It would be our first Christmas together, married only seven months. We left Phoenix just months before to set up home in a small apartment in Cleveland, Tennessee where H attends seminary. The first chapter of our story, now twenty-one years old.
We sell H’s Volvo before we leave Phoenix to pay for utility deposits, first and last month’s rent, food. No jobs or house waiting for us, just faith that God spoke to us to go and fulfill the beginning of a call to vocational ministry. H picks up the ringing phone between loads of boxes. The call of acceptance as a student to the seminary. We still laugh about our assumptions. Or was it faith?
Last night, seated around a table of enchiladas and refried beans with close friends and family in Phoenix, my mother in law recalls a memory of that move. Laughs about how we had to remove the stairs in that apartment to get our custom mattress to the second floor bedroom. She and I hoisting that heavy mattress as high as our arms will reach while H pulls it up to the second floor.
There were a lot of days like that in the beginning. Being resourceful with what we had to make life work.
And just when hope begins to fade in bills we can’t pay during Advent on that first Christmas in 1990, an unexpected knock comes to our front door in Tennessee. We open it to find our pastor from Phoenix standing there with a broad smile. His car backed up to our apartment, trunk open and loaded with gifts.
I don’t remember the exact contents of what he unloaded, or why he drove thousands of miles to show up on our doorstep. It just felt like Jesus answered our prayers for rescue and it came in the form of our pastor loving us this way.
As we scrape up the last bites of refried beans and rice, a young waiter approaches our table, crouches down to greet us for a moment. It is the son of family friends, all grown up and newly married. I haven’t seen him since he was my son’s age but he remembers me. Smiles and tells us about how he and his new wife start their life together with countenance glowing Jesus.
His Dad helped us load that moving van twenty- one years ago.
My heart beats joy as I listen, because I know a bit of his story and the Jesus I see in him, it reveals redemption. Because just like our pastor showing up unexpectedly and this young man approaching our table, Jesus always comes at just the right time to reveal His goodness.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. ~Roman 5:6
I just wanted to pop in here for a minute and say that each one of you is a gift to me this Christmas. I am so grateful for the blogging community. I will be taking it slow over the next few weeks, not posting as frequently to enjoy time with my family here in Phoenix. If you have been enriched by what you read here, the greatest gift you can give me (besides leaving a comment) is to share the address of Redemptions Beauty with your friends, family, co-workers. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Linking with Ann, Jennifer and Emily.
Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thanks for being YOU!
(love your quote)
Jesus always comes at just the right time to reveal His goodness.
Thanks for faithful following and encouraging Terri. Merry Christmas to you too!
I love when people notice Jesus stepping into their lives and making a difference. It reminds me how I need to get to know him so well, I’ll recognize when he comes to me. Merry Christmas to you.
It just takes practice, learning to hear Him in the midst of all the stuff of life. None of us hear perfectly until we meet Him face to face. It’s been fun getting to know you. Merry Christmas to you too, sweet lady.
I love how his dad helped you load your moving van so long ago. Your words always encourage me, Shelly. Your love of God seeps through the pages. I appreciate that.
Have a wonderful Christmas, friend.
I know Amy, the serendipity is just so amazing. So touched by your being encouraged. It’s all grace as you know. God has a wonderful way of drawing people together and your words inspire me as well. Blessings to you for a peaceful Christmas.
Wonderful memories. You are blessed.
I’m glad I found your blog, Shelly. It appears we have some things in common. I remember those scrape-by days of seminary with my husband too. I’m so glad that God demonstrated his amazing provision for you and your hubby in those early days … and I’m sure, every day since then! Merry Christmas and enjoy your break!
So glad to meet you, love meeting people who share a similar journey, understand the sacrifice and the joy of His faithfulness. Merry Christmas to you too.
oy i have been there on the scraping by and finding answers to prayer in the most unusual places…that made me smile at the memories…cherish these days and have a very merry christmas….
Nice to know I am in good company Brian. We all start somewhere and at some point our experience converges with others. Empathy is a good thing! Merry Christmas to you my friend.
What a fabulous memory… it’s fun to look back on these kinds of things and see how God has brought us along, isn’t it?!
It is. I hadn’t really thought about it in a while. Then we started a conversation about how hard it is to start your life as newlyweds but how good it is to struggle and work hard for what you have because it shapes you. Brought back lots of early memories.
I can so relate. It seems to me that those are the heavenly times in life when excitement can come from smaller less glamorous things than now. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful Christmas.
I came over to read this blog post after Celebrating Eve recommended it on her post. And I’m so glad that I did. I live in Phoenix, AZ. How happy I was to read that your Phoenix pastor followed you and presented you with gifts of love. What a joy in the midst of a new adventure of faith.
Stepping out in faith requires God courage. I struggle at times with fear. Fear of the unknown. And yet this past year of uncertainty, God has provided. I am learning that He is trustworthy. And I’m very grateful for the lessons I’m learning along the way.
So good to ‘meet’ you.
Blessings and love,
Debbie, so glad you stopped by from Celebrating Eve and how fun that you live in Phoenix and the first post you read of mine happened to be about your home city. Life is so uncertain isn’t it? I hold on to the one who I know never changes, is always concerned about my welfare, wants the best for me. This life of faith is an adventure!
Oh my word! What a “chance” encounter. Only God could arrange such a thing.
May your coming year be filled with the delightfulness of God’s surprises. You’ve been such a blessing to get to know. Your words are an encouragement. I love your voice, your way of “seeing”, your beautiful words. Sending you love today …
Jennifer, I have been thinking about you and hoping you had a fun time with your family on that cruise. I thank God for you as I ponder the blessings of this year. Thank you for your generous, loving encouragement and for that blessing. Yes, the delightfulness of God’s surprises! Amen!