Good morning and welcome to Coffee and Conversation #109 – hosted by PatAndCandy.com!
Today I have a story for you…
A while back our family was visiting dear friends who had moved far away. Both families had spent years living near each other when we moved “down South” and had become super close. Even now, whenever I get together with Ginny, despite the distance and time, we always quickly and effortlessly pick up our conversation as if we’d only gotten started yesterday….
So we were all in the kitchen, and I stepped out to “powder my nose” in the nearest restroom, which was on the other side of her bedroom. As I walked back into the kitchen, I noticed a set of beads hanging from the lamp on her nightstand. The strand was long and looped around the shade, and the beads were a colorful and cheerful decoration. I innocently asked her about them, and she told me the story I’m about to share here:
About 2 years ago, a friend of mine had given me a pair of earrings made up of beads exactly like the ones on that string. Each earring had 2 simple beads, but they were handmade and exactly to my taste, and I loved the colors. I wore them to church and often when I went out, and always got the sweetest comments about them.
A few months later, we lost the house in the tornado. (Backstory here: they lived in the direct path of a horribly destructive tornado that swept through their community one night, totally flattening out most of the homes around theirs, as well as most of the flora and fauna in the community. Mercifully, they were not home at the time, but they lost e v e r y t h i n g. Years later, I still have a hard time recognizing their neighborhood.) It was devastating. Returning to the house in the middle of the night, yet unawares of the extent of our loss, all we could see and sense of our home was, well, piles of rubble. The shock lasted for days.
The next few months were spent in a daze. Finding shelter in friends’ homes for a while, until we were fortunate enough to find a rental (also in short supply due to the extent of the destruction), the rebuilding process was slow and hard. Daily it seemed that we discovered a new loss: a favorite book (especially hard for the bibliophile that she is!), pieces of furniture from a relative, treasures from the kids’ baby years…the list goes on.
At some point, it occurred to me that I had lost the earrings that I liked so much! Of course, by that time, there had been so much other loss that it didn’t really sink in how much I missed them.
A full year later, however, we were able to rejoice in God’s goodness and mercy when we moved back to our property. It was a totally different home, however, re-built from the ground up, almost twice the size, beautiful and filled with light, and enabling us to welcome friends and family with warm hospitality, something the old house didn’t quite allow due to size and design constraints.
However, it really hit home for me just how much God had redeemed what I had perceived as loss when I saw the friend who had given me the earrings a few weeks later. She was wearing a necklace: a long, gorgeous strand of the exact same beads that were in my earrings, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it, even across the room. When the opportunity arose, we greeted each other warmly and she asked how I’d been. We caught up on old news, and then all of a sudden she began to remove the necklace she was wearing and reached out for my hand.
“God loves you, Ginny, and through all of the trial and hardship you lived through this past year, through all of the loss you experienced, and pain you lived through and helped your neighbors walk through, He wants you to know that He had a plan. He was with you through it all, and He worked through your experiences to reach out to those around you in ways you may never know. He took the little you had, and He is returning so much more… Well done!”
With that, she placed the necklace in my hand, hugged me, and walked away.
I keep those beads right where I can see them first thing each morning to remember those lessons: He has a plan; His best is so much bigger and better than my good; whatever I walk through, I am not alone; and He alone is the redeemer. The redeemer of our pains and losses, our disappointments and failings.
I sat stunned. So very grateful that God had blessed me with a friend who had and has a heart so open to His love and lessons for her life. So very convicted that even in my worst days, I really have nothing to complain about, and everything to be thankful for. So very blessed that God would use my friend to remind me of His love for me, too…
So I share that with you this week in the hopes that this story blesses you, too. No matter where you are with God right now, you can rest assured that He is right there with you.
I have no features this week. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve done more than my fair share of grumbling about it, too: troubles with technology and time constraints on my part are the cause, but in the end, I guess I can’t really complain.
God brought this story to my mind, and He gave me just the right window of opportunity to get it out in time to share with you.
I still hope my blogger friends will be generous with sharing their content, and I still hope you, dear readers, will be coming back time and again, allowing us to share with you and grow together…
And above it all, God is still good all the time, so let’s continue on to the party…
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