Wednesday, January 8, 2014

God Incidents and Surprises Are Always Blest!

   “Can I stay with you?  Can I stay with you, please?” I asked in my best imitation of Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek.  I didn’t get any response.  I hung up hoping my friend would be amused by the message I left on her voicemail and still be willing to let me sleep on her pull-out couch while I figured out new living arrangements. 
     After graduating from college in May 2003, I immediately began courses to get my Masters.  I had been working with a family as tutor, homeschool helper, babysitter, etc. during my senior year at Hollins University, so when looking into various lodging options, they offered to let me rent a room from them that summer.  That’s how their schoolroom became my bedroom for a time.  It worked out pretty well.  The family is devoutly Catholic, so I could help the kids with all of their homeschool subjects, including religion, and I joined them nightly in the mother’s room to pray the family Rosary.  My classes were in the evenings, so I could be at home with the kids during the day while their mom was at work, then I could make dinner and eat with them before I went to class. 
Kevin and me after my
undergrad graduation
in May 2003.
     I was invited to go to their Eastern Rite church with them, attend little league softball and baseball games, and participate in various outdoor recreations.  In addition to my coursework and caring for the kids (who were in the 10-13 age range), I was doing some freelance work for Zondervan, collaborating on an activity-based Bible study with specific age-appropriate sections for use with preschoolers and elementary school children. 
     During that summer, I met with my friend Martha whom I had gotten to know through our involvement in Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) at Hollins.  She brought her best friend, Nel, whom I had also gotten to know through CCM but hadn’t seen in a while.  The three of us had a great time catching up over lunch, often quoting lines from the recent blockbuster hit movie Shrek.  None of us knew at the time how that lunch would be a jumping off point for greater blessings.
     Within the next of couple weeks (if not the next few days) I suddenly found myself in need of a new place to stay.  I was stunned and heartbroken that I wouldn’t be helping out with the kids, even if living somewhere else, but I had enough peace and reserve to move forward when I got very clearly “you’ve done what I sent you here to do.”  It wasn’t an audible voice, but a deep knowing in my heart that it was time to move on.  That reassurance from the Holy Spirit and the new door that had opened gave me the courage to move forward. 
Me and Nel at the Sept. 4, 2004
wedding reception after Kevin
and I finally got married after many,
many years of talking about it
& looking forward to it.
     Only God could have timed things so perfectly that I would reconnect with a friend from college who in turn brought her friend, who just happened to be looking for a roommate as well as a new two bedroom apartment to move into.  Nel and I had a great time living together, attending Mass, hanging out at home, shopping, watching I Love Lucy reruns, cheering at her company’s softball games, going to concerts, and such over the next year while I worked on my Masters degree and she plugged away at her office job. 
     Kevin had moved to Richmond by then, so he was often able to come and visit me in Roanoke the year before our wedding.  .  He was quite relieved that I’d found a happier living situation and made a new life-long best friend.  Of course, he got along wonderfully with Nel as he has with all of my close friends and had fun hanging out at our apartment (which, unlike the place Kevin and I currently live in, had both a dishwasher and a washer and dryer in it). 
     What felt like a door slamming in my face actually opened the way for new friendships and adventures I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I try to remember these sorts of experiences when one friendship ends or becomes more distant, when a job is over, a move is necessary, and/or God makes it clear that He’s got something else in store.  
     I find that I am most determined to do what God asks of me or nudges me to do when I’m clear that it’s His Will.  I don’t have to understand it or be even be happy about it, but if through prayer, discernment, spiritual direction, and other indicators I’m led to a particular path, then eventually, ready or not, there, with the grace of God, go I.  
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