To begin, I have to say that I was inspired by this theme, 'redemption', by a fellow writer/friend of mine. So, D, I thank you :)
With the change of plans I encountered this past week, I really had started feeling sorry for myself. I felt like a bad friend for missing Magda's shower, I felt like a bad daughter for not getting down to see my mom, I felt like a bad mom for having to break the news to Charlotte "no, honey, we're actually NOT going to go see Mimi this week...", and I felt like a bad wife for having to say to Jonathan "well, babe, all 3 of us are going to stay here this week (sick, mind you), instead of leaving you to have a few glorious days with the house to yourself and your buddies." It was getting a bit ridiculous, this level of self-pity to which I had dragged myself.
And then, God stepped in and did what He loves to do: He showed up and showed off.
Jonathan's longtime mentor/friend, Marc, had a trip planned to Vancouver this week. He arrived on Thursday evening and will leave tomorrow morning. My trip to California was supposed to overlap a bit, so that the guys could have good 'guy time' and then then kids and I would still be able to spend time with Marc for a few days. When we cancelled the California trip, all of us ended up being here for the entire duration of Marc's visit. And what a blessing it has been. Marc is one of those people who oozes Jesus. He proclaims His truth and love wherever he goes, to whoever he encounters. And, surprisingly, it's not obnoxious. Even with this overwhelming joy, he's still 'real'. He's had a crazy life, full of all sorts of things that most people just read about in grocery store checkout line magazines. But God grabbed hold of him many years ago, brought him into His presence, and has been using Marc to spread His kingdom from that moment on. Every time he opens his mouth, it's encouraging words that flow out. When he speaks, you feel loved, cared for, understood, and affirmed. And boy, I needed that. With Jonathan's crazy study/class schedule, I've had a lot of time over the past week to spend with Marc and the kids, and God has been so present in all of our conversations. I would have missed out on some pretty glorious moments had I not been here.
With Marc's trip being several days, I didn't feel bad for heading out on Saturday night with 2 girlfriends for margaritas. God was with us from the moment we hopped on the 99 bus towards the Cactus Club, and didn't leave for a moment. We sat at a tall bar table and sipped our drinks, sharing hilarious stories, sobering stories, those deep parts of our hearts to which few are allowed access. I heard stories of love, hope, redemption, and grace. To find people with whom one can truly be herself is a gift only possible from our God, and I am grateful to have received it.
So, while last week began with self-pity and tears, it was quickly redeemed in so many ways. I am trying my hardest not to skip over these blessings or discount them as 'coincidences', for I know God works with far more purpose than that. The redemption of what was lost when I couldn't go to California was made up in brilliant conversations and time spent with some pretty amazing people. Although I'm still quietly mourning the missed celebration of one friend, I'm grateful for what God put in its place.