Thanksgiving in Delays and Detours





I jumped in the last blue taxi at the Austin airport on the way to Susana’s house. I was excited to get to her because it had been a while and even though it was well past midnight I knew we’d be up late – catching up, talking, and not wanting to go to sleep. This is the spiritual sisterhood that God’s forged, one that’s hard to explain, it just is and seems like it existed since forever.

I’ve been traveling to Austin every so often this year with the addition of Mary’s Touch. God’s expanse of blessing has produced ministry and people. It’s not lost on me. My heart is over full at how it seems to be a massive season of blessing of the authentic – and restoration of things lost or delayed.

After ten minutes in the cab my phone totally died and though a pretty fearless Boston gal most of the time, I was not thrilled about it being the middle of the night with now no working phone and a taxi driver who just announced he was running out of gas. At this point I was getting aggressively “east coast” with a litany of directions to the cabbie as it seemed he was driving me into an abandoned truck stop. I silently prayed and told him to turn the cab around and find a lit gas station. “Just keep going.” There was nothing in sight and I will admit I was fighting the panic that was overtaking me. I am calm in big cities, but open spaces and darkness have potential for panic attack.  After a good 12 minutes, of complete darkness and no lights, finally a gas station and I was plotting my exit.

There was a convenience store that was open and got out and had him pop the trunk, grabbed my luggage and burst into the store asking the woman manning the joint to charge my phone for me behind the counter and could she help me talk Susana to me with directions to come get me. “Don’t worry honey you are good now. You are fine. We’ll send him on his way. I’m Nikki.”

She was safe. She was rattling off names of streets Texas style as I stood there perplexed. She couldn’t figure out why I didn’t know these parts of Austin until I enlightened her that I wasn’t really from around here but was just in town for the weekend. “For what?” I proceeded to tell her I was there for a retreat on the Blessed Mother. “You know the Mother of God.”


I got a drink and the trashiest snack food possible to crunch my anxiety away while I waited impatiently for my phone to charge until I could call Susana. I felt dead and relieved all at once and couldn’t stop thinking about how little sleep we would get before our board meetings and the radio shows the next day. It was going to be an all-nighter at this point and I was suddenly scanning the aisles for Visene. It was a total inconvenience for Susana. Did I over react? Why didn’t we book an earlier flight? Why isn’t there Uber in this city? What taxi driver has an empty tank? Was that a total scam? What am I doing in this place?

I suddenly thought about this woman and how she’s alone in this place all night with every manner of everyone coming and going. I said, “Hey Nikki, how do you manage here overnight like this – are you safe?” She told me she’s fine and that her police friends come in and out through the night. She has her buddies that look out for her. She said “I have to work here and I also work at a hotel in a very bad area too. I was born in a cycle of poverty and had a baby as a teenager. I need to work.”

My heart sank as I considered her situation. I told her I thought it was awesome that she kept her baby and that she has this strong work ethic. That she was a leader. That she would go far. I was suddenly giving this massive convenience store pep talk. I was too tired for words, but I was suddenly standing up and was turning Texas cheerleader for Nikki. She helped me. And that she was so encouraging. I thanked her for being here for me.

I told her that I was going to give the retreat this weekend on generational sins and habits and that maybe my cab was breaking down to just tell her that she WILL break the chains of poverty in her family and that God wants to use her to do that. That there was no coincidence with God that my little blue cab couldn’t make it any further and ended up here, right now in this place. She began to weep. I told her she was strong. And that she could stand in the gap and be the woman that no woman ever was in her family – that as her children watched her work ethic and integrity, they would learn from her and model her, not the sins of the past. She cried more and we embraced.

I was so in my own drama about the maze of the broken down blue cab to not see right away that even in the inconvenient moments, we need to praise Him. Praise Him because He sees where we are going and why, even if it’s for five minutes or five months. He is the Divine Transporter in the disguise of broken instruments who seem like a mess, the wrong fit or a mistake. He is the mover, the Divine Shifter to move our feet to be His for another. Thanks-giving. Thank Him when it seems to be going wrong, or you feel detoured, delayed or duped. It is precisely in those moments when God is operative.

Nikki was proof to me that I need to be grateful and expectant. That God is not a man that He would lie and change His mind about my life and the direction it’s going. If there are delays or detours or unexpected stops on the way it’s because there is an assignment, a blessing, and that I am to be a blessing. I was stuck overnight for a few hours that stretched a late night into a super late night, but it was worth it. God loved Nikki that much to inconvenience me to send a message of love and encouragement. God showed me as he burdened me that He bore the greatest burden of the Cross as the greatest message of love the world could ever know. Even if it seemed in vain, a waste, or not even like a kingly thing to do, He did it anyway.

I’m so grateful that I ended up with Nikki that night. She encouraged me and I encouraged her. She has something I needed, safety. And I had something she needed, assurance.

Let’s be grateful for even the things that seem broken. God can bring forth His greatest glory from these places.

I’m still thinking about Nikki. I pray for her every day.

Like Nikki, we can stand in the gap and do things differently so that we break old cycles and old patterns. We can be heroes in our own spaces that we occupy. I look up to her for her willingness to work hard, to not be bitter, to be a loving source of encouragement, to have chosen life at a great cost to herself. I pray she rises higher and higher and God lifts her to the next level. I know He will.

Thanksgiving for His timing and His mercy even in the detours.

Praying for you+