If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jump For Boy


I remember the exact moment that put us on this path.  It was 9 years ago and I took the kids to spend the day at King's Island amusement park by myself.  Z was 10, A was 8 and K was 5, and the Bungee Drop was offering a special end-of-season price for $5 and I simply cannot pass up a good deal.  Z was skeptical, but my excitement was contagious and he eventually agreed.  It was when I looked down at our young girls standing alone in the employee box while my son and I, wrapped together like a burrito, slowly ascended toward the sky by a crane that I questioned my decision making process, not to mention my parenting skills.  In a shaky voice he said, "Are we almost to the top, Mommy?"  I glanced back long enough to see that we were nowhere near the top and said, "Yep."  We finally reached it and the voice came over the loud speaker and said the words that used to haunt me in my sleep. "3. 2. 1."  That was my cue to pull the release chord.  But, I didn't.  Again, "3. 2. 1." ....silence.... but before the count-down-to-death voice got angry and released us from below, I looked at Z and said, "I'm sorry" and yanked the chord.  What followed was the best 4 minutes of our entire lives, and so it began.  Our motto became, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."  We conquered every ride at King's Island under that standard, moved on to Cedar Point and threw in the reverse bungee that flings you 182 ft into the air in what looks like a giant hamster ball, for good measure.  We were unstoppable.

A few years later, we drove to Tennessee to go Indoor Skydiving.  Me, Z, A and K clothed in giant flight suits and blowing around uncontrolled in a 50 ft. vertical wind tunnel while my husband and C watched through a window, once again causing me to question my decision making skills when it comes to responsible parenting.  Afterward, he said to me, "Will you go real skydiving with me when I'm old enough?"  Kinda like my glance back toward the top on that crane, it seemed so far away, and I said, "Yep."

We were originally scheduled for May 15th, showed up to find out that it was too windy and had to be rescheduled.  We'd already driven down there, so we hung out for bit and got to know a couple of the guys who introduced themselves and made us feel very comfortable.  One was Pags, a jokester who was funny and entertaining.  The other was Monkey, which coincidentally, has always been our nickname for C.  Skydiving Monkey was the lead instructor and immediately put my mind at ease.  I left there that day feeling a little better, but spent the past 2 weeks studying YouTube videos of tandem skydives to try to prepare myself.  I could have saved myself a lot of time, because there is really no way to prepare yourself for jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 ft.

The thought that kept me up at night was the moment I would be standing at the open door of the safe airplane before diving out into nothing and I pictured myself as the new sponsor for Red Bull with their logo on my back, because clearly, I was about to rival the record of the guy who dove from space.  And when I was watching The Today Show the day Matt Lauer was at the top of the new World Trade Center building as the camera spanned around the view and I got dizzy from the safety of my couch, I thought, this can't be good.

But 2 things had me committed to going through with this.  No refunds...and that boy of mine.  And then God sealed the deal with a song on the radio that became my Skydive-Hug-From-God.
(Link will be at the bottom of this post.)  That's when I knew, God was going to rock my world again...and who knows what that could possibly mean when it comes to skydiving...

Yesterday was the big day.  School is out, so we took K and C to watch us fall from the sky, because by now you know there's no hope for our parenting skills.

I approached the flight board to see which men would be strapped to our backs...and considered asking if they'd be so kind as to strap one to my front to give me someone to cling to, and break my fall, but whatever.  Wouldn't you know, out of the 20 or so flight instructors there, Z was assigned to Pags and I got Monkey.  (Hi, God. Welcome.)  At that point I knew this was either going to be a huge success or I was going to die flailing wildly out of control with a monkey on my back.  In death as in life.

Before we knew what was happening, we were ascending into the sky in the plane.  I turned to Monkey and said, "Are we almost to the top?"  and he said, "Oh, no.  We've still got 9,000 more ft. to go."
Hey, Monkey.  A simple Yep would suffice.  Where are your parenting skills...

Pags and Monkey were amazing and both knew exactly what we each needed.  Pags kept Z at ease with jokes and laughter.  Monkey spoke softly into my ear words of reassurance while he checked, double checked and triple checked my harnesses for my benefit, not his.  And then he said, "Now stop thinking. Enjoy the ride."

My original plan was that I would exit the plane first, because there's no way a mother should ever be put in the position to watch her son jump out of an airplane.  But Monkey threw a wrench in that by deciding we needed to go last.  Something about wind conditions, Z's small size, not colliding, blah blah blah.

Pags and Z approached the side of the plane...and disappeared...
And I choked down a sob in my throat.

That's when I made a deal with Monkey.  "Tell me when my boy's chute opens and I'll stop thinking and enjoy the ride."

When Monkey said, "He's clear" I felt a calm wash over me that can only be described as coming from the Prince Of Peace, Himself.  My boy was safe and my Jesus was either going to land me safely too, or He was going to carry me home, and at that moment, I was fine either way.
It's indescribable.  There are no words.  Your senses come to life.  You feel the cold air as you float, not fall, through a cyclone of wind.  You smell the cleanness of the air.  You see everything.  You hear nothing...and all I could think to do was close my eyes and worship.  It was the only thing that made sense.  So with my face skin flapping under the force of falling 140 mph, I worshiped!
The free fall was originally what I feared most, but as it turned out, it was in the free fall where I ended up feeling closest to my Savior.

It was almost disappointing when I felt the chute open and that moment was gone as quickly as it came.
Then it just became fun.  I watched Z's parachute glide slowly toward the ground below me and then I landed...on my feet, people.  I dove from an airplane at 13,000 ft and landed On. My. Feet.

In skydiving as in life.  To someone watching from a distance, it might look like I'm free falling out of control and you might even think I've gone off course.  But little do you know I'm simply allowing my Savior to carry me and my only job here is to stop thinking, enjoy the ride, and by all means, I will worship...even with a Monkey on my back.  And don't be surprised when I land on my feet.
Feel like you're free falling?  Stay calm.  God's closest to you there.

Please take a minute to listen to this song. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7Jtn1X_OXc
Now...stop being afraid and go live. You won't regret it.

My 2 favorite 'Monkey'(s).



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