God of Connections–Part 1
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth so that He may support those whose heart is completely His…” (II Chronicles 16:9 AMP).
I stand amazed.
God supports and connects people for His glory and their good, I’m completely convinced of this.
Take my friend Diana Laursen. We met not long after our family settled in western North Carolina in 2002. She worked at a local restaurant we frequented, then later moved to another establishment we visited regularly. Over time, as she took our orders and presented our meals, always with a smile, we got to know each other.
But she was more than a waitress. Almost two decades ago, Diana and her husband John started making soap from scratch and stepped out to begin their own business. John quit his lucrative job as a chemist, and, along with their children, they worked together to birth Hazelwood Soap Co., which blossomed and grew over time. They were even asked to provide products for gift bags at the Emmys as their popularity spread, and one can purchase their insect repellent, Bug Be Gone, on well-known retailer sites like Anthropologie.
I read recently that the Laursens have sold their business and are taking on new endeavors. Someone else now carries the baton and will continue that which Diana and John started all those years ago, and I’m excited for this new season for our friends. Reading this, however, got me thinking, and in remembering, I’ve marveled, too, to be honest. I’m reminded that God truly does work to support and connect His people, seeking out those who are willing. Like Diana and me. Like Diana and someone else.
Some years ago, I was introduced to a woman, Kara Tippets, when I learned of another woman, Brittany Maynard. Brittany was battling a rare brain cancer called glioblastoma. Having read an article featuring her in which she’d shared her plan to take her own life using a fatal dose of prescribed barbiturates, I googled to learn more.
It was in my search that I landed upon an open letter that Kara had written to Brittany. This online, loving exhortation, originally posted on Ann Voskamp’s blog site, went viral, and I was one of thousands who began following Kara, each reader held captive by the words and message of this young mom who was herself battling terminal cancer.
Kara wrote to Brittany–
“Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known. In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with such tenderness the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths…” (Kara Tippetts).
Despite Kara’s pleas, asking Brittany to trust the Lord for each day, each hour, each and every minute and second, she followed through with her plans to commit suicide, passing away on November 1, 2014 at the age of 29. And Kara, too, eventually passed away, but not before sharing her life, even her dying, with the world. This wife, mother, and writer didn’t shy away from expressing the harsh reality of hair loss and vomit and the disappointment in more unwanted diagnoses after fighting hard to beat that beast called breast cancer.
No, Kara didn’t gloss over the struggle, the anger, the sadness in what she called “lasts”–like the final time she drove her kids to school. She wrote in her blog “Mundane Faithfulness” that, had she known on the day she dropped them at the door that it would be her last time, she’d have savored the moments more, the conversations, the silly songs–yes, even the cold, stale french fries in the seats.
But it wasn’t until after they were safely inside their school building and Kara was sitting before her oncologist later that morning, hearing his words, that the realization hit. “You can no longer drive,” the kind yet pragmatic physician had said. “It’s just too risky–for you. For them.” Hence, a punctuation mark on a long-lived and enjoyed season. No more driving–period.
Followers of her blog had a glimpse inside the Tippetts’ Colorado home–the sick bucket by the bed, the messy sheets when family members piled in to snuggle close, the medications–all those bottles and jars–on the bedside table. Kara loved to share the real, no matter how raw or ugly or unkempt the images were. And she was loved for that, and it was in loving her that we grieved so when she passed–hurt for her husband and her precious Littles, as she called them. Like the Laursens, the Tippetts, too, had four children. And like the Laursens, they were a close-knit family who lived, loved and worked together.
One of those jars Kara kept on her bedside stand was Hazelwood Soap Co.’s Restoration Cream. She blogged about it once, saying how wonderful it was for her dry, cracked skin. “Run, don’t walk, to get this cream,” she’d written. Having a loved one apply it was a healing balm, though she wished it would reach down deep enough to heal her cancer. She knew it wouldn’t, but Kara never lost her sense of humor, and she was humble enough to share her heart’s desires with those of us who took time to read her words, and we’d all root for her, hopeful too. Please, Restoration Cream, heal and restore our friend. That’s what we all longed for. We’d become, after all, Kara’s very own virtual cheering squad.
In a way, that jar of Restoration Cream that was purchased and included in a care package sent to her connected Diana and Kara, and Diana, like me, was privileged to get to know this woman even better by reading her blogs and books, The Hardest Peace and Just Show Up . (Also available is And It Was Beautiful–Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye, David C. Cook Publishers, 2016, though its release came after Kara’s passing.)
There were other God-ections, as I would learn, but that’s for another day, another blog post. The take-away here is this:
God has purposes. He’s up to things. He supports and connects people for their good–to be used as healing balms perhaps, encouragers, exhorters, friends–and also, most importantly, for His glory. He’s looking about, seeking out those who are willing to be His vessels, to show Himself strong and faithful on their behalf.
Are you saying–
“Yes, Lord–use me!”?
Can you think of a special connection God has made between you and someone else? What do you think His purpose was / is in supporting this relationship by connecting you?
Dear Jesus, thank you for caring about relationships. Thank you for using us when we remain willing. If there is anything we’re holding back that hinders the work You desire to do, will You please reveal that to us and enable us to let it go? Amen.
(To learn more about Hazelwood Soap Co., click the name.)