That's pretty awesome, Roy. TP for sharing.
Here's one that really affected my wife and I (it's a long story; my apologies for that):
In June 2017, my Mom died of cancer, so my wife and I prepared to travel from California to Maine for the funeral. What unfolded next was a crazy series of gut-punches and blessings.
First, we didn't have the money to fly to Maine. It's always an expensive ticket, but on super-short notice it was a thousand bucks a ticket ... and we needed two. Shortly after hearing the news about my Mom dying, the pastor at my former church in Maine called me to say that the church trustees had quickly convened and made a decision: the tickets were on them. So generous.
Second, the day before we left, my wife’s Daddy and stepmom dropped in unexpectedly and gave us $500 for the trip. Wow. We were so grateful.
Next: We were supposed to fly out of Ontario, California, the morning before the funeral and land in Portland, Maine, around 10:30 that evening, but when we got to Ontario, we were told that our flight, which was routing through a backed-up San Francisco airport, would be delayed by several hours. But good news—there was a flight from LAX to Portland, via Chicago, if we wanted, so we took that, drove like madmen to get to LAX on time, then flew out toward Chicago. But when we got to Chicago, we discovered that our flight to Portland had been cancelled due to thunderstorms occurring from the Midwest to the Northeast—not delayed, cancelled. And my Mom's funeral was at 11 the next morning.
We had no other choice but to wait in line at the United customer service counter, which was a long wait, but we got talking with a man and a woman (they were traveling separately, didn't know each other), and we told them about my Mom and the funeral. We finally got up to the counter, and it turned out the only decent option was flying that night from Chicago to Boston, and then we'd worry about Boston-to-Maine later. While the flight was being finalized, the man—who'd gone through the line just ahead of us—came back to us and held out one hand to me. I instinctively held my hand out to his, to receive whatever he had, and was shocked to see a $100 bill in my palm. He said he was sorry about what we were going through and wanted to help out in some way. We thanked him profusely, of course.
The flight from Chicago was delayed by a thunderstorm there, and when we finally took off, it was in a raging thunderstorm. My wife was petrified. But we made it to Boston ... only to discover that United had lost our luggage. So there we were, in Logan airport, with no possessions but what we were wearing and had in our pockets, and no idea what to do next. And there was no flight that would get us to Maine in time for the funeral. We tried to get a local hotel room, but everything was either booked up or well out of our price range, so we had to settle for a hotel 30 minutes south of Boston and had to pay a hefty taxi fee to get there. Oh, and my wife was starting to get sick to her stomach from the stressful flight in the thunderstorm.
We arrived at our hotel around 3:45 a.m., and we felt like crap. And we came to the difficult realization that we weren't going to make it to Mom's funeral. My sister's husband offered to come get us, but it would've been a 7-8-hour round trip for him—on zero sleep, as he hadn't yet gone to bed that night—and we didn't feel comfortable making such a long drive with someone who hadn't slept in more than 24 hours. Also, we had no appropriate clothing (it was all in our lost luggage), and my wife ended up vomiting several times throughout that next day (the day of the funeral), and we didn't want to show up at my Mom's funeral wearing jeans and T-shirts we'd had on for two days straight and have my wife possibly vomit during the funeral. My sister was p---ed (more on that later), but we just didn't want to risk making a scene at the funeral (that's if we even made it to any of the funeral, which was very questionable).
After we slept for a few hours, we did some emergency clothes shopping (we were gonna be at my Dad's for a couple days and had no idea if/when our luggage would be delivered to us) and, with great difficulty, found a car rental place that fit our budget and accepted the form of payment we had available to us at the time. I was worried about facing my family, including my Dad—and before you go thinking he's an ogre, he's not, at all, but I felt like I'd really let him down. Upon arriving at his house, though, he was the picture of grace, just happy that we were safe and able to be there. Things with my sister were fine while we were there, but blew up into a big mess after we'd returned to California a few days later, and our relationship with her hasn't been the same since, but I really feel that we made the right decision. I certainly wish things had turned out differently, but so much happened to us that was beyond our control. And for some reason, my siblings insisted on the funeral happening exactly one week from the day Mom died—at times, I've wanted to say to my sister and brother, "Did you ever stop to consider how long it would take us to prepare for such a trip (we have a special-needs daughter for whom we had to make special arrangements, as well as several pets we had to make sure would be cared for while we were gone)? And did you consider how long it can take to get from California to Maine if there are any travel hiccups?" But I digress.
My main point is that in the midst of so much crap, so much heartache, God showed us much grace—a church giving us money for tickets, a perfect stranger in an airport giving us money, some family members unexpectedly giving us money, my Dad showing SO much grace and understanding. It's been a big challenge for me to mentally and emotionally reframe all those events so that the trauma of them doesn't cause me to have a breakdown, and the unexpected blessings are a big part of that reframing.
And if you read this far ... thank you. I guess I still need to vent about all of that stuff sometimes, and it felt good to write it all out like that.