A Day with a Perfect Strangerby David Gregory, Ellen Reilly
When her husband comes home with a farfetched story about eating dinner with someone he believes to be Jesus, Mattie Cominsky thinks this may signal the end of her shaky marriage. Convinced that Nick is, at best, turning into a religious nut, the self-described agnostic hopes that a quick
What if a fascinating stranger knew you better than you know yourself?
When her husband comes home with a farfetched story about eating dinner with someone he believes to be Jesus, Mattie Cominsky thinks this may signal the end of her shaky marriage. Convinced that Nick is, at best, turning into a religious nut, the self-described agnostic hopes that a quick business trip will give her time to think things through.
On board the plane, Mattie strikes up a conversation with a fellow passenger. When she discovers their shared scorn for religion, she confides her frustration over her husband’s recent conversion. The stranger suggests that perhaps her husband isn’t seeking religion but true spiritual connection, an idea that prompts her to reflect on her own search for fulfillment.
As their conversation turns to issues of spiritual longing and deeper questions about the nature of God, Mattie finds herself increasingly drawn to this insightful stranger. But when the discussion unexpectedly turns personal, touching on things she’s never told anyone, Mattie is startled and disturbed. Who is this man who seems to peer straight into her soul?
“Don’t let David Gregory’s simple writing style fool you: the message shared throughout A Day with a Perfect Stranger is profound and the questions he raises are life changing.”
–Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of Bad Girls of the Bible
“Fasten your seatbelt for another marvelously divine encounter with the Perfect Stranger! Once again, Gregory masterfully demonstrates just how passionately and intimately our God loves each one of us. If you are looking for an encouraging faith encounter, the Perfect Stranger books are the most palatable and powerful tools of our day.”
–Shannon Ethridge, best-selling author of Every Woman’s Battle and Every Woman’s Marriage
“While I liked Dinner with a Perfect Stranger very much, I loved A Day with a Perfect Stranger. This book has the potential to make people think about what drives them, what keeps them from God, and what will ultimately fulfill them. In a feelings-based and satisfaction-driven society, this is an invaluable tool. People are hungering for the answers to questions Mattie gets to ask. I can't wait to hand it out to friends who do not yet know the Stranger in their midst.”
–Lisa Tawn Bergren, best-selling author of The Begotten
“Sometimes the simplest books can have the most profound influence, and David Gregory has done such a wonderful job capturing my imagination. Over and over as I read A Day with a Perfect Stranger I kept asking myself, what would I say if I ever sipped lattes with Jesus? And at the end of the book, I realized I have that opportunity every day. He’s not only listening, but He’s speaking, too. Anyone who enjoyed Dinner with a Perfect Stranger will love the sequel.”
–Rene Gutteridge, best-selling author of BOO and The Splitting Storm
- Random House Audio Publishing Group
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- 5.06(w) x 5.85(h) x 0.68(d)
Read an Excerpt
I NEVER THOUGHT I’d become the kind of woman who would be glad to leave her family. Not that I wanted to abandon them, exactly. I was just glad to get away for a few days. Or longer, in the case of one of them.
Maybe I should have been celebrating instead of escaping.That’s what you do with big news, isn’t it? And we had plenty.
A few weeks earlier my husband, Nick, told me that he had met Jesus. Not the usual “getting saved” kind of meeting Jesus. I mean, met Jesus. Literally. At a local Italian restaurant.
At first I thought he was joking, of course. He wasn’t. Then I thought he had been hallucinating. He had, after all, been putting in seventy-hour weeks at work and getting limited sleep. But he stuck to his story, which left me with— I didn’t know what.
All I knew was that my husband was convinced he had dined with Jesus, and he had turned into some kind of Jesus freak. It was bad enough that he had previously disappeared into his work. Now when we were together, God was all he wanted to talk about. That wasn’t the “till death do us part” I had planned on.
Things had been strained enough between us without bringing God into the mix. It was as if someone had kidnapped the real Nick and replaced him with a religious Nick clone. There we were, plugging along in our marriage, and suddenly Nick, who wouldn’t be caught dead in a church parking lot, is best friends with Jesus.
It’s not that I object to religion. People can believe whatever they want to. I just didn’t grow up religious, hadn’t become religious, and didn’t marry someone religious. And I wanted it to stay that way.
So getting away from Nick for four days was a relief. What I hated was leaving Sara, my two-year-old. Granted, I looked forward to the break, as any mother would. But I had never been away from her longer than two nights, and even then I found myself missing her by the second day. And that was with my mom coming down to take care of her. At least I trusted my mom. No telling what might happen with Nick doing the childcare. Not that he was a bad dad, when he was both home and off his cell phone.
But I had to take this trip. A client had built a resort hotel near Tucson and wanted me to design new brochures for it. The manager insisted on giving me a personal tour of the place. She said I needed to experience it firsthand to fully capture its essence. And get a free massage, I hoped. I rarely had to travel for my graphic-arts work, which was fine with me. Most of the business I had developed since we’d moved to Cincinnati was local. Sometimes I went back to Chicago on a job, but I could handle most of my old accounts online. This, however, was my biggest client—had been for six years—and I couldn’t exactly say no.
The trip should have been a one-day there-and-back. Two at the max. But since you can’t get a nonstop from Cincinnati to Tucson, I booked my flight through Dallas, which meant I had to take two travel days.
I could hardly imagine a less appealing way to spend two days of my life. I don’t much like air travel, anyway. I’d rather just throw some stuff in the car and hit the road. In a car no one has you stand in line or searches your purse or forces you to eat dry pretzels for a snack. Nor does anyone pull you aside, have you extend your arms, and run a baton all over your body. Why do I always get singled out? Plus, I didn’t feel the best this particular morning. I knew that getting on a plane without any breakfast wasn’t a brilliant idea since they don’t serve even those tasteless box meals anymore. But I figured I could break down and buy a snack box if I had to.
Before heading out the front door, I wrote a note and left it on the kitchen counter.
Sara’s pajamas are in the top drawer, if you don’t remember. You may not, since you haven’t put her to bed this year. Her toothbrush is in the left drawer in her bathroom. I left plenty of juice, oatmeal, and cereal for breakfasts. Plus she likes toast and jelly. There’s a macaroni casserole she likes in the fridge and some frozen veggies. After that runs out, she likes Chick-fil-A. Don’t forget story time at the library tomorrow at 10:30. You can reach me on my cell if you need me for anything about Sara. Hope you and Jesus have a great time together.
I drove myself to the airport. Nick had volunteered to take me, but I declined. Riding by myself was preferable to Nick telling me about his latest discovery in the Bible, which he was now reading voraciously, or listening to Christian radio, a fate worse than death. I parked and walked into the terminal. The soft music and absence of Jesus talk provided a welcome relief.
Miraculously, I made it through security without any special groping and proceeded to my gate. Once there, I sat with my carry-ons and glanced at my boarding pass. Oh, great, I thought. An E seat, in the middle. Why didn’t I make my reservation earlier and get a better seat? Maybe I can switch to an aisle seat near the back of the plane.
A minute later the agent at the gate picked up her microphone and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, our flight to Dallas is full. To expedite your departure, please make sure you stow your bags and take your seat as quickly as possible.” Fabulous.
As they called first-class passengers to board, I remembered something I’d forgotten to tell Nick. I pulled out my phone and dialed his office. He answered.
“Nick, I’m at the airport.”
“Hey. How’s it going?”
“Look, I forgot to tell you that Laura has Sara with their son Chris until about five thirty. She’s taking them swimming at the Y.”
“No problem. I’m going to get home a little early and fix something for Sara and me.”
“What—you mean cook something?”
“Yeah. I picked up stuff for spaghetti and meatballs at lunch.”
“Miracles never cease. Look, I need to go—my row is boarding.”
“Call me tonight?”
“I’ll see, Nick. I might be pretty tired.”
“Well, have a great trip. I love you.”
“Yeah. Bye, Nick.”
I ended the call, picked up my tote bag and suitcase, and got to the boarding line just as my group was being called. A second later the airline rep started hawking two two-hundred- dollar travel vouchers for anyone willing to take a flight four hours later. No one took them. When the offer went up to three hundred dollars, I stepped forward. Maybe they’ll have an aisle seat on the next flight.
“When would that get me into Tucson?” I asked.
The rep looked up the connecting flight. “Ten twentytwo this evening.”
Nearly ten thirty. Plus renting a car, then driving out to the hotel. That’s almost midnight.
I decided to pass; I’d be too tired the next day.
I got back in line with the last group of boarders, walked down the ramp, and waited interminably while all the people already on the plane decided where to put their stuff. By the time I got to my row, there was room overhead for my suitcase but not my tote bag. I stowed my suitcase and looked at my seating arrangement on the left. The seats on both sides of mine were already occupied. Two guys. Great. Sandwiched for the next two and a half hours between two men. Why couldn’t they have put me between two size 2 women? The man in the aisle seat stood up to let me by. I squeezed into the middle seat, resigning myself to not having an armrest available to me on either side. Guys always hog those. I leaned down, stuffed my bag under the seat in front of me, and pulled my shoulders inward to squeeze back into my seat. This is really going to be a fun trip.
The temperature inside the airplane cabin didn’t help. I reached up and opened my air vent. That made things feel a little better. I leaned back and sat, staring forward. I didn’t bring anything to read. What was I thinking? I should have stopped and picked up a novel in the airport. I never do that. It would have been kind of nice just to have something to escape into for a while.
I glanced through the seat pocket in front of me. Maybe someone left a magazine in here. But there wasn’t much to choose from: a SkyMall catalog selling expensive gadgets that no one needed, instructions on using my seat as a flotation device in case we landed in the Mississippi River, and the monthly airline magazine. I opened the magazine. I started reading an article about living on some Spanish coast. The houses were huge, the beaches white, the water crystal clear, the cliffs spectacular. Who are they kidding? No real people live like this.
Just then my cell phone rang. I squeezed forward, leaned down, searched through my bag, and caught it on the fourth ring. “Hello?”
“Hey, traveler. What’s up?” It was my younger sister, Julie.
“Just got on the plane. Waiting to pull away from the gate.”
“Did you get Sara taken care of, or do you need my help?”
“Well, theoretically she’s taken care of. How Nick actually does with her, we’ll see when I get back.”
“What’s he going to feed her?”
“He told me he’s going to do some cooking.”
I heard laughter on the other end. “Nick? Cook?”
“Has he come back to earth, or is he still in the clouds?”
“Still in the clouds. He’s totally flipped out on this Jesus thing.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m not sure.” I hesitated. “I called a lawyer today and set up an appointment for next week.”
“Mattie! You did?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s too soon. I just don’t feel like I can take this anymore. I mean, things were already bad enough before Nick got religious. There’s no way we’re going to make it like this.”
“I thought he’d been spending more time with you and Sara lately.”
“Yeah. He has. I’m just not sure I want him to anymore. It’s really confusing.”
“Why don’t you try counseling again?” she asked.
“Maybe a different therapist.”
“What’s the point? I mean, it’s not like the last one did much good. Besides, this is a different issue—not like Nick’s workaholism. I just don’t see any middle ground on this religion stuff.”
I wanted to tell Julie more, but I heard an overhead announcement.
“I’ve gotta run,” I told her. “They’re telling us to shut off cell phones and all that. Can I call you tonight? I’ve got something else to tell you too.”
“I don’t know. I might be out.”
“Julie, for once, don’t go out clubbing. It’s bad news for you.” One of the flight attendants walked by and gave me the eye.
“I’ll call you tonight,” I said. “Be there, okay?”
I clicked off the phone, put it in my bag, leaned back, and closed my eyes. I can’t believe Nick and I aren’t even making it to our fourth anniversary.
The plane taxied to the runway and took off.
Meet the Author
David Gregory is the author of the best-selling books Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and A Day with a Perfect Stranger, the upcoming The Next Level, and coauthor of two nonfiction books. After a ten-year business career, he returned to school to study religion and communications, earning graduate degrees from The University of North Texas and Dallas Theological Seminary. A native Texan, David now devotes himself to writing full time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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wow this is a great book
In this follow up to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, David Gregory introduces Nick Cominsky's wife, Mattie. In this fictional novel, she meets a stranger on an airplane who reaches out to her. She is able to confide in him over her worries about her husband's new found faith, how it will affect their marriage and a secret she's never shared before. This man understands her like no one ever has and makes her open to believe things she never thought possible. I found this book to be inspiring and informative. This book is good for new Christians, for those questioning their faith or for those who have ever been questioned.
Truly, a wonderful yet simple approach to knowing and understanding God, his love for us and the greatest gift ever given. I would recommend this book for new Christians but also for those that have gotten lost in a legalistic maze of "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not." Beautifully written, easy to understand and informative.
Written on a level that you can relate to. Simple answers to man made hard questions.
I went to the bookstore to look around to kill sometime while my husband and I were waiting for our movie to start. I have Dinner With a Perfect Stranger at home and I heard about A Day With a Perfect Stranger so I decided to pick it up and read a little of it. I could not put the book down! I finished it in 2 hours. It gives great insight on effective and unique witnessing as well as the differences between Religion and actually having a relationship with God. David Gregory does a great job making this an easy book to read and understand. It inspired me to change my approach when speaking to someone about God. This is a must have!!!!
I really love this book! It is much easier to understand when you hear people talk about having a relationship with God, not just the book talking directly to you. I haven't read 'Dinner With a Perfect Stranger' yet, but I am going to get it as soon as possible
me again, this book is great also, but it's different. This book is more focused on Maddie then Jesus. This book, instead of explaining, it really helps you look at christianity a whole different way. This book had a few quotes that helped me a ton in understanding relatinships between Jesus, people, the bible, church, and life. You should read it, I mean once you finish reading the book, it gives you this amazing feeling that you just can't let go of! I hope David Gregory writes a third book!
In Cincinnati Nick Cominsky comes home after a long day at work to inform his wife Mattie that he believes he shared a meal at an Italian restaurant with Jesus. Mattie, who already has issues with her spouse for allowing no time for her or their two years daughter Sara, due to his work all the time attitude, wonders if he went over the edge perhaps due to stress. She worries he will become a born again lunatic so she looks forward to a graphic arts business trip to escape his religious fervor. As always they exchange goodbyes in a note. --- On the plane to Tucson, Mattie meets a stranger who seems very good with children. They talk and soon discuss their mutual scorn for organized religion. They continue to chat, but he knows things about Mattie that no one does as he seems to look deep inside the heart and soul of who is the real Mattie Cominsky, which makes her ponder who she is, her roles as a wife and mother, and her relationship with God. --- A DAY WITH A PERFECT STRANGER, a superb follow up to Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, uses a low key approach to make a case for deeper spiritual religious connections with the Lord without condemning other religions, as the prequel did. The conversions between Mattie and the stranger are cleverly developed in the context of flying on a plane as little subtleties remind the audience where the duo is. Fans who appreciate a thought-provoking Christian fiction tale that avoids brimstone, Da Vinci, Templars and the usual suspects while quietly makes a case for the Lord will want to read David Gregory¿s fine sequel. --- Harriet Klausner
The logic and non-churchy rhetoric of David Gregory's relaxed style takes evangelism to a new level in fiction. The main character is like so many women I've met, who think they have no need for God. This book will uncover the needs they won't acknowledge, even to themselves, with insightful answers to the life's tough questions. More important, is how it overcomes skepticism with logic and insight using everyday language. Well written and entertaining as well, A Day With A Perfect Stranger is a must for every Christian's library. When I started the first page, I didn't put the book down until I turned the last one. In this reviewer's opinion, A Day With A Perfect Stranger, along with the first book Dinner With A Perfect Stranger, once discovered by the church will become as impactful as Prayer of Jabez.