A Second Chance


This is a long blog, but stick with me.  When I dated Jim my senior year of college he informed me, after I was smitten, that he was in the Air Force and after Officers Training School, he would be attending flight training.  No one I knew and no one in my family was in the military.  I was concerned about the dangers of flying and wasn’t sure I was cut out to be a pilot’s wife.  This was during Viet Nam, so it was extra scary.  I had nightmares of planes crashing for weeks.  Well despite my fears, as a new Christian the Lord showed me that it was His plan for Jim and I to marry, and slowly and with his help, I became a pilot’s wife.  After Jim graduated from flight school, he became an instructor pilot and by the time that assignment was up, Viet Nam was over.  When they closed the base we found out that Jim’s next assignment was to fly the F-111.  It was his dream to be a Fighter pilot, so he was thrilled.  When we got to our base, I found out this aircraft had some issues and there had been a number of crashes.  I learned more and more to trust God with Jim and made Jim promise never to step into the cockpit without praying.  You can bet I was praying all the time.  After that assignment we were sent to RAF Lakenheath in England.  There we learned even more to trust the Lord and grew more in our faith there than ever.  We had two little girls at the time and life was busy.  On Wednesdays the girls had ballet lessons at the base and if Jim was free for dinner, we occasionally met at the club for their Wednesday night Mexican food.  We couldn’t even buy tortillas in England, so this was a huge treat.  One Wednesday evening after ballet lessons, the girls and I were waiting for Jim in the entryway of the Officer’s club.  Jim was flying that afternoon, but he assured me he would be able to meet us for dinner.  As I set there with my two tiny ballerinas, both under the age of 5, a pilot I knew walked out of the bar where the pilots would meet after work to tell all their flying tales.  He looked at me and  seemed surprised to see me.  He asked if I was waiting for Jim.  I said yes and he started to stammer and look upset and said he had to go.  I realized that something was very wrong, and I was pretty sure Jim was in an accident.  I told God that He was going to have to help me with whatever was about to happen, because I was just a young woman, in a foreign country, with two small girls.  I felt all the blood drain out of my body.  I remained calm and really started praying.  I didn’t want to frighten the girls, but I was shaking like crazy.  I assumed that the people who tell you your husband has crashed were at my house trying to figure out where I was.  I assumed the pilot friend I saw went to call people to tell them where to find me to share the news.  I was actually amazed at how at peace I became.  Well thankfully about 30 minutes later Jim walked through the door.  He was alive and well, but mad as could be, which is rare for him.  I asked him if he had an accident and he said yes, a mid-air.  What!   Jim was flying as the instructor pilot in a jet that has two seats side by side.  They were flying as a two ship (two planes flying together) in some cloudy weather.  The guy behind wasn’t the greatest pilot and he bumped into Jim’s plane.  It was a minor accident, but when you have an accident in the Air Force they take a blood sample and you go through a long recorded briefing.  Jim HATES blood tests and after he de-briefed them, they found out the tape recorder wasn’t working, so he had to do it again.  The reason the pilot friend looked so shocked to see me, is he thought Jim was dead.  He had heard their was a mid-air and Jim was involved and they didn’t see any chutes.  Jim just wanted to go eat some dinner and forget about it.  I burst into tears and could barely stand.  I was so thankful that he was alive and okay.  He was angry that somebody had bumped into his aircraft.  We finished our dinner and went home.  I loved Jim before the accident, but I don’t think I ever realized how much I really loved him until that day.  I was so thankful to still have him and so thankful to the Lord for being my Savior and my friend.  I stared out the window the following morning and had waves of gratitude wash over me.  Jim got to fly for thousands of hours and even flew in combat, and I learned that God would help me through whatever the Air Force threw at us.  I was so thankful for that second chance, and I never wanted to take Jim for granted! I cherish each day we are together.

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