March 29, 2011

When He goes before you.

Last week I wrote about waking up to the new life God had dreamt for me more than a decade ago. Here is the other side of the story...

Quit your job, he said.
Lord, I hear you but…the budget does not add up.
Quit your job, he repeated.
You know best, Lord but…we would have to have private health insurance and that is expensive and no dental insurance and that is scary.
The time has come to stay home with your babies, he prodded.
I want to, Lord…but in this economy?
It took another year of praying, discussing, adding, subtracting, saving, finding faith, and getting courage for us to realize that yes, the budget would not add up; yes, we would have to get personal health insurance and lose our dental one; yes, this is scary but yes, the Lord spoke and we must obey.
So I quit.
After six years of teaching high school, the only grown-up job I’ve ever known, I walked away. I was near the top of my pay scale, I had a position of leadership, I had great benefits.
But I quit.
At a time when other people were desperately looking for work, I purposefully resigned. It was not easy and it was terrifying and many friends were puzzled and many others were frustrated with our seemingly illogical timing.
Still, I quit.
It seems to me that after walking with God for so many years, having experience after experience with his faithfulness and his provision I had finally learned to trust that He has a plan, that his ways are truly higher than my ways and that, when He requires we have faith and obey, He has begun working on what the future will hold.
I just quit.
But this God, this God will not be explained, this God will not be controlled, this God will not be fully known. While I sat comfortable in my knowledge of him, He had yet another lesson to teach me about his Holy character, his incredibly organized mind, his deep understanding of our journeys, and his perfect, oh so perfect, timing.
I entered my freshman year in college with the idea of becoming a journalist. After taking my first journalism class I dropped the major. It simply was not for me.
With not many ideas and little direction, having a love of theatre, public speaking, and teaching, I decided to major in Communication Education. It was a prayerful decision and I felt comfortable declaring the major.
I knew I wanted to teach but I had the opportunity to further my education before entering the workforce. With a student visa about to expire, with the threat of having to return to Ecuador before I was ready, and with an offer to earn my master’s degree for free by teaching undergraduate communication courses, I enrolled in a master’s in Communication Studies program at a large state university.  My elective courses were spent taking Spanish-related classes to enhance my teaching license.
Two and a half years later, with two diplomas in hand, and a state license to teach both communication courses and Spanish courses, I left for South Carolina with my newly acquired husband.
I never found a teaching job that required my communication knowledge. I was quickly hired as a Spanish teacher and, while my master’s did help me to climb the pay scale, my two diplomas were put away in a box in the attic, never to be brought out again. When people would ask what one does with a master’s in communication studies I would shrug and say: “beats me.” For years I taught Spanish, loving every minute of it.
Quit your job, God said six years and two kids later. 
I closed my classroom door for the last time in May of 2009. In faith, we began the journey of living with one income, of making ends meet, of re-arranging our priorities.
In June we took a trip to Ecuador and we spent time praying about how our lives would be different when we returned to the States.
In July I received an e-mail from an accredited, well-known online university. They required someone with a master’s in Communication Studies, with two years of experience teaching at the college level, who spoke Spanish, to teach from home. This job was made for me. Perfect. The pay is equal to what I was making before, the work is less demanding.
In September I was hired. God spoke again.
I’m glad you quit your job; I had better plans for you.
As He always had.
He knew what I would need right when I needed it. All the things He guided me to do all those years ago that I could not understand were part of a plan I could not see coming.
When I quit my job I knew He would be faithful, I knew He would provide, I knew He would come through.
I didn’t know He had already been faithful, He had already provided, He had already come through for this very moment, years ago.
This is the dependable God, the Creator of the Universe who still has enough time to worry about where I have been, where I am, and where I will be all at once; He understands my every need and orchestrates it all just as it needs to unfold. All I have to do is trust and obey.
I have been home for almost two years now and this is right where I need to be. As I think about how God’s handprint shows up even a decade ago to make my today what it is, I start to understand what Moses was trying to teach Joshua in the 31st chapter and the 8th verse of Deuteronomy:
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you" (emphasis mine).

**Linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisters this week. Visit to see what other wonders God is doing in their lives**

March 25, 2011

On Waking Up

It is Five-Minute Friday again. I'm liking up with The Gypsy Mama. You have five minutes. Period. Now write!
I used to wake up to an alarm. I used to snooze two or three times dreading getting out of bed. I used to have a hard time opening my eyes, get going, get motivated and energized for the day.
I used to wake up to blaring noise in the radio and in my head.
 I used to wake up already stressed, jump in the shower, put on my clothes, put on make-up, be out the door by 6:15 to be at work by 6:30. I used to be tired all day from too little sleep. I used to fight waking up.
I used to wake up only to want to sleep again.
I wake up to the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen. I wake up to a day to spend with my children. I wake up to teach Isabel to read and Noah to behave.
I wake up and look forward to the day.
I wake up to a child jumping into my bed and snuggling with me. I wake up to tickling and kissing and calls for help with breakfast.
 I wake up to love and laughter.
I wake up to the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudging to get up before anyone and spend some time in prayer and the word. It will be a long day. You will need it.
I wake up to be in his presence.
Now I wake up to the sounds and smells of the life God dreamt for me more than a decade ago.
More on this next week…

March 18, 2011


Sometimes I lose perspective. Am I the only one?
Sometimes I look around at my life and all I see is what’s missing. I spend so much time pining for my hopes and wishes that I lose touch with my reality and its beauty. Sometimes all that I have, all that I am, all that I have been blessed with seems to matter not in the perceived emptiness left by the things I don’t have, the things that I am not, and the blessings that have not been bestowed upon me. It is a personal moment of discontent, of ingratitude, of amnesia.
One such moment happened last week…
A month or so ago, by medical advice, we started the process of doing a fertility procedure we had done unsuccessfully a couple of times before adoption. This time it was not just unsuccessful. It went horribly wrong. After a round of hormones injected to my body, a failure of a cycle, an MRI of my brain, being called a “medical mystery” and several hundred dollars later, we ended up not doing the procedure…by medical advice. And we clearly heard from God: no more. It was frustrating and expensive and disappointing. And confusing
 It has been more than five years since we last dealt with our infertility. We had made peace with God’s plans for building our family, closed the door to that chapter of our life, and we are happily parenting two amazing children given to us through adoption. So I was not prepared for the feelings I thought buried deep inside that this situation brought back to the surface.
I don’t want/desire/need/hope for a biological child any longer. It is not DNA that makes a family. My children made me a mom and adoption is a familiar, well-known and beloved friend in our household. We know this was God’s plan for all four of us.
But we were created to procreate and there is an instinctual desire to co-create life with God that is hard for me to shake. It is not the end result I seek. It is the common bond of a shared experience with millions of women from the beginning of time. Pregnancy is something unattainable and mysterious to me and it is something my body prepares for month after month, and month after month it un-does the preparations, never allowing me to forget.
So I despaired. And I got angry. And I cried out to God. And I did all the things I did so many years ago when the treatments did not work, forgetting completely all over again that I don’t see the whole picture, that even as I was crying out all those years ago, He was already working, that I live daily with two reminders that He is faithful and He is the same God who spoke to Jeremiah in the 29th chapter and the 11th verse.
And last week during a prayer time I said to God in all seriousness and pain.
“Lord, my womb is empty!”
And God, in his mercy and compassion, gently replied,
“But your arms are full…”
And his words convicted me of my amnesia. My life is full! And my eyes seemed to open to all that I had been forgetting while my spirit clamored for the one thing I don’t have. The one thing.
My arms are full of little arms, feet, smiles, growing bodies always in motion.
My bed is full of a godly man who loves me passionately.
My home is full of laughter and life.
My heart is full of Christ.
My calendar is full of friends.
My brain is full of thoughts and ideas.
My past is full of experiences, my present is full of happiness, my future is full of possibilities.
My body is full of health and energy.
My wallet is full of just enough of the world’s resources to be comfortable.
My car is full of gas.
My refrigerator is full of daily bread.
My bookshelves are full of help.
Shall I go on? My life is full even while my womb is empty.

There may be other children someday. But that is not my concern right now. My tomorrow is God's concern. He is calling me to be here, in the moment, to be all that He is asking me to be to those whom I can enclose in my arms today. To live my full life and be thankful. 

I don’t want to spend my life with my eyes so fixed on what is missing that I fail to enjoy what is there. The flesh-and-blood, tangible, love-giving, care-needing, real blessings that fill my cup today. 

March 11, 2011

Plans for Me

I'm linking this to Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. This week's prompt: A song with significance.
Three years of trying and two failed intrauterine inseminations had left us empty and cold. We knew God had placed in our hearts a desire to be parents but the plans we thought we had prayerfully laid were not bringing the success we thought we were promised.
We still trusted His ways were higher than ours. We just didn’t know what He was doing exactly and we were confused. We sought His council and decided to stop any further treatment and begin seeking the next path He had for us.
We were grieving and praying and talking and grieving and praying and talking. We were devastated over the children we would never have and, while the thought of adoption is sweet, the reality of it is daunting.  We needed to mourn the natural plans that young couples make before we could embrace God’s plans however better and more wonderful than we could imagine.
Together and separately we were beseeching God to speak, to lead, to guide. But we both felt empty and forgotten. Just as we were despairing the Lord was beginning to work His ways to turn our hearts, to answer our prayers, to direct our paths down a journey that would take us from two to four in less than two years. But we…we didn’t know that yet and we felt lost in the middle of a dark ocean.
 My introspective husband, who grieves so privately and holds me so strongly while I grieve out loud surprised me one day with a very open and tangible expression of his pain. He was preaching on the minor prophets, and this particular week his Bible reading time had landed him in Habakkuk. Specifically Habakkuk 3:17-19.
The passage speaks of a dry and barren time when trees bear no fruit and crops fail. A moment in time when the pens are empty of animals, where no life seems to bloom. An empty, forsaken, dark time. A time like the one we were experiencing. Yet, Habakkuk states, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk talks of a God who is sovereign, who is strong, who makes his people climb heights like deer.
And my gentle husband, who had learned to play the guitar not many months before that, who is not someone to write much, who is not someone to express his heart-felt emotions very easily, this man picked up his guitar and, confronted with the same God of whom Habakkuk spoke so many years ago, wrote a song of praise and trust.
“When all my plans
Seem to fade into the darkness
My hopes and dreams
Washed away by stormy seas.
I can’t see His face
I can’t hear His voice
I feel like giving in
Waiting for his promised peace.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
I’ll sing a song of my salvation
And I know that He will be my strength
He will come and give me peace
‘Cause He still got plans for me.
He’ll help me dance again
He’ll help me climb this mountain
I’ll run just like the deer
‘Cause I know He’s still right here.”
I wish you could hear the melody. The whole of it is moving and it breaks my heart each time I hear it. But He did. He brought the peace He promised. He gave us back our joy, He helped us dance again, He had plans still
It has been more than five years since that song was written and we have seen the plans that God had for us come to fruition. It was not even a year later that we held Isabel in our arms and just a few months after that we had Noah. But we didn’t know that then. Matt didn’t know that. But he knew that he, like Habakkuk before him, could sing of joy and hope in this God that takes the arid, dry, desolate times of our lives and puts a new song in our mouths, a hymn of praise to our God.

March 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday: When I look in the mirror...

When I look in the mirror I see a woman who feels younger than she is; who still sees a young girl even though the world says she is an adult and often struggles to act like one.
 I see a mother who looks nothing like her children and who often has to explain why.
 I see a wife who shows the signs of ten years of marriage: laugh lines and worry lines intermingled but would not change a single minute of it.
I see a child who loves her momma and still needs her.  I see a friend who is deeply loyal. I see a prayerful sister in Christ.
 I see someone who speaks before thinking, acts before measuring the consequences and often has to take back, undo, and eat words. I also see a big heart who grieves with each of these situations.
I see someone who has made many mistakes in her life but has received much forgiveness and grace. And I see someone who has learned to forgive in equal measure.
I see a person who has much more to learn and much room to grow and who is trusting that “He who began the good work in her will be faithful to complete it” as He has promised.
I see someone who has learned to like what she sees when she looks in the mirror by the love and mercy of the God who created her in His image.