The transition, as anticipated, sucks. We’ve experienced many good things, including some powerful moments of kindness and generosity, but we’re homesick for our adopted country, we’re stuck and waiting for some things that are out of our control (selling our house), and the Nicaraguan government continues to abuse and murder its own citizens.
How we see the world affects everything: what we believe, how we feel, how we live. In my post about Mom I acknowledged that choosing to see things positively–even when they aren’t all bright and sunny–impacts us over the long run.
Thus, three glimpses of seeing the world as a place where God moves.
1)We went to the farmer’s market Saturday. I love the farmer’s market. It’s a glimpse of the America I want to live in. I went buy lemon-blueberry scones for my daughter who is recovering from knee surgery while trying to start at a huge new high school (did I mention about “sucks?”) But the woman selling her baked goods was having an excellent morning and was mostly cleared out. Bummer.
But I’m a dad trying to help, so I asked, “Do you have any more of those lemon blueberry scones?” She looked at me funny, hesitated, then said, “My daughter cut the scones this morning. We cut them into eighths, but she accidentally cut them into sixths. She was embarrassed, so she set them aside.” Then the woman reached down and pulled out two enormous scones, the biggest scone portions I’ve ever seen. Lemon blueberry.
The moment went from Dad Fail to bringing my recovering, discouraged child these monster scones. I explained our situation and told the woman, “Let your daughter know that her embarrassing miscut was a serendipitous blessing for my daughter.”*
2)Yesterday I took a walk to clear my head and try to replace some of the bad thoughts with better ones. I saw a yard sale sign and thought, “Nah, I don’t need to go to a yard sale. We need to get settled first. We don’t have anywhere to put stuff yet.” I kept walking.
But somehow I felt an urge to go, anyway. So I turned around and followed the sign to the sale.
It was a big sale, but nothing I was very interested in. I realized she had set up inside as well as in her yard and driveway. Lots of stuff. I bought a few vintage magazines for the sports articles and a Kubler-Ross book for a buck. I chatted with the home owner and her friend for a moment, mentioning that we had moved recently.
The friend asked, “Do you want to help her move?” And the woman asked, “How much do you charge an hour? Do you have a buddy who could help, too?”
She explained her situation, how she must get out of the house quickly because it closes in two weeks even though her next home is not ready yet. I took her number and told her I’d let her know.
But as I continued my walk, I felt very clear that I should help her move and that my eldest child might join me. So forty-five minutes later, I went back and said, “Sure, I’ll help,” and gave her my hourly rate, which she readily accepted. She showed me all the things that need to be moved and explained her situation in more detail–she got screwed, knowingly and intentionally, by the seller of the home she’s moving to.
As I was leaving, she said, “Thanks. Now I’ll sleep better, knowing I have someone who can help,” and her friend said, “It wasn’t a coincidence that you came by here. What church do you pastor.” I don’t right now, of course, but I told her we go to New Song and asked her if she has a church.
“No, but I need one. I’ll come visit.”
I’ve been back since June 29. I haven’t gone to a yard sale until yesterday. I had no plans for that one–even reasoned why not to go. Then I went and saw why.
I think that was my first moment since returning of seeing how God is working through me. The hours of work will do me good. Helping will be great.
But being the answer to someone else’s prayer, the instrument of someone else’s serendipity?
3)This morning I hiked with Brady, a dear friend, a guy I’ve mentored ten years, the one who calls me “Yoda.” I pushed the time back twice and when he came to pick me up, it took me a little while to get out the door. We hiked up Saddle Rock, possibly the most frequented trail in Wenatchee. As we neared the top, we passed a group and someone yelled, “Mike!”
I turned and saw Emily, who spent a year working at our school in Nicaragua! She goes to college in the Seattle area, but the odds of being in that same place at that moment–she’s never been to Wenatchee before, Brady and I haven’t hiked together in years, the time of our departure changed repeatedly–were still astronomical.
Emily is extra. Her laugh and smile light up her surroundings. We did that everything-at-once catch-up-in-passing and apologized to our companions, who seemed able to share in our delight of that unlikely encounter.
I haven’t written much recently (see first sentence). I’ve started several posts and gotten nowhere. But as I was telling Brady about the yard sale, my brain clicked: that’s three in three days.
Maybe they’re all coincidences. But I see them as serendipity.
How we see changes who we are.
*Yes, I used “serendipitous.” It’s like cowbell–you don’t get that many opportunities and have to take full advantage when you do.