When I am up against a giant and the odds in the natural world seem stacked against me, I try to remind myself of times in my life when I was reminded of how God is the God of limitless possibility, not probability.
These “against all odds” moments put things in perspective for me.
I have had some pretty amazing things happen in my life where the odds were more than a million to one.
I was rear-ended into a freight train and managed to escape a totaled vehicle that was stuck on the railroad tracks. I was pinned inside with a broken back and head injury and literally tore the car off the the hinges in front of witnesses. I escaped the twisted and mangled car seconds before it was hit by the train and exploded into pieces. I even miraculously made a full recovery from my broken back and head injury. You can read my miracle story here: Rear-Ended into An Oncoming Freight Train, A Christmas Miracle Unfolded For Me.
But even with that and several other against-all-odds miracles I have seen in my life, sometimes it takes a random moment that defies all odds to remind me that we serve a God of abundance who knows no odds, nor any time or space constraints that we so often place.
One example that comes to mind is a light-hearted one. I doesn’t involve escaping a life threatening situation but reminds me that a one in millions chance meeting is exactly how God rolls on this Anointed Journey. Not too long ago, I was visiting my dear friend in North Carolina like I do each year.
Polly and I have an amazing friendship that is forged by so many lasting bonds. We have several things we differ greatly on such as certain political views and opinions yet we love each other fiercely and respect each other’s differences. She knows me inside and out and we have enjoyed years of life’s seasons of triumph and tragedy together. There have been more years than I can count where we have given each other the same Christmas or birthday gifts (our birthdays are only a week and a half apart). Great minds really do think alike in so many ways.
During my visits to see her once or twice a year, we always make it a point to stop in and browse a favorite little boutique in her charming North Carolina town of 15,000 people. It’s called Honeysuckle Hollow. We also enjoy hikes through the DuPont Forest, gardening together, and visiting our other favorite gift shop and kitchen store in her area as well. Polly and I have similar tastes in accessories and we love picking up a scarf, belt, earrings or some cute little treasure in this one particular little boutique as a memento of our visits and time together. Over the years, it’s become a ritual of sorts, that must be checked off before I can fly or drive home to California or Texas.
This particular time was no different as we browsed on opposite sides of the boutique while our teen kids who have grown up together, sat nearby in a coffee shop waiting for us moms to finish up. Like many times before, Polly found something she knew I would love, as she knows me so well, and she shouted across the store, “Carmel, come check this out. It’s totally you.” I left what I was looking at and walked over to check out a scarf she was holding up. “Carmel, look how great this would look with your hair and coloring,” Polly noted as she held the scarf up near my face.
Immediately a woman from behind the counter, looked up at us and smiled. “Wow, your name is Carmel?” she asked. I grew up in a little coastal town in California, called Carmel.”
I was stunned. “So, did I,” I exclaimed.
Polly, and I and this pretty woman behind the counter all stood motionless for a moment, then Polly and I walked over to her.
She went on to tell us that her name was Jill and that she had lived in North Carolina for quite some time but had grown up in Carmel, California and had gone to Carmel High School just like I had. Within moments of sharing some information about our childhoods, we realized she had known my mother and grandparents and that she had even had a huge crush on my uncle Kevin, in high school.
Jill began talking about places she had worked while growing up in Carmel and it turned out we had both worked at Crocker Bank in Carmel, during different years and her boss had been a great friend of my grandparents and had also been the bank manager who had opened my first checking account there at Crocker Bank for me when I was 9 years old. I recalled proudly writing my very first check at age 9, for some Minnetonka Moccasins at Scott’s Silver and Leather in Carmel and you guessed it, I had written that very first check to Jill who had worked there as a salesperson. Jill even remembered some of the exquisite turquoise jewelry the store had carried that I had later purchased for my mother there, with subsequent checks as I saved my allowance and worked odd jobs for wealthy vacationing neighbors by doing gardening and care-taking well into my teens.
The memories began flooding back between the two of us as she shared heart warming memories of my grandparents whom I miss dearly, and how she and so many others in the community greatly respected my grandparents, my author mother, and my uncle as esteemed business owners in Carmel in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s when Jill was growing up there.
With our kids waiting in the car now, Polly and I finished up our impromptu trip down memory lane with Jill. Polly had helped me settle my grandparents estate in 2005 and 2007, and had helped me clean up and remodel their home in Carmel, so many of Jill’s fond memories held value for Polly too as she recollected so many things I had shared during that difficult season. Polly and I accepted Jill’s invitation to come to lunch and tea at her home and we left the boutique.
When Polly and I arrived on another day, to take an incredibly presented holiday tea at Jill’s adorable home just blocks from the boutique, I was taken aback by a certain painted portrait of Jill, as a young girl, on her wall. “That was painted by my Aunt Joyce,” she said as I gazed at it, stunned. “Nearly all the young girls in Carmel had their portraits done by my Aunt in the 50’s and 60’s.”
It hit me suddenly. A beautiful portrait of my mother had hung in our Carmel home for my entire childhood. It was now in my home. It was painted by Jill’s Aunt! I remember my mom speaking many years ago so fondly of the woman who had painted her lovely portrait as a child of 12 years of age.
Needless to say, there were many more connections we uncovered as we visited over tea that afternoon at my new friend’s home with my best friend Polly.
It’s hard to wrap my head around how I could have bumped into someone in a small town 2100 miles from home who knew my family well, went to the same high school as I did, had a crush on my uncle, and whose Aunt painted my mother’s portrait 60 years before, all an entire continent’s length away, when there are over 327 million people in the United States, scattered around countless towns and little shops across the country.
But it serves as a happy reminder that God knows no odds or statistics and only we place the limits and boundaries. It’s all quite simply, part of my miraculous Anointed Journey.