Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Here's How It Happened, Part Three

I broke down in tears. I knew that I did not deserve this amazing gift from God. While tears were streaming down my face, I opened up my Our Daily Bread devotional, and this is what it said.

He knows where the hurt is the deepest,
The tears of the night and the day,
And whispering softly, “I love you,”
He brushes the teardrops away. —Anon.

The God who washed away our sins will also wipe away our tears.

Here He was again, the Lord Of All Creation, comforting me. Even though He knows me inside and out, He still loves me. He still wants to bless me beyond my wildest dreams. I am humbled by His love. A love I do not deserve, but He lavishes it on me anyway.

Once my tears were dry, I realized that I needed to accept this gift graciously. I wanted to honor the Gift Giver. I was going to embrace this gift, not as one who deserved it, but as one humbled and honored to receive it.

God has revealed Himself to me in so many ways regarding this trip, more than I could begin to mention, but one way in particular stands out the most.

At the beginning of February, my mom and I went to a Shannon Ethridge conference. (If you ever get the opportunity to hear her speak, go. She is amazing. God is doing a mighty work through her.) On the way to the conference, I told my mom that I was finally ready to embrace this gift from God. I also told her that (selfishly) I was very much looking forward to a gondola ride through Venice. For some reason, of all the amazing things I would be doing and seeing on this journey, I was especially excited about the gondolas and Venice!

During her message, Shannon Ethridge shared about how God used "physical" signs to speak to her or to give her confirmation regarding something He was doing in her life. The signs could be mistletoe in a tree or letters painted on a road, but He often would point things out to her in the "physical" where He was trying to reach her in the "spiritual."

My mom and I had to sneak out of the conference a little early due to an itching situation she was experiencing with her arm. So while my mom went to the hotel kitchen to get some ice for her arm, I waited for her in the lobby. I found a table nearby to set my papers and purse on, so I could put on my coat and gloves. After setting my things down on the table, I looked up, and could not believe what I saw.

Only an hour earlier, I was in the car with my mom, telling her how much I was looking forward to that gondola ride, and now I'm staring at a painting of it. I looked around that hotel lobby at all of the other paintings. All of the other paintings were of flowers and old men, but the table I had stopped at was a gondola going through Venice.........It was extremely overwhelming, especially after hearing Shannon Ethridge share about God using "physical" signs to show her things in the "spiritual."

When my mom came back from the kitchen with her ice, I pointed at the painting.......She looked at it, and could not believe her eyes. God is truly amazing.

We left the hotel that night, but we had to return in the morning for the second part of the conference. I took my camera with me, and had my mom take my picture with the painting, or as I like to refer to it now, my painting. I couldn't wait to show (my)Shannon and the boys.

I wished so much that Shannon had been there with me at the moment that I first saw this painting. Shannon is my best friend. The hardest part of this trip for me will be seeing so many amazing things without him. When I go out to lunch with a girlfriend I always think, Shannon would love this meal. Or when I go to a movie without him, I think how much I wished he was seeing the movie with me.

Leaving on this trip, I would be missing our seventeenth wedding anniversary, not to mention our son Daniel's thirteenth birthday.

I prayed about this one evening........I told God that as excited as I am to go on this amazing adventure, it hurts so much to think of going without Shannon..........


Mama Mia said...

Oh Amy! Just think the next picture you take of will be in one!!!! I'm sure Shannon is so happy for you but maybe wishes he could go too?
God will bless you both I bet!

Sandra said...

Amy, I know it's going to be hard for all of you to be separated for such a long time - it's going to be hard for me too because we talk EVERY day at least once, sometimes 2 or 3 times. But if "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is true, look what you will have to come home to with your precious Shannon, Matt, and Daniel!! As Jack said in "TITANIC," here's to "making it count!" It will be an experience of a lifetime and you deserve it!! Love, MOM

hulagirlatheart said...

I-AM-SO-EXCITED-FOR-YOU. Isn't it funny what we hear when we really stop to "listen"?

My Goodness said...

Wow...what an awesome sign! Beautiful painting!

And about Shannon going, I've been thinking the same husband and I have been best friends since 9th grade. It would be SO hard to go without him.

SweetPea said...

Bitter sweet. Take lots of photos so you can try to share the experience with Shannon when you return. I do know how you feel about wanting to share everything with him. I too have the same feelings with Chris when I see or experience something. We have so much in common and I know what blesses his heart so when I experience something like that, I have a twing of pain for him not being able to share in the experience.

God will bless you and enable you to cherish this experience even with the pain of temporary separation.

Kysha said...

Amazing! I am looking forward to pics! Oh, I know you'll be missing him!

valerie said...

Amy, that is a wonderful story.
Isn't that so sweet of God to place that picture there just for you?
It will be very hard to be away from your family for this length of time, but it sounds like it is definitely a gift to you from God!
I was reading your mom's post. Sounds like my daughter and me. We talk several times a day and I've always been like that with my mom too.
You have everyone's blessings...I say go and enjoy!
Love ya,

Tricia said...

How cool was that painting....I bet you got goosebumps when you see it!! I love how you are telling this story, but I also hate how you are telling this story!! So much anticipation...sort of like a soap opera!! Looking forward to tomorrow : )

Beandip71 said...

I can't wait to see photos of you in Venice!!

Jenny said...

Amy, that is so neat with the picture! God is so good to us! You will miss him but have a great time too!


Jamie said...

I'm sure it will be hard to go without your husband, but I bet he is so excited that you get to go.

Kelley said...

Hi Amy,
Thank you so much for the comments on my blog. I LOVE hearing from you!

I just caught up on your last few posts and WOW! what an awesome gift!! I know that won't be happening to me soon because I am suffering from envy...I do know what you mean though, about wanting your husband to experience it with you.

Enjoy your trip. I can't wait to hear all about it!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

OK...either he's going or your not or you've come to some peace in the matter. Whatever the outcome, it will be the right one!

I wanted you to know that if you ever need to e-mail me anything (especially in regards to your "wait" or a specific prayer request), you can do so by clicking my email button on my side bar.

Have a blessed day!


The Boyds Family said...

Look at all these signs He is showing you!! He IS Amazing!!

Looks like there will be a part 4 to your story but I know that Shannon wants you to go and have a good time. I also know that your children want this for you too.

Listen to what He is telling deserve this!!