Exceedingly, Abundantly More

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us… (Ephesians 3:20) 

This past week marked both a milestone and a big change in my life. Last week, I originally planned to write a post about turning 40 and what my walk looks like now, nearly five years after re-committing my life to Christ.  Then, my world was turned a bit upside down:  I spent much of my actual birthday in the ER with my roommate, an older woman; she had fallen and fractured her leg.  I then rushed off at 6pm to meet a small group of friends for dinner in celebration of my birthday.

The next day, I again visited the hospital for a while. It had been decided it was best she stay there until surgery (decided by the orthopedic surgeon to prevent future issues) for her own safety, as she wouldn’t be able to walk without a walker.  Late that night, just after falling asleep, I heard my mother who is currently staying with me, coming toward my bedroom door weeping and saying “Dad’s dead! Stacey, Dad’s dead!” I jumped out of bed before she reached my door, put my arms around her and took the phone from her hands. I knew it had to be my aunt on the other end… I also knew she would be with my grandmother, so wanted to make sure everyone was safe and get a run-down on what had happened.

This was so surreal…so unexpected. The only man who had been a constant, a father figure, in my life was gone without warning. Without being able to say I love you one last time. Without a good-bye. But God has a plan…

How I’d get to Ohio on short notice was going to prove difficult from a financial perspective. I couldn’t drive and flights are ridiculously expensive from anywhere to Cincinnati, anytime. So, I did the only thing I knew to do…in lieu of sleep that night and through the waves of weeping…I sat in the Word, mostly in Psalms, and in prayer to my Lord – asking Him to please provide a way. To comfort my family. To strengthen me enough to get through the coming days, in order to be strong and a help for my Grandmother.

There was, in the midst of this, a bright spot: I’d get to see my family. I also realized the amazing way God prepares the way for our lives…

The following morning I was still trying to figure out how we’d get to Ohio.  It was not an option…we had to go. I had a thought the night before of where I could turn for that kind of help but didn’t actually want to use that card. However, the thought was still there in the morning so I prayed upon it again.  After some time passed, I reached out to the last person I ever wanted to, for help: An old boyfriend with whom I was still friendly, that I knew had millions of airline miles.  I sent him a text message saying I needed a huge favor, explained what was going on…then held my breath!

Within a matter of minutes, without further question, he did the unthinkable: He booked the only flights he could get us on, from our local airport to Cincinnati. My mother, I told him, was the priority and he found her a round-trip flight. I didn’t ask him for myself, I was more concerned about her getting there. Then he said he’d booked what he could find for me, which was a one way flight. I was so amazed he would do this for me! God surely blessed me that morning through an unlikely source. I figured I would rent a car to get home as it would be less expensive than a flight.

That morning (Wednesday), when I awoke it was on my heart to see if my pastor was available to talk.  I sent him a text message and asked if he had some time that day, stating I needed a spiritual ear. He immediately replied saying ‘yes’ and asked me what time. We agreed to meeting at his office late that afternoon. I went in, explained what had just occurred and detailed the miracle blessing I had received. As we wrapped things up, he prayed for me and my family. After he was finished, he looked at me and asked how I was getting back since I only had a one way flight. I mentioned renting a car. He looked at me for a second and said, ‘while I was praying the Lord was telling me you aren’t supposed to do that’.

Okay? I didn’t question it but he kept talking, stating that the church has a Good Samaritan fund for this purpose and he felt led to purchase a ticket for a return flight home.  I sat there stunned…my eyes welled up with tears. I said, “Are you serious?” He nodded and said ‘let’s do it now before you leave’. God has a plan…

I felt so incredibly blessed!

After spending the next day being blessed by friends who said they’d come and take care of my dog, scrubbing my house and doing a ton of laundry, it was getting late and I remembered I had errands to run. (As I was checking into my flight online this same day, I glanced at the seat number and saw “1A”, First Class?  An unexpected blessing which blessed me doubly as I brought along too big of toiletries and had to check my carry-on, which was at no cost due to his mileage status.)  I realized I needed to go deposit money for rent into my bank account.  I drove to a branch of my bank and attempted to deposit funds, to discover I wasn’t able.  I was getting a message that my card was not authorized for this function. Odd! I’d never had any issues like that before. I then drove over to the store to buy ample dog food; when I went to pay with my card, it was declined! (Thankfully I had that cash on me, still!) I bank at a credit union and their hours are short so I couldn’t resolve anything until the next day, after I’d already left for Cincinnati.

This did not make me happy.  I racked my brain trying to figure out what might be causing it. I had an inkling that I knew what it was but couldn’t confirm until I spoke to someone.  Good thing I had a very long lay-over during which I could be on the phone. Upon speaking to a representative I discovered my hunch had been correct, but it was a little worse than I thought. It would take a bit to get the issue cleared up!  It took days…but at least I had reached to source of the issue, received a heartfelt apology and knew they were good for the money.

The time spent at home with my family, though difficult, was blessed. I was able to bring restoration to a strained relationship, talk to someone about forgiveness, and then witness it transpire before my eyes. The most difficult part of it all was knowing the torment my grandmother was in and not being able to do anything but pray and love on her.

Severe storms moved into the Greater Cincinnati area the night before my grandfather’s funeral services. I prayed and prayed (and know I was not alone) for them to subside for the duration of the service and burial. God heard our prayers…we had clear skies until later that night save a few sprinkles just after the graveside ceremony was over with.

Fast forward to today: As I sat here composing this post, I received a text message from my mom; she’s still in OH with family and it’s a good thing… My sister’s finance had to be airlifted to a hospital in the city and was in intensive care, on a ventilator. As soon as I paused in prayer God came rushing back at me with this message: The enemy is pulling out the heavy artillery; your family is under spiritual attack due to your commitment to Christ and how he’s moving through you.

My sister’s fiance’s heart stopped at 6:00 PM the next night. She is devastated but I trust that God has a plan…

I’ve seen this happen before, where tragedies are compounding. My immediate response was prayer and pulling out scriptures of resilience and those showing us who God is in these situations, such as:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10)

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)

I’ve been fervently praying for God to place a hedge of protection around my entire family. That he would keep the promise of Romans 8:28 (which really has become my favorite scripture as of late) and a friend reminded me of Ecclesiastes 7:8…the end of a thing is better than the beginning…because God has a plan!

Now all I can do is trust, wait and lean on the Lord and pray my family will do the same! For my grandmother to regain her will to live. For my sister to remain strong and understand that God is in control, that God is the author of our lives. He decides our every breath… His will be done, in Jesus’ precious and holy name! For I know that my God has a plan!

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