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Airport Encounters

Holidays and airports. Two words that are often followed by inescapable dread. Lines are long, flights get delayed, luggage gets lost, and people are at their crankiest.


It was the day before Thanksgiving: one of the worst travel days of the year. As I sat in the College Station airport four-years ago, waiting to board a shuttle to Houston’s Hobby airport, a sweet woman approached me.


“Excuse me, are you waiting for the shuttle to Houston?”


I responded with “yes” and scooted over to make room for her to sit down.


As we chatted about our holiday travel plans, we realized that both of our flights weren’t until that evening. We were stuck with early shuttle spots since the later times had filled up, which meant we had about 4 hours to kill once we arrived in Houston—not exactly ideal, especially if you’ve ever been to Hobby airport.


Once we arrived at the airport and survived security, we checked our gates and realized that they were located right next to each other.


And BOTH of our flights were delayed the same amount of time.


Accepting our extended stay at the airport, we decided to grab dinner together—that is if you consider chocolate milkshakes and fries dinner.


During our meal, we continued to share a little bit of our lives with one another. She told stories of her precious family and the battles they were facing. We bonded over mutual struggles, fears, and French fries.


We quickly realized that despite our 40-year age gap, our stories—both the good and the bad—were the same. The main difference: timing.


My family experienced similar trauma years before, and her family was currently in the thick of it.


Before meeting this sweet woman, I had never met anyone else who experienced the same situation my family faced. For the first time, I felt like someone understood what we went through.


We both sat there, amazed. Two total strangers. A grandma with a generous heart and a young girl preparing to graduate from college; two opposite spectrums of life, but so perfectly meant to meet.


Thanks to an early shuttle and a delayed flight: An unexpected friendship formed.


Shortly before we boarded our flights, she said, “Yesterday, my daughter-in-law prayed that I would meet someone special on this trip.”


I smiled and said, “God certainly has a way of answering prayers.”


Over the last four years, this woman has remained a steady influence in my life. From graduation to my wedding, she was there for all of it. She was one of the first people I told about my diagnosis, and she continues to be one of the top recipients of my prayer requests.


My sweet friend and her family have become an incredible source of encouragement and love for my husband and me.


Heading back to Florida after a quick trip to Texas a few days ago, I found myself once again sitting in the Houston Hobby airport—thankfully with a much shorter layover this time. I was reminded of our extraordinary meeting and how grateful I am that God so perfectly placed us into each other’s lives.


So, in honor of our 4-year “friendiversary,” I thought I would share our story as a reminder of how God uses frustrating moments as opportunities for blessings.


As we enter this holiday season, I encourage you to move beyond just gratitude for the good things in life. Instead, be thankful for flight delays, extra moments in line and opportunities to smile at a stranger in an airport.


After all, you never know who you’re supposed to meet.


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