And I don't mean cookies...
I had the awesome opportunity to spend some time with some great ladies tonight. We decorated Christmas cookies and laughed...a lot! As the year and our Lifegroup both come to an end very soon, it started me thinking about how I ended up where I was tonight: in the company of wonderful women, in a city 2000 miles from my hometown--where I've lived for nearly three years already. Time has flown, for sure. I came up with a bullet-point list of the events leading up to tonight.
-January 2004: Visit some family friends in NoCal so that I could interview for an internship. During this time I headed down to SoCal with a friend to visit his brother, Disneyland and a church. My friend has a man-crush on the worship leader at this church (my friend also leads worship...he's a huge fan of this leader) so we attended. We almost didn't make it due to rainy, gross weather combined with a late evening the previous night.
-March 2006: I move to SoCal.
-April 2006: I decide it's time to find a church and remember the church I had visited. It was the ONLY church I had ever heard of or known anything about. It reminded me of the church I attended in college, so I felt at home immediately.
-April 2006 through December 2007: Loving church and attending fairly regularly but not really plugged in despite it's great Young Adult ministry. I blame me for that and my lack of being super outgoing.
-January 2008: Attend the Passion Conference with a small group from my church. I hardly knew anyone there but had really felt God calling me to get connected. I felt this was my best shot. I met a couple of the pastors, who I had been chit-chatting with about wanting to find a Lifegroup but none listed online were anywhere near my house. They then thought of a girl who they thought would be great. I meet said girl the following week at a coffee shop. The moment I walked in I couldn't believe it. I had seen her numerous times before and always thought she looked familiar, like someone from my school. As I had correctly guessed, she had been on the worship team at our college ministry. 2000 miles away. SMALL WORLD.
-Today: I am able to call this wonderful group of ladies not just my Bible study or Lifegroup, but friends.
God did a lot of things in order to get me where I am today. That is not lost on me. I am struck by the reality that God really does have a plan--and more importantly--knows exactly what's going on even when we don't. When things are hard and we can't see past our own struggles, God is right there with us. But what is awesome news for my heart tonight is that none of our hardships are wasted. God always uses what's going on in our lives to help us ultimately become exactly how He wants us. Our pain, sorrow, frustration and even joy are constantly being used by God to mold us into people who look a little more like Jesus. Bit by bit, day by day. There are no leftovers in our lives that can't be used for our good and God's glory.
How awesome is that?