course) were for not following directions. Evidently I “left the course” when I was trying to back up next to the parallel parking cones. I didn’t even know that was something you could do.
  • I’m pretty much perpetually cold. So naturally I decided to go to college in Chicago. Two years later and I still never remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in my backpack.
  • Speaking of being cold, I’m currently in one of my dad’s old sweatshirts that I found in the basement. Don’t tell him I’m wearing it. I’m just freezing and despite having carried 140 lbs of clothes home (literally one of my bags was 57 lbs. The lady at the airport made me take some of the clothes out and wear them – no joke, I walked through the airport with 4 shirts on,) I didn’t think to pack long sleeves.
  • I recently ran through the Target parking lot in the pouring rain and without shoes on to pull the car up for my sister and her friend. Except I couldn’t remember where I parked so I ended up running across the whole parking lot. Apparently the crowd of people waiting in the doorway was thoroughly amused.
  • I blasted country music on my way home from babysitting tonight because my siblings don’t let me listen to it when they are in the car. No shame.
  • I’ve learned that with my terrible sense of direction and ability to sing incredibly off key and the way I always seem to end up in the most random situations, that I have to laugh at myself. Life’s too short to take myself to seriously. But I’m constantly reminding myself of that because I think it’s profound but unfortunately it’s incredibly easy for me to slip back into patterns of overthinking and living in a lull of apathetic monotony. . .

“Ride the roaring wave of providence with eager expectation. To search for the stories all around me. To see Christ in every pair of eyes. To write a past I won’t regret. To reach the dregs of the life I’ve been given and then to lick the bottom of my mug. To live hard and die grateful. And to enjoy it.” N.D. Wilson

Maybe you don’t care about those details of my life. They really aren’t anything spectacular. Hopefully they at least made you chuckle. But what I really hope they did is got you thinking about some of the simple moments of your life. Moments you brushed by. Things that seemed insignificant. I want to press pause and just take in this crazy thing we call life.

Life is worth living in light of eternity because I’m not simply living for myself or tomorrow.

I get it. Relationships are strained. People are frustrating. The world is broken. Evil is present. But I think we buy into a lie when we believe that we can’t be fully present and emotionally honest at the same time. Enjoying the abundant life Christ draws us into doesn’t mean that we run from pain or live behind a facade of happiness. It means we are fully embracing every moment, with it’s tears and laughter and heartache and humor.

My life is messy. Sometimes it feels like a hot mess. Sometimes it’s like the mess on my dorm room floor that should be cleaned but I just haven’t gotten around to it, partly because the very fact that it’s messy asserts my independence and partly because no one is bothered by it. Sometimes my life feels like the mess my smoothie has made all over the kitchen when I’ve forgotten to put the lid on the blender, with the emotional tension of “this is hilarious” and “I might break something (or, more likely, break down) in frustration.” Life is messy. But I take comfort in the fact that Jesus didn’t run from the mess but towards it. It’s the very thing he stepped into when He took on flesh. It’s story after story of life that happened in between the parables, teachings, and climactic moments we read about in Scripture.

As my mom likes to say, “this is my circus and these are my monkeys.” Might as well own them and get a good laugh out of it.

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So I challenge you to embrace your story today. It’s not the grand, spectacular moments that make up your life. It is every time your Sunday School class makes you laugh. It is every time you get more of a sunburn than you bargained for because you forgot sunscreen, again. It is every time a child looks at you with their big, wondering eyes . . . and then precedes to throw up on your shirt. It is every time your blood gets hot in anger or your eyes get wet in sadness or you have to look at those darn texting ellipses on your phone waiting for someone to respond. It is every time sweat drips from your forehead onto the bicycle machine because it’s the only one that doesn’t completely intimidate you. It is every ache you feel when reading of the unimaginable suffering of our brothers and sisters overseas or the joy that wells up when there’s an answered prayer within the Body of Christ. It is every time your heart beats, slowly when you are lounging on the couch during a Netflix marathon or faster when someone catches your eye. It’s the sound of every prayer on your lips, every echo of silence in your ears calling your heart to listen to Him, and every stroke of the pen on your journal page that almost always runs out of ink as soon as you sit down.

Take a breath. Look over your shoulder and laugh a little at the mess that is your life. See Jesus in it. It doesn’t mean you’ll always feel it. It isn’t permission to stop sitting with our brothers and sisters in grief and pain. But the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness endures from generation to generation. And that is reason to be grateful and living physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually present today.

Enjoy your…what even is today…..Wednesday, July 22, 2015. You only get one of them. And the Maker of it has already gone before you.

Reliving the Past: Georgia Driving Hazards

Remember the great blog crash of 2013?

In the wake of that, I lost all of the posts from this blog. Which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t too devastating a loss. How many of those posts would really have been worth saving anyway?

In light of recent events however, I thought I would remind you of the Georgia driving hazards to beware of. I wrote about them back in July 2010 and recently found a screenshot of part of that post. It had me laughing. . .partly because most of it is still true.

I borrowed a friend’s car recently for a meeting with two other student leaders of this new ministry on campus. I swear, cars hate me. Actually, it’s kind of transportation in general (aka, my first experience with the METRA). We get in her Volkswagen and problem #1 is that I could not, for the life of me, find the key. There were two visible keys on her keychain and neither work. Thankfully, the two guys tagging along were finishing up a conversation, giving me enough time to realize there was a fancy key attached to the remote. A little tap on the silver button and out popped a rather odd shaped key. Disaster not quite averted, since, when I went to put the key in the ignition, I couldn’t get it to turn. Enter problem #2. All the while emphatically reminding my friends that I do know how to start a car. I knew it was bad when they both offered to try.

All of this reminded me of the good old days driving our previous 2001 Ford Sport Explorer. That poor engine. That car taught me how I react and cope with sudden, unexpected problems. Turns out, I explode mostly tears and panic. Especially when all I know to do is, through the tears, call dad who did not answer for a good 10 minutes. It did give me a new appreciation for Georgia drivers when I made people, on multiple occasions, sit through green lights as I turned the failed engine back on. They never honked at me.

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1. Watch out for those who, when stopped at a stop sign, press the brake but then must look down to find the gas pedal. When said driver looks down, foot off the brake, they are likely to drift into other lanes of traffic. Do not be alarmed, however, as the passenger (likely a father) will enthusiastically and frantically grab the wheel and correct the albeit embarrassed driver. I’m pretty sure losing the pedals under your feet isn’t that abnormal.

2. Watch out for those who don’t know how to accelerate out of turns and therefore prefer to take turns at 10 mph. This is especially true on narrow roads, turns into oncoming traffic, or intersection turns. Please wait patiently as the driver takes the sharp turns at speeds which they feel most comfortable.

3. Watch out for those who “hug the right side of the road.” If this happens to be a garbage day, watch for airborne trash, bags, and possibly trash cans. It is recommended that you stay as far from the curb as possible (also gentlemen, be gentlemen and let the ladies stay on your left side when walking on the sidewalk. This is one simple way to protect them from right-leaning drivers).

4. For those who play outside, watch out if you are playing a game that involves a ball which happens to run out into the middle of the street. There are some drivers, who in an attempt not to kill you, unsure as to whether you were warned not to chase out after the ball, will stop the car on top of your ball. The awkward gestures that follow should be ignored, as eventually the driver will slowly pull away and let you retrieve said ball.

5. Watch for those, when stopped on a hill, who are driving their father’s eco-friendly hybrid that has very little brake traction. They are likely to roll back down the hill as they awkwardly try to maneuver their feet from the brake to the gas pedal (see #1). This is especially dangerous if you feel it is necessary to ride the driver’s tail. That is not appreciated and the driver should not be held responsible for any damage done to your bumper.

6. Watch out for enthusiastic and expressive drivers, who often find themselves so engrossed in telling a story they forget to pay attention to the road. Drifting into other lanes of traffic is to be expected. Also, short stops at red lights.

7. Watch out for drivers who are more directionally challenged than most. They probably are already aware of this, or were informed by a rather cranky driving instructor who yelled at them when they had trouble following instructions and accidentally “left the driving course.” They probably didn’t even know that was possible. These drivers are often forced to resort to the notoriously unreliable directions of Siri. If swerving comes as a result of trying to plug in new directions or read a teeny-tiny iPhone map, please kindly move over.

8. Watch for drivers with fears of doing the wrong thing or getting in trouble. Don’t worry, they have worked through this with Jesus and a counselor, but their fear of policemen still should not be underestimated. Despite the fact that they are probably already going under the speed limit, there is a high probability of these drivers hitting the brakes at any sighting or mention of a cop. Also, do not be mean and exclaim to these on-edge drivers of a police behind or near them. The sudden shrill of your voice is sure to negatively affect the probably already tense situation.

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If you are anywhere with snow or ice, or only drive where people use stick-shift, all of these hazards can be disregarded as you won’t see any Georgia girl in a white vehicle anywhere on these obviously problematic roads or in difficult cars. Also, if you choose to loan your precious vehicle to these drivers, rest assured they will treat your car with more care and safety than you probably thought possible. After all, they are too afraid to go above the speed limit anyway. And chances are, all they really want to do with your car is blast worship music and go through a Starbucks drive through.

May your Monday be filled with laughter and the joy of the Lord (despite the threat of thunderstorms)!