I stared at the full parking lot, overwhelmed by the sheer number of women streaming into the convention center. I hoisted my five-month-old son’s carseat and walked resolutely towards the entrance, nervous about attending my first women’s ministry convention.
A friend had paid my entry fee. She had workshops to teach so I was on my own.
I found the check-in line. One thousand women is not an introvert’s idea of a good time. I felt awkward attending by myself and longed for a companion to share this experience. Few women brought babies so I stood out like a sore thumb. My son was the clingiest baby on the planet, so if I didn’t bring him, I couldn’t have attended.
I stood patiently in a long line when a middle-aged dark-haired woman bent down to smile at my son in his infant carseat. After making him laugh, she looked up and said, “You have a beautiful baby.”
“Thanks…” I began, then gasped. The friendly woman was my pastor’s wife from my home church in Northern California. The conference was in Portland, Oregon, ten hours from her home. I hadn’t seen her in five years.
We hugged and talked and spent much of the day together. I’m still amazed that in the sea of a thousand women we found each other. That which had made me feel conspicuous was the thing that brought us together. Without my baby we probably wouldn’t have noticed each other.
I marvel at what had to line up for this encounter to happen.
Keith was a financially strapped seminary student so I couldn’t have attended without my friend’s generosity. I had to work up the courage to attend a huge conference alone. I stood in the conference line the exact same time Mrs. Cundall did.
Growing up, I didn’t really know Mrs. Cundall. Back then she played the piano and I shook her and Mr. Cundall’s hand Sunday mornings on the way out the back door. The conference gave us a second chance to truly connect and gave me a new appreciation for this sweet, kind lady.
We’ve kept in touch ever since. Twenty-three years later we still exchange Christmas cards.
On a family vacation to California six years ago, we visited Mrs. Cundall. How fun to reintroduce my “baby” boy, all grown up. Andrew had been a tool to bring us together.
I don’t remember any of the conference sessions and workshops. My notes are long gone. But I do remember recognizing that God loved me enough to send me someone I knew and trusted to help with my baby that busy day. I got to know Mrs. Cundall better in those six hours than I ever had in the six years I attended her church.
God not only gave me a friend to attend the conference with,
He gave me a friend for life.
I'm linking up with my friend Jennifer for