Category Archives: God’s call
The story began on Christmas 1985 when I was just nine years old. I received my first camera as a gift that year. It was film, of course. One of those old-fashioned rectangular Kodak cameras, I’m quite sure. $10? $15? $20 max? Who knows how much that camera cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that camera was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.
I never once stopped taking photos. I’d claim it’s the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.
The story began in 1988. July 4, 1988, to be exact. I’d just turned 12 and received my first diary for my birthday. I wrote stupid stuff, silly stuff in that diary. Like who came to our house for Easter weekend, all the shirts my crush wore to school, the grades I got in school, and why I thought people should be nicer. $5? $8? $12 max? Who knows how much that diary cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that diary was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.
I never once stopped writing. I’d claim its the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.
The story began some unknown year when I was a little girl watching Brady Bunch and Little House on the Prairie on burnt red couches in the family room in our basement. I ate potato chips with bermuda onion dip, and cupcakes I dug out from Tupperware in the stand-up freezer. In-between adventures with Marcia and Greg and Laura and Mary, images from a television advertisement for Children’s Christian Fund clung to my soul. A man with a white beard told me stories about children afar living in extreme poverty. He told me I could sponsor a child for just 80 cents a day and asked me why I’m waiting as I watched children walk barefoot through slums. When that little girl stared at me through the screen, my tiny heart wanted to help. I paid nothing. Nada. Zilch. I might not have known it at the time, but the continual running of those television ads were undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.
I watched those ads intently for years, as long as they played them on TV. I’d claim I’d forgotten about those children, about my deep-seeded passion for children and families living in extreme poverty. Maybe it was just a childhood whim, maybe the nonprofits manipulated my young, tender heart. But that’s not really true. The truth is that the passion lay dormant due to a culture that doesn’t talk much about people living in extreme poverty. Thanks to God’s grace, I was exposed to Compassion International via my favorite blogger, Ann Voskamp, in 2010. In August 2012, we sponsored our first child. In February 2014, I traveled to Haiti with Compassion International. In January 2015, I was invited by Compassion International to travel to the Dominican Republic with two other writers. And in late 2015, I traveled to Kenya with a small nonprofit, Love for Kenya, to spend 10 days with widows and children in an orphanage. Writing and photographing my way through all three trips was pretty much a dream come true.
I began dreaming about becoming an author in early 2003. The dreaming was private, intense and specific for many years.
I began a blog, Perfectly Unbalanced Supermom, in 2010, but never published a post on it. I was more than ready to write publicly, but that particular blog just wasn’t quite right.
I launched this blog, Divine in the Daily, in July 2012, and have been writing here faithfully for 4 1/2 years. 439 published posts. 91 unpublished posts in the draft box. Four children’s books in the works. A heavy, but hopeful adult nonfiction is somewhere on the horizon. FOUR additional nonfiction books and TWO ebook ideas sit in Evernote as very real and viable possibilities, but they’re somewhere out there in the distance I can’t yet see. Yes, this dream is for an older and wiser woman who’s not that much interested in retirement.
Two years ago this week on December 18, 2014, I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language pathologist to pursue writing, explore professional photography and be home more with my children.
I just wrapped up my second season of professional photography, and it’s been gangbusters, friends. Beyond anything I ever imagined.
This space, Divine in the Daily, has always been sacred to me. But today, I’m here to say it’s time to go. It’s time to close this space down and begin again.
For the past seven months, I’ve felt more and more clear that I need to merge my writing, photography and my passion for missions. I’ve told a few people (quite literally, a few) one of my specific and ultimate long-term visions. If, by the grace of God, I were to ever reach that vision, it would require me to have a complete MERGE of my writing and photography work with my passion for missions. In that ultimate vision, ALL THREE are working together in harmony. I can no longer pretend that my writing operates separate from my photography which operates separate from my interest in missions. As far as I can see, as far as I can perceive, the three are ONE.
Recently, I attended a writing workshop and wrote a seven-year vision. That seven-year vision ALSO requires a merge of all three, writing, photography and missions.
So. Here we are.
This is the LAST blog post I’m writing on Divine in the Daily under the domain name, www.divineinthedaily.com. Soon, Divine in the Daily will no longer exist.
I have a few more photo shoots to share on my photography Facebook page, and after that, my photography business will no longer be named Knit Woven Made Photography.
EVERYTHING – writing, photography and missions – will be merged into ONE NEW WEBSITE that will provide a foundation which will support the integrated, long-term vision God has given me.
Honestly, I might be crazy. Call me crazy way back to 9 years old when I received that camera for Christmas, or 12 years old when I began writing in the diary I received for my birthday, or crazy watching Marcia and Laura while eating chips and cupcakes on the couch while watching children walk barefoot through slums in faraway lands. I’ve spent a lifetime caring what people think and doing all the “right” things. But I kind of don’t care what everyone thinks anymore. Call me crazy. All the signs keep adding up in the land of crazy. I’ll follow these crazy dreams wherever they lead.
For now, I’m signing off Divine in the Daily. Goodbye. You’ve been good. So good. Thank you to my dear and faithful readers. You are marvelous and faithful and oh so strong.
It’s your story I’m concerned about. What I’ve learned most through this space is that it’s really not about me anyway. The story I’ve shared today? It’s mine. But it’s meant for greater good. So goodbye, farewell, Divine in the Daily. There are greater stories to tell. There’s a better, more integrated vision for the gifts God’s granted me, and that will be best served in another space, another place.
I can’t promise when I’ll launch the new site. I’ve already been working hard behind the scenes, and have much work to do ahead. I need time and space to do everything required to get another site up and ready. It might be a couple weeks, it might be a month. Who’s to say? I’ll do my part. I’ll work as hard and as often as I’m able. Yes, I might be turtle slow, but this turtle’s story goes way, way back. Turtle it will be.
God bless, goodbye and I’ll see you around the other side.
P.S. Stay with me. NO need to unfollow. NO need for you to leave. I’ll be back and will be sure to let you know when everything new is ready to go. So excited for you to join me as I journey to the next chapter of this story.
One year ago today, I boarded a plane to Kenya, Africa.
I always dreamed of serving in Africa. I always knew I’d go someday. But I never, ever dreamed it would be so soon. You see, it wasn’t my choosing as to when, how, where, or with whom I’d travel to Africa. One random weekday in early June, I looked at a poster on our pastor’s office wall and casually shared that I always dreamed of serving in Africa. He promptly invited me to join a 10-day mission trip to Kenya that was scheduled for November.
I wasn’t planning on going to Africa. Okay, let me clarify a bit, pastor. I wasn’t planning on going RIGHT NOW. I wasn’t expecting you to ask me. Give me a couple years, okay? Give me some space and time to think on this, yes? Give me a few years for my kids to get older. Give me a moment to make every detail right. Let me get the timing just perfect for my husband, my friends, my family and pretty much everyone around me. Then, and only then, I’ll most definitely say yes to your invitation. Can’t we all just agree that five or six months is not nearly enough time to prepare for a life-changing trip to Africa?
Needless to say, I spent nearly three months thinking and overthinking that trip, and finally said yes less than three months before our group was scheduled to depart.
Given my reluctancy to accept God’s invitation to go and serve in Africa, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I found myself on the outside, watching a group of orphaned and abandoned children worship in the most authentic and abandoned way I’d witnessed in 39 years of life on earth.
I was there. Fully present. Fully immersed in their worship.
But I was sitting on the outside.
Wishing I could be one of them.
Wishing I could live and linger in a place of wild, worshipful abandon for the rest of my life.
Yes, this was without a doubt, a glimpse of heaven on earth.
But I was sitting on the outside.
Before I left for my trip to Haiti in February 2014, I grabbed the ridiculously overpriced “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal my husband received at work somewhere along the way. We’d kept it safe in its original packaging on a shelf in our entryway closet for months. Perhaps we’d donate it to a silent auction. Perhaps we’d give it as a gift someday. After all, the price tag said something like $54. Even I, a lover of words, couldn’t imagine why ANY person would pay $54 for a journal. Yes, I grossly underestimated the worth of that journal. When I got to Haiti, I randomly scrawled notes here and there as the mission necessitated. Prayer requests from our two sponsored children. Info about another child we began sponsoring nine months later. An inspiring quote about Compassion International beneficiaries being “sleeping giants.” Notes here and there. As IF I was never going to use that journal again. As IF it was only good for its paper.
One month after I returned from Haiti, I opened that journal back up, turned to the first page, and began by writing insights I gleaned from rereading journals from my past. I was on a blogging break, and desperately needed to figure out where I’d been and where I was going. Nine months later, I stopped working as a speech-language pathologist to focus on writing and photography, and take advantage of time home with my children while they’re still somewhat young. Today, there’s only ONE blank page in that “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal. I’ve carried it around everywhere, through everything, for the past 2 1/2 years. Who knew?!
I’ve adored that journal. It’s been my companion through days of transition, days of unknown, days of heartache and chaos, and days of dreaming. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s time for a new journal!
Knowing I was going to be purchasing a new journal soon, I took time to page through my “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal last week. I’m compelled to share something significant I learned from rereading one of the pages.
Listen, and listen closely because this is profound.
Over the course of the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve learned to dream. I’ve learned to dream BIG DREAMS.
In all honesty, it’s crossed my mind that I’ve gone mad, or that maybe I’m losing my mind bit by bit. But the truth is, I didn’t dream BIG enough.
Yes, you heard me right.
I didn’t dream big enough.
The first quarter of that “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal is filled to the brim with dreaming. I allowed myself to go there. In fact, the ultimate purpose of those first pages was to put all my hopes and dreams down on paper. I looked back through the past, tried to piece together the bigger storyline of my life, and used that as a foundation to dream about what the second half of my life could look like. This was an intentional exercise. Nobody was judging me. Nobody was silently critiquing. I didn’t care if my dreams were totally out of line or totally achievable. I just wrote them down as they came to me. Yes, I allowed myself to dream big all over those pages.
Yet even in my grandest and freest state of dreaming, I didn’t dream big enough.
On one side of the journal page, I wrote down my “Big Picture” vision. It’s fairly vague to the naked eye, but still spot on. The vision I have for the second half of my life has never wavered.
Here’s the kicker. I didn’t dream big enough in the details.
On the other side of the journal page, I wrote down all the details of my dream as concisely as I could. There were 10 points. Keep in mind, I thought these were long-term goals, goals I could reach or see the “beginnings of…within the next 4-8 years” if everything went perfectly as planned. As of today, I have already achieved 5 out of 10 of those detailed dreams. I’m working on #6. And I was seriously close to achieving #7, but the outcome was largely out of my control.
Needless to say, reviewing my journal was an incredibly eye-opening exercise.
I didn’t dream big enough!
I didn’t dream big enough.
So what’s the point of sharing this with you today?
The likelihood is that none of us have ever DREAMED big enough! The likelihood is that none of us have ever BELIEVED enough.
So how do we move from disbelief to belief? How do we get from here to there? How do we move from today to tomorrow? How do we move purposefully and intentionally towards the ultimate vision we have for life? How do we fulfill our God-given purpose here on earth?
Listen to the still small voice.
Think long and hard about WHAT we love, HOW we can best help others, and WHY we’re here.
Get quiet again.
Dream even BIGGER.
Then mark it all down. Write it. Speak it. Share it. Remember it. Revise as needed. And don’t ever forget.
In the meantime, trust that God works ALL things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
There’s a reason we’re here. Let’s live out every detail, every dream we have for ourselves and best yet, every dream God has planned for us.
I don’t know about you, but I have some work to do. In the next three weeks, I’m going to purchase a new journal. I’m also going to buy a planner. My goal is to write down that vague, but spot on lifelong vision all over again, but this time, I’m dreaming WAY bigger about the details. I’m going over every area of my life, I’m getting still and praying over everything, and I’m not holding back. I’ve dreamed MANY dreams in the past 2 1/2 years that have never been documented anywhere. In the next three weeks, all those great big dreams are going to be written down. I don’t care if they’re crazy or impossible or if everyone would say “Whatever, that’s totally dreaming and never happening.” Then I’m going to take that planner and I’m going to map out my days more intentionally to ensure I’m prioritizing the things I want and need to prioritize.
I’m 40. But If I live as long as my grandfather, I could have another 56+ years of life on earth. It’s time to dig deep and dream bigger. There’s a reason I’m still here. There’s a reason you’re still here.
So how about you?
Do you need to dream a little?
Do you need to dream a little bigger?
Perhaps you need to sit still long enough to hear…
You’re here for a reason.
There’s more in store for you, beloved.
What will it be?
12 days ago, I was sitting poolside chatting about small and big things with a baseball mom while the baseball team and siblings swam. Right there, right in the middle of our casual conversation, in rushed my husband. “Your dad got the call. Your dad’s getting new lungs tonight.”
In a panic, I flipped over my silenced phone and saw a bunch of texts and unanswered phone calls. It was true. The phone read 8:27 p.m. My dad was on his way to the hospital for a lung transplant scheduled for 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
I grabbed my phone and book, told the baseball mom with whom I was chatting that my dad had ALREADY gotten the call, and that I had to leave RIGHT NOW. As I whipped around the right side of the pool, I told two other baseball moms that my dad had gotten the call, that I needed to leave RIGHT NOW, and could they PLEASE watch our two oldest children until we figured out how we were going to make this happen. I yelled to our two oldest over the pool noise, “Stay here! Grandpa got the call, he’s getting the lung transplant tomorrow morning. These moms are going to watch you!”
My husband and I rushed to the hotel room we had reserved for the weekend’s state baseball tournament, the final baseball event of the season. Within a half hour, we sent some texts, made some phone calls, answered the hotel door to baseball parents offering to watch the kids until my husband returned, and were on our way two hours north back to Minneapolis so I could head to the hospital and be with my dad for the lung transplant.
ONE lung transplant later, ONE pacemaker surgery later, ONE heart attack for my mother-in-law, 12 days later and all the days back and forth between the hospital and peak-heat-of-summer home, here we are.
If there’s such a thing as reaching your maximum capacity AND being depleted, that’s me. Honestly, I’d hit 90% capacity and had 15-20% reserves in my well BEFORE the lung transplant. I’d told a few people that reality; an incredibly keen observer would’ve been able to tell without me saying a thing. Thanks to the unseen, unheard prayers of many, I am maintaining stability in this place of depletion. If you’ve ever been in crisis or depleted of reserves, you know what I mean. Sometimes remaining functional, helpful and stable when you’re depleted is the very best you can ask for!
I haven’t published anything on my blog since Friday, July 22, the day we got the call about my dad’s new lungs. As I stated in the original blog post about my dad’s lung transplant, I intended to write ALL the way through the transplant process. Just as I journaled through my sister’s significant battles with addiction and mental health. Just as I wrote through my trip to Haiti. Just as I wrote through my trip to Dominican Republic. Just as I wrote through my trip to Africa. Just as I wrote through our family trip to Walt Disney World. Just as I’m writing through my husband’s eye cancer journey.
But this journey has been different. It’s summer. I’m home full time with our three kids. They’re not in school and need my constant attention, care and taxi services. My husband continues to be in a heavy work season with big projects, evening business dinners and events, and stress that spills into the weekend. I’m honored to be keeping a Facebook page and CaringBridge page for my dad’s lung transplant. For the past 12 days, I’ve been brushing up on my informative writing skills with a crazy number of posts in those spaces. There are hospital visits, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, visitors, laundry piles, finances and a gazillion things to keep up with at home. Until this afternoon, I haven’t had or been able to create a single moment to type a blog post. Heck, the only reason I’m able to write today is because my youngest was exhausted and finally succumbed to an afternoon nap. All of this to say that this lung transplant journey hasn’t been as conducive to personal, reflective writing as other significant journeys I’ve been on in the past. As desperate as I am to write something that comes from my truest and realest heart, I haven’t had time to do so.
There are some things I know to be true right now, at this moment in time.
- I am a writer at heart. Through the lung transplant, through the heart surgery, through the heart attack, through the child care and being-a-mom stuff, through the phone calls and texts, Caring Bridge posts and laundry, cleaning and finances, hospital visits and heart-felt conversations, I’m thinking about writing. I’m formulating thoughts and sentences in my mind, even if they never arrive on the screen. I’m thinking about what’s happening and how it’s impacting my perspective on life and faith, even if it’s years before you read about it.
- I have now reached my maximum capacity. I am now depleted. I’m full, but I’m hungry. And I haven’t worked out in about three weeks, which is crazy long for me. I am tired. I sleep, but I really need REST if you know what I mean. I need to either eat SUPER CLEAN or go on a FAST, or maybe both. I could use a massage and I’ve never, ever said that before. I have had very little time to myself. I haven’t been able to go to church since July 10th and need to get there ASAP. I could use a quiet movie, a quiet night, some peace and quiet. Maybe a movie in the dark theater with popcorn all by myself.
- There’s a long road ahead. My dad is still in the hospital, but will hopefully be out in the next couple of days. After he’s discharged, my parents will be staying in the Minneapolis area for THREE MONTHS, as rejection is most likely in those first months post transplant. It is my duty and delight to help my parents through this difficult time. I refuse to sit this one out, but also fully acknowledge that I am human.
- I am thinking about you, my reader. This isn’t your journey, but it’s mine to steward. How can I live in, live through and learn through this journey so I’m better able to help others in the future? What can I learn NOW that will help you LATER? How will these experiences shape me, form me and mold me so I’m a better writer and leader down the road? What is it that God would have me do, see and learn through these trials? I’m honestly wondering what you need right now, and how could I possibly help you? I SEE that it’s no longer about ME. I’m more than ready for a healthy and hearty writing transition from ME and MY STUFF to YOU and ALL OF US, but when will that be?
- Since the lung transplant, I’ve drafted at least TWO blog posts in my mind. Quite honestly, one of those posts would be better off as a chapter in a book. This morning as I was getting ready for the day, I had a vision for TWO companion books I’d never ONCE thought of until they came to me out of nowhere. I do believe they are ebooks, and I do believe they are for anyone who’s ever suffered and been through a major life crisis. No doubt, God can take our greatest miseries and make them our greatest ministries.
I’m a wife and a mom of three children who are at home full-time for summer. My dad’s still in the hospital and is going to need heavy care and support for at least three more months. My mom is going to need care and support for at least three more months. My sister, niece and nephew need to make it through this. I’m at maximum capacity and I’m depleted, yet I REFUSE to sit this one out. This is WHERE I’m meant to be, even though it’s not always pretty, it’s not always pleasant and it’s certainly not always perfect.
I’m in an extended planting season, learning season, growing wiser-than-my-years season. God is maturing me, giving me the much-older-and-wiser-woman wisdom I’ve so desired. When it’s time, in due season, I will reap the harvest.
Then I will I be able to use all of this FOR YOUR GOOD, which is the end goal I’ve envisioned since 2003.
There is ALWAYS something more for us to learn through life.
If we stop long enough to listen, we will HEAR the whisper.
This journey is not complete.
Keep going. Keep going.
The end is yet to come.
I’m gonna have to sit this one out for now. Time will tell me when it’s right to write again. Time will tell me what to write about when I write again. Maybe I’ll write about the transplant journey now. Maybe I’ll write about it later. Maybe I’ll write about other things. For now, I’m confident enough to say I don’t know.
Reader, you are never far from my mind.
This gift of writing? It’s for me and my sanity, but it’s ultimately for YOU.
Praying these years of trial and transition will produce fruit for all.
Now or later.
Now AND later.
I held two long-standing dreams for my 40th birthday.
- Run a marathon
- Take a mission trip to Haiti with my husband
Run a Marathon
I was going to run Grandma’s Marathon in June 2016 or Twin Cities Marathon in October 2016. The dream to run a marathon for my 40th was serious and alive for a few good years until the rubber hit the road and I realized I’d need to actually sign up and start training. When I reminded my husband that this was a goal for my 40th and told him we were approaching the time I’d need to commit, he reminded me that my plate is full, that training for a marathon was super intense, and that I also have a book writing goal, so perhaps it would be better to spend time focusing my efforts on that dream instead.
He was right. His logic made sense. I made a cold and fast decision to drop my dream of running a marathon for my 40th birthday.
Take a Mission Trip to Haiti with My Husband
My husband and I were going to Haiti to visit our sponsored children through Compassion International. Better yet? We were going to Haiti to visit our three sponsored children there, then fly over to Dominican Republic to visit our sponsored child there. It was an idyllic 40th birthday plan in my book. My husband would meet all four of our sponsored children in one week, and we’d plan some sun time for the Dominican side so my husband could get the R&R he needed. I wanted us to take our first mission trip as a married couple. I wanted my husband to see me in my happy place. I wanted him to KNOW that very best part of me. I wanted him to understand why I can’t shake my trips to Haiti, Dominican and Kenya. My dream to make this trip for my 40th was serious and alive for TWO years until the rubber hit the road and I realized we’d need to actually book the trip and start planning all the details.
We had big conversations.
For a period of three or four weeks, it was official! We were planning a Haiti/Dominican trip for my 40th, sometime in the second half of 2016.
But things didn’t feel right. I knew my husband didn’t really want to go to Haiti, and was just agreeing to please me. I didn’t want this to be a check-it-off-the-list experience. I love Haiti. I love it so much I can barely contain my tears writing these sentences. But I also love Kenya. I love it so much that I’d go back today, in a heartbeat if I could. Having said that, I know my heart and I know my current reality. It isn’t realistic to keep both Haiti AND Kenya active and open in my heart during this season of life with three children, ages 13, 11 and 4, at home. I’d consider myself ridiculously blessed if I was able to take ONE mission trip a year until our two oldest graduate from high school. But that once-a-year-dream isn’t realistic. If I returned to Haiti, I’d open my heart up wide all over again, and would want to go back for a third visit. But then there’s Kenya. If I went to Haiti for my 40th in 2016, that would mean Kenya would have to hold off until 2017, more likely 2018. Could my heart bear the weight of that possibility?
I prayed. I thought about it. I knew what was safest for my heart and the best decision given my current reality, finances, life as a mom of three, and wife of a husband who’s crazy busy with work. One late night after the kids were in bed, I requested time with my husband and told him straight up, “We’re not going to Haiti for my 40th.”
I drew Haiti a beautiful little circle on our bed sheets with my finger, surrendered the final 40th birthday dream, and left it there with God. I never said I was surrendering Haiti for good. I’m surrendering it for now.
With tears and Haiti in a bed sheet circle, that left my heart open and committed to Kenya, and Kenya only. For now. For this season. If God sees fit to open the circle for Kenya AND Haiti someday, I won’t be surprised. In my heart of hearts, I see both. But for now, one. Kenya.
And with that, both of my 40th birthday dreams died.
Four to six weeks later, we found out that my dad was approved for a lung transplant. If everything goes as planned, he will be placed on the national lung transplant registry by mid-July, just days after my 40th birthday. My mom is first in care for my dad. But my mom is also first in care for my sister who has schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type; she has two children and lives two blocks from my parents. Since I’m oldest in my family of origin, that leaves me second in care for my dad while he’s going through the transplant, and first in back-up care for my sister and her two children while my dad and mom are going through the transplant.
My husband has an intense corporate job that often requires longer-than-normal work days, occasional work on nights and weekends, and regularly takes him away on business travel.
I’m home this summer with three children. It’s only my second summer home full-time since I became a mom nearly 14 years ago. Our youngest starts kindergarten in 14 months.
I’ve written and thoroughly edited TWO children’s book manuscripts, and have a third roughly drafted. I need to write the series proposal and get it in the hands of a literary agent. After that, I’d like to tackle an adult nonfiction proposal.
I’m EIGHT pounds over my most comfortable weight, and haven’t been able to get the weight off since it first started piling on in January 2015 after my husband’s eye cancer diagnosis. I’m wearing capri leggings every day this summer because I only fit into one of my size 8 drawer full of shorts. And my well went dry last weekend because I haven’t had enough time to replenish my soul these past seven weeks.
The Lord is so wise and graceful with his gifts.
He knows what we need and when we need it.
40-some days ago when I realized my 40th birthday was approaching, my emotions got the best of me. No marathon. No trip to Haiti with my husband. No marking of this momentous occasion. 40 is big to me. If you know me well, you know I’ve been looking forward to 40 forever. I wanted to do something big for my 40th, something special, something to honor who I am and how I want to live the second half of life.
I wondered if there was a way to still pull something off that resonated with my soul. Perhaps a Facebook campaign – 44 days to my 40th birthday – in which I’d collect 440 pair of new underwear for boys and girls at the orphanage in Kenya? Perhaps a party in which we could raise funds for a set of swings and slides for the children at the orphanage?
Creating a new dream out of nowhere was crazy, impossible and possibly stupid. I had a little meltdown on my bed, then headed to the gym with my 4 year old. As I pulled into a parking spot, I looked down at my phone and noticed an email had arrived from wise counsel, someone who has taken at least EIGHT hours solid just listening to me. I hadn’t communicated with this person for a couple months, so she had no reason to communicate with me that morning besides this perfectly-timed gem.
You do not have to look for anything, just look.
You do not have to listen for specific sounds, just listen.
You do not have to accomplish anything, just be.
And in the looking, and the listening, and the being; find Me.
Ann Lewin in Celtic Daily Prayer, Book Two, p 1483
Tears. Just tears.
The timing of the email was impeccable. God was clearly speaking. I didn’t have to do anything momentous or incredibly special for my 40th birthday. I didn’t have to find a way to celebrate and express the unique heart He’s given me for life. I didn’t have to prove to anyone except myself and God that I’m heading into this second half of life with passion, fervor, grace and an open heart for whatever He has planned for me.
I don’t have to work for the world anymore.
His dreams are greater than mine.
His plans are greater than my plans.
He needed me to know this.
My job from here on out is to look, listen, be, and seek Him first.
I know I’ll run a marathon someday.
I know I’ll return to Haiti someday.
I know I’ll return to Kenya.
I pray I’ll go on a mission trip with my husband someday.
I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to keep working on those books.
I know I’m home for a reason, for this season, to help my family.
I know I need to take care of myself.
I know God’s timing is perfect.
I know His gifts are good.
I surrendered two 40th birthday dreams. But God’s filling in the gaps with gifts aplenty.
Time at home with my children this summer.
Time at home so our family has a sense of stability.
Knowing and understanding my husband so our marriage can survive and thrive.
Helping my parents with the CaringBridge and Facebook pages set up for my dad’s upcoming lung transplant.
Being available to help my parents when my dad gets called for the lung transplant.
Being available to help my sister and her two children.
Becoming a Facebook page administrator for the nonprofit, Love For Kenya, with whom I traveled last fall.
A photography partnership with a nonprofit that celebrates babies with Down syndrome.
A divine encounter with the president of MN Teen Challenge who confirmed that my idea would be an “incredible ministry.”
Joining a private writing community on Facebook.
“Yes” to an intense, three-day writing workshop in November 2016.
Two 5Ks instead of that marathon.
A compass from day camp with a message from my four year old. “If you don’t remember where you’re going, then you have that to remember. Okay?”
A perfect ending to the last night I could call myself “39” without lying, including a senior photo shoot, three end-of-season clearance outfits at my favorite store White House Black Market (so I don’t have to wear capri leggings every day this summer), and a beautifully-painted sunset to top it all off.
God’s gifts are good.
He knows what I need.
I’m 40 today.
Bring it, 40, whatever you look like.
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