Let me start off by saying I LOVE SURPRISES.
I really love surprises.
I was never the person that wanted to sneak a peak at my gifts, or secretly uncover a surprise beforehand. I delight in the element of anticipation, down to the very last minute.
I can honestly say I have never experienced a surprise so skillfully planned as the 25th Birthday surprise planned by my dear friend Ivy, Master of Stealth. It all started with a text:
Two weeks later, July 5, I got in my car at 6:30 am and headed to my friend’s house.
It is important that I also mention that I have a bucket list that I am very serious about. One of my bucket list goals was to go on a road trip with no knowledge of the destination. No matter what the surprise, I was going to be crossing an item off my list!
So the journey began, and I had no knowledge of where we were headed. Five hours and a few pit stops later, we arrived in San Diego at Ivy’s spiritual mom’s house. Were this the surprise, it would have been enough for me. I had been longing for several months to meet and spend time with this incredible woman, and I was finally there!
This, however, was not the surprise! As we entered the house, Ivy said, “Be ready in twenty minutes. Wear your Sunday best, but wear your vans now, and bring your heels along with you.”
We got ready and went on our way. Ivy continued to ask me if I had any idea what we were doing, as if I should know, but I literally had no clue at all. We arrived at a little parking lot where two white vans arrived to pick us up. At this point, I was just plain confused. The sketchy white vans could have taken us anywhere! Because the surprise had been drawn out for so long, I had no desire to know until the very last minute, so I chose to close my eyes and rest my head on Ivy’s shoulder for the drive.
About ten minutes later, we arrived at our destination, and they told us we could get out. I stepped out of the van and looked ahead, and right in front of me was a hot air balloon basket! I wish my immediate response had been captured on video. I instantly folded over giggling (refer to my bucket list). The amount of joy in my heart in that moment is absolutely indescribable.
We then found out we would have to drive to another spot to launch, so we got back in the sketch-mobile and made our way there. My face was literally hurting from smiling so much. Ivy began telling me how she decided to take me on this adventure, and how celebrating my twenty-fifth birthday was so important, and that she really felt like this adventure was incredibly prophetic for me.
So we arrived. I smiled and giggled and smiled some more as we watched the balloons being prepared. Finally, the time came for us to launch. We jumped in, and the balloon took off.
I honestly can’t think of words that seem adequate to describe how I felt, but I would definitely say it was magical. It was hands-down one of the most extraordinary and enchanting feelings I have ever experienced.
So what made it so wonderful?
The answer probably seems obvious. The view was phenomenal. The sunset was breath taking. The peace and quiet of the sky was incredibly soothing. The champagne was delicious. The fellowship was stellar, as well.
All of these things are so true, but they are not the answer.
What made this experience so amazing was the inexpressible depth of love I felt, straight from the heart of God, in such a tangible way.
At the peak of our flight, just when I thought it could not get any better, God whispered to me, “There’s more.”
When God whispers to me, I know there’s nothing in the world that matters more in that moment than being attentive.
“This is your year, Laura. It’s the year of discovery. It’s the year of dreaming big. It’s the year of letting go. Don’t be afraid to let go. Don’t be afraid to rest. Don’t be afraid to let the wind of the Spirit direct you. You are made to be free. The time is now. Just believe and receive.”
In every single detail of the entire journey, God displayed His furious love and delight over my life. And to make it even more special, He used a dear friend to do so. He could have spoken that to me in my bedroom. He could have spoken to me in my car, on my way to work. Instead, He chose to display His love through the love and generosity of a friend- a friend who longs to see me know more of God’s heart and experience the depths of His love like never before. He chose to express His heart in a tangible way, that would change my life forever- through the making of a memory that will be written on my heart for the rest of my days.
That feeling- the warmth of God’s love, spreading throughout my entire being- that is what makes a moment magical, more than goals fulfilled, or wishes granted, or gifts given. It is the love of Jesus, staring back at me through the eyes of a sister and friend, transforming my life in the most unbelievable way, that makes my heart throb.
In moments like these, time stands still. Nothing else matters. The love of God radiates through my entire being, and I am changed.