Luckily, I knew the lay of the land. I visited Lakewood Church about three years ago, and the experience was unforgettable! I’m telling you, watching a service on TV is nothing like being there LIVE! It’s electrifying! It feels like you’re at a Christian concert! The solo and group singers are stellar! There are two Sunday morning services—8:30 & 11 am.

I knew that I only had time to catch the 8:30 am service and visit the church bookstore before heading to the airport. I caught the 8:30 am service the last time I was there, but because I was seated four rows from the stage, I couldn’t get upstairs fast enough to meet Pastor Joel at the first Meet & Greet. I stood and waited at the roped-off entry the entire second service so I could meet him. I didn’t leave that spot. I wasn’t taking any chances on missing him again! I met him, and it was all worth it!

This time, the usher asked me if it was more important for me to see Pastor Joel from near the stage or have an opportunity to meet him after service. I thought about it just for a bit and decided that I came all this way so I’ll choose memories of watching up close. The usher blessed me with a seat three rows from stage…and right behind the seat where Pastor Joel and his wife Victoria sit while singers are on stage!

I had written off any chance of meeting him, because the odds seemed against me. I’ve already been given this amazing opportunity to see him just three rows from stage. There’s no way that I could high-tail it upstairs fast enough in time to meet him. Last time, it took staying until after the next service to make it happen. I just don’t have time for that with my early afternoon flight.

When service was over and we started filing out of the rows, I noticed people exiting a doorway I initially thought was only for church personnel. I refreshed my memory from the last time I visited of exactly where the greeting area was located on the second floor, and said to myself, “This might work! I’m going for it!”

I joined the flow of church-goers, realizing that at some point, I needed to get upstairs. I eventually saw a set of elevators to my left, but then, I thought taking one would eat up too much time! I knew that the Meet & Greet line would fill up fast. There were stairs right next to the elevators, and fortunately, most people were coming down the stairs and not up. I trotted right on up that flight of stairs and was taken aback at the sight before me when I reached the top…an open lane to the roped-off meeting area. It was THE Meet & Greet location! Wow, I couldn’t believe that I made it in time and was going to chat with Pastor Joel again!

Taking photos with Pastor Joel wasn’t allowed the last time I was there three years ago. This time, church staff said they’d take photos for us using our smartphones. I apologize to you that I’m not as presentable in the photos on this page as I would have liked to be had I known that photos were going to be taken. I’m telling you that Texas humidity is not my friend! By day three in Houston, I had given up on the battle of trying to keep a curl in my hair and fog off my eyeglasses.

You see, sometimes there’s no need to choose between two wishes…BOTH can come true! DREAM BIG and BELIEVE that it WILL happen! I’ve shared proof that it does!

Denise Lee Branco