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One challenge for me when I attended the Shakespeare Theatre Festival (STA) in Dallas recently was the exertion and exhaustion of the need to be extroverted for three days straight.
I was traveling alone and among brilliant and successful people working in the same field.
I was there to learn from these people.
I was there to listen mostly.
But I also needed to ask questions, introduce myself to people cold and ask them to give me their hard-won expertise.

As I wrote recently, it turned out that everyone I spoke with was incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge. However, it often took a lot of energy for me to dare to introduce myself and ask the questions.

Reflecting back at the end of the trip, it became evident that nearly every interaction was serendipitous. Orchestrated to give me the answers and inspiration I needed to take away from the experience.

Standing in line to get something to drink on the final night, I introduced myself to the woman in front of me, and we ended up having a 20 minute conversation about something I’m considering for my company that her company has already done. A gift of knowledge with clear take aways.
I was where I needed to be in that moment.

Lingering after an education session to ask one of the leaders a question led to a 20-30 minute conversation about creating effective curriculum that appeases administrators and impacts students. That exchange led to further conversations with the same practitioner who shared a great deal about how his company has built a very strong education program (with a substantial budget to boot).

Sitting at the final banquet on the last night, a young lady sat next to me, and we discussed our work and background for at least an hour. I landed at the table where I needed to be.

At a plenary session (where we all gathered to listen and discuss), I wasn’t able to ask a question I needed answered, so I walked up to wait and ask more directly afterward. The answer confirmed the work I was about to start when I returned home. The message: “You’re on the right track.”

Everything lined up.
God put me right where I needed to be and gave me the audacity I needed in those moments to speak up.

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And then.
At the airport on the way home.

I was now in a space where I was alone in public.
Little need to interact.
Just waiting for boarding to begin.

I watched a woman’s bags for her.
When she came back, I saw she was on the phone and in tears.
I was paying just enough attention to see if she needed assistance.

I overheard her say “I can’t see out of my right eye.”

I perked up.
I’ve been there.
“I know what that is!” I thought.
I waited a minute, thinking I’d tell her when she got off the phone but then realized that was foolish.
I went over the the crazy expensive travel shop by our gate and bought the tiny packs of Excedrin.
When I returned to the gate, she was off the phone.
I touched her shoulder, and I said, “I am quite certain what you’re experiencing is a migraine. Does the blind spot look like a bike reflector?”
She confirmed that it did. I told her that every migraine I’ve had since they started in fourth grade began with that blind spot. I recommended the Excedrin to get ahead of it.
I also (and I do not always do this even if I think I should) asked if I could pray for her.
We prayed.
We lined up to board.
We flew from Dallas to Nebraska.

At baggage claim, she grabbed my hand in a full panic of how bad the pain was and the fear of not understanding what was happening.
Another woman got my attention, pointed to another passenger and said, “He’s a doctor.”
Turns out there were four doctors on our flight returning from a medical conference.
They took her pulse, talked to her, concurred with my thought on migraine, and called paramedics.
She didn’t want to go to the hospital alone in this city where she’d never been, as she was arriving on a work trip.
I told her I would be there, but had to get my car.

At the hospital, I was able to go in and see her for a couple minutes. We prayed more. She asked me to call her husband and let him know where she was and what was happening. She was much more clear after having some fluids pumped in her.

That night and the next day, doctors did tests to rule out stroke, MS, and diabetes, and 99% conclusively landed on ocular migraine, for which there is no treatment.

As much as I’d hoped she’d be well when we stepped off the plane, she would have had a question mark of “what just happened?” hanging over her. She has answers.
As she said, we are now forever connected.

I was exactly where I needed to be.
God used me to be the person she needed in that moment.
God’s timing is perfect.

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