A couple weeks ago I had the great pleasure of spending 3 days visiting my dear friend Edie. The girl is like a walking crash course in Southern Hospitality, and her gifts and talents seem to know no bounds. Whether it be homeschooling, gourmet cooking, baking, decorating, or reading classic literature, her insight & creativity never fail to blow me away.

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Let me tell you, if I didn’t absolutely adore her and want to scoop her sassy, sweet boot-loving self into a little bundle and put her in my pocket, I might just hate her.

 But, even so, Edie is special to me in a way that I don’t think I even understood. This week, per direct assignment from our pastor, everyone in our church congregation was supposed to write a letter to someone who made a difference in bringing us to Christ. I’ve already shared my depression story and if you’ve read it, you know that there were a lot of people who were instrumental in helping me along the way. However, when I started thinking about the one person who has impacted my faith more than any other, it would have to be Edie.

I met her at a blogging conference two years ago. I was brand new to the world of blogs and blogging and bloggers and more than a little intimidated by the whole thing. Edie had been blogging for years already, and I was, in fact, already a fan of her blog.

A month prior to that conference, in December 2010, just a few days before Christmas, Edie’s house burned to the ground. Her family escaped unharmed, but just barely, and together they watched their beautiful home and everything they owned go up in smoke.

Photo Credit: Life{in}Grace

It was in the aftermath of that fire, as I read Edie’s beautiful, haunting, and achingly poignant posts that God truly began to work in my heart. I was riveted by her struggle and heartbroken for her family, but seeing her raw faith in the midst of such pain changed me. Beyond all the tears I saw she possessed a peace that surpasses all understanding, and I wanted it too.

In the years since, I have continued to be inspired by this ball of fire that is Edie. She writes things that no one else dares to say (like this post on 50 Shades of Grey), constantly challenges her readers to work harder, read more, live passionately, and hold the ones we love dear. Spending 3 days in her house almost felt like going to Be-A-Better-Person Boot Camp, except with monogrammed linens and better food.

But amid all the inspiration there is one lesson, one observation she made that stands out more to me than any other:  “There is only one story,” she said as we chatted late into the night, “and that is Redemption.” It was only one statement amid hours of conversation, but those words have resonated with me ever since because they are so true. Every great story is centered around that one central theme; so too, the theme of our lives, of ALL of our lives, despite our very different journeys and very different paths, is redemption. It doesn’t always manifest itself in an overtly Christian way, but we are all, in one way or another, seeking redemption.

When I look back at my own life and my own story, I know that is true. I have made so many giant mistakes, screwed up so badly that there were times it all seemed hopeless, and yet, there at the center of it all, pulling me out of the fire, was Christ’s redeeming love. Redemption was seeking me even when I didn’t know how to look for it.

This week the girls and I studied the Old Testament story of Joseph and his brothers. Growing up in the church, I was familiar the story, but teaching it to my kids made me see it in a whole new light. I was so struck by the fact that God’s plan was so clear, despite all human intentions. In the words of Joseph to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)  God’s redeeming grace working through even through the most heinous of acts.

We live in a scary world, where so much is unknown and fear and ugliness and evil abounds. Tragedies happen, the ones we love get sick, people are cruel, our finances fall apart or depression threatens to overcome us. Or our house burns down. Sometimes we wonder how we will even make it through another day.

And I’m not sure what that really has to do with much of anything except that when I read those words of Joseph and think about what it really means, I know, all the way to my core, that in the midst of all that junk there is hope and grace and love and yes, redemption. It’s there. Sometimes hard to see, but always there. And knowing that is the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Had I not met Edie, not read her story, not witnessed her faith and seen God’s redeeming love shine through her life, I don’t think my own spiritual life would be where it is today. There are no accidents.