People: Accidental and on purpose

On the way to our mailbox down the street, I noticed a woman slowly rolling a large tire from her car to the side of her garage. My first thought was, “She shouldn’t be doing that. I’ll unload her tires for her.”

But then she fell and together we couldn’t get her up. So I called Dan who showed up just as a young couple from down the street happened by.

Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Unsplash

The four of us managed to get Mary from a sitting position to one foot on the ground with bent knee. From there, we could easily lift her to her feet.

Dan stacked her snow tires to the side of the garage while the couple and I left our names and phone numbers with the admonition to please call if she ever needed help with anything.

I suspect Mary’s the type who won’t call—the type who will try to stack her own snow tires—before she bothers anyone else.

Which is why I plan to check in on her from time to time. A new acquaintance—some would call it accidental—and another person I plan to keep in my life.

And then there are the “not accidental” people.

Dan and I camped over Memorial Day weekend with 110 mostly family members. It was the 54th annual gathering of the Johnson clan. 

My daughter and I were twinning (accidentally) … only she runs a tight shipwreck while I hike more and worry less

This is Dan’s third year attending my deceased husband’s family reunion. Weird, right?! But not really … because these people consider me a sister, and they introduce Dan as a brother-in-law.

There is no coincidence in any of that.

No coincidence in how I met my first husband at the third or fourth annual Johnson family reunion when his sister invited me to camp for the weekend.

No coincidence that he and I married and that we lived in Bend, Oregon, when cancer stole him from me.

No coincidence that, although I had to move from Bend, circumstances brought me back and affordable housing materialized.

No coincidence that I met Dan on the day I interviewed him for a story about the shower truck that provides hot showers for the homeless in our town. And that hiking and snowshoeing together in the nearby Cascade Range eventually turned into love and marriage.

And now—full circle back to the Johnson family reunion—there is no coincidence that these people accept and love and tease Dan as if he had married into the family. Which he did.

As for meeting Mary, I usually walk the long way around—a mile loop—when checking our mail. This time, for some reason, I headed down our street where I happened upon Mary. Not accidental, but by divine appointment.

It was Augustine who said:

You are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.


There are so many people in close connection with me—blood relatives and otherwise, neighbors, old friends and new, my writing critique group and women’s Bible study, our Life Group and church family, and camping friends from Dan’s childhood.

Each one, a gift.

One of the experts in the law during Christ’s time on earth tested Him with a question: “What is the greatest commandment?”

“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Matthew 22:37-38

Then, without being asked, Jesus went on to name the second greatest commandment:

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 22:39

So, what to do with the ‘so-called accidental’ and the ‘on-purpose’ people in our lives?

Love them. In as many creative ways as possible.

Listen as they unburden their hearts. Help them put together their Ikea furniture. Give them rides to the airport. Watch their kids. Bake bread for them. Pick them up from the concrete when they fall.

Love them. Because no one is accidentally in your life.


You, too, can be a superhero


Why best-laid plans go awry


  1. Yes! So important to love those God brings into our lives, however that may be.

    A pastor of ours once said that God brings certain people into each of our lives to minister to. I call mine “my ladies.” One was a neighbor. We were friends with her and her husband. When her husband died, she went through several health issues, along with mourning. We would take her food, grocery shop for her, and be her safe ride to the hospital for surgeries during Covid. (She has since moved away.) Another woman I met through a writer’s group. She had health issues that made it difficult for her to get out, so we shopped for her, as well. And I still check before shopping–and check sometimes for no reason at all. And pray for her. Now we have a neighbor lady who is developing Alzheimer’s, although so far it just involved memory issues. I think she is to be my next lady to watch over. Accidental friends, in a way, but not to God.

  2. MJ Benson

    Beautiful, Marlys!
    Always good to be reminded by someone else’s “divine appointment.” You are a blessing in so many ways. ~Mj

  3. Beautiful, Marlys.
    What a wonderful illustration of how He works in our lives. I agree. These encounters are not accidental. God is good to bring these people into our lives, and to give us brand new opportunities to be a blessing. Pass it on. Keep it going.

    • I love how you said that, Lindy: “God is good to bring these people into our lives, and to give us brand new opportunities to be a blessing.”

  4. Sonja H Muster

    So beautiful Marlys…I love God’s divine appointments!

  5. Sandra Rock

    Love, love, love your writings❤️Always a joy to read. Thank you once again😘

  6. Excellent. Thanks for continuing to share your insight.

  7. Carrie W

    I’ve been thinking about this idea for the last few weeks concerning a lady that comes into the doctor’s office where I work. She has done nice things for me many times in the past (i.e., brought in some homemade bread, a container of her spicy chili, etc) and the latest was some jewelry that has my recently-deceased mother’s picture inside a gemstone. I’ve always thought this lady was very kind and nice but, to be honest, felt a bit insecure around her because she is a business owner and has a Master’s Degree while I am. . . ahem. . . a secretary. But it dawned on me that she may be initiating a friendship with me and that I need to respond with a phone call or a walk or whatever (she always says “Call me if you every need anything.” and has offered to get together). So your post pricked my heart in a good way. I need to act! Thanks for posting!

  8. Sato

    That was so beautiful Marlys. It brought tears to my eyes and healing to my heart.
    Thank you!💜

  9. Pamela Moore

    Thank you for this & the many other writings, Marlys. You are blessed. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Eileen Chiechi

    Loved this. It has happened to me so many times, we just have to be alert.

  11. Wonderful advice and exactly right. 🥰

    You do a beautiful job of that.

  12. Fawn

    I love how the Johnson clan are still coming together, wow 54 yrs! And you and Dan are staying part of this wonderful family. I could never talk Frank into going when we lived in Alderpoint.
    Blessings, Fawn

  13. Mj Benson

    Sooo true! We need reminders of this.
    Thank you, Marlys… you are a blessing to many.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson