The Christmas Miracle, Followed by My Great Christmas Crash

Our Christmas miracle

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Almost two weeks ago, I set out with my four boys to fly from California to Georgia for Christmas. We managed to arrive in one piece, with all of our luggage, but that was not the miracle.

Or maybe that was also a miracle. ha!

As I shepherded the four of them, plus myself, our five back-packs, and countless electronic gadgets through the security machines, we followed the rules very nicely, and I counted the heads of my children 300 times.

“Is this medicine 3mL?” the agent asked me, referring to my son’s seizure medication.

“Oh, I have no idea, but he has to have it.” (Don’t mess with Mama.)

“Yes, of course,” he replied.

Liquids and laptops have to go into separate security bins for the people to screen, so we segregated out all of my things.

“I’m flying alone with these four boys,” I made sure the agent knew. For this to work, I needed a little extra assistance.

“Oh. Okay,” then he turned to the metal detector lines next to us, and he said, “Hold the lines.” The other passengers stepped back while they ushered my ducklings and I through the metal detectors, as a solid group. I was thrilled! I have never gotten through airport security so quickly!

The boys all grabbed their things, I grabbed my things, and we were on our way.

We only had to wait about 30 minutes at our gate before boarding began. JD and Daniel were happy to stand and look at the planes out the window. Caleb and Joshua were sitting in chairs, completely absorbed in their electronic devices. I chatted a bit with other folks near the windows.

The boarding agent called for all passengers who “need extra time or assistance in boarding.”

As soon as I heard it, I wasted no time whatsoever.   I pulled JD and Daniel down from their window ledge, and said, “Time to go, boys!”

I dashed over to Joshua and Caleb, whipped their devices from their game-playing-zombie fingers, shoved them into their backpacks, and said, “C’mon, boys! We gotta board this plane right now because we are the ones needing the extra help.”

They jumped up, zipped their packs, and followed me.

I rushed my 4 little ducklings along, and as I approached the boarding area, there was the usual multiple clumps of people waiting for their turn. I looked at the young man standing in the front of said line. I didn’t want to appear rude by just shoving my way in front of him.

“Are you one of the people needing the extra help?” I asked him.

He chuckled, “No, no.”

“Oh. Well, I sure am! C’mon, boys!” I said as I stepped in front of him, followed by my adorable straight line of four little fellas.

In fact, as I was just about to hand our five tickets to the ticket lady, JD excitedly ran straight on ahead, right past the ticket counter, right past me, and right on down the jetway….or whatever you call that hallway thing that leads to the airplane.

Yikes! I quickly ran over, scooped him up, and apologetically went back to the ticket lady.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “We’re with the needing the extra help group.”

She nodded. “Five?”


“Go ahead.”

“Thank you!!”

No sooner than we had gotten ourselves arranged in our seats, I had a terrible. horrifying. realization. I dug through my book bag, looking for my laptop, but wait. Where was my laptop?

Uh-oh….in the bin…beside…the medicines…and JD’s sippy cup. I did a quick check. Yes, all of those things were missing, and I knew exactly where I had left them. At security.

By the way, that’s not the kind of medication you can just quit cold turkey. There’d be headaches to suffer from that sort of thing.

Nooooooo! So I did what I always do when I have a problem.

That’s right. I called Alan. Poor Alan. He was already on the highway headed home. He said that I should ask the crew if they could help me retrieve all that stuff before we took off.

Yes, I should think of these things on my own, but no, it will never happen. I am not the person you want around in an emergency.

I flagged down the flight attendant. I told her what had happened as quickly as I could.

Raquel was her name, and she is one of my new favorite people. It was a Christmas miracle, I tell you.

“Okay! I’ll tell them we have to have this medication before we take off, or he will have a seizure on the plane!!” Raquel said.

She rushed off. I continued helping JD and Daniel get settled. I said a prayer or two, and I decided not to fret. No need. Fretting cannot help. Only Providence, Raquel, and the TSA could help us now.

And just like that, she was back, carrying all of it! The Macbook, the meds, and the sippy cup, all present and accounted for!

Pure gratitude and elation! I was so relieved! I thanked her profusely. I handed her a wad of cash as I deplaned in Georgia, I wrote Delta airlines and told them that Raquel deserves a promotion and a pay raise.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, and thank you, Raquel!

*******The Christmas Crash**********

My parents were waiting at the airport to pick us up, and I don’t know what I would have done without them. The next day my persistent, chronic, manageable level of hip pain morphed into a roaring, uncontrollable monster, and the rest of Christmas vacation has been a blur for me. I do not know what is wrong with my hip. I did get a steroid shot. I thought, at the very least, it will help my bursitis, and it did help for a few days.

But then I took a four-hour car trip, and the problem is back. I can’t sit down but for a few minutes, lying in bed at night is the worst, stairs are torture, but walking around doesn’t bother me at all.

I will be returning to California with a newly heightened resolve to solve my hip problem, but it is also one of those things that I will have to trust God for. Thankfully, I am in good hands. The Lord cares about our pain.

Hebrews 4:15

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.




The 2015 Year End Christmas Card Letter

No, I don't have one for 2015 yet. I need a little more time.

No, I don’t have one for 2015 yet. I need a little more time.

Remember how excited I was to see last year end? I wanted to take the 2014 chapter of leaving my beloved Virginia, saying good-bye to all of our friends and family, moving to California, beginning home school, having messed up fingers, the return of the chronic pain, and being a stress machine and burn that chapter in the fire!

No, I’m not being dramatic. 2014 was not my favorite.

2015 was different. It wasn’t easy, but it was abundantly blessed. Home schooling was still hard, but I lowered my blood pressure about it, for sure. We made new friends. We grew in patience, and character, and love for one another.

The boys at the San Diego Zoo, with the sweet baby of one of my college roommates! Good-bye shouldn’t be forever.

–I saw that I can change the character problems in my children by simply working on the character problems in myself. Flip out Mom meant Flip out kids. We turned that around even better than I expected in 2015…..

….which means I met my one major goal of 2015: to chill. No, I know. You may have seen me lose it a time or two. I can be emotional. However, let’s just say if you thought that was bad, you obviously didn’t spend much time with 2014 April.

–My children are sweeter than ever.

–And because they are home constantly, and I figured out that I cannot actually ever “do it all,” I taught them to do more chores.

Oh, and also I hired a part-time nanny. Best decision ever!! Analise comes every single Friday, and she is something I like even better than strict. She is FUN, and the boys love her already. She plays with them. What do I do when she comes? Well, I go to physical therapy, the chiropractor, or doctor appointments….yeah..



–John David is so well pee-trained that he wakes us up in the middle of the night to take him to the potty. Every silver lining has a cloud….



That was Day 1. He wears a helmet now. I promise.

–Daniel, at the tender age of 4, taught himself how to ride a bike, refusing to let us help him.


–Caleb developed a love for playing baseball (Daniel did too.), and they all made so many new friends right on our street, that I still feel like I hardly see them! They spend so much time on their bikes and getting poison oak in the woods.

Don’t worry. We’re taking a long, necessary break from the woods.


Father’s Day Lunch in Destin

–Joshua taught us to remember the poor and helped me so much with his little brothers that he could almost be on the payroll.

road trip with friends

(I realize I look goofy, but you should know that is not uncommon for me.)

–Alan and I both made more friends, and for two sanguines like us that is more important than I know how to explain.


–We had visits with all the grandparents, visits with friends from far away, a trip to LegoLand,a vacation in Florida, and 2 trips to Yosemite.


happy moments

–Alan is now head basketball coach for Joshua and Caleb’s team. That’s right. They finally get to play on the same team.

–Inspiring books were read. People came into our lives who taught us so much that we can never be exactly the same. Don’t you love friends like that?

–I’m telling you, God moved in our lives this year.


–And I feel like I am finally learning to say no to crazy. I’ll never voluntarily sign up for another thing that I don’t have the emotional, physical, and realistic capability to handle.

–So even with the medical problems, the frustrations of unrealistic expectations, and the home-sickness that does not end, 2015 is not a chapter that I close with any eagerness. It is a chapter that I will hide in my heart and think back on for the rest of my life. I only hope that every year could be this rewarding. 

18And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:18-20

I hope you all had a year of growth and wonder too. I pray that each of you will have some happy moment from this year to keep in your hearts as we move into 2016. We miss you all so much! Merry Christmas!  


Much Love,

Alan, April, Joshua, Caleb, Daniel, and JD


Christmas, for the Love

for the love of Christmas

Christmas, for the love

Sweet moments of Christmas past

It’s time for my annual, “You can do this Christmas traveling thing” pep talk. Did you know that by January of 2015, we DID have every single one of our 12 suitcases that we had flown with?

I sweated out the traveling, but as usual, it was not so bad. I don’t even think we went to the Emergency Room last Christmas, and we have visited our share of Emergency Rooms on Christmas breaks. Yep, we have visited ERs in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky (or was it Tennessee…or North Carolina?), and Virginia over Christmas vacation.

No, this year is going to be happy, healthy, and bright like last year. I have faith.


“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”   1 John 4:10-11

Tomorrow I’m going to do something that sounds, even to me, a little bit bonkers.

I am going to board an airplane with all four of my boys, ranging in age from 2 to 10, and fly nonstop California to Georgia, for the second time this year, and Alan isn’t joining us until a week later.  When I arrive, my parents will be there to pick us up. Then we will all 6 ride in one mini-van, with a giant wheelchair lift on back, to my parents’ house, 4 hours away from the airport.


Christmas, for the love

Christmas 2012 with grands

The kids are beside themselves with JOY. They can’t wait!


Christmas, 2011

I have mixed feelings, like I do every year. Why do I do this to myself?

For the love. For the love, for the love, for the love.

Christmas, for the love

Daniel and his great-grandma, 2012

Family is the best, because we get to relax. So the kids watch too much t.v. and play too much Wii over Christmas. Go for it, kids. It’s freezing out there, and I want to go lay down.

Mom and Dad fully know that I will sleep every bit as late as John David will allow me to do so. Maybe even 9 AM!!! 10, if I can get away with it. And then I might take a nap again later…

Mom and Dad totally expect my boys to eat them out of house and home, and they are prepared for that. I get texted about 15 grocery questions before our arrival.

Christmas, 2011

Dan and his granddaddy, 2011

For the love. They love us.

Christmas, for the love

Joshua, getting love from his Aunt Ellen

How could you not love a family like ours? We have all the classics! Dad will be sleeping in his recliner, Mom will bake, and the boys will be all excited and running around in circles. I will be walking around, trying to monitor their sugar intake, a fruitless effort at Christmas, really.

Christmas, for the love

2012. The year Amy and I were both pregnant.

Once we finish visiting my parents, we will visit Alan’s family. That’s a much bigger family. We will be sharing a house with TWELVE people there.

Christmas, for the love

11 of the 12.

Mother Teresa said that if we all went home and loved our families, as they are, just loved them for who they are and took care of them, we would not need all the charity organizations.

Love. It is the most powerful force in the universe. You can’t live on this earth and not experience it, because God is here, and He is love.

Christmas, for the love

2009. I’m telling you Caleb was the biggest 2-year-old EVER.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”   1 John 3:18

Christmas, for the love

2014 That’s still my favorite shirt. I gotta be careful not to wear it on picture day..


 2012...I think.

Daniel, and his ridiculously pretty cousin

By the way, last year I was blessed so much by this trip that all of my pain went away from New Year’s until May! I thought my hip and shoulder problems were truly over, I felt so great. I’m hoping for a repeat of that! No pressure or anything!

Whoo-hoo! Let’s do this Christmas thing!


Yes, that’s me. 1982ish.




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