If sight were smell the aroma in the lobby of the gigantic contemporary worship space would have reeked of Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia.
My friend, whom I had kidnapped for a day of Holiday Cheer, and I were there because I had serendipitously found a stroller for $9.99 on Amazon and hit ‘paypal’ before they could change their minds or realize it was a mistake. One of the three orphan girls, I had met in 2005 in Kiev, now all grown young women, needed one for her second child. Randomly I had cruised to see what was available and there, in the midst of the $125.00 ones was this one. It’s a long story to connect it to the concert we were attending.
We cruised around the parking lot before the concert and ended up with a place right next to the side door. What the wha??? For someone like me who has the disabilities to merit the little blue wheel chair sign but refuses to give in to them and get one, this was a bit of a gift at the end of a long day.
Entering, after just having had a conversation about how fearful I was there was not really a stroller in the box we had sent off because it was so light, there in front of us was the exact stroller.
I asked the woman whose hands were on the steering bar how she liked it. With a huge smile and a thick Eastern European accent she smiled wide and declared enthusiastically, “I love it! It’s so light! It’s great for shopping.” Relieved.
The whole experience of the stroller was full of being part of the Big Picture; the ways we are networked together in positive ways to fulfill the best part of being a human being. The kind of events that let you know for sure that God is not just intelligent design, but loving design, caring design, compassionate design, and design with a sense of humor.
The day had started out several weeks before at the Meest mailing outpost in Federal Way, a small building with the words “Courage; an International Ministry” hanging on a banner above the door. With a woman my age who spoke 12 words of English and my one word of Russian = spacebo , which means ‘thank you’. = I managed to get all the forms filled out and as we concluded , asked about the poster on the bulletin board in front of me.
“Go, go, “ she said. I waffled about for contact info and saw the only English words “Breath of Aire”. Again with ‘What the wha?!!’ A friend from the Island had been offering an opportunity to go hear them, this group in which she sang, for years. Hmmm… see random poster advertising random concert with friend connection after purchasing random stroller found randomly at Amazon for the only price I could afford.
The conversation lead to the Ukrainian woman sharing her husband just died two months previously and had something to do with music at the church. That part I couldn’t quite decipher. But loss is loss and I couldn’t just stand there with this woman in tears.
“Can I give you a hug?” I said and motioned. And there I stood hugging a stranger in grief because of a series of events so randomly linked that they were clearly not random in meaning.
OK flash forward a couple of weeks. It’s Wednesday before the concert and I have just unknowingly bought the last ticket = so cheap, $7.00 and the first concert that day was actually one they did for free but I didn’t know that = and couldn’t get a ticket for my friend. Many texts and phone calls later, there is no ticket for my friend. OK I say to the group in which we both belong. Pray. If a ticket shows up it means our friend can physically handle the whole day, if not we call it quits after the time on Vashon and I take her home.
5PM Friday night …a voicemail…slight Russian accent. “No worries. Bring your friend. You bought the last ticket that’s why the computer wouldn’t let you buy another. It’s too much trouble to go in an adjust it. No pay, just come. Meet me at the counter up front.”
Another random event.
Vashon day started at The Little House with my friend oohing and aahing over trinkets and treasures. I promised Bettie I would spread the word. In caps…..THE LITTLE HOUSE IS NOT CLOSING AT THE END OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON. IT WILL BE OPEN UNTIL AT LEAST MID SPRING. THERE IS VALENTINE’S DAY, AND BRING YOUR BEARS BACK FOR NEW BOWS AND MAYBE VIETNAMESE LANTERNS IN THE AIR FOR A SEND OFF. KEEP VISITING.
Not yelling…declaring and proclaiming. The only way to reverse a bad rumor on Island.
So…then we went to Knitting Group and Liz taught her how to continental…how to pick not throw. Off to lunch together as a Group and then my friend and I on to the free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
Hours later, going strong, we head off the Southend to the concert. Over dinner, we both talked of the other ‘random’ occurrences that day that had made it such a blessed time together.
Now, having seen the duplicate stroller, I whispered to her, ‘Check out the shoes”. The defining statement of women associated with Russian or Ukrainian culture is six inch stilettos; thin pieces of accidents waiting to happen. The men are all in leather jackets, beautifully tailored black leather jackets. I missed my girls, those orphans in Ukraine. Tears of sadness that we were so far apart. Sorrow for them at their misfortune that they were connected to, not the wealthy American who could get them out, but the poor American who could tell them they could do it, continue in hardship with joy and delight in the days given to them. Learn to live without.
In case you missed it, here’s the point. None of those events were random. God was behind all of them. My hope for you this New Year is that you will see God’s activity in your life. In sorrow you will see Hope, in pain you will see Relief or Distraction, in Joy you will see Design and Intent. You are part of such a big picture. Choose health, emotional, mental, physical, and psychological health because it’s OK to be fully present in your own life and God needs you to be there for others who will in turn be there for you. While you’re making resolutions, make a commitment to be fully alive. In all circumstances give thanks and you will see the Big Picture.
Happy New Year!