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Serendipity. {Not the movie. My life.}

December 14, 2010

As I get ready to fly to Oregon for a 2 1/2 week jaunt through snowy weather to friends and family, it is necessary to tie up a few blog-related loose ends. This holiday season has been unique. Never have I been out of Oregon during this time. Never in a city. Never without family. But there is a common theme running throughout each holiday (and really–my entire life) and that God is real, He is near and He cares for me.

Above are many photos from my Thanksgiving weekend in NYC with my dear friend Rachel. These are just simple depictions of the incredible time we had together (Macy’s Day parade, frozen hot chocolate [w/ peanut butter!] @ Serendipity, the Statute of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge). While short and simple: fun will best describe that weekend (and all my weekends following). Yes, my vocabulary may be running low this snowy, December morning, but maybe the simplicity of that word is the most descriptive. We just had such a good time together–enjoying the museums, the food, the buildings, and Christmas-decorated streets of NYC.

While fun is the simple, descriptive word for that weekend I’ll pull out one of my favorite words (I know, the big guns…):

serendipity |ˌserənˈdipitē | noun.

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way : a fortunate stroke of serendipity | a series of small serendipities.

I’ll admit, my initial encounter with this word is from the movie Serendipity, starring some of my least favorite actors. Yet for some reason I absolutely love the movie. Mostly filmed in New York City during the holiday season, it depicts a series of fateful events strung together to bring two people to their destiny. (Oh, goodness, as I write that I am disgusted by my overly romanticized words…too realistic at 6:30AM, I guess).

Back to this word: serendipity.  I’ll admit, this definition seemingly makes light of the Sovereignty of God. But I think there is something our hearts long for in that definition–not just the happy and beneficial outcome, but in the “occurrence and development of events” and not just “by chance,” but with purpose.

That said, I feel like there are 4 rather recent serendipitous occurrences that I will share:

1. My first visit to Serendipity:

Last time I was in NYC, I found at the Serendipity was a real place. I guess I always assumed it was just a part of the movie. Silly me. It is a real place and it is in fact right by Bloomingdales (just like the movie…). Thus it is a quaint, highly sought after, odd café with incredibly large frozen hot chocolate (yes, great, chocolatey oxymoron). If you are just going for dessert, you cannot get a reservation; therefore, you must put in your name on the waiting list, joining others in a 2-3 hour wait. Nope, not a type-o that is TWO or THREE HOURS. Luckily, I have a wonderfully flexible host who was down for my only movie-crazed excursion I’ve ever wanted to participate in (I’m assuming the last as well—unless of course it has to do with Julie and Julia…back to my food-related themes). Our tentative plan was to put our name on the list at 3PM so we could get in at 5PM in order to accomplish our plans for the remainder of the evening. Let me just say, that in the world of public transportation or just mere city life, start times are always tentative. There are series of events that constantly prohibit promptness—highly frustrating for this type A, who is becoming more and more a type A minus. Include subway + city + a possible 3 hour wait list, our plan was highly improbable. Yet somehow we arrived precisely at 3PM to get our names on the list. Spent the next two hours at Bloomingdales and the MoMa. After a good fill of the modern art, we headed back to Serendipity—arriving precisely at 5PM and were swiftly escorted up to what had to have been the best place in the restaurant (in front of the fireplace). I know, I know, it sounds so simple—but both Rachel and I were having way too much fun pointing out all the rather serendipitous moments we were having throughout our evening. So, was there purpose in our perfectly timed date to Serendipity? I don’t know. But it was fun. We were grateful. Again, those simple moments led to gratitude—I think sometimes that is enough purpose; the larger picture rests in the Lord’s hands.

2. My bus ride to/from NYC during Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving weekend was my 4th bus trip from DC to NYC. None of these trips have been particularly bad—they’ve had their quirks from the man who watched Sci-Fi movies the whole time and then offered my some of his fresh blueberries to my least favorite trip on the Megabus that was too cold with the kid who placed games on his cell phone for four hours… Like I said, nothing I can really, truly complain about—but one thing they did all have in common: they were late. Like I stated before, those times are mere suggestions. So I prepared myself for this trip. I was, of course, going to NYC the day before Thanksgiving—one of the worst travel days in the year. While standing in line for the bus in DC, on college student shared that she has done this same trip for the past 3 years and it has always taken 6-9 hours instead of the estimated 4 ½. I got on the bus braced. Anticipating that my 6:30PM arrival time would in fact be 1AM. But as a clever bus driver hit off my series of serendipitous NYC moments, in his strategic back roads route—we arrived at 7PM. I think he was glad to deliver such a grateful group of people to the corner of 33rd and 7th. As was I.

It gets even better. While the leg there I figured would be awful; I had come to grips with the fact that the leg back would be horrid. An estimated arrival of 9:30PM on a Sunday night was probably going to look more like Monday AM with a long workweek ahead of me. But surprising to us all, we passed 3 other buses to arrive—no joke—at exactly 9:30PM. Serendipity? I’ll say so. Simple blessing? Most definitely. I arrived home in time to make it to the store and bake cookies for my book club the following evening.

3. New Apartment:

About a month ago I came to the realization that if I am going to live in DC, I really want the chance to invest. Possibly a prompting of the Holy Spirit—I’ve come to the point that the studio and life solo has been great—but I am a homebody who loves having people around. And that is not exactly a great combination for living by yourself, thus I need roommates. In conjunction, I decided I wanted to be back on Capitol Hill. I love, love the feeling of the neighborhood with the row houses. Another plus, almost all my friends live on the Hill. I looked casually on my church’s website and on Craiglist, but was really in no rush. Last week, was…well, it was quite the week. (This is a conversation story, not a blog story). That said, in the midst of making a lot of decisions, I decided one morning at about 5:45AM that I would peruse the GraceDC classifieds to see if anyone had available housing. I stumbled across a basement apartment, with four other Christian women, on Capitol Hill, decent rent and available January 1. And get this—come January 1 I will begin volunteering regularly at the Pregnancy Resource Center on Capitol Hill (I hope to some day work full time with them in some capacity…) and this apartment is literally half a block away! Sound fateful? Serendipitous? It gets better—one of the women who lives there is someone I connected with this summer at Bible Study who I just automatically loved. I e-mailed, just to see if it was an option, and it was. I visited. Fell in love with the place. And on Monday I found out that I got the apartment! Even better, my friend Nick is moving to DC mid-January, wants to take my studio—thus when I return from Oregon I will move back to Capitol Hill the weekend before my birthday.

I am still smiling as I type this. It was just one of those crazy series of events that seems fateful—but my heart is assured that the Lord who knows far greater than I His purposes. For now, I am in a place of, “Lord, really? Why do you keep blessing me? I haven’t done anything to deserve this. In fact, I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.” My gratitude has led to praise; I hope it encourages you to do the same.

4. Metro vs. Cab:

Last of all, I’ll share a serendipitous moment that does not reflect well on myself. I like my pride, so consider this my mid-December vulnerability. Last weekend I spent an entire day in a Board meeting, an appreciation dinner, and then Christmas party. It was almost 1AM when I decided I needed to head home. My friend offered to either walk me to the Metro station or help me catch a cab. Wiser decision: catch a cab since it would go straight to my apt. But in my attempt to save money (yes, roll your eyes, I am) I decided that on that cold, rainy Saturday night I’d just go with the Metro. My wonderful host graciously walked me to the Metro station, a good 10 minutes away from his house. I got down to the station and realized that the next train wouldn’t be there for another 20+ minutes. Which would mean that once I got to the closest train station and headed the 10-15 minutes back to my place, it’d be about 2AM. This girl from the small town even knows that’s probably not a great idea… So I decided that I would just head out to the front of Union Station to catch a cab on my own. I’ve done this before (twice…). I came out to the pouring down rain, I had already forgotten that I didn’t have my umbrella. So as I walked to the front of the station there were definitely fewer cabs than I expected (as in one that picked up someone else…). I was regretting my choice of Metro over cab as my 5’3” stature seemed rather unintimidating. I finally found myself a spot to wait for a cab when I turn to someone calling my name…and there was my friend. He had gone into the station and came out a different way than usual to find me, alone, waiting for a cab. While my pride was a bit bruised from my revealed poor decision-making, I think it is safe to say that God my have had a hand in orchestrating that serendipitous occurrence. Like I said, theme of my life: God cares for me. And that rainy, cold Saturday night for some reason, I needed someone over 5’3” with me.  Bruised ego aside, I am grateful—and awestruck by a series of events orchestrated for my benefit.

I hope God receives the glory in it. Isn’t that what it ultimately is about? Maybe I’ll redefine this great word,


A series or development of events sovereignly strung together in a strategic way to bring blessing to man and glory to God.


From → Living, Reflecting

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