How God Turns Never into Now

My cell phone rings and caller ID shows it’s my college-aged daughter. The conversation goes like this.

Meredith: Hey Mom! I’m thinking about going on a mission trip to Haiti.

Me: “Meredith, is it safe there? Why do you want to go there? Why do you think you need to go there? I’ll have to get more information and then we’ll have to talk about this with your dad.”

Meredith happily gave me the telephone number for the mission trip coordinator. I called the next day, my interrogation skills primed.

Me: What about safety? Is it safe to travel from Port-au-Prince to your location? What about safety at your location?

Coordinator: Yes, ma’am! We have our own buses to transport mission trip participants from the airport to our campus and our entire premises are enclosed by high fence. Plus, it’s patrolled twenty-four hours a day by security guards with guns.

Me: Thank you for the information. You’ve been extremely helpful. God bless.

As I hung up the phone, I uttered under my breath, “Meredith is never going there.”

She didn’t in 2012.

She did in 2013.

She returned from a week in Haiti with eyes sparkling and heart bursting with love for the people there. She met and sponsored a little six-year boy named Junior at the mission school. She cried as she spoke about him. Every time.

I expected her glow and enthusiasm to wear off as spring turned to summer. It didn’t. She spoke incessantly about Junior, her mission trip team members, the Haitian people, and every single occurrence on the trip. She often mentioned leaving a piece of her heart in Haiti and I sensed her deep longing to return. Even while she was home for the Christmas holidays, a piece of her heart remained in Haiti.

We flipped the calendar to a new year and Meredith returned to college. Her life was busy with college volleyball and classes. I was busy with year end accounting and tax deadlines at work, exhausted, and sleeping soundly every night. Until late January.

I jumped and woke from a deep sleep with the remnants of a dream playing on my mind and one thought, “You should go to Haiti with Meredith.”

Never.

I shoved the thought from my mind and fell back asleep.

Over the next month, I regularly woke in the middle of the night with the same dream and same message, “You and Meredith should go to Haiti.”

I could never do that.

I dared not tell anyone, especially Meredith. I knew if I did, I’d never get out of going.

Finally, after six weeks of those middle-of-the-night wake up calls, I confided in my best friend, Jackie. Instead of my never, she said, “Why not? Let’s do it!”

After that conversation, I still woke with that same dream, at least once a week, but now my never turned into long nights of lying awake pondering “Could I ever do that?”

Yes, I could. And yes I did.

That summer my daughter returned to Haiti with one of her best friends, Amanda, Jackie, and me alongside. The four of us boarded a plane to Haiti, my first international trip, and served together for eight glorious days. I never dreamed I could do such a thing, but God did. I never imagined what God did. I never hoped as big as God did. I never saw the possibilities in me that God did.

When I thought I could never endure a whole week of planting trees in Haiti, God planted precious little girls on my lap every morning for Vacation Bible School instead. God turned my never into now–now was the time to love, hug, and sing “Jezi loves you” to those beautiful, brown-eyed little girls while sitting in the shade of an open-aired church, cooled by the gentle island breeze.  

When the physical limitations of my weak back told me, “You could never do that; you’ll be a liability to the rest of the team,” my loving team, affectionately named “Team Awesome,” found ways to use my strengths to be a productive participant. I sat to shovel rocks from the deep hole the others dug for the coconut tree we planted and I stood for bearable periods of time using my 6-foot height and long arms to paint the walls and trim inside the house that others couldn’t reach.

God does indeed turn never into now.

On our last morning in Haiti, I cried as members of Team Awesome, the “Georgia group,” boarded the first bus to depart. I turned away so others didn’t see, but my ever-watchful Meredith did. She came over to hug me and whispered, “Why are you crying?” I don’t know was my honest answer as I wept unexplainably. She squeezed me tighter and softly said, “I understand, mom.”   She did. And now I did, too. As each group left that morning, more tears fell.

These people were a part of helping me accomplish something I never thought I could do.

These people loved me even though I was weak and had limitations.

These people helped me conquer fears.

Serenading us in song as we washed stacks of dishes, offering a helping hand as I conquered the giant rope swing to get off and on the cantor truck, and knowing just when to encourage me throughout the week, every member of Team Awesome was part of God’s plan.

He turned my never into now.  

“With God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26

 

Advertisements

Celebrating My “Redreamer”

Yesterday I celebrated my 54th birthday. As I spent the day with my precious family, the three of us road-tripped thirty miles to a nearby vineyard. With no set plans for the day, it was simply a day to relax and spend time together. We taste-tested assorted offerings at the vineyard and peppered them with our family brand of “nerdy” questions.

Just how many grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?

With some exerted effort to recall our math and a few laughs, we solved that question. One gallon of grapes makes five bottles of wine. Trust me, it took much less effort to select our favorite wine—a crisp, cool, white wine with hints of peach. With our favorite selected, we made our way to the patio outside for an impromptu picnic of assorted cheese and crackers. There was no fanfare; plastic knives to slice the cheese and white napkins served as our plates. But, I was surrounded by my husband, our beloved daughter, and my dearest friend. My blessings from God.

Have you ever pinched yourself, just to be sure something was real? I’ve had several of those moments recently and they remind me of the wonder and awe of our majestic, loving God.

Yesterday was one of my “pinch myself” moments. That best friend laughing with us–she’s been my shoulder through some really difficult, dark times. She’s seen me at my worst. She’s held my hand when I felt lost and lonely, prayed for me when I couldn’t pray for myself, and lovingly nudged me to re-focus on our merciful God, the Provider of all things, the Healer of all pains. Yesterday, she and my little family of three basked in His sunshine and provision, laughing at the good times we’ve had and the good times to come. The healing touch of God revealed in my family overwhelms my heart with joy. And I just have to pinch myself as I count my blessings.

Five years ago, I submitted my hurt to God on a Walk to Emmaus and He began replacing that pain with joy. He continues to replace pain with joy, healing hearts one day at a time as our family, all three of us, focus on the goodness and wonder of our Savior. He is our Redeemer and He is my “Redreamer.” Not only has He replaced pain with joy, He restored my dreams. I had given up and buried them for years. They weren’t worth it.

But, in God’s restorative powers, I believe in my dreams again, my family believes in them, and I believe in God’s purpose for them.

 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me, I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11-12

So yesterday, I thanked my “Redreamer” and pinched myself again as I celebrated 54 years on earth, five years of God-inspired faith-filled joy, and one year of believing in God’s dreams for me.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis