Monday, August 22, 2011

A lesson on prayer from an old friend...

There was a lady at my church in Tyler named Nancy Terry. Nancy was such a sweet old lady, very talented, and one of the funniest people ever. She could come back with a witty remark quicker than anyone I know! I had the privilege of working for her the summer after my senior year in high school. She was a real estate agent and was having trouble seeing so I became her personal assistant to help her out! It was a really neat experience for me. I learned a lot and loved working closely with Nancy. Unfortunately, not long after I began working for her, it was discovered that the reason she was having trouble seeing was because she had brain cancer. She began her second battle with cancer and didn't win this time, but her sweet legacy is one that will live on in the hearts of everyone she came in contact with.

There is one particular story I remember about Nancy Terry. Most of the other people there probably don't remember this at all but it has always stuck with me...

It was the morning of the Whitehouse YesterYear Parade. Those not from Whitehouse might not understand, but the parade is a pretty big deal in Whitehouse. The whole city comes out to see the clowns, the princess and the ladies in waiting, the dance teams, the fire trucks, and everything else that comes along with a parade. Here are a few pictures from the year I had the privilege of being a lady in waiting. These pictures aren't from the year this story takes place in but hopefully they'll give you a bit of an idea of the extravagance of the YesterYear Parade.

Now, back to the story. On this particular day, the fate of the parade was questionable. As all of the floats lined up in the high school parking lot, dark clouds gathered overhead and dropped a few threatening rain drops.

My church always provided a water wagon for the parade. We were positioned in the middle of the parade with trailers and wagons carrying ice chests filled with ice cold bottles of water. We passed them out to every single onlooker along the parade route and it was always fun to see the joy that a cold bottle of water could bring to a person sitting and baking in the hot Texas sun. It was a neat outreach to the community that my church loved doing and we did not want to miss out on this opportunity.

So, we all huddle under umbrellas and prayed for the rain to stop, just long enough for the parade to go on. And this is where Nancy Terry comes in. Nancy had some important role in YesterYear and was riding around in a golf cart, making sure everything was going smoothly. As she approached us, she said, "I've never seen so many Baptists huddled under umbrellas! Put down those umbrellas and pray like you mean it!" I'm pretty sure we all just laughed, and stayed huddled under our umbrellas but her words really struck a chord with me.

When I pray, do I really pray believing God will provide? Or do I pray, but remain clinging to my worldly safety net? Maybe God is just waiting for us to take that leap of faith. [There's that faith again. Seems to be a trend in my blogs. God must be trying to teach me something...]

We pray for God to take care of our finances. We say we are trusting Him. So, why do we still worry about money?

We pray for God to mend a broken relationship. So, why are we still trying to fix that relationship on our own? (Which, by the way, I have discovered it always seems to make things worse when I try to fix them on my own.)

We pray for God to bring rain to our dry land. So, why aren't we leaving the house carrying our umbrellas and wearing our leopard print rain boots? [Oh... You don't have leopard print rain boots?? Sorry, that's just me.]

I think my prayer life needs a makeover. So many times, I'll utter a prayer, just to say I did. Then I just hope that MAYBE something will happen. I think instead I need to pray a little more boldly, believing, and KNOWING that God is gonna answer my prayer. It may not be the answer I want and it may not arrive when I want, but He will provide. And I must trust in that.

And in case you are wondering, the rain held off and the YesterYear Parade went on as planned. Probably because Nancy Terry prayed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The stranger on the plane...

When Leeland was just 7 weeks old, I had the opportunity to fly to Pennsylvania to visit Weston's family. Weston was flying one of his clients up there and I was flying commercially, with Leeland, to meet him. I was a little nervous about flying by myself, with a baby, but I had nothing to worry about. This is pretty much what Leeland did the whole time!

I love flying. And not just because my husband is a pilot. In general, I love flying commercially more than flying privately. I love airports. Going through security does not bother me. I love getting Starbucks and waiting at my gate. I love people watching. Observing and wondering. Making up little stories in my head about the people I see- who they are, what they are doing, where they are going, etc.

Except there's one little problem. I like staying inside my head. I don't want to actually talk to the people I'm observing. And the problem usually comes when it's time to get on the plane because I always seem to be stuck next to people that want to talk. And for some reason, I hate talking to the person sitting next to me on the plane. It's just awkward to me. Yeah, we may talk for a few minutes and have great conversation, but then there's the whole 2 hour flight after that when you have nothing to say. Awkward.

Right before my flight in October with little tiny baby Leeland, I got a little convicted. I caught myself praying that I would not be sitting next to people that would want to talk. But then I remembered stories that people told about how they were able to share Jesus with the person sitting next to them on the plane, and I knew I was being selfish. Instead of praying against these opportunities, I needed to be praying FOR them. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done, but I actually prayed for someone to talk to on my flight. Someone to share with.

I boarded early since I had a baby, got all settled and waited in anticipation as the rest of the passengers began to board. I assessed every person approaching my row, wondering if they would be sitting next to me. And then she arrived. She was pretty, clearly a young businesswoman. Probably not much older than me but she seemed to be in a different world than me. She was dressed so nice with her cute purse and work bag. I thought she could have nothing in common with me as I sat there in my jeans and t-shirt, cradling my 7 week old baby. I was just hoping that she didn't hate babies and that we would make it through the 2 hour flight.

After sitting there for about 5 minutes, she realized she was in the wrong seat. She was supposed to be in the middle seat across the aisle. But since she had already gotten all settled in, we decided that she could just ask the person that was supposed to be in that seat to trade. And they did.

As the flight got started, we began to talk. She asked lots of questions about Leeland and about my pregnancy, but that didn't seem out of the ordinary to me- once you get pregnant and have a baby, that's ALL anyone talks to you about. We talked about our husbands and realized that they were a lot alike, and we even got married the same year, just one week apart. I told her about my previous job at ETBU, and most people have no idea what it involves, but she actually had a friend that did that exact same job! It ended up that we had a lot in common.

Then I asked the question. I'm always nervous to ask about couples plans to have children because you just never know the situation. I know so many couples that want to have kids but can't so asking about it can be a sore topic. I had thought about it and avoided it but after talking for a while, decided it was ok. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "So, do ya'll want to have kids?"
Her: *hesitation* "Well...."
Me: *immediately regretting asking* "I'm sorry, is that an awkward question? You don't have to answer!"
Her: "No! It's not awkward at all! I'm actually pregnant right now, but we haven't told anyone yet. A lot of my business partners are on this plane so I didn't want any of them to hear."

And we talked for the whole rest of the flight. Like two little girls at a slumber party, sharing secrets about boys we have crushes on. Except we were two women in our twenties, on an airplane, sharing secrets about our families.

I never got her name. I didn't share "the plan of salvation" with her. But I think she was the answer to my prayer. She didn't sit in the wrong seat on accident. I think God put her there.

We were both a little sad to say goodbye. After leaving, I so wished I had gotten her name so I could look her up on facebook. But that one two hour flight was all we had. From sharing about our lives, I could tell she wasn't a Christian. But I hope that she could tell I was different. I hope that she could see The Light in me. And I hope that something resonated within her. I firmly believe that God had a purpose for bringing us together. And I know that He is working within her. Even if I'll never see the stranger on the plane again.