Saturday, August 27, 2011

Three Coincidences

Coincidence #1
When Jared and I were on a Southwest flight to San Francisco from Boston, getting ready to start our new life together in an exciting new place, we met a great couple.  We were among the last to get on the plane so we got stuck with those seats they used to have at the front of the planes where no one wanted to sit - the seats that faced each other. We ended up chatting with the couple we faced for much of the flight and found that we had a lot in common. They, like us, were recently married and heading to the Bay Area to start an exciting new life in the era.  They, like us, were Mormons who'd gone off the beaten track to attend college on the East Coast.  We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers as we got off the plane.  Then we spent the next several years getting together pretty regularly with Neylan and Elliott. We went on hikes together.  We explored San Francisco together.  We saw each other's families and futures unfold.

As Neylan and I talked about motherhood, we came up with the idea that there ought to be more opportunities for "professional development" for moms.  We were frustrated that the other professions we'd been part of offered great resources for development and networking but that there were no great resources for learning and growth among mothers.  So we decided to do something about it and started up a little organization to run "Motherhood Retreats."  And that little idea grew into what is now "Power of Moms Retreats."

After a stint of living on opposite sides of the country, we're now living an hour away from our good friends again and Neylan and I have supported each other in the organizations we each run (she runs The Mormon Women Project and I run The Power of Moms).  Our families get together as often as our crazy schedules allow. Our relationship has really shaped aspects of our lives.

Was it a coincidence that we met on that plane almost 13 years ago?  I don't really think so.

Coincidence #2
Then there's my amazing Power of Moms partner, April. April and her husband attended one of my parents' speeches when they were living in Boston. April had this idea to start up an organization to support mothers and she told my mom about some of her ideas. My mom suggested she contact me since it seemed like some of our ideas were quite similar.  April emailed me.  A couple months later, she and her family were driving through St George and she called to ask if I'd like to go to lunch while she was in town so we could talk further.  I thought we might need more than just a lunch together so we invited her family to spend the night at our house rather than at a hotel.  We'd never met them before, but hey, we had a guest room and I had a good feeling about all this.  We talked and talked and the ideas flowed and flowed.  Our kids and husbands hit it off immediately.  Three years later, April and I are running a big organization and putting on major events and offering big-deal products to thousands of moms in 144 different countries.

Was it a coincidence that April was at that meeting where my parents spoke in Boston?  Or that she and I came up with so many very similar ideas independently of each other and then were brought together?  I hardly think so.

Coincidence #3
When Jared got a job in Ogden and we came up for a weekend to visit houses with a realtor, our realtor wasn't too crazy about showing us this house. It was in a "scary" part of town and she thought it might be a waste of time.  But I wanted to check out the historic part of time and Jared was game.  We walked in the front door, saw the stained glass windows and the beautiful staircase, we were excited. As we explored the house further, we were so impressed at how beautifully the house had been restored and were struck by the fact that the paint colors, sizes and and number of rooms and bedrooms were so perfect for our family and our furniture and our needs. Bam, we were hooked.

But there was still the little issue of the "scary" neighborhood.

I posted photos on my blog of our house hunt including mostly photos of this house that I couldn't stop thinking about. I got lots of nice comments from people saying they loved the house I loved.  Then I got a comment that said something like "my sister-in-law lives right down the street from that house and it's actually a great neighborhood in a lot of ways" and then "I'm the sister-in-law and we do live right down the street and we love it here - let me know if you want to talk."  I did want to talk.

So we got to know Emily Ballard and her great family thanks to Angela, her sister-in-law who told Emily to get on my blog and check out the photos of the house down the street from them that I'd posted.  The next time we came up to Odgen for more house-hunting, we spent an afternoon with the Ballards.  They told us all about the neighborhood and the schools and everything.  Eliza and the Ballard girls became friends at first sight.  The twins thought their little Adam was super fun.  Ashton and Isaac fell in love with their cute little Kaleigh.  We found out that Emily is the niece of Jared's uncle's ex-wife, and our little girls decided that meant we're cousins.  We felt like we'd known them forever somehow.

And now the Ballards are our dear neighbors and friends.  Our kids go to school together.  Ashton loves babysitting their kids.  Adam wants to be a twin with Oliver and Silas.  Eliza thinks of Lucy and Rachel as her long-lost sisters.  Emily has hooked me up with all sorts of great new friends and opportunities and deals in the area.

Coincidence that Angela happened to read my blog, see the photos of the house, and tell Emily to check it out?  I don't think so.

Looking back at my life, there are many circumstances that have come together in a perfect way to produce results that I later realize were vital to things that really needed to happen.  There are big things like the meeting of Neylan, April and Emily that led to major pursuits and a major move.  There are also little things every day - a person I meet in a park, a blog someone passes along to me that sparks my interest, an idea someone sends my way - and many of these little "coincidences" are actually quite important in my life.  I often look back and see these little "threads" making up a beautiful pattern, a pattern that couldn't have happened the way it needed to happen without those threads that may have seemed totally random when they first appeared.

Anyway, I'm so grateful for the "coincidences" that I've been blessed with that have led to so many wonderful things in my life.


The Ballard's said...

I have to say, when I saw the house on your blog I got chills. I know it was no accident that I read your blog that day and felt prompted to comment. We are glad you are here.

Rebecca said...


jpmccolm said...

I enjoyed reading the “coincidences” in your life, you expressed it all so well. It made me pause and reflect on all of the “coincidences” in my own life and how they have helped and blessed me. It is probably no “coincidence” that I read this today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Ingrid said...

Saren, there is a book called "Divine Signatures" by I think Gerald Lund that you would love. It talks about how these "coincidences" are really custom-made blessings from the Lord just for us. It's right up the same alley as this post about your thoughts on "coincidences." Check it out!

emily ballard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emily ballard said...

So glad our paths have crossed. It's pretty amazing how things work out!

Rachel IS overly excited about being related to people. (I've decided it's because she knows we get to do more things with people who are relatives than we do with friends.) And at one point, I might have encouraged it. . . Shortly after you moved here, she got a mean note from her "friend" at school, basically saying that Rachel had to pick between Eliza and her. I suggested that Rachel tell the girl that she wanted to be friends with BOTH of them and that even though she had just met Eliza, she was more than just a friend, she was like a cousin :)

Eyrealm said...

LOVE these "tender mercies", serendipities and Happy Accidentts...especially in these cases. Aweseome

Jenn Knight said...

Saren, you don't know me... I found your blog via power of moms, which was referred to me by my sister-in-law. I looked at the blog b/c I'm a big Eyres fan. Anyway, today, I noticed the link to your blog, came on here, and read the post. CRAZY!

I met Neylan when she and Elliot came to Boston (HBS). My husband was a year ahead of hers in school. We met and immediately hit it off (how can you NOT love her?), and she told me about "CareerMoms." Is that the organization you originally started? I was completely taken with this idea of training for motherhood the way you would for a career. We talked a lot about women, religion, and motherhood, and even tossed around the idea of writing a book together (which never came to fruition).

Anyway, when I read your post, I finally made the connection. What a fabulous extension of that original idea!! I think you are right- that meeting was definitely not accidental.

Keep up the great work. I wish I could meet you in person. I've heard great things about you.

Also, thanks for reminding me to email Neylan! It's been a while since we talked.

Jennifer Knight said...

I feel the same way about meeting Shawni and you in Boston. So many great things in my life never would have happened if I hadn't gone to BU. Although it was a disaster in many ways... meeting the Eyre girls wasn't a coincidence.

April Perry said...

Love you.

Neylan McBaine said...

Saren, That "saren-dipitous" meeting was one of my favorite moments as well! i don't know how many times I've told that story :)


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