A second grade love story

It was June of 1997 and I hopped in the back of my mom’s blue minivan. I was completely dejected. The girl of my dreams was just not that into me. To make matters worse, she was all about my best friend. Summer break could not come quick enough. The van pulled out of the school parking lot as I tried to distract my mind from my unsuccessful endeavor to make this girl mine.

Life sure is hard on an 8-year-old.

Sharing the stage as the lead characters in the school play did not win me any points
Sharing the stage as the lead characters in the class puppet show did not win me any points

13 years later I lay in bed flat on my back after just returning home from my four month stint in the hospital and the same girl walked into my room. Stephanie was now in massage therapy school, and after seeing the news of the accident on Facebook via a mutual friend, she had reached out to my family to offer her therapeutic skills in whichever way she could help, regardless of the fact that we hadn’t seen each other in over a decade.

The relationship started off professionally. She would come over a few times a week to massage the tightness and knots from my body that had acquired as a result of going through the grinder of car flips, ventilator weaning, and months of hospitalization. This gradually turned into a friendship and one day she brought over one of her assignments from our second grade class that she just happened to stumble upon:

What I learned about the Bible and following Jesus…
“I learned that God did many miricals. I like the one of the parelized man the most.”

My mind was blown (and not just at how big my head was compared to the rest of the picture.) How was this possible? What were the chances? She could have picked from any of Jesus’ miraculous wonders; from walking on water to feeding 5000, any physical healing from blind men to raising the dead. Of all the acts from Jesus’ three-year ministry before being crucified and rising again, she had picked the healing of the paralyzed man (click here for the story). Not only that, there just happened to be a picture of the two of us on the adjacent page. Stephanie had also just happened to save her project and then come across it again 13 years later. She also just happened to be the one person from that second grade class that I now talked to. Could this all really be mere coincidence?

Time and time again, I would look back at that picture trying to wrap my mind around every intricate detail that had to align for the pieces of this picture to sit in front of me 13 years later. It spoke of, looked like, and seemed like God’s hand, but that would only lead to more questions. Did God use an 8-year-old girl who I would run into later in life to write down the exact injury I would sustain at 21-years-old just to show that He already knows everything that’s going to happen? Was it to encourage me as one of many confirmations over the past few years of Jesus healing me? An interesting twist was added three years after the accident when Stephanie and I began dating. Was that predetermined as well?

    16 years later, the flame rekindles
16 years later, the flame rekindles

Rather than focusing on trying to figure out how this picture came to be and what it could mean, my attention turned to what all this may say about God.

Psalm 139: 16 says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

It sure sounds like He has everything under control. As time went on, I began to see how God has been and continues to be creatively involved in every step of my life, from the time I was born, to my second-grade classroom, to lying on the side of the highway unsure if I would survive, to providing supernatural peace in the time since. I can rest with confidence knowing God cares about small details and apparently even has a bit of a sense of humor.

While I am grateful for what has come about with Stephanie and for what I believe is one of many confirmations of the physical healing to come, I am most comforted by the fact that in some mysterious way, God has absolutely everything under His control. All the way down to the pencil in the hand of an 8-year-old, unknowingly prophesying the days to come.

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14 thoughts on “A second grade love story

  1. Loved this.

    Your Stephanie is beautiful.

    You BOTH have gorgeous coloring!

    You keep writing. I’ll keep reading.

    Love. Always.

    lml

    ________________________________

  2. SO beautiful to stop watch and see the presence of God ! Thank you for putting it in writing to share and inspire others to seek the kingdom of God:)

  3. Ryan, I am blown away by the power of God and His hand in lives of both you and Stephanie. Your story has touched me deeply. I am so happy that Stephanie found me on Facebook so I could share in your inspiring story, and share it with others. I feel blessed to have reconnected with two of my former students. The three wonderful years I spent teaching second grade at CHCA were incredibly faith-building years for me. Jesus prepared me for what was to follow. Perhaps I can share some of my story with you and Stephanie sometime soon. Ryan, please know that you and Stephanie are in my daily prayers.

  4. Hi Ryan:

    I would like to introduce myself as a friend of Judy and Chris Dalambakis. They have been kind enough to send me your blog, because your situation has touched my heart, and I know that God is in the process of using you mightely! I hope you will include me among your blog recipients. Many thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

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