Adventures With A Pilot

(This post was actually from about a year ago…Anna wrote it all up, and then for one reason or another, we never posted it.  Enjoy 😉 )

So since Jessica has her pilots license, she’s taken a few of the family members for a ride, and this past Saturday, she took Bekah, Charissa and I 🙂

Jessica was getting a few things, so I had Charissa pose for me



And while we were still waiting…Samaritan Helicopter took off 🙂 That was pretty cool!




Charissa asked Jessica how heavy the plane was, and if she took it out of the hanger all by herself. So once we got there, we three tried very unsuccessfully to move the plane a tad. It didn’t work out to well, so we just let her do it lol.








I absolutely love takeoff. The flip in your stomach as the plane lifts off the ground. It’s a pretty cool feeling! ^_^









We flew to a town about half and hour from us (probably like, 10-15 min flying!) landed at their airport then took off again.


Our pilot 😉






Love the reflection of the trees on the ice.


The crew. Can you tell we were happy to be in the air? 😉


That white barn down in the lower right corner? That’s our property! It’s so fun seeing everything so tiny 🙂 Esp. our town, I knew it was small, but when I saw it from the air…I realized just how small it was.














And once we landed, and taxied and all that other good stuff I don’t know what it’s called 😉 She had us help put the plane back in. Bekah and Charissa went to either side, so I asked her “what do you want me to hold?” She was like “just hold your camera” 😉 hehe!





..and me 😉 Jessica got this cool picture.




Jessica & Leah’s Christmas Room Reveal

You know that we have this tradition of decorating our rooms each Christmas with our “roommates”, and then having a “showing” for the rest of the family to see…usually at night to show off the Christmas lights and candles 😉


Jessica & Leah's Room Reveal


Leah and I have both been super busy with working, and Leah was practicing for her Christmas concert, and then just getting ready for Christmas, that we didn’t get our room redecorated until the week before Christmas!  BUT we got it done in record time…only taking ONE afternoon instead of several 😀


If you follow us on Facebook, you know that Leah is a master decorator…and over the past few years our decorating sessions have had her “fixing” my attempts, lol!  I was quite proud of myself for sneaking some airplane things in there…more on that later!


Part One of our room redecorating is the rearranging and cleaning part.  I had no idea we had that much dust in our room!  Usually Leah doesn’t want to rearrange, and I do.  She always says, “But this way is so PERFECT!”  And I respond with, “But there is a new perfect way out there we need to discover!!!”  This year I actually toyed with the idea of not rearranging, and Leah actually disagreed with me and said we needed to do it anyway! 😀


Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Our room becomes a topsy-turvy mess while we’re rearranging 🙂

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal

Charissa’s chocolate chip cookies gave us the sustenance and energy we needed for this project 😉  Books were unearthed.  Dust flew everywhere.

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


And now comes the fun part…the decorations!!!

(If you want the full room-show experience, you can listen to the music we played for everyone when we showed them ours 😉 )

Our Christmas tree 🙂

(like how I snuck in my Ninety-Nines scarf?)

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal

Our beehive bookcase sitting atop our vanity. We love this thing…it’s so old fashioned and pretty looking and useful at the same time. And we dug them out of our dad’s shop 😀  You can still smell beeswax on them….yummmm!

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Notice the snowflakes drawn on the window?  Both Rebekah and Leah have these chalk marker pens, and they’ve been experimenting with drawing on our windows and mirrors…and it looks so cool!

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


I was proud of myself for finding the holes in the wall from previous years and screwing the shelf to the wall all by myself 😀  It’s important the shelf is screwed to the studs in the wall so that it doesn’t come crashing down on our heads some night 😉  Leah of course did the lovely lettering on the chalkboard like she always does!  I snuck in my little red Christmas horse like I always do (with Leah giving me “the look”, lol!).

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal

Close up of Leah’s work.

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal

This is probably my favorite part of the whole room for obvious reasons.  A pilot friend of mine gave me this old sectional (aviation map) a few months ago and I was itching to display it SOMEHOW. Leah was working on the bookshelf when I started trying to tack the old sectional up on the wall and she turned around and saw me and gave me “the look”  that says, “Um…what do you think you’re doing?!”  Haha!  I told her, “You just turn around and keep working over there…I’m not done yet!” and she laughed and did as I told her as all good younger sisters should do 😀  After I started on it, she admitted that she did like it, and she suggested we add the star…then we added the burlap…and when she was turned the other way I tacked up the wooden airplane that Isaiah made for me last year 😀

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


We also added Christmas colored books and journals, and I put the little metal spark plug airplane on top, given to me by my friend Sharon, the airport manager at my home airport 🙂  And so that’s how I snuck my airplanes in 😉

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Leah told me that she had an idea for something, but she wouldn’t tell me what!  I was gone that evening at my flying club meeting, and when I came home I walked into our room and saw that Leah had decorated more glass….SO cool!

Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


Jessica & Leah's Christmas Room Reveal


And that concludes our Christmas Room Reveal for 2016 😉    Merry Christmas!!!






Anna Christina’s Graduation

I graduated high school in June, and celebrated in August. Just because summer is super busy for us!

Being graduated is nice, but then also kind of scary because hey, it’s time to grow up!! ; ) I’ve said a lot of times that adult ‘hood’ should come with an instruction manual. But really, it’s just another learning curve, and no instruction manual makes it exciting…right?!

The amazing Lauren Carns  did my senior pictures at St. Mary’s college which is about an hour from us. (No that’s not where I’m planning on going to college.) In fact, at the moment, I’m not planning on going at all. The college was such a beautiful place with a pond and soft weeping willows (my favorite tree!)

Anna Saint Marys -6428

Anna Saint Marys -6125

Anna Saint Marys -6532


Anna Saint Marys -6422


My friend from CT, Allison, and I had been talking, and I mentioned that she should come out for my open house! She said she had to work, and I completely bought it, thinking that yeah, sometimes it hard to get off of work!

And so I didn’t think anything of it. Then the Wednesday before my open house, I came home from work and went into my mom’s room to say hey and chat, and there was Allison! She had flown out to surprise me, and lets just say, I screamed 😉


The day of my open house, it rained most of the day, but I’m super thankful it did let up a least twice and the sun came out : )

I loved all the little pictures hanging in the window! Either pictures I took, or pictures from younger years/with friends.




Jessica was so kind as to make the sheet cake, and Charissa was super happy to make all the cupcakes!




We didn’t really get any pictures with everyone there. We seem to forget that part of parties 😉 But these couple that we DID get, I love!

With a friend’s littlest.


And with these special people I get to see every week.




2016 Summer & Fall Update

It has been quite a while since we’ve done an update on our everyday lives and what’s happening!

I know this isn’t a part of summer, but I got my permit in January, and am pretty close to getting all of my driving time! (happy dance!) And all of my siblings have been kind enough to let me take the drivers seat on  a lot of occasions (there are 5 of us who like driving!).


Our very dear Texan friends, the Bradleys, came up to Indiana, and we got to get together and have a lot of fun!


Jessica has taken us on many of her fun flying adventures, and even though it seems like it takes for ever to pre-flight the plane, it’s so worth the wait when you’re up in the air watching the world pass by under you, watching the sun set, or the mist still clearing from the sunrise! She has come so far in her flying, and I’m super proud of her!

I must say we’ve all learned a lot about flight, like the aviation alphabet. A few of the girls have it down pretty well. When they see a license plate on a car, they’ll start reading it in aviation speak, “459 Tango Charlie Alpha”!


Jessica and Leah were once again in the Symphony Of The Lakes orchestra, and Leah is going to be in the Christmas concert next week, which I’m quite excited to go and hear, because Christmas concerts make it all the more Christmas feeling! ^_^


We had at least 8 baby goats this year, including two that decided to come on the morning of one of our animals shows at the fair!!



Bekah, Charissa, Isaiah and I all participated in the county fashion revue, then they  had all the 10 year members go up on stage, then they called out the top 10 4-Her’s, and I was super surprised when they called my name! It made my year!


Our friend Clara, Me and Bekah with our Fashion Revue awards.



Then I went on to the State Fair Fashion Revue which was a huge stretch for me, just because sometimes I don’t like being in huge crowds. But God was stretching me and preparing me for something bigger..which is coming in the last part of this post. Bekah and Leah came with me, and it was super fun to have them by my side walking all over the State Fair grounds and eating a lot of ice cream! When we went to order our ice cream, it was either 2 or 3 scoops. Well it ends up 2 scoops was actually 4 scoops and 3 was like 4 scoops!


Back at our county fair…

20160715_210236 (1)

Monday was our goat show. It started at 4 p.m. and went till at least 10 p.m. We didn’t show until 8-9. So it was a long wait, but very worth it!

FullSizeRender (10)

Then we had to go home, wash show clothes, get everything ready for Tuesday which was our Llama show that started at 9 a.m.

Costume class is always a lot of fun (as long as the llama is cooperating with the costume!)

Here I was the pirate that doesn’t do anything (Veggie Tales) , Bekah was a nerd, Charissa was Dorothy, Noah was Luke Skywalker,  and Isaiah was Woody!


Every year everyone always asks us how many ice cream milkshakes we are trying to get that week. This year we didn’t get near as many as we have in the past, due to not all of us being there all the time, and a few of us were trying to stay off of sugar. Boring, I know 😉 But we got a total of  53 milkshakes



Friday is our livestock auction where you stand in long lines to sell your milk bucket (with goat milk products) or your poultry duck. But I must say, it’s worth it.  And it’s fun getting to chat with the other 4-Her’s in line : )



Mommy is on the goat committee, so she announces each 4-Her in the goat project as they go through the ring.



Now into August, we celebrated my High School Graduation Open House. My friend from Connecticut flew in with her sister and mom to surprise me on the Thursday before. One of the best surprises of my life! 


Anna Saint Marys -6428

I’ve been doing a little more with my photography, and have tried it again with my favorite thing…stars! I have by no way mastered it, but I’d love to take it further.


I love this one how it caught the earth moving!



Bekah graduates next year, and so we went out and took a few of her senior pictures this fall. Plus, she was able to get her braces off right before the pictures!!






Another big happening…Susannah moved to Anderson to be closer to the midwife that she is helping.  She has to attend a certain number of births, and driving two hours every time a baby was coming does not work very well!  We miss her lots…and she misses us lots…but she is doing very well and we’re excited for her 🙂  Around the elections, Susannah came home from Indy so she could vote, so we all met at Culvers to  get ice cream and hang out for a bit! It was really good to see her because she can’t always come and visit depending on how many babies are due around that time.



Then Mommy, Jessica, Leah, Cassia and I (Anna) worked at the election polls, Cassia was at another county. Needless to say, we all had a great time, and we all had quite a few good laughs!


We are so grateful for the several people who have blessed us with great bit loads of wood for us this winter. Because Daddy doesn’t have quite all his strength back from his surgery, he can’t go and cut wood yet and that is how we mainly heat our house.


For Noah and Isaiah’s birthday’s, Jessica took them flying to a town near us and went out to breakfast at Bob Evans! (yes I joined!) So then after breakfast we flew around our town and house.


Home sweet home!



At Bob Evan’s


Then Susannah came home to celebrate hers and Leah’s birthday’s, and she brought along needles! I finally let her take my blood (she only draws a tiny bit) and several other siblings let her as well. Then we would put it under the microscope which was super fascinating! (I’ll spare you and not post any blood pictures!)


Cassia is taking an Advance EMT class at the moment, and she always comes home with stories on how they drew each other’s blood! But she’s learning so much, and I’m proud of her!


Remember in the first part how I said God has been stretching me? Well this goes along with that. He’s opened the doors for me to return to Guatemala, only for 5 1/2 months this time! It’s been amazing to see how Faithful He says He is, and the way’s He’s provided, stretched and grown me.

I’ll be at the same orphanage I was last time, helping in the baby home!

And will be updating more about it here.


Daddy bought a cross bow this spring, and shot a deer this fall! We pitched in to process the meat, and even though my face doesn’t show it, I didn’t think it was that gross ; )

Noah and Isaiah have done some target shooting with it (and are quite good!), and have gotten to go with him on his hunting days!


And some of our dear friends, the Forsters were in the area, and it was so good to get to see a few of them for a day! We took a super long walk, ate good food, had uplifting conversations, and ended the night with a bunch of laughter and games!! It was so good to see you guys!





Daddy got an inside stove from a friend, and put it in our sunroom, which is super nice in the winter, because gets really cold out there with all the windows!






Several of us were able to be a part of the ‘Giant Cow’ children’s ministry and went down with friends from our church to watch and entertain 130 kids for the evening!


The whole family was home for Thanksgiving, which is super rare for all of us to be together at the same time!  It was a nice relaxing day, playing LIFE, eating good food, and sleeping in!


And then the next day we got our nine-foot Christmas tree, and decorated it!  Susannah wasn’t feeling well, so she couldn’t come with us to get the tree, but she did get to stay through the weekend and help us decorate it 🙂   We felt bad that she didn’t feel well, but we were happy to have her with us longer!




And since we were all together, we got a new family picture!! ♥ I love these people so much!






Christmas Room One

Every year we kids shut our bedroom door and decorate it, then have music and have a ‘showing the room’ for the family to see. (and yes, this does get competitive!) We’ve been doing this ever since I can remember, and when I was little, I was pretty proud of the string of hot pepper Christmas lights I used for my room ^_^ Thankfully we’ve come a long way from that string of hot pepper lights!

And if you want the whole experience, you can play THIS music. We always play music while we ‘show’ our room!!


Bekah, Charissa and I were the first to get ours done, and in the middle of decorating, I suddenly didn’t feel in the Christmas spirit and almost didn’t finish it! We did little paper cut out snowflakes for the large window. Rephrase. Charissa made the cut out snowflakes! I quickly realized how much I couldn’t make a decent looking one, so I just stuck to hanging them up ; )



Bekah has been learning quite a lot with chalk board art, and is getting really good at it. (this is hung on the outside of our door)


She also used a white erase marker and drew these snowflakes on the little window!




I love our big wall mirror. It makes the room feel a lot more open and roomy.


What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?


My Flying Story Part 10: Night Cross Country Flight

My Flying Story: Night Cross Country Flight

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5 || Part 6 || Part 7 || Part 8 ||Part 9


It has been much, much, MUCH too long since I’ve written about my journey to getting my Private Pilot’s certificate!  And so much has happened since then that I can’t wait to tell you about.  Life’s been busy and I haven’t been making the time to blog like I want to.  I’ll finish catching you up where we left off.


Guatemala (again)

It just hit me the other day that I am leaving in 4 months.

But I’ll start from the beginning!

I’ve always wanted to do mission work, something God placed in me since I was little. It just felt ‘right’.

Well, 2 years ago, I went down to Guatemala on my first trip, to Casa Bernabe, (, for 1 month.

And now that I’m out of school,and not planning on going to college at the moment, I wanted to be open to what He had for me.

Then it opened up for me to go back to Guatemala, only this time for 5 months. I’ll be leaving January 1st-June 1st 2017.

I’ll be back at the same orphanage, and planning on helping in the baby home. And while I’m down there, I’ll be giving updates on my blog HERE. (just so I can keep all the posts together!)

And I want to ask you to be a part of my journey, to be apart of what God is doing in these people’s lives and how He is working here on earth!

I wrote more about it on my fundraiser page HERE.

But above giving, I’m asking you to please pray for this trip and for me. Prayer can make such a huge difference, and it would be such a blessing to me. Pray:

•That I would keep an open heart to learn and be taught
•That God would be at work at Casa Bernabe and in these kids’ AND volunteers’ lives
•For my spiritual and physical strength.
•For safety
•But mostly…that God would be glorified through everything that happens!






























4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream

It’s that time of year again!  When eating ice cream for breakfast while petting your goat, dressing up llamas in costumes, and sleeping in the tack pen are normal everyday occurrences 😀

Today was the first big day…the goat show!

We had so much fun posting every day last year during the fair, that we wanted to try and do it again this year 😉  So here you go…Day One!


There were eleven pages of classes, goats, and 4H-ers showing…and my siblings had to wait for nine of those pages before they began showing.  So they were killing time visiting with a friend, eating ice cream…and putting duct tape on their brother’s mouth.  Or maybe that was his idea?!  It was a good idea, lol!

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream

Getting closer!  Waiting for their turn…all dressed up and ready to go 🙂

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


This year marks Anna’s tenth and last year in 4H!

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream

And it’s Isaiah’s first year!  It’s so weird/different/strange to think that we won’t have anymore first year members.  Always before there was another one coming up 😉

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


Isaiah getting a drink of water before show.

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


Anna, Charissa, and Rebekah showing their goats…

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream

Isaiah and Noah showing their goats.  My brothers are so so cute!  I love seeing them become “little men” 😉

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


They didn’t do too bad! (The last year and first year member together ♥ )

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


Of course we always get our Leesburg Lions Dairy Bar ice cream 😉  There’s always this joke about how much ice cream we eat at the fair, and as some of you remember, our whole family has been known to consume over 100 of these milkshakes in a week!  We get asked all over the fairgrounds, “What’s your total so far?!” (Our current count is 30, in case you were wondering!).

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


Daddy felt well enough to come for a bit tonight and see most of the goat show!  He still feels pretty tired, and doesn’t get out a lot, but the doctor said he’d feel this way for about a month. Thank you to everyone who’s been praying for him!

4H Fair 2016: Goat Show & Ice Cream


I might not get tomorrow’s post done tomorrow night because it’s a looonnngggg (FUN!) day at the llama tent, but we’ll have plenty of pictures of dressed up llamas on Wednesday 😉







My First Women in Aviation Conference

One day about two years ago, I found this watch company that made absolutely beautiful women’s aviator watches.  One especially stood out to me.  I pinned it to my “Favorite Things” board on Pinterest and thought to myself, “Someday…when I’m an airline pilot…I’ll buy that watch!”


My First Women in Aviation Conference


This might sound pretty silly, but after I passed my checkride for my Private pilot’s license, I felt a tad lost.  Now what?!  I was VERY happy to have my license, but I missed being a student pilot and all of the training that comes with it.  I knew I wanted to go forward with my Instrument Rating, but also knew that I needed to save up some money first. I kept looking backwards at all the fun I had, and wasn’t looking forward at what might be coming.

And over and over again, Jesus kept putting quotes, verses, and messages that just kept saying, “Look forward!  What’s ahead is so good it doesn’t even compare to the great time you’ve already had!  The good things I have planned for you are too many to count!”


My First Women in Aviation Conference


Every year Women in Aviation has a conference in March.  There are speakers, vendors, seminars, and LOTS of women (also some men…but predominately women) who all have something to do with aviation…pilots, mechanics, dispatchers, air traffic controllers, and more.

It’s also at this conference where they award the scholarships to the winners.  I had applied for some scholarships this year, and one of them was The Abingdon Company’s “It’s About Time” scholarship.


It’s a pretty neat format that the company has for you to enter…you get to use your creativity instead of the usual essay writing that scholarships require.  You can make something…anything…that showcases your talent, and will also support their company.  The winner gets to go to the Women in Aviation conference, all expenses paid!  The Abingdon Company just so happens to be the company that creates those amazing watches I was talking about earlier 🙂

As I was working on my entry, I thought, “Should I really be spending time on this?  I probably won’t win.  There’s probably way cooler submissions that they’re getting…”  but I knew I shouldn’t listen to that and I kept going (thankfully!).


This is one of the eight designs I submitted for my application.

My First Women in Aviation Conference


February 14th, I was getting ready to go to bed, but I checked my email “one more time”. I saw an email from The Abingdon Co. and in the subject line it said “Congratulations! You are our 2016…”


I thought, “Oh my goodness, OH MY GOODNESS….okay, CALM DOWN and open it to make sure it is what you think it is!”
I opened it up to find that I had won their scholarship to go down to Nashville’s WAI conference…registration, airfare, EVERYTHING paid for! Mommy was the only one still up, and I ran over and exclaimed so much that it startled her, lol!  (Follow The Abingdon Co. if you’d like to see more of the designs I made for them…they haven’t put them out yet, but Abingdon told me that their newsletter subscribers would be getting them…so be sure to subscribe 😉 )


My First Women in Aviation Conference


I had posted about winning the scholarship on Facebook, and a friend teased, “Did you have to buy one of the watches to apply for the scholarship?”.  The Abingdon Co. came on and commented, “No, but one is included in her winnings.”

I was so surprised!    I almost cried actually.  I knew that the conference was part of the scholarship, but I didn’t know about the watch.  If there is anything that God keeps showing me over and over and over during my flight training is what a good, GOOD Father He is, and how He loves to bless and delight His children for no other reason than that He loves us. Not because I deserve it.  Not because I’ve “been good”.  But because HE is so good.  You know how Psalms says that God, “Daily loads us with benefits”?

First the conference…then the watch…I felt loaded down and overwhelmed with His goodness!


Excitement was building as the time came closer to leave.  Abingdon called me and made arrangements for my flight.  I discovered the American Airlines app and was delighted to see that it told you what KIND of jets I would be flying in, much to my sisters’ amusement!

Ted, my instructor, told me to text him any pictures if anything exciting happened.  I was joking that he might be getting a lot of pictures because I was sure to be excited about a lot of things.  He teased, “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that!” 😀


My First Women in Aviation Conference


On March 9th, Susannah drove me to the Fort Wayne airport at 4:00 a.m.  She is a morning person and I am NOT. Unless it has to do with flying…I’ll get up any hour of the morning.  So she was laughing at how chipper and awake I was because I was SO excited!


While waiting for my flight in Fort Wayne, I looked at their museum display.  Another lady was also looking at the displays and she told me, “I wish I knew what all of this meant!”  I thought, “I DO know what all of this means!” 😀  I just joined the Ninety-Nines this year, so I was excited to see this display.  I know I’ve seen it before, but that was before I knew “what all of this meant”…so I hadn’t really noticed it.

My First Women in Aviation Conference


I’ve flown commercially a couple of other times, but this time I was paying attention to what runways we were taking off of and landing on. I also spotted runways that we flew over. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to spot them, even when we were tens of thousands of feet in the air! I had a layover at Charlotte, so I had breakfast and watched tons of people.  I wanted to talk to a pilot and ask some questions, but I was too shy to.


Then I flew from Charlotte to Nashville. On that flight I sat next to a girl who is in the Army, named Sarah. It was fun talking to her. I was telling her that I was trying to figure out what runway we were landing on and she laughed! We had a pretty good crosswind, and I could feel the crab angle…and then at the last second we straightened out and landed…it was awesome!  Sarah wasn’t as excited about the landing as I was, lol!  She was joking, “This pilot needs to get his life together!”  I was like, “Eh…he’s fine!” 😀


After we landed, I waited so that I was the last one on the plane. Then I went up and talked to the captain and asked him some questions about the flight (and what runway we had landed on, because I still hadn’t figured it out!).  I told him that I had just gotten my private pilot’s license and so all this stuff was interesting to me and he said, “Congratulations!  You can take over my job when I retire in a few years!” Then he asked, “Do you want to sit in the cockpit and take some pictures?”


My First Women in Aviation Conference


Oh my goodness! Of course I said YES!!!! So I got to sit in the left seat and I tried taking it all in, but I was too excited to just be sitting in the cockpit.  Now I wish I would have asked more questions about all of the buttons and levers up there, because an Airbus 319 has way more buttons and levers than my Cessna 172!  But I was so overwhelmed and excited, I didn’t even think to ask more questions (Ted would be shocked…he always teases me about all of my questions I have for him). 😀


My First Women in Aviation Conference
I took some pictures, then he asked if I wanted him to take one of me. Yes yes yes I did! 🙂  Once I finally got off of the plane I was walking around the Nashville airport with a silly grin on my face, I’m sure!


My First Women in Aviation ConferenceI sent Ted a picture of all the jets I could see out the window at Charlotte…then when I landed at Nashville I sent him an update. 😀


I was noticing that there was live music in the Nashville airport which I thought was neat…then I realized, “Oh well no wonder, I’m in NASHVILLE!!!  Of course there will be live music everywhere!”


I was waiting for Abingdon, and as I was standing there, I looked over and thought, “That looks like a lady pilot! Oh wait! That’s Abingdon!!!” Right away I got to meet not only Abingdon, but two other lady pilots, along with four other guys who were also pilots.  That flight was full of pilots coming to the conference.


Before I go on, let me tell you real quick about Abingdon.  She is an amazing young lady whose passion is ferrying airplanes (which means flying an airplane to get it from one place to another…usually when someone has bought the airplane and wants it delivered).  That is a pretty neat job, but it gets even more amazing when she tells you that she’s flown Bonanzas, and SR-22s among other smaller-ish planes over the Pacific Ocean!  “You know all of that stuff you learned about weight and balance?” she asked me, “you throw all of that out the window!” They put extra fuel tanks in the cabin of the plane, and Abingdon said that in one plane, she had to crawl over all of the fuel tanks in order to get to her seat, which was a space just big enough for her…there were fuel tanks all around her.  This means of course, that you are carrying far more weight than is usually considered safe…but she’s done it multiple times and loves it!  She also flies for a regional airline right now, not to mention has a pretty neat watch company, and is just a fun person to be with!  It was wonderful having her has my ‘tour guide’ while I was at the conference and I got to meet so many neat people because of her 🙂  She put out an email to her newsletter list, prior to the conference, telling people that if they saw us at the conference to come and introduce themselves and tell me what they do in aviation.  I got to hear so many stories!  It was amazing!


My First Women in Aviation Conference


Once we got to the hotel, Abingdon realized that she was supposed to be at a board meeting right then, so I spent most of the afternoon just exploring this massive hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort. It’s the most beautimous hotel I’ve ever seen. The rooms overlook the indoor gardens and shops. There’s waterfalls, a river, a riverboat cruise, and full size buildings inside two or three (or more?) huge greenhouse buildings. The weather is always perfect in there and everything is SO beautiful and so nice.  I was overwhelmed…in a good way 🙂


My First Women in Aviation Conference


When I’m in a new situation, I tend to be shy for a while before I warm up enough to feel comfortable talking to strangers. I started wondering how on earth I was going to be able to meet or talk to anyone. I knew NOBODY other than Abingdon, and I had only just met her!   While I was walking around taking it all in I told God, “This place…and these people…are WAY fancier than I am!!!” But I felt God telling me not to worry about it and not to fixate on it…”You’re supposed to be here, and I want you to enjoy ALL of it!”.   And oh my goodness did I ever!  He also reminded me of this quote by Lance Wallnau, “Don’t think of it as ‘fake it til you make it’ but ‘be it till you see it’.” I finally decided, “I am a pilot. I am supposed to be here. There’s no reason I can’t ask questions, and I’m not being a bother to anyone.” 🙂


My First Women in Aviation Conference


That night, Abingdon and I had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant there. We had so much fun talking, plus people who knew Abingdon came up to say hi, and I enjoyed meeting and talking to all of them as well. Abingdon and I went to sleep around midnight and I never fell asleep so quickly and slept so well!


I did NOT need to worry about not meeting anybody….God poured favor all over me…dumped it on me, soaked me in it and made me swim in it. It was like I was a celebrity…Abingdon even teased me, “You’re a rockstar!”  Lol!  I had a BLAST!


The next day, there weren’t any sessions, but that morning was the ‘new members coffee’ so we met some more people there, including a girl named Nichole with Cape Air, and she told me about some training opportunities with them.


I got to meet Betty…a very sweet lady!  She gave me my registration in person…Abingdon was teasing me that I got special delivery and took this picture 😉


Betty and I  (Betty is wearing another one of Abingdon’s amazing watches!)

My First Women in Aviation Conference


Later on the exhibit hall opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, and then I spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon walking around talking to airline booths and other people.  This is where I really began to walk out of my comfort zone.  I stepped outside of it, just a tiny bit, by starting to ask a few people questions, and then I had so much fun that it made it easier to approach the next person, and the next, and the next…it just kept getting better and better.  To the point that I who am usually so quiet around strangers, was having a blast talking to those strangers…and turning those strangers into friends.  It was amazing and one of my favorite days.


I walked all around asking the airline companies questions.  I’d ask them what their requirements were, if my incident of denting the wing would be a problem with getting a job with them, if a degree was required, and also, if they’d let me wear a skirt uniform. I had SO many interesting conversations, and EVERYONE is so helpful and encouraging and supportive there. There’s an energy of everyone being excited about the same thing, and everyone wants to help 🙂


The Gaylord Opryland Resort was beautiful during the day, but magical at night!  The gardens were all lit up!

My First Women in Aviation Conference


A lot of the airlines and pilots I talked to said that my incident wouldn’t affect my getting hired. Of course I’d need to tell my potential employer about it, but they’d see how much time had passed since it had happened and they’d ask what I’d learned from it and it wouldn’t be a problem.

The general consensus was also that a degree made you more competitive in getting a job. A few said that if the company could see that I was a well-rounded accomplished person it shouldn’t matter. I was talking to a guy named Travis from JetPubs, and told him my thinking on getting a degree…”I don’t want to spend the money and time to go to school just to get a piece of paper…I want to fly!”.  He told me he could completely relate to that, but he thought it was a good idea to do it anyway 🙂  He also completely understood my situation about not having an abundance of money and it being hard to pay for flight training as he had been in the same situation. He encouraged me when he said that success wasn’t about money, but about passion and perseverance, “and you have it” he told me. He was also super encouraging that I’d build up hours quicker than I thought, that I could totally do it, and that “it’ll be here before you know it.”


I also told him how I knew I was blessed because I pay quite a bit less for my flight training since I’m part of a club, and Travis was amazed. “What?!!! What!!! Back in the 1990’s we were charging more than that! You are in a good place! You’re in a really good place!” 😀  I also told him about how my flying club had a neat group of people, airline pilots, corporate pilots, pilots who’ve flown for presidents, crop dusters, etc, and he again said, “You’re in a really good place!”


I would have to agree!


Maybe the most fun question was asking them if they’d let me wear a skirt as part of the uniform. Nobody knew right away, which I didn’t expect them to, because almost nobody does it (one lady said she saw a United pilot wearing a skirt once.) But everyone was positive about it, would seek out other people to see if they knew the answer, and one lady even got my info so that she could email me and let me know when she found out. Generally they’d say, “The short answer is ‘no’, the long answer is ‘yes’.” On one hand there is the safety concern, on the other hand there is a lot of pressure for companies to accommodate people in their religious beliefs.


I have two thoughts about the safety part.  The first thought is that most people have not grown up with a skirt, and so perhaps it’d be more hazardous and less comfortable for them to wear one.  I do everything in a skirt….ride bikes, horses, climb ladders, drive tractors, and a lot more things.  I guess you learn to think about where your skirt is like most people think about where their arm is, lol!  My second thought is that I am well aware that I don’t understand everything that is involved with being an airline pilot, not to mention them being responsible for my safety. But however that will shake down when I do finally get to an airline….it was a very fun conversation to have wherever I went!


I had talked to a couple of Delta pilots as well…and found out from other pilots that Delta is the considered the “crown jewel” of airlines 🙂  Later, I was across the way at the Pratt and Whitney booth, and an very pretty African American lady with a stylish red hat came over from Delta and introduced herself.  I had told them that it was a Delta pilot who encouraged me to start flying. She had heard that I had been by before, was very friendly and asked if I had any more questions, and congratulated me on winning the scholarship.

When talking to Delta, they introduced me to a pilot named Bailey from Endeavor.  As I was talking to her, a friend of hers named Jessica came up and I found out that she was a corporate pilot.  Jessica told me, “Did Bailey tell you that her first name is Jessica?!” (she goes by her middle name).  So of course I had to get a picture of the three of us “Jessicas”!  I really, really enjoyed talking to them both!


The three “Jessicas” 😀

My First Women in Aviation Conference


Later that night at the opening reception, I was sitting visiting with a couple of ladies, and I got to meet a lady from Canada Air who came over and said, “I haven’t had a chance to congratulate you on your scholarship yet…” and she introduced herself. It was also as if she had gone out of her way to do so…and I wondered why.  I told you that God poured His favor all over the place!


I walked by the WASP booth and made some friends there.  I walked by their booth again another time, and was looking at these neat bracelets they had, and the lady in charge came over to me and said, “I would LOVE to give you one of these bracelets…” and then told me to pick one out.  I later went to the session where two WASPs told their stories.  Even in their nineties, those ladies are still spunky!


Ladies at the WASP booth

My First Women in Aviation Conference


One of them told how she married a pilot after the war.  “We were poor, but we budgeted so that we could fly once a week,” she said, “my husband and I spent a lot of time arguing about who was going to fly the plane.  Then I got pregnant, so that took care of that!” 😀

They also told a story of flying back to their base after “strafing” the soldiers, and they saw some of the guys in a Jeep.  She decided to dive-bomb them and they just kept driving and waved.  “Oh that made me so mad!” she said, so she turned around and dived even lower, causing both of the guys to jump out of the Jeep and wave a white flag in surrender. 😀

The WASP bracelet I picked out 🙂



On Thursday I was also presented with my scholarship. There were some ladies from Ghana there that were the newest, and also the 101st Women in Aviation chapter. The president of their chapter asked if she could have her picture taken with me, and then the whole chapter wanted to! 😀   They were such sweet ladies!


My First Women in Aviation Conference

I later met a girl named Christilyn who said she saw me receive my scholarship, and she said, “I saw you walk up there with this big smile on your face and a sparkle in your eye and I thought, ‘I like that girl! I want to meet her!’” Lol! 😀  Christilyn is quite the accomplished young lady who has her CFI and MEI certificates (flight instructor for both single and multi-engine planes).  I want to be like her when I grow up 😉

Christilyn and I

My First Women in Aviation Conference
An older lady told me that she met a girl at the conference who just got her Private pilot’s license or was working on it, and the lady told her “Oh honey, this is for people looking for airline jobs!” (which it isn’t), then the lady saw me get my scholarship and heard my story, so she went back to the other girl and told her about me. The same lady later told me that she sat by a mother and daughter at the banquet, and the daughter was working on her Private license. The lady told me, “So I told her about you, and it encouraged her!” 😀

I met a girl named Danielle Williams who goes skydiving all of the time 🙂  She received the Wings for Val scholarship to aid her in getting her Private pilot’s license. I then saw her after Tracey Curtis-Taylor’s talk and she said hi, then she told me, “I follow you on Instagram” I said, “You do?!” She said, “Yes, you’re Jolly.Jessica, right?” “Yes!” She told me that she saw my posts leading up to the conference and that my posts were encouraging.


Alice and I…another fun girl I met who is also working on her Private license.

My First Women in Aviation Conference


I also met Samantha Reed who is part of the Indiana Dunes Ninety Nines chapter.  I belong to the same chapter, but I hadn’t met her yet as I am a new member, and she is in college right now. We got to talk for a bit, and she told me that she was about to take her Private pilot checkride. I was telling her about my checkride story and flight training, and when we parted she said, “I’m really glad I got to talk to you…it encouraged me!”

Everyone had been SO inspiring and encouraging to me, I was so glad that I could be an encouragement to someone else 🙂



My First Women in Aviation Conference

Have you heard of Tracy Curtis Taylor?  She’s an amazing lady!  She followed Lady Heath’s flight from Cape Town to London in a Stearman.  Then she followed Amy Johnson’s flight from the U.K. to Australia.   You can read her story at her website Bird in A Biplane. She is a very fun and very neat lady…I enjoyed the little bit of time I got to talk to her, and of course I asked if I could have my picture taken with her 😀

Her session was one of my favorites, hearing about her dream to follow Amy Johnson’s flight, and the stories she has from along the way.  Like when she circled a beautiful mansion before landing, only to have the air traffic controller very upset with her because she had circled the Ugandan president’s palace. He was so upset, he slapped down a picture of our Twin Towers burning on 9/11, and she realized that he was concerned that she could have done the same with her plane.  She told us in her British accent, “I’m flying a biplane…I could barely take out a picket fence if I tried!” 😀

After inadvertently flying into restricted airspace in Zambia, another controller was very upset with her. “This may all be very well and fine in the U.K.” he told her, “But here in Zambia we have safety regulations!!!”

It was also very touching to hear about how the little girls in some of the Middle Eastern countries were so taken with and inspired by Tracy.  Two little girls came up to her, trembling with excitement and were just so amazed that Tracy had flown the airplane. Then they said, “…..but you’re so old…we’d think you’d be at home resting!” 


Jessica Cox is another amazing lady.  Born without arms, she is the first person to earn her pilot’s license by flying with her feet!  She spoke during one of the general sessions, and if listening to a lady who flies with her feet isn’t inspiring…I don’t know what is!  “Desire is more important than talent.  When you have desire, you can do anything.” -Jessica Cox

Jessica and Jessica 😉

My First Women in Aviation Conference


Another lady I got to meet was Martha Phillips, president of the Ninety Nines!  I joined the Ninety Nines the day I got my license, and I’ve had so much fun with them, so it was neat to meet the president of this organization.


My First Women in Aviation Conference


It turns out I DID know someone at the conference that I had met before 😀  Air Racer Helen Hagg came to one of the Ninety-Nines meetings with Margaret Wint to share about their Air Race experience back in February.  It was fun to see a familiar face at the conference.  Helen’s goal is to be a missionary pilot, and she not only has her license, but also has her A&P (aircraft mechanic certificate).


Abingdon, Helen, and me

My First Women in Aviation Conference


One evening, Abingdon and I were talking to some people, and Abingdon told them about how I had won her scholarship, had just got my private, what I wanted to do, etc.  Then one of the pilots said, “Wait, I want my friends to hear this story…this is amazing…” and he brought a couple more guys over, and they loved the story as well.  I was talking to the first pilot and found out that he was poorer than poor as a kid…immigrated with his mom to the United States, and became a Marine. He kept telling me, “You can do this. Money can be overcome. Don’t let anyone tell you no…go for it.”


Another guy named Sam walked up and said, “I’m not trying to be awkward or anything, but could you tell me about your religion?”  Yes, absolutely!  This was a topic that came up quite a bit…I could tell that people were trying to figure out how I fit into aviation 😀  “I don’t know if I’ll still be here at Compass when you’re ready to get into the airlines, but if I can help you, let me know,” he told me as he gave me his card.

I know I dress a lot differently than most women do, but I’m not always thinking about it, and tend to think of myself as being “just like everybody else”.  I get asked a lot wherever I go if I’m Mennonite or Amish, so I’m used to it, but I didn’t really think about how MUCH I’d stand out at a conference like this.  People would ask me, “So how are you connected with aviation?” and I could see their wheels turning 😀  One lady asked me, and she said, “I love the Lord, too!” ♥


So many people told me, “You are getting into this at the perfect time. Your timing couldn’t be more perfect.” Because of the upcoming pilot shortage and then there being such pressure for gender equality.
Also, lots of people told me that those 1500 hrs that are required to get a job with an airline will “be here before you know it. It seems like a long way off, but it will go fast!”

It does seem like a VERY long way off!


One girl who is in the military stopped me and introduced herself.  She said, “I just gotta tell you, you are like the coolest chick at the conference!”  I happen to know that there were “way cooler chicks” there than me, such as herself, but it totally made my day anyway 😀


I had read about how the conference was so good for “networking”, but I saw and experienced it myself in amazing ways.  I went thinking that I was going to learn the most in the seminars that they offered at the conference, but I learned FAR MORE just through the hundreds of people I got to meet and talk to.  I made so many friends!  A flight attendant from Louisville told me that if I was ever in the area to give her a call and she’d take me out to lunch 😉


Abingdon took me around to the different socials and receptions one night that each organization has…the ISA21 (airline pilots), WCA (Women in Corporate Aviation), Young Professionals, and AWAM (Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance) were the ones we got to go to.


Young Professionals was for college students, but I snuck in with Abingdon 😉 I met some neat girls there, including one who is an artist. She asked what I did and I told her about my virtual assistant job, and she’s an artist and looking for someone to help with branding and website design, so she got my info 🙂


My First Women in Aviation Conference
We were getting ready to leave, and Abingdon said, “Have you met John and Martha King?” I said, “No, I haven’t!” so she introduced me to them, and then John King says in a big voice, “You’re dressed differently from everybody!!! Why are you different?!”  It was hilarious! I tried to quickly explain why I dress the way I do, and he said, “I always say that the highest compliment I can pay to anybody is to say, “You’re not normal!” I laughed and said, “I enjoy not being normal” and he replied, “I can tell!” It was so much fun talking to them!


I sent Ted about 2 or 3 pictures a day, usually with another famous person I had met, and after I sent him the picture of me with the Kings he teased, “Maybe it would be easier for you just say “who you haven’t met.” 😀



At ISA21 I met several airline pilots.  This is what I want to do eventually, so it was great to get to talk to people who are already living my dream 🙂


My favorite reception was AWAM, which is kinda funny, because I don’t want to be in maintenance. They were such a fun group, though! That’s where I met Travis from JetPubs who really encouraged me, and the whole group was just FUN!

The next day Robin Lamar, who is a past president and co-founder of AWAM, came up and introduced herself. She said, “I really wanted to meet you the other night, but didn’t get a chance to. I just wanted to say that you just FIT with the group, and we would love to have you as a member!” Then at the banquet she was talking to me again, and then when she left she threw me a kiss, lol!

Me and Robin

My First Women in Aviation Conference


I also met Brian Bolt who is on the Women in Aviation board, and talked to him for a little bit in the exhibitor hall. Later at the banquet he came over and congratulated me again and said, “I was just talking to Abingdon and telling her I really enjoyed talking to you earlier.”  The lady sitting next to me said, “Wow…I want to get my picture taken with you!”  Lol!


My First Women in Aviation Conference


I got to meet Ashley Schappert and her little girl, Ella.  Abingdon was telling me about Ashley and Ella, then she said, “Have you heard of Jason Schappert and MZeroA?”   Yes!  I had!  I’d watched some of his videos when looking up some things on YouTube during my flight training.  Ella is so so adorable!  They were in our hotel room one day, and I came in and put my bags and phone on the bed.  Later, I was looking at my pictures and found a couple of blurry ones that weren’t of anything in particular.  Then there was this perfect little selfie of Ella’s face!  I laughed…that picture made my day!


My First Women in Aviation Conference


At the last general session, they had several speakers, and one lady, Pia Bergqvist who writes for FLYING magazine, was telling her story. At first I had zoned out a little bit because I was a bit tired, but then I started realizing that she was describing my start in aviation. She was 29 when she began her flight training, and had just had an interview on Sept. 10, 2001 with an airline. She ended up not flying for the airlines due to the terror attacks on 9/11, but her story was an encouragement to me. Plus, she likes writing…like me! 🙂

I really wanted to meet and talk to her after that, but I could not remember her name even to ask Abingdon about her.  “Jesus, you know who she is…could you help me find her?  I want to talk to her!”

Later, I walked up to Abingdon, who was talking to a lady, and somewhere in the middle of the conversation I looked at her name badge and realized it said that she was executive editor of FLYING magazine.  This was the lady I was looking for and God just ‘dropped’ her right in front of me, lol!


Pia and I

My First Women in Aviation Conference


I stopped by the Bell Helicopter booth and had so much fun telling them that Larry Bell was born in my hometown. One lady asked me to send her more info 🙂


The very last night was the big formal banquet, and all of us scholarship winners, past and present, got to sit together.  This year marked $10 million worth of scholarships that they’ve given out over the time that Women in Aviation has been in existence.

When all of the past and present scholarship winners were standing up on the stage and I saw Jessica, a corporate pilot, Bailey, an airline pilot, Abingdon, Deborah Hecker, and all of these other people, it was such an encouragement to me that they too, were once in my position, and they are all where I want to be one day 😉


Abingdon and I, after the banquet on Saturday

My First Women in Aviation Conference



On the last night of the conference, Abingdon and I stayed up late visiting with people again.  We visited with some of the AWAM group again, and I met Aaron and his wife and they both work for Alaska Airlines as mechanics. He gave me his card and said to tell him if ever I’m in Washington state, and he’d give me a tour of the whole facility! Oh yes!!!


I stayed up all night because I didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun, and I had to get up at 3:00 a.m. anyway to be ready to go to the airport by 3:45. I talked about taking a nap, but my friends from AWAM said, “No! Don’t do it…you’ll oversleep!” As I was leaving to go pack at 2:30 a.m., they were teasing me, “Don’t go to sleep, Jessica! Stay awake!!!”


Leaving Nashville…before we climbed into the clouds.

My First Women in Aviation Conference


I had to take a taxi to get to the airport…my first time taking a taxi EVER! There was another pilot waiting, and he asked me, “Are you going to the airport?” I said yes, and he asked, “Do you want to share a taxi?” Yes, please!  Because I don’t know what I’m doing! (Only I didn’t tell him that!).


He asked me how I was connected to aviation and why I was at the conference, so I told him that I had just gotten my Private pilot’s license and had won this scholarship. He asked if I wanted to go further with it, and I said that I did…I wanted to fly jets! 😀 So he was encouraging me, and we talked about flying all the way to the airport. He said that he had come to the conference for the job opportunities, and said he had noticed me, “Because you stand out” 😀


Once we got to the airport, he said, “Let me pay for the taxi.”



I usually do NOT sleep on airplanes.  Who wants to waste a good flight sleeping?!  I want to see what is going on!  But I was so tired, I started dozing before we even took off from Nashville.  I woke up enough to enjoy the take off, but was back to dozing.  We were flying in the dark, and in the clouds most of the time, so I guess I didn’t miss too much!

Abingdon, thank you! SO VERY MUCH!  You gave me the gift of a lifetime, and I will remember it forever 😉


My Pink Sunset Jackie watch.  I wear it all day every day…mowing the yard or going to church…it doesn’t matter, lol!  Her watches are so durable, and absolutely beautiful!  And it is a constant reminder to me of how God loves to delight us.

The Abingdon Co


That whole week was a huge encouragement, and also a huge confirmation that I am where I am supposed to be.  It also reinforced that God is a GOOD Father who loves to delight His children.  I tend to think of God as being a good Father in the sense that he takes care of all of my needs…but He goes above and beyond that.  I didn’t need this trip. I didn’t need a fancy watch 😉  But He is just so good, He fills your cup, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!


There is nothing you need that He cannot provide.  And He will most definitely make provision to accomplish the dream that He has put in your heart.






“I will deliver and cause you to inherit and possess abundant riches and splendor.  It will be delivered to you like a gushing, galloping, overwhelming torrent. It comes through Me, and I will pour out this splendor and wealth with abundance.”  Isaiah 66:12 (paraphrase)












Heart Surgery & Other Happenings

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


If you’ve been following our Facebook, you already know what I’m about to tell you!  But we’ve been so quiet here on our blog, and we wanted to update anyone who isn’t on Facebook on what’s been happening!

A little over a month ago, Daddy came home from work early. He’s in construction, and has his own business, so sometimes if he finishes a job earlier in the day, and can’t really start on the next one, he’ll come home earlier than usual.  So that didn’t seem terribly odd.  But then he said, “Tell Cassia to go get her stethoscope”.   You didn’t have to tell her twice…she loves any chance to “practice” on us that she can get 😉

She listened to his heart and discovered it was “buzzing” or “purring”.  It was so loud that we could hear it just by giving him a hug.  He noticed it that day while he was working, so that’s why he quit early, because he was pretty sure that wasn’t normal!  Cassia happened to be on call for our local EMS station, and she got called out right after listening to Daddy’s heart.  She ran out the door saying, “I’m not an Advanced EMT but that’s not normal…you should to to the ER!”

So he and Mommy did!


I think all of us were a bit worried, but tried to think that “everything will be ok”.  After all…Daddy is strong…nothing will happen to him 😉 However, I kept thinking about how our Grandpa Richardson suddenly passed away from a heart attack when I was eight.  My grandpa had emphysema and had smoked for years, so it was an entirely different situation, but it still was in the back of my mind and I was fearful.


They came back from the emergency room, and the doctor said he thought it was the aortic valve, and that he wanted Daddy’s yearly echo cardiogram (which was scheduled in a couple of weeks), to be rescheduled to be as soon as possible.  (Daddy’s always had mitro-valve prolapse, and goes in for yearly echo cardiograms to keep an eye on it.) The soonest we could get it rescheduled was a week later…”unless something changes” they told us.


Daddy still went to work, but brought one of us along so that we could help with some of the heavy lifting, or just running to get tools so that he could take it easy.  A few days later he had brought Noah with him to work, and around noon he called to say that he was feeling dizzy and lightheaded (which were some of the signs they said to watch for) and that he thought he should probably go to the ER again.  I drove Mommy to where he was working, so that I could bring Noah back home.


I was *ahem*...speeding…a little bit! 🙂  The road I had to take to get to where Daddy was working is very winding, and there is hardly any place to pass a slow car.  At one point, I saw a big truck pull out ahead of me.  “Oh no!” I thought, “he’s going slower than I want to go for sure!  God, can you make him turn off the road or something?”

I was coming up on him pretty quick, and right before I was about to slow down behind him, he pulled off the side of the road, let me pass, and pulled back on!!!  God…you’re amazing! 😀


We got to the house he was working at…it was good to see that Daddy was still himself, and still okay.  I was going to drive Daddy’s truck home, while Mommy took the mini van to the ER.  I’ve only recently started driving Daddy’s “big” diesel truck, so as we were walking towards it Noah told me, “It sure will be funny if someone sees this little girl driving this big truck!”  Lol!  Excuse me sir…but who is the little one here?!  It cracked me up!


I came home and found out that the girls had been praying for Daddy ♥  I updated them on what I knew, and we kept waiting for any updated texts Mommy would send us.


This time they took him to South Bend, and got the echo cardiogram done right away. He stayed in the hospital overnight and we heard that his aortic valve was getting weak, and letting a lot of blood “backwash” when it wasn’t supposed to.  That was why we were hearing the “buzzing”.  You are born with 3 leaflets in you aortic valve, but Daddy was born with two, and the valve was just getting worn out.


Interspersed with being worried, we’d get texts from Mommy that made us laugh.  Daddy was the youngest patient on the stroke unit (apparently they put heart patients there as well), so he was popular with all of the nurses because he could pretty well take care of himself, and he would get up and walk like he was supposed to 🙂  Plus, it isn’t very often that they get to hear a heartbeat like his so loud and clear, so several nurses and students came in wanting to listen to it.  They would poke their head into the room, and Daddy would tease, “Are you one of those?” Daddy would tease them that he was going to charge them for their education 😀   One student listened to it and said, “Wow!  That is so cool!” then he caught himself and said, “I’m sorry!”  But our parents assured them that they didn’t mind, and that their EMT daughter said the same thing!


We first thought he was going to have surgery right away, but in the end, they sent him home and told him that while it wasn’t an emergency, to schedule the surgery as soon as possible.

“I wouldn’t wait until next year,” said the surgeon.

“So this winter?” Daddy asked.

“Sooner than that…I wouldn’t even wait until this Fall.”

So it was scheduled for June 14th.  Daddy and Mommy told us that they said it felt weird to be scheduling it, like it was an everyday occurrence!


The good news was that his heart was still strong and pumping well, there were no blockages, and it was healthy in every other way.  It just needed a new valve.  Even his mitro-valve was fine.  They checked that, because they figured if it needed replaced, we might as well do both at once!


As the time got closer, we all got a little more stressed, I think!  There was an underlying current of uncertainty.  The surgeon does aortic valve replacements three times a week, and we found out a lot of our friends had this surgery done and were doing just fine.  But we were still kind of nervous. Daddy is a quiet guy, but we’d ask him how he was doing, and he said he was ready for it to just be over.  The day before his surgery I did the grocery shopping.  I get tired shopping for eleven people to eat for two weeks, but I love grocery shopping.  But that day I got stressed out, and as soon as I came home I went upstairs to my bedroom and cried.  Over grocery shopping for pity’s sakes!  I wasn’t even sure why it stressed me out so much…other than I knew that Daddy’s upcoming surgery was worrying me! 😀


The weekend before June 14th, the hospital called to let us know that his surgery had to be pushed out to June 17th, which is also Mommy’s birthday.  That worried us more, because we all saw a difference in Daddy from just a month before when we first found out about his valve.  He was getting a lot more tired than usual, and tiring out quickly.  They had another doctor’s appointment before the surgery, and they told us that nothing had changed with his heart, which gave us a sense of relief!


I asked Daddy if he wanted to go flying before his surgery, because I knew he wasn’t going to be able to for a little while afterwards.  He teased me, “You’re just looking for an excuse to fly!”  But he wanted to just as much as I did, so we flew down to Grissom (KGUS) and visited the Grissom Air Museum together 🙂


Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


FINALLY, June 17th came, and we got up early to see Daddy and Mommy off.  Then we got around and went to the hospital about an hour later.  Five of us girls went to be there during the surgery, and Susannah, Charissa, and the boys stayed home.  We got to see Daddy a couple more times before he actually went into surgery.  We were only allowed to go back two at a time, so a volunteer brought us back.  She saw Daddy and said, “That’s your DAD?!”  We said that he was, and she said, “He looks younger than YOU do!!!”  Lol!   Then later a couple more of us went back, so she told a guy she was helping, “Just a minute, I need to take these girls back to see their BROTHER!”


Daddy in the F4 Phantom cockpit in the museum

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


Mrs. Forti, a lady from our church, drove all the way from Fort Wayne with a birthday cake for Mommy, and to keep us company during the surgery.  Then our pastor and his wife ALSO drove from Fort Wayne and stayed with us during that time.  We had brought books to read and things to do, but it was wonderful to have people to talk to so that we weren’t all just sitting around thinking about the surgery!


The nurse came out every hour to give us an update…she was encouraging and explained everything so well.  They were starting the surgery.  They were working on the valve.  The heart was beating on it’s own again.  Then four hours later, they were DONE!  The the surgeon came out and told us about how it all went, and told us that Daddy was their “poster child”…it went so well 🙂   Since Cassia is an EMT, she is fascinated with this type of thing, and the rest of us are pretty interested as well.   Cassia asked if they have to shock the heart to get it to beat again, and the surgeon said they do sometimes, but usually they just have to massage it a little, and it starts beating on its own again 🙂  How cool is that?!  It made me think about how gentle God is with us as well…when we feel like we can’t go anymore…that our heart has stopped…he doesn’t shock us into going again, but gently massages our heart until it beats again. ♥


He told us that Daddy got a cow valve.  Depending on the size that they need you could get a pig valve or a cow valve, so we had a lot of joking about that beforehand, and we tease about it now 😀


The nurse came and let all of us go back to ICU at once, and it wasn’t as “scary” as I thought it might be to see him with all of the tubes and wires.  He was just starting to wake up a little, and he’d nod when we’d talk to him.  Once he was moving his hand, so I tried to hold it.  But he kept moving his hand like he was trying to shake mine off, and I realized he was tapping the bed.  I thought, “What does he want?” so I teased, “Do you want me to sit on the bed?”  He communicated “no” with his hand and kept tapping, and then pulling on the blanket.  Suddenly it clicked.  “Are you cold? do you want another blanket?” and he nodded ever so slightly.  So I told the nurse and she got him another one.  It was a small thing, but it made my day that I could understand him and help him a little  🙂  He winked at Anna, which totally made her day!


We left that evening (Mommy stayed the night), and by the time we got home we heard that Daddy had been extubated, and that he was teasing the nurses asking for a double dose of the pain killer 🙂


We all went to visit him on Saturday, and it was SO good to see him sitting up and talking and eating. The boys couldn’t go back to his room, but they FaceTimed with him 🙂


Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


By Sunday (Father’s Day), Daddy was out of ICU, so EVERYONE got to see him 🙂  We stayed for a good part of the afternoon and visited with him.  He kept us entertained 😀  The pain meds they gave him were causing him to hallucinate, so he’d mention that the door hinges were falling off of the door, or that one of the boys was on the counter, or other things.  He knew it wasn’t actually, but he had us laughing so hard!  Uncle Darrell (his brother) and Aunt Jenny came to visit, and that was when he saw the door hinges moving.  He teased, “Give me my phone, I need to take a picture…because they’re moving!” 😀


Father’s Day 2016…so happy Daddy is on the mend!

Heart Surgery & Other Happenings


The surgeon originally said that Daddy could possibly come home as soon as Monday or Tuesday, but then on Tuesday the upper part of his heart started going into an irregular rhythm, which sent the nurses running into the room.  That worried us again, and Mommy had to be gone all day that day, away from Daddy, so she was especially worried.  A big THANK YOU to the many friends on Facebook who assured us that the same thing happened to them and that they were doing just fine now.  The nurses told us that it was somewhat normal for that to happen, and that it happens in about 40% of patients.  While we believed them, it was even more comforting to hear it from people we knew who had actually gone through the surgery 🙂


On Wednesday DADDY CAME HOME!!! He texted us when they were just a minute away (the hospital is an hour away), and we all ran out to greet them and hug him (gently) 😀


He is doing really well right now.  He has eight nurses (us!) reminding him to carry his pillow (you always have to have that with you in case of a sneeze or a cough…you hug it so you don’t break open the wound), or to make sure he has his medicine, and not to overdo anything. Cassia made a chart for all of his meds and checks his blood pressure, pulse, temperature, etc. twice a day.   It’s nice having an in-house nurse 😀


He can’t go back to work for at least three months, so we get to have him around the house for a while 😀  To those of you who already knew about this and have been praying, THANK YOU!   We can feel it, and they are helping!  And to those who have just found out with this blog post, we would so appreciate more prayers 🙂  The surgery is over, and Daddy’s doing well, but pray that he continues to heal quickly and well, and that he doesn’t get too bored!!!  Daddy is such a hard worker and a server, so sitting around is really hard for him!  Also pray for Mommy and the rest of us to have peace, and that we’d be able to keep encouraging Daddy 🙂






P.s. As you can imagine…we are suddenly aware of the heart, other people’s stories about the heart, songs about the heart, etc! 🙂   One amazing story we heard demonstrates that our thoughts and our words do have power  🙂  A surgeon who had finished doing heart surgery on a lady, but the heart would not start again.  There was nothing wrong with the heart…it just would not start.  The surgeon was a Christian and he got down on his knees and said, “Mrs. Johnson, this is your doctor. There is nothing wrong with your heart.  Mrs. Johnson, if you can hear me, I need you to tell your heart to beat again.”   And it did!

And that story, inspired this song: