On flying and overcoming fear

I write from 30,000 feet. Or however high up this airplane is.

I used to be afraid of getting on an airplane. I felt like I had some measure of control, as long as I was on the ground. But to fly, so high above the earth, just riding along as a passenger, putting my trust in airplane mechanics and a pilot I knew nothing about — this was not something that Fear would let me do.

I flew once as a toddler, a trip I don’t remember, and once as a young adult with 3 small children, a 45 minute trip from Dallas to Houston under great duress. I was terrified during the entire flight.

So I traveled on the ground. As a child I was taken on wonderful camping vacations, and the trips I took my own children on were made in a car. In my 40’s, I took up motorcycle riding with my second husband, and learned to ride my own, because I needed to be in control. (as if riding a motorcycle is ever really safe!)  But to fly in an airplane was something I still resisted, in spite of professing in other areas that “God is in control”!

Ten years ago, when I was only 50, I was told by the company I worked for that I was being sent on a business trip. I wasn’t happy about it, and prayed fervently that the plane would stay aloft. I was surprised that the worse thing about the experience was that turbulence was like riding in a jeep on a bumpy road. And God apparently answered my prayers, because I got safely to my destination and home again.

Not too long after that, my oldest daughter moved to Chicago to attend college. And I flew again. Several times for visits, and later for her graduation. And my company sent me on another business trip. I felt like I had entered the space age at last!  But I still fought my fears every time I got on the plane. Then, the opportunity to take a trip to Honduras came my way. It was one of those heart things where you know you just gotta go! This trip would involve two flights over large bodies of water. At least I was well trained from my previous flights on what to do in case of a “water evacuation.”

So I went, my youngest daughter accompanying me. I prayed all the time, the desperate sort of prayer – “don’t let me die in a plane crash!”  When we got to Honduras and had to take a five hour bus trip through the mountains at night, in an old bus at the mercy of a driver who didn’t want to be late, more fear-based prayers were raised to the heavens. Again, God must have heard me, because here I am.

Something happened on that trip. I think that in deciding TO go I finally LET go, and instead of fighting with the fear I acknowledged it and went on anyway. In doing so, Fear lost its power.

20150605_213830Since that trip, I have flown countless times. And my ideas about God and prayers and fear and giving up control have changed and evolved. I experience the love and protection of God in a much more loving and less fearful way. I still don’t love flying, but I don’t hate it either! I  have seen much more of the world than I could ever have traveling on the ground.

Now, when Fear comes to visit, I say hello. And then politely tell it to go sit somewhere else. “I’ll call you when I need you” I say. And I see a bigger world.

Travel – Iowa Day 1

I found my blog from a road trip I took in 2009 with my two youngest kids when they were 13 and 15. It was my first attempt at blogging, and I’m glad I did it because it was fun to revisit those days.

I’m taking three trips this year, and want to preserve the memories, so here goes!

Iowa, Day 1

I’m sitting in Houston Hobby Airport waiting to board. The first leg of the trip is a quick hop to Dallas and a plane change. Then on to Des Moines, get a car, and a short drive to Ames, Iowa and my beautiful daughter Rachel.

I look around at the other people waiting. I cannot find a single person who is not using their smartphone —except for that one lady who is reading on her kindle. Texting, listening to music, social media, playing games — and there are a couple of people actually talking on them. Before I took out my pen and paper to write this, I was doing the same thing! Just 20 years ago, the crowd would most likely have been reading books and newspapers. How things change.

Now I’m writing from the plane on the way from Dallas to Des Moines. The actual flight from Houston to DFW was quick, but definitely  a hurry-up-and-wait operation, as traveling by plane often is. I only had a 50 minute layover, and with all the delays I wasn’t sure I’d make it.


1. The first flight was 10 minutes late.

2. After we landed, we were informed there was a plane in the gate we were assigned to. When we did get a gate, it took at least 10 minutes to get there.

3. I had to wait for my carry on bag. It was one of those small commuter planes, and they “valet” the bags. By the time I had the bag in hand, there were only 20 minutes left before my connecting flight was scheduled to take off.

The Dallas Fort Worth airport is like a small city, and has four terminals. I landed at gate B40, and thanks to Google, knew that I needed to get to gate A9. That was a mini road trip in itself! I and another frantic lady,  who only had 10 minutes to catch her flight took off at a sprint, following the signs to the “Skylink”. We had to go up an unnaturally tall escalator, then caught a talking train (that must have been Skylink). I lost her after that – she was on a mission. I wonder if she made her flight.

I found the signs for gates A-1 to A- 23 and broke into a jog, thankful to the inventor of the rolling suitcase. I was at A -20 and had to pee, but there was no time for creature comforts. It seemed like an eternity until way down the corridor I glimpsed A-12, A-11, A- 10, and yes! finally, A-9. It seemed like another mile but I was there!

No one else was there though, except the woman at the desk. “May I board?” I asked as she glanced up, nonchalantly. She probably deals with this every day. “I’ll call, but I think they were closing the doors.”  As my heart was sinking and she was getting no answer, guess who showed up? The PILOT! Yes! So the door was opened for me, and with great relief I was allowed to board the plane, right before the pilot. “Thank God for donuts,” he joked. I would definitely have to say Amen to that, I thought as I gratefully took my seat.


There was a light rain falling in Des Moines when I arrived, and it was blessedly cool, around 60 degrees. This is my first trip to visit Rachel and her husband since they have lived here. I enjoyed the changing scenery as I drove out of the city, noting large freshly plowed fields. Deep in the heart of farm country, I thought as I neared my destination.

There she is! My heart sang as I saw my dear daughter come out of the house with her little green umbrella. My little girl. So happy to see her and hug her.

After getting settled inside, I told her of my traveling adventures, and we caught up with our lives. She gave me a mandala coloring book, and I gave her a book of Rumi poems. We had a marvelous dinner of bean burritos prepared by Rachel’s husband. We talked about what we might do for the next couple of days, but made no firm plans. Then we settled into a movie. We chose Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, and it was a great choice – funny, scary, and romantic.

And I went to sleep on the comfy couch.