It was in the town of Bethany that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11…..
….and how fitting that Bethany Beach would be the location where the Lord would raise me also.
I was not back home in Ohio for more than 24 hours before my mom and I headed to Bethany Beach, Delaware for our summer vacation. We were headed to a dear friend’s lake front condo for the week; the next comfortable place were I would stay.
We decided to drive. The nine hour drive to the Delaware shore was a peaceful ride. The scenery was pretty and Hawks swarmed around us every so often as we drove; I felt Kesner’s presence.
In the car, my mother and I began to talk about next steps. “I don’t want to put pressure on you but I think you are going to have to make a decision about next steps soon,” she told me. She was right. I told her about my plan to just ‘show up’ at Rutgers and she thought that was a good idea. I also said: “I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that everything is going to become CLEAR this week..”
Our week in Bethany was absolutely perfect for a few reasons. One of those reasons was that Amanda and her boyfriend, Steve, were also vacationing there. Amanda and I had learned earlier in the summer that we both had a Bethany Beach connection; so we’d purposely arranged to be there at the same time so that we could spend time together; a beautiful plan.
Amanda and Steve came by the condo mid-morning on Monday with Chocolate Croissants. We sat on the screened in porch by the lake and ate quietly. This was my first time meeting Steve so I decided to put a wig on. I wasn’t ready to explain the dramatic hair cut in that moment, so I wore a little wig. My mom just shook her head; she too was taken aback by my dramatic cut but she handled it well. I promised my mom that I would keep my wig around until we figured out what my plan was with my hair; the uneven afro was definitely not going to work long term.
Steve was great. I liked his spirit immediately and I liked him for Amanda. I felt comfortable around him and I knew that we would have a great day. After breakfast we went to our friend’s beach house and spent a quiet day together on private beach. Steve, Amanda and I sat on a blanket in the sand. We saw dolphins, and a sting ray. we talked about death, and God and church. Amanda swam in the ocean for the first time in years. She’d been afraid before, but Steve made her feel safe.
I liked them together; it made me happy to see them swimming in the ocean. It gave me hope. Meeting Steve reminded me that there are other great guys out here. Emotionally mature men; like Kesner.
Men that make you feel safe…
Mom and I said goodbye to Amanda and Steve later that day and we spent the next few days alone; just us two. We relaxed together. At one point during the week I had an anxiety attack, however. I became suddenly anxious about forgetting all of my memories with Kesner. I woke up in the middle of the night and I wrote everything down that I could think of. I opened my journal and literally had a brain dump: nicknames, things he said, things we said to each other, places we went, songs we sang, Scriptures we read.. everything.
I’d been waiting for God to send me the perfect person to help me assemble my perfect scrapbook of memories. But that person hadn’t come yet. I didn’t want to forget anything while I waited.
Once I dumped my brain I felt better and went back to sleep. It was only a moment and it passed.
It was a wave.
After several days of lounging around and doing next to nothing, I decided to check my email. I opened my inbox and found this message inside:
“Dear Ms. Copeland,
I understand from my friend and colleague, Stephanie Bush-Baskettte (she is also an alumnus) that you’ll be attending the PhD program here. I am delighted to learn this. Stephanie also tells me that you are looking for financial support.
As you can well imagine, our ability to support students has taken a bit of a hit recently, with budget cuts. But I would like to meet you and talk about your interests, and then see if there is a way that I can work with you on support.
Let me know when you will be around. I am copying Ms. Sandra Wright, who keeps my schedule.
Todd R. Clear
School of Criminal Justice
This was the first communication I’d had with Rutgers all summer and it was coming from a man named DR. CLEAR!! Was this for real??? All summer long I’d been asking God to make it clear. I didn’t want to do another thing on my own; I was only going to move forward if and when I was guided by the hand of God. I said: “God Please make it Clear…?”
and HE did. The man’s name was CLEAR!
Mom was also blown away that the new Dean of the School of Criminal Justice was named Dr. Clear. And even more so that he wanted to have a conversation about funding…
I would definitely just show up.
But where would I live?
Several years prior I met a woman at a Links convention who lived in Princeton. Her husband was the COO of a major Fortune 100 firm at the time. I’d just started seminary in Princeton and she told me that if I ever needed a place to stay I should call her. I never took her up on that offer.
Several years later, when I was considering joining the Junior League of Princeton, I came to her home for an interest meeting. Perhaps its a bit of a stretch to call it a mansion; but let’s just say the house is sprawling and gorgeous. I’d regretted not taking her up on her offer.
But as fate would have it, there I was: in Bethany, with an email from a man named CLEAR, and the memory of a gracious offer to stay in a wonderful Princeton home for free..
Could it be that God had not passed me by?
I sent an email to Mrs B., the owner of this beautiful home in Princeton, and I told her my story. I asked her if I could stay in her home while I worked on my PhD…
And then I waited. It was a bold request…
She emailed me back and said “let’s talk on Saturday Morning.”
I spent the rest of the week trying not to be on pins and needles about the whole thing. If I was meant to make this transition then God would make all pathways straight, I’d resolved. Mom’s friend, Gloria, came to join us in Bethany towards the end of the week and the three of us had a good time together.
…and on Saturday morning I spoke to Mrs B.
“yes you can live here! in fact we have a section of the house that’s very private; it’s just past the billiards room… you’ll have your own kitchen and we’ve just had it painted. it’s like it was prepared just for you. Mr. B and I spend eight months out of the year in Florida, so you’ll have the house to yourself most of the time….”
she went on…
I couldn’t believe it. I’d spent one week in Bethany and so much had become CLEAR.
I was going to Rutgers. I was going to get my PhD! I was going back to New Jersey; back to my friends and my community.
and I was going to be living in a mansion!
No, God had not forgotten me. God was raising ME from the dead…
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2012