Solo Mama and the Snowy Shriners in Billings (Part 1?)

Lisa Cherry —  November 22, 2010

mountain

I am sitting at the airport in Billings, Montana spending some extra time at my computer. The view from my window is beautiful. White mountainous ridges, clear blue sky, and a busy ground crew trudging through about 10 inches of the season’s first big snow.

Unfortunately, I am a traveler again with one of those nasty “request for seating passes” instead of a boarding pass. Good news: I am another 200 dollars closer to paying off my air expenses for the tour.

The bad news is I will be spending all day waiting in airports both here and in Salt Lake City and not get home as early to see the kids. I have determined to crack the code on why I keep getting the bumped position on the way home.

So, I’ve got some downtime to reflect on our weekend trip.

This was my first experience at traveling alone on a weekend with Acquire the Fire (ATF).  Kalyn was not able to come this weekend, and we knew the event was one of our smallest so I volunteered to cut costs and go solo.

My flight here was a series of divine appointments. I sat next to the sweetest young couple traveling with their first little one-year-old baby. The mama was all ears about raising kids, and I had a great time sharing all my best advice for two hours.

She reminded me so much of my precious daughters. So eager to do her best job for the Lord in raising her son, but having to wrestle through all the nagging questions and doubts as she learned her new job. It was such a great honor to spend time with her as Titus 2:3-4 admonishes. The older woman training the younger how to love her husband and children.

As I ran through the airport to barely catch my connection in Salt Lake, I was shocked to be assigned to the seat next to John Gray, the incredibly funny comedian emcee on our ATF tour. At first I thought I was in for an entertaining ride until I observed John’s posture and countenance.

“Hi, Lisa. Glad you’re here. I need a prayer warrior sitting next to me. I have a sinus infection and the altitude just blew up my head. I lost all my breakfast on the last flight and I am not sure how I am going to make it through this one.” So intercession seemed like a good idea to me! I wasn’t up for holding his barf bag! I am pleased to report we did just fine. I prayed. He slept. And I sat really still.

All week long before our departure, we had heard from our ATF friends that the Billings event was facing some challenges. After booking the event at the community’s largest arena, a rare tornado took the building’s roof off. Instead of canceling and disappointing the many who come to the annual event from hours away in neighboring states, they opted to book the only other option. A Shriners’ lodge.

We were all horrified at the crazy “secret pictures” of the “secret meetings” held in our now sanctified event location. I certainly had never spoken on a stage with the Shriners’ strange symbol hanging over my head instead of a cross.

The challenges did not end there. We were majorly oversized for our facility. Imagine a small high school gymnasium with a stage on the end. Imagine also enough sound equipment that we could have blown the roof off this facility as well. Oh, and did I mention there was a blizzard?

So what did we do? We counted it all joy. Took on a mission trip mentality. Paired down all our displays. Stood in line for the one small bathroom. Squeezed our team into the tiny basement prep room. And then prayed and wondered if our 1600 pre-registered guests would show.

I was so proud of our team. Most all of our workers are young, college-age interns from Teen Mania’s Honor Academy. I did not hear ONE negative word or complaint all weekend long. Wow, God is maturing those kids.

My southern Illinois mentality computed that no one would come. But this was Montana. Our guests rolled in slowly and cheerfully. Some traveling six hours for what should have been a three hour trip. They were hungry for God’s transforming word for their kids, and they begged us not to cancel. I loved their passion. I loved their tenacity. Youth pastors and parents were bonded together in a common mission. To ransom a deeply wounded generation.

The program went off with very few hitches…except one. Our speaker forgot to release the parents for my breakout session. I was tempted to get upset when I thought I wasn’t even going to get to speak. When all of a sudden the director had a new idea. Would I be willing to change my message and talk to the youth pastors and parents together? Wow, that was a real opportunity. Almost doubled my crowd size, and it went so well that I might get to start speaking in two meetings at other events! Go Jesus!

Can you tell I am having the time of my life? Who would have thought God could redeem us so completely that our greatest struggle is now becoming some of our most fruitful ministry opportunities.

And the divine appointments continued. Bumped with me in Billings was a very nice 17-year-old young man. He was excited to visit with the ATF folks catching their flights as he was at the event the night before. I was able to give him a copy of Kalyn’s book. When I shared more of our story, his countenance changed. He said he would give the book to his friend, J. She was caught up in a relationship with a high school teacher. Similar story, he said. And how could it be, in a town of about 50?

Will you pray for J. this week?

Next week I am looking forward to being HOME. And when we fly off again the first week of December, snow should not be a problem in Phoenix!

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