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(© Akabei (iStockPhoto.com))
We had a fantastic time on our family vacation. Justin’s family is amazing. His mother is one of 12 children, and almost all of her siblings have four or more kids themselves. I love hanging out with them. It was a blast!
 
The only negative portion of our trip was on the way home. We woke up that morning at 6 a.m., had our bags to the front desk, ready for the shuttle by 7 a.m. (Embassy Suites rocks!), had breakfast, and had our three kids, my husband’s sister and her two kids, his brother and his parents on the shuttle to the airport at 7:30.
 
The 14 of us went through security without a hitch and had the kindest security guard ever. He passed out stickers to the kids and made the whole process easier.
 
We got to our gate and met one of the nastiest ladies ever. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she was up at 6 a.m. as well. Maybe her coffee hadn’t kicked in. I don’t know what was going on, but she unleashed on my husband.
 
Delta’s carry-on policy is that you can have one carry-on and one personal item. Here's what we had: one standard-size carry-on suitcase that I flew on Delta to Minnesota with and our new turquoise 21-inch suitcase that we bought at the mall since our duffle bag wouldn’t survive the trip home. The turquoise bag is smaller than the standard carry-on size.
 
We paid for five seats, so that means we were allowed five carry-ons plus five personal items like purses and backpacks that are stowed under the seats. We had two carry-ons. That’s it. And one was smaller than average.
 
We were the first people to board in zone 2, so I got on first, pushing Josiah in his stroller, and then waited. Justin should have been right behind me, but he wasn’t. So I collapsed the stroller and waited. As Josiah and I were about to board the airplane, Justin came up behind me, and he was mad.
 
Justin rarely gets mad. Ask our youth kids.
 
The boarding lady wouldn’t let our carry-on bags come onto the plane because they were too big and there wasn’t enough room on the aircraft.
 
Except they weren’t. And there was.
 
The flight attendant who overheard Justin telling me saw our two suitcases, now tagged to be checked and stowed under the plane, and said, “No, they’re not too big, and there’s plenty of room.”
 
But it was too late.
 
All of the items, some fragile, that we had kept out of his parents' larger suitcase that they’d checked earlier were now headed downstairs into the cargo area. When the rest of our family boarded, they shared how incredibly rude the lady was, especially to Justin, who was silently steaming in the seat in front of me.
 
While this might sound like a silly thing to be upset about, keep in mind that we had fragile and electronic items in those carry-ons. Plus, being humiliated in front of a crowded airport when you’ve done nothing wrong isn’t fun for anyone.
 
The flight attendant, who was amazing, called the front and told us the captain was involved, and she apologized profusely. Again, we had paid for five seats, which meant we paid for five carry-on spaces, and now our carry-ons weren’t allowed to be with us.
 
This situation made me think about how we deal with people in the church. The lady at the gate and the flight attendant can be compared to the ministry staff. They represent the brand, in this case Delta, and ministers represent the church and ultimately Jesus.
 
Just like we’d had a long, travel-stressed morning before boarding the plane, sometimes the people who come to our church have had stress-filled mornings. They may be under extreme stress from their jobs or personal things going on in their lives, and maybe their kids didn’t behave while they were trying to get them dressed in their Sunday best.
 
My husband’s a youth minister—low on the minister “hierarchy,” but still viewed as a leader in some people’s eyes. Just like Delta’s staff are the first point of contact, we are sometimes the first (or only) point of contact with Christianity that some people will ever see.

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