“I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten…” – Joel 2:25

The UPS package was sitting on my porch when I arrived home from work. It had been a stressful day, and the weighty feeling of frustration lay heavy on my heart. Everything seemed so uncertain lately; where I once felt absolute clarity and optimism had dulled its shine into a jumbled heap of ideas, dreams, and feeling too small to attain any of them.

My overachieving self-sufficiency was at a stand-still.

I lifted the box off the porch and walked into the house. I immediately saw a million things that needed to be done right away: dishes in the sink, sweeping, a basket of my unfolded clothing by the couch. The days were so chaotic that by the time I arrived home, all I ever wanted to do was mindlessly Netflix and chill.

Getting caught up in busywork, I forgot about the box for a while.

Finally, fingers pruney from the dishwater, I grabbed a knife and cut through the packing tape. I hadn’t ordered anything- or, if I had, I didn’t remember!- and was curious. And what was inside shocked me. A brand new backpack, filled with travel items and snacks for my upcoming trip, along with a few cards signed by children who were rooting for my health and wellness through cancer, and some travel money in an envelope from the organization that was sending me on the trip. Tears filled my eyes and I sat down on the floor, holding the card open in disbelief.

You see, this was so much more to me than a thoughtful gesture on their part.

This was the hand of God.

Cancer changed my life. Such an understatement, but truly the only way to express it. Taking my whole world, shaking me up, and setting me in an entirely new normal. It was an illness in my body, but it was also an attack on my spirit. I didn’t know what my life would be like if I could never speak or sing again. I didn’t know what I would do for a career. I didn’t know what people would think of me with scars and a speech impediment. Fear seemed to have a grip on my dreams. I didn’t know if I’d live long enough to see my 28th birthday.

I didn’t know. But God knew. 

Last summer, celebrating almost a full year of a cancer-free body, I was accepted for a fully paid trip to Montana for a whitewater kayaking adventure with First Descents. In my excitement and preparation, I had bought a brand new backpack. It was black, with multiple zippers and pockets. I had it in my bedroom, leaning against the wall, ready to be stuffed with travel items.

And it was one of the items stolen when my apartment was broken into, two months before the trip…yet another blow to my spirit.

So, here I was, months later, about to embark on a totally unexpected journey to Maui with Athletes 4 Cancer, and holding a beautiful gift from the Cassie Hines Shoes Foundation. What is probably standard procedure for them to send out to every travel scholarship recipient was such a sign to me that, yet again, God is listening and cares about every little detail.

He even cares about my backpack.

Fast-forward, I’m now back from Maui and processing the amazing trip I was blessed with; surfing, paddle boarding, swimming with sea turtles, hiking through bamboo forests and swimming under waterfalls, heart-to-hearts with people who were strangers only days before (ohana), laughing until our sides hurt, cheering on fellow warriors with tears in our eyes, feeling overwhelming peace, and watching God do some beautiful things in an incredible setting.

This concept of restoration and God’s grace just blows me away. Every time.

If He can surprise me in the small things, He’s more than able to do above and beyond all I could ask or imagine in the big things…

Blessed assurance.