February 19, 2017

All Systems Check

The twins and I spent the week in Florida—to watch the rocket carrying the twins science project up into space—with the launch date slipping a few times. Saturday became the date for the launch—also the afternoon we were to fly home. We got up early and took our seats hours before the launch time of 10:01. The countdown was going well, but at the 13 second mark one of the systems became shaky and the launch was a scrub.

The girls were devastated—as we had sworn we would not change our flights again, due to all the changes we had already had to make over the last few months. So we headed to the airport a little somber, and so sad that after all that time, money and work we would not be able to see the launch. We would be arriving home at midnight and they would attempt another launch the next morning.

We checked our bags, and went through security and found our gate. We sat in our seats—the whole time my mind felt foggy as I scrambled with every last effort I could make to be able to stay just one more day. The airline quoted me $900.00 to change the flight and with no guarantee that the launch would really be the next day, I could not justify spending that much money—plus another night of overpriced food and no available hotels within 50 miles. I had given up hope. We chatted with a family sitting across from us (who I later learned talked to the airline about our situation), and ate our snacks . . . but I kept feeling like I was failing my girls . . . but there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.

Now our flight was just twenty minutes away—our bags were checked—and our plane was starting to board. All the sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder and a sweet lady—I would learn her name was Sue—leaned down and said, “I heard you girls were in a bit of a pickle, and I am going to help you. Please hand me your tickets.” I did as she said and within minutes she was back at my side with a new set of boarding passes for the next afternoon.  She said with a wink, “I think you guys deserve this.” I burst into tears and gave her a big hug. We thanked her over and over. She said, “We will see you tomorrow, you girls go enjoy that launch.” (Sue at Southwest you will forever be an angel to us)

Ticket. Check.

We walked back out of our terminal skipping. No plan, no car, no set place to sleep. As we got off the elevator on the car rental floor, hundreds of people lined the booths. I asked a woman what was going on. She said, “Oh we are all on winter break, everybody comes to Orlando this week every year.” A gentleman behind her said, “Yeah . . . and some of us forgot to book a car rental, and not one of these lines has given me any luck. There isn’t one car available in this whole airport.”

I got a pit in my stomach. I said a little prayer and we hopped in the first line, hoping for another miracle. I got up to the front and the boy at the counter told us the same news. He searched and searched and could not even find one car. We were just about to walk away and try a new line and he said, “Wait . . . here is one. I don’t know where this one came from, and it is clear across the other side of the airport, but if you want it . . . it is yours.”

Car. Check.

Soon, I got a message from a friend of a friend—Lindsay— saying she saw on Instagram that the launch had failed and was in town staying at a condo with her family, and she would love to let us take a room for the night if we found a way to stay in town for the second attempt launch.

Bed. Check.

So now we had a new ticket, a car for the day, and a place to sleep—no clothes or toothbrushes (our bags were already on the plane)—but we were going to be at that launch.

On our way to find food, a sweet local widow friend of mine Pam asked if she could take us to dinner. So we grabbed some toothbrushes and a couple clean t-shirts at Target, and enjoyed dinner with her.

 We headed to the condo and got some sleep, rolled out of bed early this morning and headed back to NASA. 

When we pulled up—the countdown was at three hours. At about two hours to launch we got hit with a little rainstorm. Soaking wet, we sat there feeling defeated.

But the countdown began again when the rain stopped and all systems continued to be a go. The announcer even asked the twins to come up in front of all the crowd and explain their science project that would be going into space if the launch didn’t slip again.

The countdown this time did not stop and we got to watch that rocket launch into the clouds. I couldn’t stop the tears. Not so much because of what was in front of us, but even more so because of what was behind us. I looked over at my two oldest babies and thought back on how far they had come. Six years ago I watched them as kindergarteners go through the hardest trial of anyone I knew. I wondered if it would hold them back—be their excuse to live in fear and not aim for the stars. Instead, today as I watched their excitement and the power of that rocket, I was reminded that they can do anything.

WE can do anything. WE can do hard things, we can do powerful things, and we can still live those dreams.  I was overwhelmed with that truth and the miracles that had occurred that allowed us to have that perfect moment.

There are miracles in our lives, and I know there are angels who help orchestrate each one. I felt them today, the ones that we can’t see.  All the miracles that fell at our feet the last twenty-four hours to get us to that moment— are evidence of the love God has for us. And He always has, through the hard times and the good. The blessings this week by a couple of earthly angels who listened to those promptings to help us be able to watch a symbolic moment lay out before our eyes . . . were one of the most powerful reminders for me of how great God is. He cares. He knows, and He can move mountains . . . even for us.  

Thank you to everyone who stepped in and made a sacrifice for my girls this week. I will never forget the feeling, the smell, the emotion of watching that rocket—but even more than the rocket, I will never forget the overwhelming gratitude that has filled my heart seeing so many good people be kind. Not because they had to, but because they chose to.

I haven’t always been able to see the good in this world, but this week the twins and I were overwhelmed with evidence that it is still here. Heavenly Father has a plan. He wants us to be great, to overcome all the bad that has tried to hold us back, and to witness His love in moments so powerful . . . you cannot deny that He has been there all along.

Congratulations Bostyn and Bailey. You were a little part of history today, and I can’t wait to see what else this life has to offer you. I love you to the moon and back.

Video of the launch:

NASA Kennady Space Center. Feb 19th, 2017. Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket launch. Launch pad 39B (same launch pad used by all the astronauts that have gone to the moon)

Video of Bailey explaining their project: 


Kelly said...

This is Kelly from the airport :) I wanted to see if the rocket launched and you guys got to see it so I went to your blog. I am so happy! Your story is inspiring and seeing your sweet girls do something so wonderful and impressive warmed my heart. Congrats to the girls. I'm so glad it all came together!

Mari said...

I loved reading this. There are some things I'm currently afraid to embark on, even though I know I should. I feel stuck, but it is because I've been too scared to take action and trust that God will be there to guide me. You reminded me that when we do take action, He will be there every step of the way. Thanks for sharing!!! What a great adventure and exciting experience!! One that will never be forgotten I'm sure! :)

Ashlee said...

Kelly!!! Yes it so amazing and I am so thankful for you guys for putting a bug in their ear. You better find me on Facebook or something. We are now friends forever! ❤️

Ashlee said...

Thanks Mari! It was one of the greatest reminders for me of the love He has for all of us! I hope you feel that today too. 💕

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