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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: Our Ticket Home
By Michelle Burkhardt


Many retirees move to Arizona during their golden years to get away from the Northern weather. Conversely, when we moved to Arizona, it was far from golden. We had lived in, “America Starts Here”, Pennsylvania and having to move for my husband’s job was very difficult. The move took place in August, one of the hottest months in Arizona. Our poor Eskimo dog didn’t like the heat either and every time she had to relieve herself she would run back to the door begging me to let her back in. This behavior was the complete opposite of living in the East where we had to chase her down to come inside. Many say that Arizona is not humid, which is true, yet, when it is so hot that your head will catch fire if you put your sunglasses on top of it, then, who cares whether it’s humid or not.

Two months after the move, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law, Patti. She found a lump and was calling to let me know the results. My heart sank to the deepest part of my stomach as the words, “Cancer” traveled through the telephone. Not being able to help her was one of the most frustrating times of my life. When I was pregnant with my twins I was put on bed rest for 2 months and it was Patti who came everyday to feed me lunch. Now that she needed me, I couldn’t be there for her.

My husband, Paul, had sent out applications to other airlines in hopes of getting a different flying job that would be located on the east coast. A few weeks later, he received a phone call from USAir wanting to set up an interview. USAir had not hired pilots for over 9 years; I just knew this was God’s work. Patti needed us and now USAir was going to hire Paul and we were going home…. So, I thought.

On November 4, 1999, the letter from USAir arrived in the mail; I remember the date because it was also my husband’s birthday. Sadly, it was a rejection letter without any explanation. Devastated, is only a fraction of how we felt. How could God tease us like that? That was our chance to go home, be with family and to help Patti with her 3 young children. I felt angry, tricked and betrayed. There I was just like a kid in a candy store and God was holding, on a string, the juiciest piece of candy and as I went to reach for it, Poof! It was gone.

Our Lord is faithful and when one door closes another one opens. In the same pile of letters that arrived that horrible day was a letter from United Airlines. Paul didn’t even open it until the next day because he was too emotionally upset. The letter contained an invitation to come for an interview with them. My husband will probably say that was the most difficult interview because knowing this could be our last chance to go back to Pennsylvania made him very anxious.

The phone call came only a few short weeks later, United offered him a position…WE WERE GOING HOME! It wasn’t until almost 2 years later that I found out God had a better plan for us. On September 11, 2001, the airline industry changed forever. We praised God for Paul being safe at home with us when the attacks occurred in NYC, Washington D.C, and in a deserted field outside of Pittsburgh. On the other hand, if he had been working for USAir instead of United, he would have lost his job immediately. United did suffer financially; however, his furlough noticed did not happen for almost 1 ˝ years after the attacks, which gave us extra time to prepare for the loss of income.

God allowed us to come home, be near family, and protected our financial situation. I learned a valuable lesson the year we moved to Arizona. I believe Garth Brooks has a song that explains it best, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

Note: Tragically, we lost Patti on June 30, 2004. Even though we miss her dearly, we are extremely grateful that we were able to be with her for the last 4 years of her life, thanks to God for bringing us back home!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Martha Robinson01/17/06
Very touching story! It certainly illustrates how God works in His own way and on His own timetable. Thanks for sharing.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/21/06
An excellent story and an interesting read; kept my interest throughout. My heart goes out to the pilots of commercial airlines and their families. In these times it is almost as if they are also on the Front Lines facing the enemy like our brave men in military uniforms. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Thank you for sharing....