Hang with me here...nothing too cute or fancy but I must share and it will take a minute...or two.
As we rode through the winding mountains of North Carolina, towards Tweetsie Railroad this summer, I was very fortunate to be the passenger, for once. My step-dad was driving and that gave me time to take in the lush scenery and just relax. My quiet, calm, ride was quickly interrupted when I noticed one of those church signs. You know, where the church puts up a thought for the week. Well, for some reason it seemed as though they were everywhere this summer and I even posted a few to Facebook when they seemed worthy of sharing. However, on this day, this particular one stopped me in my tracks. It said, "Don't put a question mark where God puts a period."
I quickly repeated it to my mom and step-dad and that was just the beginning. He says, "Well, that is your mother." Then I realized I just came by it honestly. Not just questioning God, but everything. We are are analyzers, my mom and me. We could spend hours talking through one thing to come up with no solution but feeling quite satisfied. We got a good laugh and the subject easily moved on to something else. Except, on this occasion, this was brand on my heart. Why? I listen when He talks. I don't question. Or do I? I got to thinking. How many times do I think I know best? How many times do I think He doesn't understand? This is different. Right? Let's face it...I question the periods all the time. Why? I really mulled this over and purposed to work on letting His periods be mine. Little did I know He would soon put me to the biggest test ever.
As many of you know we chose to separate our family and move myself and the girls to Florida while Nate stayed in Texas, just so Olivia and Addison could start school in August. After many grueling hours of pros and cons and back and forth the decision was simple really. We wanted what we thought would be best for them, in this situation. So, the girls and I moved into our home in July and sent Nate back to Texas. We prayed that Olivia would be accepted into a school that was not our assigned school. We finally received notice that she was accepted and I felt the biggest sense of relief. He answered my prayer.
As we nervously attended Meet the Teacher night my motherly instincts were quickly hightened as to some things that just seemed "off." While I can now call this a "sign" I pushed it away. Well, just until school started 5 days later. Standing in the lobby of this chosen school of mine, my body began to panic. I could not explain what was happening to me. I have never expereienced something like this before. As soon as I could get a call to Nate I broke down. But why? My heart was breaking for many reasons, but logically they just weren't life or death. Or were they?
I stood by and watched as my brilliant, out-going, enthusiastic, fun-loving Olivia deteriorated right in front of my eyes. Words, of which I am never short of, escaped me. I felt helpless. No amount of smiling and positive pep even cracked her stealthy code. I slowly began to give some of this information to Nate and he just couldn't believe it. I can imagine why. No one that knows her could imagine this. That is, until he came home for a visit. He decided to take over school duty and saw for himself. He wanted to quit the first day. Drop off was bad enough for him. Pick up seemed excruciating.
We pressed on. I prayed. But for what? I prayed for an answer. I prayed and begged Him to show me what to do. I need those big, flashy signs that say, "This way." And it was on a calm and rainy morning when I was sitting across from Allye giving her spoonfuls of peaches-n-cream oatmeal that He whispered it to me. "Homeschool." In that moment my twisted heart began to relax. Every nerve in my body began to slowly unwind. He didn't stutter, there was nothing else. It was a very simple message. And instead of a period, I put a question mark.
I quickly relayed what happened to Nate and my mom. Both were very supportive. My mom even began fervently calling people she knew that homeschooled their children as to help guide me in my final decision. As I was busy working on my question marks Olivia was slipping further away.
I'll never forget this day as long as I live. She stayed late for art class and I was in my usual rush from Addison's dance class to pick her up only to rush them home and eat and get to church. Ah yes, Wednesdays. In other words, I didn't have time for anything outside of my schedule. Except, on this day, God had a different plan. As Olivia plopped down in her carseat I said, "How was your behavior today?" (She had gotten a "T" for talking just two days prior. That happens when you are bored.) She went into a panic like I have never seen and I knew it was bad. This was God's big red flashing sign that I "ran" because we had a schedule.
Sitting in Bible Study that night, watching a Beth Moore study video, she looked straight in the camera and said, "Have you ever had a moment in your life where He says to you, 'I am not kidding!' " I smiled and gave a knowing nod, and my heart wrenched as if He was saying, "She is talking to you."
As I slowly crawled to my room that night I noticed the answering machine flashing. It was the teacher. It was worse then I thought. It was horrific. I called Nate sobbing, unable to get anything out. I had failed. I had failed as a mother. I had failed as a wife. I had failed Olivia. I had failed Him. I chose my question mark over his period. Why? Because it was out of my comfort zone? Because I was afraid of failing? Because I was scared? Yes! Yes! Yes!
In that moment there was a period. Or was there? As I researched night and day everything to begin homeschool I was interrupted from a call from the principal. Would I talk with her about what happened? Yes. And I must say, as I left the house for that appointment I looked up. Why? Why when I just put the period there?
But He quickly eased my mind when I walked into church just two days later. I looked down at the crisp white handout and in big bold black letters it read, "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained." The title of the sermon that day. My ears were His for the next hour as he covered Matthew 14:22-33. And when the pastor closed he looked directly into my soul when he said,
"When your called to get out of the boat. Get out."
So, I am out of the boat. Praying I don't sink. But knowing when I do, He will be there, with an outstretched hand, to calmly pull me through.
Homeschool...here we come!
"When you show up where God wants you to be, you are going to have a ball."-Rev. Brice Early