So this is a story that actually happened yesterday, but my blog has always been dedicated to Blake on March 5th, so of course it was going to be delayed a day, despite the fact that it was one of the most epic things that have happened to me in a long time.
This past Friday, The Vespers flew to Omaha for a worship thing at a college. It was a very quick trip, and they immediately flew back to Nashville the next day. Strangely, they had to fly Omaha-Denver-Nashville, but hey, that's just how flights work out sometimes. Well, I was texting Taylor Saturday night, and he said he just had to tell me about this woman he met on a plane. He was at a friend's house, and he said the story was too long to text, so I didn't get to hear the story until we chatted yesterday for a bit.
Taylor said that on the flight from Denver to Nashville, there weren't a lot of people on board, so he and Phoebe moved up to the front row where they would have more leg room. They left a seat in between them, and Taylor was hoping no one would ask to sit there, but then this woman came up and asked if they were holding it for someone. She sat down and they talked the entire flight.
One of the very first things Taylor said after he told me that her name was Lynn Newton was, "She was somewhat older, I'd say around 60....and she skydives." Well, that's not a sentence you hear every day. :p He then told me about how she does all these "wild" things like skydive and ski and all that, and she basically just preached the Word to them, and she told her testimony which was mostly about how she survived this traumatic brain injury and went through this experimental surgery so that she wouldn't have to be on any medications. Taylor said he was just really amazed by her attitude, and that her story really reminded him of me (it really touches my heart to hear how often my friends think of me), so he got her email. He told me he really thought I should talk to her and share stories.
Well, y'all know me. Of course I said yes. So I emailed her not long after we got off the phone, and within about 15 minutes, I had a reply telling me that she was happy to hear from me because Taylor had mentioned me, and to call her that night after 7:00 CST (she lives in Alabama) and we could talk. The timing worked out pretty perfectly with all of Blake's birthday stuff (which, side note, we didn't end up going out tonight because Mom woke up sick, so there's no more birthday pictures), so I called her at 8:15 my time.
Y'all, I didn't hang up the phone until 12:25 am. That's four hours and ten minutes of talking to a complete stranger that my dear friend met in a random way and connected me with. And honestly, it was hands down, one of the most wonderful, encouraging, humbling, eye-opening conversations I have had in my entire life. All I could really think when we finally stopped talking was that God will use anything and everything to teach, encourage and humble us. One of the last things I said to Lynn was that I hope that when I'm her age, I have the optimistic, constantly excited outlook on life that she does, and she said that I will because she can tell I already have it now. :)
So basically, the first half of the conversation was her telling her story, and then the second half was me telling mine. One of the most interesting things she told me was that her mom and brothers think she's absolutely crazy for being such a daredevil, but she just always tells them that she's doing what makes her happy. She believes it's so important to do what you love and love what you do, and that just made me smile because Taylor and I had just talked about that same thing earlier in the day. And I loved when she talked about the advice she had given Taylor and Phoebe about getting married, and she commented on how intelligent and mature they seemed and that she didn't know if she had answered the deep questions they had asked well enough. Yep, that sounds just like Taylor and Phoebe. :) Also, the beginning of the story was about how she was a teacher, and she would go above and beyond to create simpler tests on the same concepts for various kids so that everyone could pass her class, and she would go early or stay late to tutor anyone who needed it and all these other cool details that showed me she was just a constantly busy woman who was truly passionate about what she did. It reminded me so much of my mom, another teacher known for going far beyond the job requirements to help her kids. It also made me understand better why life on these heavy duty medications after her injury was so difficult for her and why she wanted to get off them.
Then I got to tell her my testimony. Every so often, she would interject with her view on what I was telling her, and no matter what I said about my past, she managed to understand the mindset I was in then and the feelings that I had, and always had something encouraging to say. I loved getting to talk about the brain and foot surgeries, because those really were the start of everything changing. I was so thankful that she never judged me for my depression or the mistakes that I made during it, and I was truly touched when I got to the part where I met The Vespers, and how my friendship grew with them, and then my trip to Nashville and baptism and she seemed to genuinely celebrate the joy behind it all with me. At the end, we spent quite a while (again: four. hour. conversation. ha!) talking about how our trials changed our views on life and learning not to take a moment for granted.
This was when God hit me hard, and I was so humbled, it was a good thing I was already sitting down because it truly made my legs feel weak. She thanked me for talking to her, and told me that hearing my story and how far God has brought me taught her a lot and encouraged her very much, and that she was thanking God for crossing our paths and making Taylor think to connect us. I told her that hearing things like that is exactly why I will never stop sharing my story; I get to tell people about the God that brought me back from the brink of death multiple times and how perfectly good He really is. When I told her that the effect I've seen my story have on other people is enough by itself to make me grateful for it, she said she was amazed that at such a young age, I could be grateful for all of this, but she's happy that I am.
Then, she told me something that made me want to cry so badly (in a good way!): Lynn called me a "modern day Job" and said there needs to be more people in the world like me. There needs to be more people in the world like me? Lord, I pray hearing that never gets comfortable...
As much as Lynn says I taught her, this experience taught me so much. Talking to a woman who sees life so similarly to the way that I do was a huge encouragement in a way that my friends can't really give me because they haven't survived something like Lynn and I have. That conversation reignited my passion to chase after Him like never before. I am so blessed and so humbled to serve the God that I do, and beyond thankful that He continues to bring people into my life that remind me to keep telling the world about Him and give Him the glory He deserves as best as I can. I was so filled with joy and excitement by the time we finally got off the phone (and I'm pretty sure that only happened when it did because both of our phones were almost dead) that I had a hard time falling to sleep.
Lynn specifically asked me to save her number so that we could keep in touch. I said yes, absolutely!
I don't believe one bit of this was a coincidence. I believe that every last detail of this, right down to Taylor and Phoebe deciding to move to the front of the plane, was a move of God. I quit believing in coincidences right around when I came out on the other side of all those life-threatening health issues.
And you want to know the funny thing about that last sentence there? Lynn said the same thing.