It still seems surreal. The weekend in Kentucky could not get here fast enough, and then it flew by! We tried to savor every moment, from the first hello hug to the last goodbye text message to everything in between!
Many “firsts” were logged on this trip. The first time setting eyes on Maria in person! The first hug and sitting next to her thinking we waited 23.5 years! Then the fun REALLY began! It was Maria’s very first time riding a horse, hiking to a waterfall, and kayaking!
While we had a lot of fun on this trip, some amazing things happened as well. We went back to the hotel Friday night after dinner and sat outside talking until almost one o’clock in the morning! While we were out there, this gentleman had just arrived pulling a trailer that housed his motorcycle. He was meeting another friend there to ride the mountainous roads together. What fun! My husband and Maria’s husband instantly made friends with him, and together they stood talking as if they all had known each other their entire lives.
It is always fun meeting new people and learning their stories. Why is it always a surprise when God uses ordinary people to deliver messages to us? This was the case on two separate occasions during our time in Kentucky. Mike, our new motorcycle friend, learned of Maria’s diagnosis during the conversation Friday night, and he shared a message of hope. He relayed that his mother was diagnosed with Leukemia but went on to live 30 years with it. Those were definitely words we needed to hear. Maria needed to hear them, especially, as she is staring Leukemia in the face right now. She has her good days and bad days, of course. On her bad days, overwhelming feelings sweep in to consume her, and I can only imagine it is a fight to get back to a good mental place. Mike’s message was right on time. God knew what Maria needed, right when Maria needed to hear it! And … God delivered it through a total stranger … one of his angels in human form! Thank you, God. Thank you!
Saturday morning as we prepared to greet the day and explore on horseback, we saw motorcycle Mike in the parking lot again. I was sitting in the Tahoe with my door propped open waiting on the others when Mike appeared in my door. With the most sincere blue eyes, he peered through into my soul as she said, “I just wanted to thank you …” I looked at Mike with wondering eyes as to what, exactly, he was thanking me for. Then he continued, “I wanted to thank you for what you’re doing for Maria. She told me, and I think it is amazing. You have such a big heart to give her such an incredible gift this weekend. Thank you for who you are and what you are doing in her life.” I was rendered speechless at that moment, because I was not sure what exactly Maria shared with him previously. Also, I am not one of those people that gives a homeless person money while snapping a picture to post on social media either, so I was not sure what to do with his words other than tuck them away in my heart. Tears began to sting my eyes as I realized he knew much more than I was letting on about that weekend, and he recognized me in that moment when I was not seeking any kind of recognition at all. What was done that weekend for Maria and her husband was a gift straight from my heart, and it was something I did not even hesitate doing. You see, right before I offered this weekend to them, my boss had just told me that he was giving me a bonus. Immediately, I decided to pay it forward, and his generous gift to me then became my gift to her. Just as my friend, Greg, has done for my daughters and I in the past with his generous and unexpected gifts, blessing our hearts, now it was my turn to take an opportunity I was given to bless someone else. Paying it forward … a random act of kindness … whatever you want to call it … It makes it all worthwhile when you see the person on the receiving end smile.