What a blessed time I had last week being a part of the Women’s Missions & Ministries Celebration in Moore! I met so many wonderful people who spoke such encouraging words. One thing surprised me, though. Many of the friends I met did not know that, as president of Awe Star Ministries, I travel and speak at churches and conferences across the country and around the world. First and foremost, I consider myself a missionary, so the WMU and I share a love of missions and . . . more.

Since I work for a missions organization, we are always looking for a bargain. We try to be wise with the Lord’s money. We have a saying around our office, “The more money we save, the more Bibles we can buy.” Putting any purchase in that light keeps us conscious that we if we are faithful in little, God will entrust us with much.

For example, over the past five years, God has allowed us to invest in a seminary in what is known as the “Dark Corridor” in northern Peru. Few pastors there have the opportunity to attend seminary, and the “little” we have given has become “much” in the lives of these faithful men. Next month, I will travel to Peru to help celebrate graduation-the first since the seminary and our ministry have joined forces to help equip the next generation of pastors.

One of the areas where my staff and I always try to save money is airfare. We search the Internet trying to find the cheapest prices. Sometimes, we will fly through three different airports to arrive at our destination just to help us save money.

Over the past few years, the entire airline industry has had to make changes. But what about those airlines that have had trouble stepping up their standards? As a very frequent flier, I know all the signs. Even if your destination is not Peru, I know that many of my readers will be boarding an airplane to visit families for the holidays. I thought I would give you the benefit of my years of experience.

You can tell you are using a cheap airline when: 1. You do not purchase a “ticket” but a “chance.” 2. Every insurance machine in the terminal is sold out. 3. Before the flight, the passengers get together to elect a pilot. 4. You cannot board the plane without having exact change. 5. Finally, you know you are on a cheap airline when all the planes have both a restroom and . . . a chapel.

Recently, as I was boarding a plane, the flight attendants announced that it was experiencing mechanical difficulties and we would need to change equipment. (They should just say, “Folks, this plane is broken. We will have to move you to another plane and hope that it will fly.”)

Out came the next piece of “equipment:” a very small prop plane to replace the brand-new jet we had just boarded. This plane looked as though it had not flown in years. The only thing holding it together was its spotty, rust-streaked coat of paint, and it had a flat tire. Thankfully, the flight attendant said we would be on our way as soon as they aired up the flat.

With the airplane loaded and the doors closed, the flight attendant began to go through the safety procedures-until the pilot paged her. This tiny plane was overloaded, so someone would have to change to another flight. One lucky volunteer left. Again, the door closed, and the flight attendant began her spiel when we heard “Urrrrrrh, urrrrh, urrrh, urh.” This time, the engine would not start.

The door opened once more to allow a mechanic to board. For 40 minutes, all we heard was the “urrrrh, urh, urrh” sound. At one point, the mechanic yelled, “I think I got the backup batteries working.” Now, the last thing I want to hear from an airplane mechanic is the phrase, “I think.” I want him to know that he has fixed whatever was wrong. Finally, the plane took off, and I spent the entire flight in prayer. Sometimes, a bargain ticket comes at a very high price.

As I often tell parents, you have the choice: pay now, or pay later. You do not want either an airplane or your parenting to . . . crash.

Dear Father, I do not want my parenting to cause my children’s lives to crash or burn. Help me take the time to help them become ready to leave the nest. Through Your wisdom, may I release them to fly! Amen.