I had been on a 10 city tour promoting my ideas for holiday gifts when I landed in Miami late the night of December 6. The travel day started early in the morning in Seattle. I was in Seattle for about 8 hours total, including sleep time and getting to the airport. I was running on about 3-4 hours of sleep, did the TV show early on Dec. 6 and headed to the airport.

When I arrived to the Seattle airport it appeared that several of the airlines had mixups. I was scheduled to go on United but when I got to the counter, they didn’t have any reservation for me. Apparently, the online reservation company we used messed up. I was forced to buy a one way ticket to Miami, which ultimately got me in about 5 hours later than scheduled. Earlier in the week I had a conversation with a pastor’s wife, Rhonda, while on the plane to St. Louis. She told me about the scripture that “God ordains our steps” so I kept that thought in mind as I faced the hardships while traveling.

So I flew all day with a change of planes in Chicago and arrived to the hotel in Miami about midnight. I was exhausted but only one more show early in the morning and then I would be able to fly back to Orlando and see my family! I was scheduled to be home the next day by 4PM.

The show at the NBC Station in Miami was a blast! They had several fun guests and the hosts are incredibly charming. I enjoyed my time there and headed for the airport. I arrived at my gate about an hour early and got seated in the terminal. The past two days of travel had been horrible but I was bound and determined to understand that it was just the way it was supposed to be.

While in the terminal, I overheard a conversation between the gate attendant and a former American employee who was visiting her. Illiana, the gate attendant was telling her former associate, Mike, that God must have other plans for him and he needed to have the faith that another great job would come along. She told him that we don’t always understand how God works, but we just have to have faith that He is in control.

Since I was sitting right next to the gate counter, I told her after he left that she was really nice to encourage her friend like that, and that I believed the same thing. I shared with her my travel woes and she in turn shared some personal struggles that were happening in her life. I shared with her the conversation that I had had with Rhonda about God ordaining our steps. We both agreed that God was still in control and that we loved meeting other people like each other to encourage us along our paths. We then actually hugged goodbye and I got in line to board the plane!

Within minutes I heard Illiana call a lady to the front desk who was receiving a phone call. The blonde haired lady was stressed taking the call and told the caller she couldn’t take the call at that moment. I later saw the blonde lady enter the plane after I was seated near first class.

I introduced myself to Ron, who was seated next to me. He was a former airline pilot who quickly identified an airline marshal on board. We both noticed that there was some sort of problem on board but the marshal had jumped up quickly so Ron pointed him out to me. I shared that with some of the passengers behind us and we were all looking in the first class cabin.

All of a sudden, a man came running from the back of the plane as fast as a bullet. My initial thought was that he was having a panic attack and needed to get off the plane. Other passengers thought he boarded the wrong plane but those in back heard the man’s wife try to coax him on the plane. Next, the blonde woman ran up through the cabin after her husband calling after him. She then doubled back to run to get her bag. At that point, the marshals ordered the man to surrender and to stop running. Apparently, according to passengers in first class, the man at that point said, “I have a bomb and I’ll use it”. With that, the marshals shot him while running off the plane.

Everyone on the plane heard the shots. Yelling immediately followed ordering everyone to “Get Down! Get down!” At that point everyone frantically unbuckled their seat buckles and hid as best as they could under the seat. There was a certain peace on the plane and everyone seemed relatively calm with the exception of the poor dear wife who tried to get to her husband. The flight attendants and the passengers held her back and convinced her to stay put. Within minutes she was composed and stood up. She explained that her husband was bi-polar and not on his meds.

We didn’t know at that point who was shot. But I remembered the fact that “God ordains our steps and I was supposed to be there at that moment. While under the seat, I was praying like crazy, but knew that God was in control. When we were able to get up, I started asking other passengers if they were praying and in every case, the answer was YES. At the moment of the shooting, we didn’t know if someone was shooting the passengers or what had happened.

The air tourists police then entered the plane to retrieve the ladies’ bag. She was taken away, as well as everyone in first class to be questioned by the FBI.

We had about 20 minutes to chat with the other passengers before we were all ushered off the plane. I was fortunate enough to get the wise advice of the pilot who told me to get my ID and ticket and put it in my pockets. He said “this is going to take a while.” I shared that with some of the other passengers. Then the SWAT team entered the plane. They pointed their guns at all of us and demanded that we keep our hands on top of our heads. They were intimidating to look at with big tattoos all over their arms and full gear over their whole body. They pointed the guns in all of our directions and the guy in the front yelled orders to evacuate the plane one row at a time from the back. We were not allowed to remove, or to touch our belongings.

It seemed that there was an uncanny peace on the plane at that point. Even though we had our hands on top of our heads, we were all calm and no one was frantic. For the next several hours, we sat around in a room and waited to be questioned by the FBI.

The next day, Illiana found my number and called me. Her experience had been scary too! When she heard the shots she ran towards them and found herself looking down the nose of a gun with a man shouting at her “GET DOWN, NOW”. She turned around and ran the other way, not knowing who the man was. She ran out and yelled for the staff to call the police because someone had a gun! She admitted to me that while she was terrified at that moment, she also recalled our conversation that “God orders our steps” and that she was going to be okay.

Today, I pray for the widow of the man who was shot. I pray for his family and for recognition to be brought to the medical condition of bi-polar. This family lives in my community and I think of them daily. I wonder too, if God hadn’t been there in our midst, of whether or not the man would have said those things in the back of the plane? Had he said that where all of the passengers were, could many lives have been lost?

Going through a traumatic experience like that helps me understand how God can use us in little ways every day. The fact that I was able to speak with Rhonda who gave me that bit of wisdom helped me and numerous others on the plane that day. Understanding that God wants us RIGHT where we are at this EXACT minute, even when things don’t go our way is a good reminder and can bring us peace. And peace is something that we all want and need.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” (Ps 37:23-24)