Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Face to Face~

"What are you thinking?"

I stand on the sidewalk leading to our front door, breathing in the unexpectedly cool air on a hot August day that is now quickly headed to night.  My husband, seated a few feet away, knows me all too well. As I look at the clouds swirling overhead, the very ones who have brought this reprieve from the heat, I answer his question.

"I want to to see her.  I want to meet her, face to face."

I shift my eyes from the sky and look over my shoulder at my husband. Although this conversation seems to be coming out of nowhere, my husband understands. The look in his eye, the gentle nod of his head, all say what his voice doesn't need to.

The next day, I receive an email from her:

August 13, 2013
OK.  Stacy.  Remind me where you live.  I would so love to meet you.

I read her words, the desire of my own heart written there, spelled out in black and white, and I think back to an another email written almost two years earlier.

September 9, 2011
OK, Stacy.  One day we need to meet!  I can't remember where you live, but how great would it be to meet! I read your post "But God" and just loved it.  And if I remember correctly, wasn't it published in P31 Magazine?  And you don't call yourself a writer??????  Oh, honey.  My husband is sitting beside me and I just read your email to me to  him.   Words can't express my gratitude for keeping me in your prayers.  Our work this weekend consists of determining a course of action.  Another round of chemo or alternative methods.  We're praying for guidance and peace with our decision.  So if you're so inclined..... I praise God for my healthy body.  Well, the I-feel-healthy body.  I can't believe I have cancer as I feel 100% perfect.  Crazy.  So I will indulge in a busy, great weekend knowing that lots of rest and pjs will be in my future.  Stacy, thank you so very much.  Keep writing!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Writing. This is the way God chose to first introduce me to this precious friend three years before. Proverbs 31 Ministries was offering a chance to win a scholarship to their yearly "She Speaks" Conference. To enter, each writer linked up a post on a designated Proverbs 31 webpage.  Ruthie and I linked up within minutes of each other. I read her post. She read my post. The rest is a tale of a friendship too precious for words.)

Days pass and while chatting with my sister one night, I share the desire of my heart that will not go away.

"I've been thinking about going to California."
"Really?  What's in California?"
"Not what - who.  I want to meet her.  I want to see Ruthie face to face. I want to give her a hug. I want to pray with her and for her. I want to tell her thank you for being such a constant, faithful, friend and amazing source of inspiration to me."
"You should go."

Several  more days pass and while chatting with my sister once again, she shares the desire of her heart.
"I still want to take you on a trip. I know we've talked about doing New York City for Christmas and to celebrate your birthday, but I've been thinking. Where do YOU want to go? How about California?  How about in a few weeks? How about mid October?"

October 18, 2013 (three years after first meeting Ruthie) I ring the door bell. Three years and untold emails   of encouragement, faith, and the forever present "Keep writing!!!! xoxo" and I meet her - face to face. Amazingly, I hold back the tears as she opens the door. I give her a hug.

I sit in her living room, the same one I've seen so many times in photos from her blog. It's just as beautiful in person, but Ruthie, she is even more so. Thin, tired, worn from the disease ravaging her body, she talks and I listen. I talk and she listens. My sister, my sweet friend and I share in two hours of sweet communion. We talk about writing. We talk about blogs. We (well, more she and my sister - a decorator, I am not) talk about decorating and interior design. We talk about New Mexico. (Ruthie has never been) We talk about cancer. We talk about faith. We talk about God.

I give her another huge hug.  We take a photo together. We hold hands, and in a circle of three, with God's Spirit in our midst, we pray together.  I tell her thank you - for all she is, for all she has been to me.  I tell her that even though my sister and I are seeing the sights while in California, she is the highlight of my trip.  She quickly replies: "Honey! You've got to get out more!" We laugh, hug again, and my sister and I make our way back to our rental car.

I latch the seatbelt and simultaneously, unleash a flood of emotion.
And, I cry.
Right there in her cul de sac.
All the way to the hotel.
And, I marvel at such a God as this.

One day shy from two months to the day when I sat in her living room, my sweet God-sent friend passed away.

The night before she took her last breath, I wrote Ruthie one last letter.

Three years ago, a girl from New Mexico meets a girl from California....first through their love of God and their love for sharing His love through words . . . and then 2 months ago, face to face. Who but God could orchestrate that?! Who but God could love me enough to introduce me to you, sweet Ruthie, then grant me the desire of my heart to meet you in person, to sit in your living room and share my heart as you shared yours, to wrap my arms around you in a long-awaited hug, to hold hands with you and pray together to our precious Jesus. Only God. Who but God would graciously (amazingly!) intertwine my life with yours, inviting me into your story, into your journey, into your home, into your family, into your passionate quest to "use your gift." Who but God would send YOU to me as my personal, heaven-sent cheerleader to spur me on, to encourage my heart, to keep me believing in His dream for me, to keep me tapping away on my keyboard?! Who but God could have blessed me with you? Unbelievable. Yes, only God could orchestrate all that . . . and only God knows the forever thanksgiving I have in my heart. Only God knows how my life has been touched, changed, inspired, enriched, and so many words the English language has yet to create to truly express your imprint upon my heart. Only God knows. Only God and me. . . and you. I hope you know, too! I love you, Ruthie. As always, I'm on my knees . . . praying. you. through.

I sit on the edge of our bed, my husband wiping my tears.

"What are you thinking?"

"I want to see her.  I want to see her face to face again."

I shift my eyes from the floor of our bedroom upward to my Father God. I know He understands. The comfort I feel in my heart, the hope that is stirring within me, all say what His voice doesn't need to.

And, I cry.
And, I marvel at such a God as this.

 Thank you, Ruthie . . . I can't wait to see you again.

(Remember this August night three years ago and ever praising the God who made it all possible,)

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