Surprising Love

As the world turned over from Friday to Saturday, I was stacking wood into an old stove somewhere in the back woods of Pennsylvania. ‘Turns out, I had to leave the exciting election process six hours early to speak at our church’s youth retreat, entitled “God’s Surprising Love”. We escaped to what I call a Velveteen Rabbit cabin – loved, worn, and left out in the cold. Ten bright-eyed young women piled through the cabin door, stamping snow off of their boots and piling sleeping bags and pillows on the floor.

We spent the wee hours of the morning talking about the condition of our spirits – about how God wants to make them gentle and quiet, precious in His sight. We woke up this morning to a fresh snowfall, and talked about how our reputations are to hinge on the good works that we do for God’s glory. The girls treasured the surprise gifts and letters sent along by their parents, spent some time praying, cleaned the cabin, and stacked fresh wood for the next guests.

As I write this, they are enjoying the afternoon with the guys (who were 35 miles away in a snowed-down cabin with Ryan). We’ll return tonight to speak to the whole group about turning their hearts towards their homes. We’ll be asking them to take a 14-day Honor Dare, that we wrote after hearing about the Love Dare. I am praying that their hearts will be broken by the exquisite beauty of God’s promise, “honor your Father and Mother so that it may go well for you”.  It’s not often that a teenager can hear through the cultural static to take God at His Word on this one. I am hoping, though, that God chooses these teenagers to turn their ears towards one of God’s most powerful expressions of surprising love.

As the event speaker, I didn’t expect any surprises. I knew the schedule, I knew the behind-the-scenes. But, this morning, after all of the bags had been packed and the snow scraped off of my windshield, I drove back into town, reflecting on the past 24-hours. I wasn’t expecting this incredible surprise from my mom when I finally had cell-phone reception: “Congratulations! You won!”

This was one of those laugh-out-loud “REALLY?!” moments; one of those times when God gives us even a bit more than more-than-we-need. Surprising love. My mom told me how many of you east-coasters stayed up until TWO O’CLOCK in the morning, to solicit votes from your sleepless friends and to keep an eye on any potential west coast voters (I hadn’t even thought of that possible wrench!). REALLY?! You did that? For me? My sister Erin, who sheepishly confessed that she got more into this election than the presidential one (erm… I guess I did, too) had said, “See? We all just love you!” And that is exactly what I feel. Loved. Surprised. and, oh, did I mention? Loved.

My deepest thanks.

(And now I better get busy writing the best blog posts you’ve seen from me yet!)

(P.S. It’s Monday now and the HSBA are still reviewing the results of the contest, actually. ‘Turns out they’ve spotted some fishy voting across the field. So, I guess we’ll wait and see what the official results are. Regardless, I’m still surprised by God’s love! 🙂 )






5 responses to “Surprising Love”

  1. Katie Avatar

    Congratulations, Laura! I am so excited for you!

  2. Trisch Avatar

    Laura, I have to congratulate you again! You and your family and friends have worked VERY HARD for this and you deserve it (really, I mean it! Hey, *I* didn’t stay up until 2 a.m.!!!)

    And I’ve added you to my favorites folder! Hope to continue “getting to know you” through your blog!



  3. Sarah Hoover Avatar


    I am SO glad you won!

    Can’t wait to read your post for Motivate Me Monday! 🙂
    (By the way, what did you win? The prizes looked amazing!)

  4. Lisa Avatar

    Way to go, Laura! I’m so happy for you! You totally deserve this award.

    Also, I’m so glad that your retreat went well. I worked with the youth at our church for 10 years. Thank you for your service to the youth! I thought about you Friday night!

  5. Jan Avatar

    You are so loved! I hope things work out with the judges 😉 And that is so funny that we both had sleepover weekends! Our church needs to think about a retreat – that sounds wonderful!

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