I was recently honored to be in the lineup of "An Evening with Francine Rivers and Friends."

I got to be one of the "friends."

This event, brought to the world by Tyndale Publishing House (who published Five Brides), was held in the Plano, Texas location of Prestonwood Baptist Church. This church ... wow. What can I say. Driving onto the property, my first impression was that Christianity had a hot spot there! From the lawns to the layout of the building ... wow!

My second impression came when my friend (and driver) Allison Bottke and I walked into the bookstore. What a bookstore! And the woman who greeted me--Deb Graham--what a sweetie! She took us to the "Green Room," where we'd have dinner, then down to where the actual event was to be held. The room was cavernous, the number of chairs felt innumerable, and the stage stretched for what looked like miles.

Now for my third impression: How in the world will I ever find my cousin, Cindy Beitz, who is supposed to come this evening?

Later on, as we "friends" were being prepped, Allison went to claim a seat before she was relegated to the back row. A half hour later, I "followed the leader" from the back of the room, along the right side aisle, up to the front of a room filled with over 800 people. Allison's long blond hair caught my attention. Third row back from the front, aisle seat. I reached over to tap her shoulder, my way of letting her know how glad I was that she had chosen to be a part of this evening with me. She smiled up at me when, about the same time, I heard a familiar, "Hey there, cuz!"


She stood and we hugged. It wasn't until later that I heard how it happened to be that she and Allison sat next to each other.

As Allison waited for the "show" to begin, she sat quietly, reading a book. Someone walked by, looked at her and said, "What are you reading?" She answered with the title. Then the woman asked her another question (I forget what) and Allison answered, "I'm here with my friend, Eva Marie Everson." She pointed up at the large screen where the Francine River's and Friends banner was displayed. Just then, she told me later, a finger tapped her shoulder. "Are you Allison?" the woman behind her asked.

She turned. "I am," she said.

"I'm Cindy!"

Now ... what are the chances?

Serendipity, by definition, means: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. I cannot come up with a better word for this! Can you?

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