Today’s Friday Five challenge:  Please name five encounters in your life leading to unexpected results.

1.  The first would be the practice PSSA (Pennsylvania State Assessment) question on the back of the bathroom stall in the girls’ restroom.  At the time, I taught eighth grade Communication Arts–a tested subject in a tested year.  There was so much emphasis on the test that the students had challenges at lunch and even practices in the bathroom.  On this particular day, I didn’t have a chance to get to the teacher’s bathroom, so I used the girls’ restroom.  In that moment, I paused and attended to the “problem” on the door.  To me it was a problem.  I did not feel called to teach students to prepare for a test.  If I weren’t teaching, what would I be?  The beginning of my call to seminary….and at the time my former pastor was the Director of Admissions at Lancaster Theological Seminary.  She had suggested seminary before, and I couldn’t imagine it.

2.  My husband…I met my husband at a time when I wasn’t even looking.  And he certainly is not at all the kind of person I thought I’d marry.  After all, he played football in high school!  I was a theatre geek.  But something about this man struck me from our very first cup of coffee.  His genuine compassion and honesty amazed me.  Today I continue to be amazed at his precision with numbers and budgets and his joy over clergy tax law (I kid you not!)  I continue to be amazed at how differently we approach the world and challenges, and at the same time, we often come to the same conclusion.

3.  Step-Momming…If someone had told me five years ago that I would not only be a step mom but that I would feel it was a calling, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “yeah, right.”  But here I am, and I can’t imagine life being any different.  This call has opened my heart with compassion I can’t even begin to describe.  And it has opened my eyes to the unique challenges of being a “blended” and second marriage family.  I don’t know that this is so much of an encounter as it is a continual unfolding of where and how God calls me.

4.  Quickbooks–In high school I remember announcing on my one and only day of Calculus that I was changing my schedule because “I would not be needing math.”  The joke is on me.  Through work I have encountered Quickbooks and my new found enjoyment of math.

5.  Al-anon…I walked in the doors trying to decide what to do in a dating relationship.  I found so much more!  I discovered a room full of people honestly wrestling with letting go of their need to control others and seeking to be open to God in their lives.  These rooms opened me to stop and listen for God and to be honest with myself and others about my limits and my strengths.  It’s been the safe space to be me and to learn how to fall, fail, and fly.