I thought I was going to visit my sister and her family to celebrate my oldest nephew’s high school graduation and to be at his party.
God knew I needed a day off, a road trip with my family and to see the living proof of His active work on my sister’s behalf during a medical journey that started several years ago.
I had planned to be a blessing, but instead I was blessed with fun, family and a faith-strengthening encounter with two women – Janet and Teresa.
But first, the preparations.
Getting a sub (I teach in middle school); making sure my children (young men – actually) weren’t missing any life-altering school requirements; and my husband. The four of us. Bliss. Together. I love togetherness, even if two of the group had earphones. We’re still together.
It’s a long hike to South Florida, where my sister and her family live. The roads are flatter than flat but eventually we arrived at Exit 107. My oldest son drove the entire distance (about 6 hours’ worth) and I did what all teachers do when they’re off work – sleep and grade papers. OK I am working on not grading as many papers when I’m “off work.”
Since my nephew’s school is small, his class had 11 seniors. They even had a wonderful class portrait made and in the foyer prior to entering the chapel that housed the graduation ceremony, each student had a beautifully decorated table with memorabilia (stuff that was meaningful to them). Daniel, my nephew, had been on the school’s inaugural football team. His jersey hung proudly on a stand behind the table, which was decorated with Starbucks coffee mugs from his world travels: Greece, Turkey, Rome, etc.
Heck, I haven’t even been out of the country yet (unless you count Mexico and the Bahamas on a cruise) and this guy’s been globetrotting, able to go on a Holy Land tour that revisited the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament of the Bible.
He had favorite photos displayed, a book passersby could sign and lots of Florida State Seminole items – an obvious hint to his collegiate path after that night.
My brother-in-law, Daniel’s dad, gave the commencement address. During it he named each student and wished them God’s blessings in their areas of interest – a prospective teacher, worship leader, a health care worker, Daniel, a soon-to-be filmmaker and media communicator and others.
After the obligatory family and graduate pictures afterward the night drew to a close. Saturday was outside time where the 14 of us (including my parents and other sister and her family) enjoying the pleasures of first-time pontoon boating and getting plenty of vitamin D – the main cause of sunburn.
And then Sunday afternoon, the graduate’s open house was on tap. I met many, many people that day but it is Janet and Teresa (their real names) who God planted in my presence for a purpose. Among others, these two women have been sisterly extensions of love and support to Daniel’s mom during the last several years.
Without going into much detail, just let me assure you that in case you wonder whether God can comfort, provide and encourage long distance, the answer is yes. Yes. YES.
While I sat six hours north during those days praying in my own way that God would do what He needed to to meet my sister’s needs, these two women were called into action in ways that amazed me. Here at home, I was surrounded with people who constantly asked for updates on my sister, who hugged me when I felt fragile and frail – knowing that I couldn’t do the “big sister thing” with so much distance between us.
Is so many meals in the freezer that people had to cease bringing them a sign? What about the woman who comes and cleans her house? The one who makes house calls and does her hair, which is now below-shoulder-length in radiant dark brown curls? The many I’ve never met and Janet and Teresa?
All I can say is that I underestimated God and instead of Him making me feel guilty for it, He used the gentle smiles and hugs of these two women to remind me that they are His extensions to my South Florida family – and not just during crises.
I can’t predict how God will meet the needs you choose to give Him access to. But the reason I wrote this post today is so that you can know if you don’t already that God is who He says He is – I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Just wondering: When has God turned the tables on you and blessed you when you were the one expecting to bless someone else?