“From first to last it was crowded with delights.” LM Montgomery
My go-get-’em daughter Grace is on the hunt for a college and she made the decision to go to a Christian one. Weeks ago, it came to my mind that perhaps she would enjoy a college that was very familiar to me as it was a popular option for church students in the area that I grew up. In fact, my father took a few classes there, and Rich’s aunt also attended.
I was especially excited about it because my dear friend Joanna (who is mentioned on this blog about a thousand times) lives not far from the school. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to visit the college with Grace and then get to see Joanna?”
We went on their website and chose a date to visit: November 11th. Conveniently, this was a vacation day for Grace from school. I emailed Joanna to see if she would be in town that day.
BUT WAIT, there’s more! Not only was she in town, but she was SPEAKING at a ladies conference and asked if Grace and I would like to go with her. Of course we would!
About a week later, as I was preparing our trip details, it came to my knowledge that…..
BUT WAIT, THERE’s more! My son Ethan (who is a Freshman at a college in Vermont) was going to be IN THE SAME AREA for a wrestling tournament!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What???? are the odds? The tournament was on the same day as the conference so I was conflicted. After thinking about how to solve this problem, I thought that perhaps Ethan’s girlfriend would like to come along with us. SHE could surprise Ethan by showing up at his meet and that way I wouldn’t feel bad for being at a Bible conference while my son was literally only 30 minutes away from me (my heart!).
So, eventually, I received a “yes”from Tessa, but she asked if maybe David could go along as well, so she wouldn’t have to hang around at the gym alone.
Our little trip now included two extra teenagers=the more the merrier! I made reservations at a hotel situated in between both events and had good reviews, and a reasonable price.
We headed out of town in the darkness of 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
Grace was blessed over and over by the people of this school, and during the tour she was shown many things to be excited about. She enjoyed every minute.
BUT WAIT, THERE’s more!
While we were sitting in the dorm listening to our tour guide explain dorm life, a familiar face walked by. I recognized this young lady as the daughter of an old friend of mine! It was a joy to see and speak with her, and for Grace as well, especially after realizing she was the cousin of her friend Kyle and a best friend of her cousins. “It’s a small world” & “church connections” are the best!
Our tour at the school was over at 3:30. Joyfully, Joanna was able to finish up her work and texted me to ask if we could go to her house for pizza dinner. This was another unexpected blessing: to be able to see her entire wonderful family, see the things she’s done in her home since the last time I was there, and also allow Grace and Dave to meet her husband and children.
Before we went to her house, we decided to head to our hotel to relax for an hour. We checked into our room and dove on the beds, each of us with our own electronic device.
But wait, there’s more! I checked our group text (between my husband, myself, and our three oldest) and saw that Rich had questioned Ethan about where the wrestling team was staying that night. We hadn’t asked him before because we didn’t want him to become suspicious about us going to his tournament.
GUESS WHAT???????? The team was driving to our VERY SAME HOTEL to spend the night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You can imagine the squeal of shock as I leapt out of bed in my joy. Tessa and I were beyond amazed and thrilled to learn that we would actually SEE ETHAN THAT VERY NIGHT!
You have to realize, we were in a very populated area in PA, there are probably one hundred hotel options, and God put us in the SAME EXACT ONE!
WITH MY FRIEND AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! after two years!
love you, Josephina! 🙂
Steve and the kids were just the sweetest and nicest and we had delicious pizza together before heading back to the hotel.
Using the handy dandy “find my phone” feature on our iPhones Rich was able to let me know when Ethan’s bus was within 10 minutes of the hotel. Grace and I sat in the lobby, and I was still in denial that this whole thing was happening. I felt like “I’ll believe he is truly staying in this hotel when I see the bus pull up.”
AND IT DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Grace ran off to get Tessa for Ethan’s surprise #2 and I wasn’t aware of it so I didn’t get that one on video. But he was thrilled to say the least. After the team settled into their rooms, Ethan was able to come back to us and we were able to see each other until almost 11pm.
The next morning, I drove Dave and Tessa to the college to watch the wrestling tournament. Grace and I continued on to Joanna’s house. We picked her up and had time to go through Dunkin’ drive thru for tea, and then to the church where Joanna was one of three women speakers.
Right off the bat, my soul was being soothed by the songs, the women, and the atmosphere. It was just what we needed to make this weekend away from home PERFECT.
And to see my daughter and my dearest friend together…..Bibles open…..learning, growing, singing praises, loving…..it was such a gift. God ministered to me and my children over and over in the most tangible ways. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I’m still feeling the adrenaline rush as I type.
Joanna’s talk was Christ centered and soulful, I was in tears. One of the stories she told was about the time she and her husband adopted their daughter from Ethiopia, and how moving it was to be able to take the orphanage clothes off her new baby, and, as her new mama, to dress her in a handmade, beautifully smocked dress (made just for her by dear Dawn). This continues to serve as a beautiful reminder to her of the very same way that God clothes us as His dearly beloved children, showing us that we belong to Him.
She even had the dress with her to hold up and show the women. Tears!
sisters in Christ, friends for over twenty years, soul sisters, always and forever
Joanna came with Grace and me to the remainder of the wrestling tournament. This was the first meet she had ever watched, and it was fun to share with her something that is a HUGE part of my life each winter. We had missed out on Ethan’s two matches but Tessa was kind enough to record them for us. He lost his first match by points, and won the second by a pin.
I was able to meet one of the other moms of the team, and two of the coaches as well. It was fun to watch the matches and it made me excited for the upcoming wrestling season for my younger boys.
The meet ended and we took a few photos before Ethan got on the bus for Vermont.
(David took a 2 hour nap in the hallway during the meet, LOL) And Grace (although you can’t tell) was in tears and starting to feel shaky and sick. The excitement was starting to catch up to her.
So Joanna and I dropped them off at the hotel and the two of us were able to go out to eat. She took me to a Greek place that she and Steve go to on their dates. (Thank you to Steve for the suggestion!)
You can just imagine all the talking we did.
I took her home and continued back to my hotel room, completely filled up with the goodness of the day.
The next morning we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little. We left by 9 and made a stop at Krispy Kreme donuts before entering the highway for the three and a half hour drive home.
This post doesn’t even begin to describe all the ways God blesses our lives. But it does give a taste of how what we think will be an ordinary life can become abundantly and richly touched by His hand. It was a *praise and thank you Jesus* sort of weekend! And it is a *praise and thank you Jesus sort of life* for all those who believe on His name.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” Numbers 6:24-25
But there are also many other things which Jesus did–so vast a number indeed that if they were all described in detail, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would have to be written. John 21:25