After I spoke at Doreen Penner‘s women’s conference, I rode the Canadian Via Train and the U.S. Amtrak train to come home. This man dressed in scraggly clothes and a camouflage hat was on all of my train rides, who I wondered if he was an angel in disguise. This is part 5 of my Canada Blog Series. You can read Part 4 here.
Canada Trip, Part 5: The “Angel” and the To Do List
The To Do List
One morning this man got out some papers and a pen from his duffel bag, and I noticed at the top of the paper the words written in bold, black letters, TO DO LIST.
At this point, I almost LOST it, laughing. EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE, I create a to-do list. It was almost too much. This was not a coincidence. God knows I love to do lists! This had to be a God thing!
Shaking my head at the irony of this, I asked incredulously, “You write to do lists?” Do angels write to do lists?
He got that little smile on his face that he often had when I would ask questions or say something, as if he already knew what I was going to say. Yeah, it was freaky, but in a good way. He answered,”Yes, I do. I write one every day. Do you?”
Somehow I had a feeling that he knew the answer anyway. “Yes. I love to do lists.”
He was still smiling and then he asked, “And do you PRIORITIZE your to do list?” He then began to talk to me about priorities.
The biggest priority was doing what God says every day, to not lose our reward. Being faithful.
I really don’t know if this was a man or an angel. Only God knows.
I do believe with all my heart that God sovereignly put him on all the trains I rode on to get home, to help me during this trip and to speak truth into my life. Meeting him changed my perspective on not judging others by their appearance, viewing the poor and the homeless differently, recognizing the shortness of time we have left here until Jesus comes, and not losing our reward.
I noticed that when I walked around with him at the train station in Seattle, that people would look suspiciously at him or with disdain because of his unkempt, scraggly clothes and unshaven face. They would then look over at me with a puzzled look, as if to say, “Why are YOU with him?” (Because I didn’t look homeless or scraggly.)
I mused that probably very few people I knew, ESPECIALLY successful women online, would be SEEN walking around with him. Maybe some of them won’t even associate with me now because this whole thing is just a little too “out there” for them. They would be too ashamed or embarrassed to be seen with someone who looked homeless- yet his heart was good as gold and God was using him to speak His words of life to my heart.
One business man in a nice suit looked him up and down with an openly contemptuous look on his face. It made me angry. Then I realized that initially I had looked at him with distrust and judgment, too, based on his appearance, and was convicted to change.
I don’t think I will be the same after this trip. I hope not.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
Lord, take judgments out of my heart.
When I went to say goodbye to him and thank him before I stepped off the train at Kansas City (he was going on to Los Angeles, which means “the angels,” by the way), I went to hit his hand with my fist, gangster-style, because he’d done that earlier to me. Instead, he reached out and hugged me. 🙂 He told me he had enjoyed traveling with me and our conversations.
Stay tuned for Part 6 of my Canada Blog Series, where I share about the writer.
Recently I was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at Doreen Penner‘s women’s conference in Mitchell, Manitoba, Canada. So many exciting things happened that it’s hard to compress it into one blog post, so I am breaking it up into several posts for you. Below is part 2 of my Canada Trip Blog Series. Click here to read Part 1.
Canada Trip, Part 2: Divine Appointments
After Doreen asked me to speak at one of the sessions at the conference, and I had talked to Ray about it, prayed and God spoke to my heart to go and said that He would provide all I needed, I compared prices online for round-trip flights. As I was searching, I heard God’s still, small voice, Delta.
Because I didn’t want to spend all my husband’s hard-earned money on air fare, I spent about two frustrating hours online bidding prices on Priceline to try to get a lower price, to no avail. I winded up booking a Delta flight, which is what God told me to do in the first place. See, even though I speak and write about prayer and obeying God’s voice, I am still learning to do it myself!
When I was looking at round trip air fare, though, God told me to take the train coming back, instead of flying. As my friend Doreen’s daughter Kirsten said at the women’s retreat, “It pays to obey God.” Out of the mouth of babes!
I’d been wanting to take a train ride anyway. I told Ray that all I wanted for my 2012 birthday present was to:
ride on a train
eat a nice dinner on the train
take pics for my blog on the train
write on the train.
God didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to obey on this one! This way I could go to Canada to speak and ride on a train, too – one of the things on my bucket list!
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles
Several years ago, Ray and I saw the Steve Martin comedy movie Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. Steve Martin played the role of Neal Page, whose flight has been cancelled due to bad weather. All he wants to do after his trip is get home for Thanksgiving to be with his family. He winds up struggling to get home with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman, Del Griffith (John Candy). A series of transportation mishaps – first the flight cancelling, then the train’s main engine blowing out, then a car catching on fire- leave you rolling laughing. When I was on the train coming home, I remembered the movie, giggling, and then this week Doreen reminded me of the movie, too.
Luckily, I didn’t experience any of those things – except maybe the night an obnoxious train passenger became drunk and was screaming profanities that he was married to a woman who beat him. (He was removed from the cab by cab attendants, after screaming this over and over to the other passengers, who probably felt like beating him, too.)
Other than this, the train rides were incredible. I rode the Canadian Via Railway train and the U.S. Amtrak train coming back home from Canada, traveling throughout the breathtakingly beautiful Rockies. The train trip was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. But first, the flight into Canada.
The Jewish woman on the plane: the wedding cake was awful!
I had to fly from Kansas City, Missouri, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, then Minneapolis to Winnipeg, Canada. I was shocked how fast the flight was to Canada; I was on Canadian soil by 1:30 p.m. Central Time. On the flight from Minneapolis to Canada, the woman sitting next to me was pretty with blonde hair, bright eyes, and a contagious laugh. She was friendly and outgoing, and I couldn’t have slept even if I’d wanted to because she talked the whole way there.
But I enjoyed every minute of it. She was a political science major, highly intelligent, funny and interesting, and engaged for the first time in her life (she was in her 40’s). Also to my delight, I discovered that she was an Orthodox Jew….so her Jewish mama was very happy, helping her to plan her traditional Jewish wedding. (For those who don’t know, I LOVE Israel and the Jews!)
She said that wedding cake tastings are common for Jewish weddings. The cake is as important, or maybe even more important, than the ring. She, her mother, and her friends had been invited to a wedding cake tasting. You sample little pieces of different kinds of cakes and decide which one you like best.
She said the cakes were beautiful, but they tasted AWFUL. None of them had redeeming qualities. Laughing as she told me about this, she said, “But of course you have to be polite. We couldn’t TELL her they were awful!” They thanked the woman, sharing their appreciation of her time, but didn’t buy her cakes. She winded up choosing another cake somewhere else!
Do you have the gift of hospitality?
I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding in real life, but have read about them or seen them in movies (Fiddler On The Roof came to mind immediately; she laughed again). I asked her if they would have the traditional canopy at her wedding (the chuppah), and she said yes. It is open on all sides to represent having an open tent, welcoming all people in unconditional hospitality. Is your home like this? I was challenged by this thought.
I told her my favorite part of the wedding was when the groom broke the glass under his foot. At that moment, everyone seems to have so much joy. She said that is an important and a joyous part of the ceremony, and has many different meanings.
One is that “this serves as an expression of sadness at the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, identifying the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. A Jew, even at the moment of greatest rejoicing, is mindful of the Psalmist’s injunction to “set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” [Resource: Guide to the Jewish wedding, http://www.aish.com/jl/l/m/48969841.html.]
It’s also a reminder that relationships are as fragile as glass and must be treated with love and respect.
What are some important traditions you and your family have? What meaning do they have for you?
She showed me photos on her phone of her fiance’, her wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses, the lace she had chosen to add straps to the dress, and the table cloths. Beautiful!
A Jew’s different viewpoint: Empathy for the Palestinians
We also talked about Palestine and Israel. I am adamant that Israel belongs to the Jews because of God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, the Jews (Genesis 13:15), and was shocked that she was actually a little empathetic to the Palestinians.
She said of course she believes Israel, and especially Jerusalem, belongs to Israel and the Jews, but said you also have to consider the Palestinians’ point of view. She said many of them are just ordinary, loving families wanting to raise their children in a place they consider “home” and that perhaps some land could be conceded to them (though not Jerusalem).
While my viewpoint remains the same about this topic, I found hers eye-opening and surprising; not all Jews view Israel as solely “Jewish” land.
She and her fiance’ have traveled to many different countries, including Russia, China, and Australia. In Australia, she tried kangaroo meat and said it is pretty good. I love good stories like these! Australia is also on my bucket list (although I’m not sure about eating kangaroo – I like kangaroos, and don’t think I want one for lunch!).
On the plane, she was wearing toe shoes, which fit the foot like a glove fits the hand. Toe shoes are gaining popularity with runners and walkers. They were made of kangaroo hide and she let me touch them. They are soft like suede, and she said they are very comfortable.
Before we landed in Canada, I told her “Shalom” and “The Lord bless you,” remembering God’s promise that whoever blesses Abraham (and his seed) is blessed. (Genesis 12:3) She said, “Shalom,” to me, too, and we hugged.
This was my first divine appointment.
In my next post, I’ll share the story of the young man on the Canadian Via Railway train, who I shared the gospel with – and about the man who I wondered if he was an angel in disguise.
Last night Ray created a temporary solution so I don’t take Leah’s computer hostage for the next couple of weeks: he got the dinosaur computer running again and attached a keyboard.
I’m thankful but this is a great test of patience, since the dinosaur computer and its keyboard are very S-L-O-O-O-O-W. It makes me want to SCREAM! How am I ever going to get through the next couple of weeks until I can buy a new one?!!
But as Ray reminded me last night in bed, a true business person uses the resources available to him or her (and a mature one doesn’t whine or rant).
And Thanksgiving reminds me: BE THANKFUL FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE…even the dinosaur computer! Especially for God, family, friends, health, and all the blessings God has given me!
I’m going to ATTEMPT to continue with my blog series on my Canada trip. If this proves to be too patience-testing because of the dinosaur computer’s slowness, then I’ll pick it back up again after I buy the new laptop (which will be my early Christmas gift from Ray, by the way!).
What about you? Have you experienced laptop or computer problems? What did you do until it was fixed or you bought a new one?
SO THANKFUL FOR YOU!
Meanwhile, I want to tell you how thankful I am for you. I couldn’t do what I do without God, my family, and you, and my heart just overflows with gratitude for your love, support, and encouragement. My prayer is that you will have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving Day with your family and friends.
What are some special ways you are celebrating the day?
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” – Colossians 4:2, NAS