Last Wednesday I entered Wonderland.
Jason dropped me curbside at the airport for my Denver flight. While standing at check-in, a teenager asked to use my phone. She was waiting for her dad, she said.
“Where are you?” she yelled. “Pick me up now! Now. Did you bring my meds? Get here!”
She handed it back, turned, and sneezed. Loudly.
If you know me, you won’t be surprised by the dousing of antibacterial I slathered over my phone, luggage handle, and front and backs of my hands.
After checking my over-sized bag, I stood in the security line with 35 minutes to spare. Perfect for our tiny West Palm airport.
“Dabney Hedegard,” I heard over the intercom, “please return to ticketing for your lost item.”
This didn’t surprise me. I, too, realized somehow I lost my driver’s license. Maybe curbside?
I ran in high-heeled boots (my attempt at a more business-like attire, which I thought included fancy boots) up the escalator, out the door to curbside, where I politely asked for my license.
I ran inside to American Airlines ticketing counter and asked the same.
All three heads shook.
Frantic, I circled the ground, asked a guard, now two guards, then grabbed the courtesy phone and explained my dire situation.
The attendant, who may need a different title, because—well—he wasn’t too courteous, chuckled at me. “Well, looks like I can’t help you then if you don’t recall where you dropped it.”
“My name was announced over the intercom to return to ticketing. I’m at ticketing. No one seems to know why my name was called. Can you make another announcement, maybe something like, ‘Dabney Hedegard is waiting in the ticketing area for her lost item…,’” I clenched the phone tighter. “That would really be helpful, I’m about to miss my flight.”
“Well, I’d sure like to help,” he chortled. “But, I’m afraid I can’t. Wish I could.”
I spun, tracked every face that might possibly have access to an intercom in the ticketing area. There. I saw a man. And yes, he’s yelling for someone. Me? I thought. I ran over.
“Are you Dabney Hedge-uh-guard?”
I didn’t correct him, but nodded.
He handed me my license with a smile. I wondered if he knew the courtesy phone guy, but didn’t have time to ask.
I ran back down the escalator to security, yanked off my fancy boots and belt,
threw my items in bins, ran through the scanner. Got flagged. Then scanned with some type of wand. Someone started gripping my elbows with weird gloves and I watched my form appear on a monitor to my side with each body part she touched.
“You can go,” she said.
I redressed, stuff my laptop back in the suitcase, and ran to my terminal, praying all the while.
“Last boarding call to Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.”
My forehead tacky with sweat, hair swiped across my face, eyeliner smudged, I dropped into seat 25A, and thought, “Good thing I spent so much time trying to look less mommy-like.” Then laughed. “I’m thinking my fancy boots won’t help my disheveled appearance. Good one, Dabney.”
Once landed, I had thirty minutes to make my next flight. Concerned, I asked the attendant the quickest route. “There’s an hours time difference. There’s plenty of time to make your next flight,” she patted my shoulder.
I sighed, thanked her. This left an hour for lunch. Starved and tired of my home-packed nuts, I settled in with a warm plate of teriyaki beef and steamed broccoli. Not bad for airport food. I posted a notice on Facebook about my silly happenings, laughing at my misfortune.
On a whim, I checked the status of my flight. Walking closer to the gate, the area’s empty. “Last boarding call to Denver, Colorado,” blared through the terminal gates.
I shook my head and thanked the Lord for making my flight.
We landed in Denver, and I’m excited to meet my Aunt Pam whom I haven’t seen in two years, the last time I attended the Writing for the Soul Conference. I’m running again in my fancy boots, lugging my bags outside, waiting for her car. Then it occurred to me that my aunt typically meets me at baggage claim.
For an hour we searched for each other. Outside, inside, security. Finally, I found her.
We sat. My head hurt. She looked as concerned as I did. I felt badly we miscommunicated. We decided to shop, then go out for dinner. I ended the night in a quaint bed in breakfast, asleep by midnight.
We hugged and waved goodbye. I’m now eager to change and pour over my workbook like any good Type A, planning my agenda. Except, when walking to the desk, this Hyatt didn’t look like the Hyatt from 2 years ago.
I tried to check in. Only, my name’s not listed. The employee told me this happens frequently. She gave me the, “I’m genuinely sorry,” look. “The Grand Hyatt is down the street, three blocks.”
I swung around and ran out the door, watching my aunt pull away. I laughed. Again.
I’m sure, intrigued because he just watched me enter the building, the bellman asked why I was laughing.
“My aunt,” I said. “She just drove off, and I’m at the wrong hotel.”
He took off down the road after her, arms wildly waving.
I couldn’t see him any longer, but I was still laughing. How could I not. My conference registration began in one hour. I could walk three blocks, I thought.
My aunt’s car pulled back through the drop off area, only she’s not driving. The bellman was.
She apologized, I apologized. After all, I directed us there with my GPS.
I, again, attempted to check in the correct Hyatt. Only, my name’s not on the list. Yesterday was my arrival date, the 15th. Not 16th. My room’s been given away, but I’ve been charged the no-show fee. “Sorry,” I’m told. This can’t be reversed. There’s no, “I’m genuinely sorry,” look here. She’s swamped and doing the best she can.
I chuckled and whispered a prayer. I couldn’t believe the string of craziness surrounding my jam-packed two days.
All of sudden, I’m not feeling so hot. My nose started dripping. The sneezing-phone-borrowing-girl entered my mind. Haven’t been sick in over a year, I reminded myself. For certain, I’ve caught a cold.
The next morning I wake just in time for breakfast, and said a quick prayer. I’m afraid of Jerry B. Jenkin’s atomic watch. He’s never late, and apparently runs a tight conference schedule by that big thing on his wrist. I committed to do the same. But my nose ran and head hurt. I reassured myself that Saturday during my appointments with editors, I’d feel better.
Only, when I woke Saturday, I don’t want to move. My nose dripped incessantly, head hurt, mouth dry. How was I going to manage four interviews ? “Lord, help me,” I begged. Actually, I teared up at this. Weak, tired, fearful, I wanted so much to crawl back under the covers. But I couldn’t. Preparing six months for a conference like this, a chance to meet editors who possibly wouldn’t give a newbie like me a chance, I must attend my meetings. I called Mom, and texted friends asking for prayer.
I knelt bedside, opened the hotel-provided Gideon Bible, and read Psalm 34. He wrote this for me, I thought. All my fleshly efforts floundered. It’s only during His presence I feel peace. This project has been His from the beginning. If He wanted anything published, all the forcing in the world won’t help.
I stepped on the elevator, and asked those riding if there’s a nearby drugstore.
“Why,” an attendee asked.
I explained my desperate need for a decongestant.
She reached into her bag and pulled out two Sudafed. Sudafed!
“Are you serious,” I replied, my mouth opened a little.
She smiled, and explained how she’s known as the drugstore-lady back home. She’s laughing now.
This time…I’m not.
I’m thanking God for her. For Psalm 34, because I felt Him encamped around me. For this Divine appointment. For drugs. Then I paused…and wondered if it’s okay to thank God for such a thing.
Thirty minutes after medicating, my body’s recharged; my nose: dried; head: cleared; energy: returned.
My appointments went well. Some wanted chapters, a proposal. Some, the finished manuscript, another asked if I would consider writing on assignment. Later, an agent slipped me her card.
I tracked down the drugstore-lady at lunch and thanked her. Then, again thanked God.
The rest of the day I typed away in my room. The odds of having this much uninterrupted alone time were against me. I typed, and typed, and re-arranged for over six hours, satisfied with the clarity and direction. Once my work was saved both on my laptop and USB flash drive, I fell into bed around midnight.
Come morning, I ate, and ran back to my room to type some more.
But it was gone. All of it.
I couldn’t find a lick of what I edited the day and night before. I’m more than frantic. I’m praying out loud in my room as I performed a search under the title of my book.
“Come on, Lord. I know I saved it,” I continued. “Please, please help me find this.”
I searched for documents saved in the last week.
I performed the third search under the date and time last logged in just before midnight. One document appeared in a weird location.
“Thank you, God!” I sighed. He heard me.
This isn’t always typical—having my prayers answered so quickly. And often times my answers from Him are, “Just wait.” But He heard them. I have theories for why life throws us unexpected curves, or we feel that wave of discouragement. I’ll talk about that at a later date.
But I find it’s in my weakened state, that’s when He’s strong.
Does God hear our prayer? This weekend was living proof for me.
How about you? Has God ever answered prayer when you least expected it?
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18