Delta Airlines, Detroit Airport, and the disappearing iPad

We were at GSP (Greenville, SC) by 8:30 a.m. for our 9:30 flight. We arrived at the Detroit Airport at 11:30 a.m. A two hour flight, which had an echo of Gilligan’s Island…and from that point forward it was an adventure.

Our flight from Detroit to Minneapolis was scheduled for wheels up at 12:30 p.m., which meant our arrival at concourse C would be followed by a half-mile trek to concourse A.

Along the way to “A” my youngest informed us that she left the iPad on the plane from Greenville. I sent the family ahead to the “A” gate, as I doubled back to concourse C to find the iPad.

Our next flight was leaving in 25 minutes, which meant I had to run the quarter-mile back to C, find the iPad, and then retrace the half-mile back to “A” to make it to Minneapolis.

The “moving walkways” were fabulous.

Upon arriving back at concourse C, I stopped at three different Delta agent’s desks, receiving no helpful help from any of them. They were either too busy or too disinterested. (My nine-year old back at concourse A was in tears.)

With no iPad and ten minutes left before wheel’s up to Minne, I high tailed it back to A. The wife texted, saying they were loaded (not drunk) and waiting for me. (My nine year is really crying now.)

Stink eyed lady

I ran most of the way back (I’m 56 years old), and by the time I got to the gate, the door was locked, and a not-so-nice Delta agent (as affirmed by four other people) would not let me board. I was texting my wife, appealing to her to use her charm to see if they would let me on.

She has more charm than I do.

The “stink eye” Delta lady (SEL) was adamant, in easy-to-discern and unkind tones that I would not be boarding the plane.

And then she was summoned to the plane where the pilot was making plans to pass my computer bag out his window to her. (I texted the wife, saying I needed my bag. With an anticipated long stay in the airport ahead of me, it was imperative that I could do my job.)

About ten minutes later SEL came back with two passengers, who apparently were on standby, and since I was not on time, they got my seat (plus the last empty seat on the plane).

They had to find another flight, which seemed to give them the stink eye too.

The plane was now fifteen minutes late.

Eyeballing me

It is surreal to get on a plane with over 200 eyeballs staring at you, none of which were appreciative that I held up the plane. Plus, I did not get the iPad.

Pouring sweat did not garner any sympathy from the eyeballs–except from my family. My youngest stopped crying, though she could not alleviate the guilt for losing the iPad. My oldest laid her head on my shoulder. My son was amused. My wife was slightly stressed.

It was about five more minutes when the pilot informed us there were some maintenance issues. Those issues lasted another 30 minutes or so until they said we would have to deplane because they could not figure out the mechanical problems.

This gave me time to take another half-mile jog back to concourse C in pursuit of the missing iPad. Upon arrival the same lady that I met the first time was there.

She was not as harried as the first time, though she was not sure of the protocol for finding a missing item. Undeterred, I appealed to her to call someone.

She did.

She said I could find the iPad at concourse A. Since I had been there twice already, I knew how to get there. A half mile later, I was informed by four different people of my options.

  1. The hospitality guy had no clue.
  2. A gaggle of airport workers said I could go to luggage claim, which meant I would have to re-enter through security, etc.
  3. A security guy was somewhere between impatient and angry, while mumbling something as he was walking away from me.
  4. The wife called, saying, “Muhammed had the iPad” somewhere between concourse B and C.

Almost there

Upon hearing this good news, I decided to go back to the gaggle of workers, who had no idea where lost and found was between B and C, which led me back to the hospitality guy, who was unsure where lost and found was, though he did know how to find concourse C. (The mumbling security guy was too far gone by that time.)

Arriving back at concourse C for the fourth time, albeit a different location, I met the same lady that I had met two earlier times. She was somewhere between embarrassed and confused to see me for a third time.

I asked her if she had a twin since I met her doppelgänger twice before at the other end of the concourse. Before she responded, another lady asked if I was Mr. Thomas.

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “I have an iPad for you. Wait just a moment.”

She went to a back room, and about seven minutes later…voilà. She came out with the iPad, asking me for the security code, which I did not know since my youngest had changed it. I called the fam, got the code, unlocked it, and headed back to concourse A.

By that time Delta had prepared another plane to Minne, which meant (1) we would miss our connection to Anchorage, (2) we would have to stay overnight somewhere, (3) we would not arrive in Anchorage to connect with our friends for the two hour drive south to Soldotna, and (4) I would not be speaking the next day.

On time

Fortunately, I was on time for boarding our second flight to Minne, and it was obvious that a few of our fellow passengers were glad I was on time.

One kind lady said it was an “omen” for me to be late for the first flight because, from her perspective, we would have been in flight, and the mechanical problems would have happened in the air.

She was grateful. A flight attendant affirmed her omen theory. Not sure what to think about that.

We left Detroit at 3:35 pm, three hours and five minutes after our original flight. It did not seem that long since I had been running back and forth through the airport all afternoon.

Upon arriving at the gate, I passed the stink-eyed lady, who was doing her duty with another long line of guests. I chose not to let her know how (1) I averted an airline tragedy, (2) erased my daughter’s guilt and crying issues, (3) reaffirmed my families love for me, (4) caused 100 people to rethink the wisdom an impulsive critical spirit, and (5) lost five pounds.

The Christmas Crud

In my last post I talked about how fantastic Christmas was in our home. It was. I cannot lie. With that said, we also had the Christmas crud. Everybody, except for Lucia, has been sick this Christmas. Even several members of our extended family were sick. I don’t think we affected them or that they affected us. It appears whatever we all had, it came from different places.

The point in me saying this is that we did have a fantastic Christmas, even though some of us have been “sick as dogs,” as it were. I have been sick for two weeks and I’m still experiencing the lingering effects of that sickness.

But I don’t want Christmas to end.

I told Lucia this morning that it does not really make sense. I have been sick and my children have been sick, but it has been a fantastic Christmas. I do not want to take down the decorations. I don’t want to get rid of our tree. We have the best tree ever.

It is a white pine, which is the first time we have gone with the white pine. It is a beautiful tree. We get our trees from The Merry Christmas Tree Farm in Central, SC: That has been our tradition the past 10 or so years. This year we decided to go with the white pine—a good choice.

I would love for our tree to stay up longer. We are going to have the carpet cleaners come in the next week or so. I’m hoping we can keep it up until then. All of the other decorations can go in the attic. I want to hang on to Christmas a bit longer.

Lucia says it is because I can hibernate and not have to be the “answer man” to people’s problems. I think she is right. It has been so quiet and I have been so relationally distant from the world.

Today I am writing this blog post on my new Desk App This is an awesome app. It allows me to write and then publish from the app w/o going to the website. I can now publish to my personal and business websites from this app. Really awesome.

I am sitting at Starbucks, getting my clothes soaked in coffee aroma, listening to the background noise of people and music, with my hoodie pulled over my head to create the incognito effect, while writing. I’m in the world, but not part of the world—totally enjoying my Christmas vacation.

Please do not wake me.

The Best Christmas Ever

This year was one of the most relaxing Christmases that I can remember. The night before—Christmas Eve—we went over to Lucia’s parent’s home for a get-together with her folks and extended family. Christina and her husband, John, drove in from Oklahoma. They have four-year old twins—John and Joel.

Sherrie, Lucia’s older sister, who lives here, brought her daughter and youngest son—Brendan. It was a fun time. We exchanged a few gifts and ate a lot of food. It was good to hang with them, with no place to go. This also left Christmas day free for us to do what we wanted to do. 

And we did.

On Christmas morning we got up and had nothing special to do, but spend time together. We had crepes to eat and presents to open. We took our usual bunch of pictures as well. There was no one to call, no one to see, no questions to answer, no crisis to respond to. There was nothing to do outside of spending time with my family.

I’m not sure what made it more special because we spend a lot of time together–always, but there was something about this Christmas that was relaxing. It could be that I am more tired than I realize. Building a business is far more rewarding than “working for the man,” but it is also far more challenging. The risks and rewards are always before me and I would not change it for another kind of life, but sometimes it can be grinding.

Maybe that is what made this Christmas so good. I am still praising God for every smile, every joke, every sound of laughter. I am in love with my family.

Please do not wake me.

Down on the Farm

Yesterday we went to the Merry Christmas Tree Farm in Central, SC. It’s our family tradition.

We have done this for a number of years now. You can watch the video.

We first began getting our trees from a “neighborhood farm” when we lived in Peppertree.

Tristen was a “babe in arms” when we went out to this man’s home, in a nearby sub-division. He had a smallish house, with a postage stamp backyard.

In his backyard were about 40 trees. That’s where we first began cutting down our own trees. We did that twice at his home. It was great.

Sometime thereafter we heard about the Merry Christmas Tree Farm and began the one hour trek to Central. One year we forgot when they opened and upon arriving found that they were closed.

That year we went to a neighboring farm. Otherwise, we’ve always gone to the Merry Christmas Tree Farm. It’s our favorite place. Usually we go on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Clemson vs. South Carolina football game is always blaring through their speakers on the farm.

This year we went on Friday, which was far better–not because of the ballgame blaring. The traffic was not as bad going to Central and it gave us an extra day to trim the tree.

This year was especially special. We bought two trees, one big one for downstairs and a smaller one for the upstairs landing. This is “Haydn’s tree.” He really wanted a small tree for upstairs so he could put his stuffed animals under it.

It looks pretty cool.

I let him pick it out. He covered the farm, looking at hundreds of trees until he found the perfect one. It was quite a ways from our van and the netting machine. I tied a twine string to the trunk and he pulled it all the way to the netting machine. Amazing.

His tree was on the “lower forty,” which meant he had to drag it up a very long hill.

We also made it a party this year. Some of the members from our small group came with us. We all met there at 11:30AM. Each family cut their tree and we took pictures and shot a video. Altogether, we bought five trees as a group–plus one friend of the group came too, and bought a tree.

We had our usual hot chocolate, candy canes, and each kid got a Charlie Brown tree. They have a surplus of Charlie Brown trees on one side of the farm. They give these away. We took ten of them. (See pic above.)

It was a wonderful blast, probably one of the best times we ever had. I already can’t wait until next year when we can go again.

We prayed for the kind folks at the farm that they will sell many trees this year. They are a wonderful family.

And a plus this year: the weather could not have been better. It was between 65 and 70 degrees, a gorgeous foothills of SC weather.

Tree Tip: They also sell Christmas Tree bags. That’s a plus. You don’t want to forget that. We placed our tree in the stand, and then put the tree and stand in the bag.

When we’re done with the tree after Christmas, we pull the bag up around the tree to tote it out of the house. That keeps the dreaded pine needles from getting all over the house.

A funny thing happened on the way to McDonalds

Here’s the irony: I made a New Year’s resolution to stop texting while driving. I proudly (emphasis on proudly) say that I have not texted while driving since late last year. I made the resolution after watching the sobering video.

On February 17th a lady pulled out in front of me and totaled our car. On April 02 another lady rear-ended a car, that rear-ended a car, that rear-ended our car. It was a four car chain.

Lucia got a slight case of whiplash and there may be some damage to the van. I’m sure there is some kind of irony in all of this, though I won’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I not a “looking for subjective signs” kind-of-a-guy.

It is more humorous than anything else. Cars go to the junk heap. People are more important and in all of these collisions, the people have been okay.

Today was a great opportunity to stand on windy Woodruff Road (maybe the busiest road in Greenville, SC) for two hours serving the three other drivers and passengers who were more shook up than we were.

It was kind of God to let us be there in order to magnify His name to two unbelieving drivers. One of the drivers is a Christian.

Though we made our plans for they day, God always orders our steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Once we realized He was involving us in a traffic accident we were, by the grace of God, able to quickly adjust.

The kids got to talk to the officer and see his taser. That was cool. Officer Mize was a very nice gentleman. The kids also got to see a smashed-in car with a deployed airbag. It was a good time for teaching about God’s kindness to our family and to others. It also allowed us to bring things into perspective for them, without a major liability.

All-in-all it was a good day, though not one we anticipated. This is just another reason why I am thankful that God would regenerate me. I need someone looking out for me and He is a wonderful Father to me and my family.

If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:19

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal… – Matthew 6:19 (ESV0




It has been awhile since I have blogged. I’m gonna be honest here…I am uber-busy, which is the new way of saying super-busy. We are very busy. I’m not even sure where this Spring has gone and now it is Summer. Let’s see…

  1. Ansa had a birthday in March. We took a birthday trip to Atlanta. We spent the day at the Georgia Aquarium. It was a blast. We had lunch across the street at Johnny Rockets. That was cool for them. The waiter gave them a nickel apiece, so the kids got to put it in their little juke box and pick a song, none of which they knew. Their selections were funny. They did the b’day song for Ansa and she got a special balloon and cake. The Aquarium was quite awesome and another display of God’s goodness through His creation. We saw big fish, a whale, turtles, squids, and much more. We were beside the various aquariums and under others. We leaned into some and touch some of the creatures. It was fun.
  2. My birthday trip was in May and we went back home. I wanted to take the kids to my old stomping grounds. They were mostly thrilled about the trip. The highlight was a stop at my first job as a 12-year old punk kid. It was at Judd’s Restaurant. I was the busboy. After the meal I bused the tables and the kids took pictures of me picking up the dishes, cleaning the table and placing the tray in the window for the dishwashers to wash. That “window” was the place where I hurt my back 39-years ago and things have never been the same. I was over-ambitious. It was a thrill to bus that table. There was a 39-year gap in that activity as well. Judd’s has hardly changed a bit. The duct tape was in the window and the signs and cushions were all the same. It was amazing. Really amazing. The new owner, a nephew of Judd Parker gave me two official Judd’s Restaurant mugs. How cool is that. They weigh about two pounds apiece. Those things are very thick.
  3. We made a beach trip to Folly Island for our business. Our friends, Getz Photography, wanted to do some beach shots and so we went a day at the beach. The photo shoot took about 4 hours. The pics look awesome. Those guys are good.
  4. We made another trip to Atlanta to the World of Coke Museum, which is right beside the Georgia Aquarium. The kids really loved that as well, though it was quite a bit different than the GA. They sampled a ton of cokes from all over the world. The one from Italy was perfectly gross. They also gave us each a bottled (glass) coke. We saved those for home, a few weeks later.
  5. We are still working out twice per week with the boot camp we run. There are about 10 to 15 friends that show up twice per week in the park and we sweat it out for an hour. That has been fun and good community for our friends.
  6. The pool is open and the kids are super-charged about that. It has been refreshing.
  7. I bought a bike this Spring and now have a new hobby. I try to ride at least every Tuesday night at Donaldson Center. There are several hundred bikers that ride on Tuesdays. We typically do 30 miles. I have been riding with another friend and one of my pastors on Wed afternoon. I’m thankful for a job where I can take off whenever I want and it not cut into family time. I fell over once. I had someone fall on me once and we both went down. And I was bitten in the butt by a dog once. That hurt.
  8. In April Lucia and I ran a 5K in Greer. That was fun.
  9. We also bought the P90X workout program, so Lucia and I have been working out one hour per day for the past two months, in addition to bike riding and our boot camps. The “yoga day” is actually 90 minutes and it is the hardest of all. I thought yoga would be a break. It’s a killer.
  10. A friend let us come over and go horseback riding one day. The kids really loved that. They can’t remember being on a horse, though Tristen and Haydn have, so that was good.
  11. The kids recently finished a week of VBS. God did some good stuff there and also used our kids to model the Gospel to the VBS folks.
  12. They also finished another year of AWANA at our church. They may have memorized 75 verses and did a ton of things.
  13. Tristen is getting ready to go to camp for a week in July. She is stoked. She gets to go with her best friend at our church.
  14. My business is going bonkers (that’s a good thing).
  15. Lucia has finished another homeschool year
  16. We’re doing tons of hospitality
  17. We’re officially starting/leading a small group at our church this Sunday
  18. My board meets as a small group, once per month for about 6 hours each meeting

This is part of the reason I slowed down blogging on our family page: God’s blessing is overflowing.

I have also cut back on blogging on my business page. I was blogging everyday for two years, but have just cut back to blogging Monday – Friday. That has helped. I’ve had to cut back on my business in order to maintain our busy family time. God is good.

We Have Been Incredibly Busy

It has been a long time since I have blogged here. We have not disappeared by no means. Our life has sped up to such a pace that some things have had to be set aside.

Blogging for the family has been one of those things.

God has poured out his blessings on our business, to the point where it has been a challenge to do all that is required. Fortunately, our family time has not taken a hit at all, but we have trimmed down to what is really important.

We had an incredible Christmas time. It was fun. New Years was a blast as well. January somewhat disappeared. I took Haydn to the Monster Jam again this year. I also bought a ticket for Tristen to give her the experience. We won’t go again. It’s a bit underwhelming, but the kids really enjoyed the experience.

For us, it is more about making a memory than the event itself. Being together and being silly is far more memorable than whatever it is that we are attending.

Next week we will go to the circus again. This seems to be a regular tradition.

Our courtesy snow this year was about two to three inches. Fortunately, it froze for a day so we could go out and find a hill to slide down. That was a blast. We bought sleds at the Sports Authority and had an incredible time. Haydn is very brave. He is not trying to impress or taking a dare. He just has courage when it comes to these kinds of things.

Ansa complained all the way down the hill, but her grinning gave her away. When she got to the bottom of the hill, her first response was, “Let’s do it again!” She’s sweet. And fun!

We had a major Super Bowl blast. And it was a blast. Haydn shot his first ever rifle. Tristen chickened out, per usual, but it was a lot of fun. We stayed late and slept in the next day.

We have 100 countries hitting our biz site and the stats have been off the charts. Life is completely satisfying.

We started a boot camp last May and have been meeting together twice per week with some friends, about 15 of them. That has been a hoot and physically refreshing.

We got our condo on the Disney site for this coming September. The kids do not know this yet. It was a gift given to us. This will be our first ever trip to the mouse!! We volunteered for three hours this past Jan with Meals on Wheels and they gave us four one-day tickets to Disney. That was a huge help as well.

That covers some stuff. Thank you guys for reading our little family blog. Continue to pray for us as Lucia and I continue to learn how to love one another and parent our kids. God is amazing, stunning, and kind.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas … Tree

DSCN8410Each of the last several years we’ve had the joy of heading to The Christmas Tree Farm in Central, SC to get our tree. This year our local Parenting magazine interviewed us about our family tradition, which was nice.

Typically the first Saturday after Thanksgiving we’ll head out to the farm, where there are acres and acres of perfectly sculpted Christmas trees. The kind folks at The Christmas Tree Farm provided us with hot chocolate or apple cider, a very sharp hand saw, and general directions on the various kinds of trees they offer. They come in any height from Charlie Brown to over 10 feet tall. They have cypresses, white pines, sapphires, green pines and more.

A key when picking out a tree is to pick one close to your vehicle. One year I forgot this simple key and ended up dragging a tree for half a mile. This was the same year I thought bigger was better: we had a 10 foot tree. I thought I was going to die, only to find out later that they would have hauled it up to the shop if I had just asked. Lesson learned. This was another instance when I should have listened to my wife.

When my kids were younger, they enjoyed straddling me like a horse as I was lying on the ground trying to saw the tree down. I’m glad they are older now. They also enjoy the shaking and netting machines. My engineering son likes these the best.

DSCN8429I hope you all have an awesome Thanksgiving and  Christmas season as you enjoy your friends and family, as well as the point of it all: Christ came to die for our sins!!

And for those of you who are camping out next Thursday for Black Friday, be sure to read my story to gain some practical tips on how to pull this off and live to tell about it.

Checkout some of our training videos on our YouTube Channel

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Made It Home

Tonight we finished approximately our 10th reading of A Dangerous Journey.

Rather than reading it word for word I chose to paraphrase. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that before.

Basically, I made up a bunch of stuff while they stared at the pictures. This was our best reading yet.

It was a huge opportunity to explain the life of a Christian.

Tomorrow we’ll begin Christiana’s story. The kids were so disappointed that I stopped reading.

I hope that is always the case.

BTW: I posted this through my iPhone. My first remote entry.

This is too much!

We are keeping a little girl for friends today. Haydn came downstairs and said, “This is just too much. There are too many girls here!” 

Praise God for my son. Sometimes there are just too many girls. Where can a man be a man in this world?

Oh yeah, and grandma is down from NC for a couple of days. It’s Haydn, daddy and five girls today.

This is too much!