Life is full of expectations. We plan, organize and anticipate, but often what we expect to happen does not. The older I get the more I learn to not have too many expectations. The younger me would figure out everything and then be desperately disappointed when it didn’t “work out as planned.” The older me is learning to let life happen.

In preparing for my trip to France to visit my daughter, Anna, I didn’t spend much time thinking about what it might be like. Not because I wasn’t excited but rather because I was eager for the trip to surprise me. Before I left, my prayer was twofold: first, for God to get me there safely, and second, for God to teach me whatever he wanted me to learn.

After three days in Nantes, France my lesson was a reminder that we are all children of God and as such are so very similar. I stayed with Anna’s host family, the Broussard-Kimmels, until she finished her last class. The family, like mine, was in a season when the children leave home. Watching our kids leave the nest was both sad and exciting. Working through this transition and figuring out how to be a couple again is a challenge that the mother of the family, Muriel, and I bonded over.

The Broussard-Kimmels took my daughter in for eight weeks and treated her as family. To see the relationship they built was both heartwarming and sad. The girls plan to see each other again. I have invited the family to visit the U.S. Whether any of that happens or not, the time spent in France will always be special because of the relationships built there.

So on one level I did have an expectation. I expected to see France. What I actually experienced was much better: the people of France. I will forever be thankful to this family for their hospitality. I understand now what it must have been like for Paul when he said, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). I know that whenever I remember the Broussard-Kimmels, I will thank God for them.

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