Your Story, Our Story, God's Story

June 15th, 2021 by Barb Buffington

Carl and I were at the Orlando Airport ready to board our plane for our adventure to the Grand Canyon. It was bustling, people everywhere all around, standing, some sitting on the floor and all eager to get going!

airport

There was a dad, 2 moms and 2 toddlers next to us, and it was quite a scene! The adults were all glued to their phones, while the children were running around out of control, trying to open the emergency doors at our gate, climbing into the baggage carts, and screaming – parents didn’t seem to notice or care. Lucky the kids were still around when it was time to board!

busy airport

Then, the announcement came…Flight to Chicago is delayed due to weather. UGH!  Three hours later we took off, and I thought: 1. Please may I NOT be sitting by this family on the plane, and, 2. If this is a preview of how our trip is going to go, perhaps we should go home now!

Well, glad we kept on going!  We had a great trip to the Grand Canyon via Chicago, then on to Amtrak, and our destination was the Grand Canyon – 32 hours on the train! Along with stunning scenery, we met some interesting folk, who each gave us a gift in sharing a story; allowing us a glimpse of God at work in His children. Here are just a few of the stories we heard last week…

your story our story Gods story

Alice's Story of Perseverance

To get to the Amtrak station, we took an Uber from Chicago O’Hare to Union Station (downtown) – usually about a 50-minute trip, so we were told. Our driver’s name was Alice, and the traffic was very thick, bumper to bumper most of the way, so we spent more time together than expected. 

traffic

Alice was 27, and had come from Nigeria at age 16, lived in Iowa, and has spent the last few years in Chicago.  We asked her a question, and she began to share. She is going to school full-time and will have her Bachelor of Nursing degree soon, and she has been working 2 – 3 jobs as well.

She told us of being robbed by a young girl late one night, and how she was led to drive directly to a police station, where the perpetrator was immediately arrested - she knew the Lord had directed her and kept her safe.

She told us of the time her car was bulldozed on a highway by an 18 wheeler semi-truck, and how she spent the next 9 months in the hospital having to learn to walk again, also praising God for the miracle. 

hospital

By the time we got to the Amtrak station, we felt like we were friends, bonded in the Lord.  Her story of perseverance and trust in the Lord was a witness to God’s goodness in her life. She is a resilient Christian! What a gift we received!

Her story of perseverance and trust in the Lord was a witness to God’s goodness in her life. She is a resilient Christian! What a gift we received!

Stories of Life and Laughter

At the Grand Canyon, everyone was taking pictures and oohing and aaahing at the mind-bending vistas.  We came across 6 young women, 20ish in age, who asked us to take their picture and of course we obliged.

grand canyon

Then, we began to ask them about their trip – they were a vivacious group of friends, who had rented an RV to travel around Arizona and Utah for a week – they spoke of their passions and dreams, and their deep friendships. Another gift – to see youthful excitement about life and what is ahead for them. A breath of fresh air to us, which is quite significant at 7,000 feet! Blessed again!

they spoke of their passions and dreams, and their deep friendships. Another gift – to see youthful excitement about life and what is ahead.

Leaving the Grand Canyon for our return on the Grand Canyon Railway to Williams, AZ, late one afternoon, for the last overnight before our trek home to Orlando, we had such a fun experience! In our train car there were only 8 of us – 3 women about 2 seats ahead of us, and a family of 3 (mom, dad, and 16-year-old daughter) sitting across from them.  What a view we had of them carrying on!

The 3 women were celebrating all turning 60 this year; they lived in different states, had known each other from early childhood, and were on a 2-week vacation together. They struck up a conversation with the family riding beside them, and the laughter began to swell.

We heard their stories of life; funny ones, happy ones, and even some serious and sad ones, like how one was caring for a mother when at home, and tragedy that had visited another of the women. But the joy and present moment were of utmost importance!

train-2

And, the family with the teenage daughter got quite the advice from the women…many jokes and the kind of laughter that is so contagious! Everyone was probably wondering what was going on in our train car – it was definitely a party! Even though 2 seats behind them all, we became part of the fun, and it was the best laughing we had done in a long time!  A gift of the celebration of friendship and family and joy and life and the end of the pandemic quarantine! Grateful for the way we were all treasuring the day.

A Witness of A Good Life

Dinner our last evening in Arizona, we enjoyed a quiet meal, and the restaurant was almost empty. A couple who had been on the same itinerary the past few days was on the other side of the restaurant – we had spoken a few times, helped them when they seemed a bit lost, sat next to them on one of the train trips, and we admired their quiet graciousness throughout the trip.

restaurant

They were slight in stature, ages 77 and 79, both mentally and physically intact. That last night after dinner they stopped by our table – they said it looked like we were happy and had a good life, so we told them a bit about ourselves, and asked about theirs...they told us of living in Chicago for 40 years and recently retiring to CA, of their two children and two granddaughters who lived far from them, and their longing to see them more. They seemed to me to be the epitome of graciousness and classiness. They were a witness of a gratefulness and a good life themselves. Another gift.

Corey's Story of Faith

The last leg of our journey had us flying from Denver to Orlando. We were on standby on a flight that left earlier than our planned return, and though the flight was full, we made it on board…. we were sitting at the very back of the plane in row 42, happy to have any seat, and my seatmates were a dad, Corey, and his 10-year-old son, Ezekiel (wife and other son were at the front of the plane).

airplane interior

So easy to strike up a conversation when going to Orlando! “Are you going on vacation?” I asked. Well, the conversation took off.  A pastor’s conference had been canceled that the family was to attend, and they had booked a vacation as an add-on to the conference that had been planned for over 2 years – the 10-year-old allowed he had been saving his money for 2 years so that he would have some spending money on this long-awaited vacation.

That led to the dad, Corey, sharing about the church he is planting in Gilbert, AZ, his love of God, and then about his family, and his dad’s need to retire from being a pastor himself because he lost his sight suddenly.  He shared that he would have to find work while planting the church – graphic design or teaching, but that would happen in August when they moved to Gilbert, though he didn’t even have a home to go to yet.  You’d better believe I will be praying for Corey and his family!  His faith was evident and his trust in the Lord to provide was something beyond normal!  He was such an encouragement and a bold witness to living and trusting that the Lord will provide for his family and has a plan for them.

your story our story Gods story-1

Everyone Has a Story

Stories. Everyone has a story to share, and I believe everyone wants to be heard if someone will listen and show that they care. 

In the daily hustle and bustle of our lives, I know I don’t often take time to stop and pause from my own schedule to be available for others, and just spend a few minutes for another. It might be someone in your family, or a neighbor or a friend, or even a stranger.

But God’s story is all around, and each person’s story is a gift, and each story is important. STOP! LISTEN! CARE! Give space this week for someone to share their story with you, and you just might be the recipient of something special, indeed a gift from above.

Give space this week for someone to share their story with you, and you just might be the recipient of something special, indeed a gift from above.

Have you been given a gift by listening to someone's story?  Let me know in the comments below!

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About this author:

Barb Buffington

Barb Buffington

Barb has spent her whole adult life in ministry--from her own family, to teaching kids with special needs, to working for a Christian conference center. She and her husband, Bishop Carl Buffington, live in Winter Springs with Sammy, their exuberant and adorable golden retriever.

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