Before I was married, I travelled the country talking to kids about chastity. The year before I took on this crazy “job”, it wasn’t even on my radar as a possibility.
I had thoughts of traveling as a missionary one day, but never in a million years did “Chastity Promoter” come to my mind.
A funny thing happens when you start to seek out what God is asking of you, these things you never even dreamed of start to rise up in your thoughts — and desires you never imagined begin to surface in your heart.
Honestly, my greatest advice before you pray the prayer, “Lord, what do you want of me?” is to buckle up — because it’s going to be an interesting ride.
On the first day of my new “job”, I found myself in New Orleans, making a chastity video in the French Quarter, working with amazing people, and even meeting my future spouse — and that was just the first day!
And this work continued to bring me me to amazing places, around the country and around the world.
That video we made won runner up in the educational category in the New York Film Festival. I was asked to testify before the United States Congress on the issue of abstinence education, and I was unexpectedly asked to welcome Pope JPII when he arrived in Mexico that year. It was crazy.
This new dream stretched me beyond what I thought was possible. It opened doors I never anticipated.
And when I met John, on that first day of filming that chastity video, I never imagined that this was the guy I was going to fall in love with, to marry, and to have 6 kids with — it just wasn’t on my radar at all.
Yeah, God is crazy like that. He will bring you to places that you never imagined. You will find yourself doing things that you never expected to do. But just when I thought I knew where this life of mine was going, John asked me to marry him.
We had gone to Ireland for a retreat, and I’m pretty sure neither of us expected him to ask me to marry him. Maybe it was that beautiful sunset that did it.
And I swear I just stared at him for at least a solid minute in complete and utter silence. Poor guy was waiting for an answer, and I thought I knew what my answer was — but I wanted to be sure.
If it was just saying yes to a life of two individuals sharing the same home, that would be easy — but I knew that I was saying yes to a life that meant letting go of my life as a single person — it meant a new path, a new life with John.
It meant being open to the possibilities of babies. I knew it was going to be a challenge to “settle down”.
That transition from the travel and excitement of my dream job and then the excitement of being a newlywed to having three babies within five years of marriage — it had it’s challenges.
I just wasn’t used to having people who needed me 24/7 with no downtime. Let’s just say there were growing pains during these early years. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be — but that didn’t make those moments of dying to myself any easier.
Early on, I felt that I needed to bury all my dreams in order to be a good wife and mother. It was hard to envision the next 20 years of my life saying no to all my dreams so I could raise these little celtic warriors.
But slowly, I began to realize that I was dead wrong about this “momming” thing. God wasn’t asking me to bury all my dreams, He was asking me to adopt new ones — or at least to let my dreams grow to be big enough to fit me, John, and the kids in them.
It’s not that my dreams were too big for my new life — it’s that they were too small.
It took time to realize that if God was giving me these beautiful little babies, He was also allowing my dreams to expand with each new child.
God was asking me to surrender, to let go, and to begin to be open to something that was quite possibly not on my radar at all. He was asking me to make my dreams bigger — bigger than I ever imagined, big enough for my entire family.
And I guess that’s why I’m writing this post now. I want to encourage you to dream big, to go for broke, to do that big, brave thing — but do it with your family.
There truly is no such thing as a “self-made” man or woman. We rely upon each other. We become better people by helping out our fellow man and humbly accepting help when it’s needed. Being part of a family provides ample opportunity for smoothing out the rough edges — for being better than we once were.
It took time to realize that God wasn’t asking me to shut down the truest part of who I was in order to raise my kids. Instead, He was trying to help me to see the woman He had in mind from the beginning of time — and that women, she has a husband and 6 kids.
That woman — she will be a fearsome thing to behold if she just continues to walk hand in hand with God and her kids and her husband and just takes that next step — whatever it may be.
I’m not going to achieve my wildest dreams, in spite of my family — but rather because of them and, hopefully, with them at my side.
If we would only take the time to see the amazing life God has in mind for us. If we would only have the courage to surrender to that new life — trusting that God’s plans are so much better than our own.
After all, He created us — so you better believe He knows the path that will lead to our greatest fulfillment and happiness.
And if you have a hard time believing that God has plans for your life, you just need to spend some more time with Him and get to know Him, and get to know His Word. Because that life, those plans, they are truly amazing!
Don’t be afraid to take the time to be open to them, to realize them, to take on a new life — different than what it once was.
In my own life, I’ve let go of a few dreams — but I promise you that they have been replaced with better dreams than I could have imagined. This life with 6 kids is a beautiful life — and it’s a life that is full of a beauty and a joy that I never, ever expected.
Hands down, I’d take this crazy life with my husband and 6 kids over one in which I have total control of everything — and I like to control things, so that’s saying something.
A life that’s totally under control at all moments is a life in which you aren’t really allowing God to enter fully in — it’s a life, but it’s not really living.
Our last trip to Italy, reminded me of the profound joy that comes with finding yourself completely out of your comfort zones, out of control, and plunged into the crazy life of the unexpected.
The joy John and I felt throughout the very challenging moments of that trip — it was palpable. Even for weeks afterwards, we were talking about just how joyful we felt and we just couldn’t put our finger on “why” why did that trip make us so darn joyful?
Living that life of a pilgrim for 2 weeks, going to the canonization of Mother Teresa as a family, facing our fears about strangers and the goodness of people, the sweating, the redirecting to Finland, the dehydration, the beauty, the food, the fun — every little bit of it was a little microcosm of our life as a family, on pilgrimage, back to the Father.
It was beautiful, and I wouldn’t change any of it, not even the bad stuff!
And when I look at my life, the good and the bad moments that have been a part of it, I can say I am grateful for all of it. They have made me what I am today. They have led me to my family and a happiness that I never expected in this life.
So as you begin to say goodbye to school and the days get longer, maybe it’s time to ask yourselves as a family, what are God’s dreams for you? How is He leading you? What is the next step?
You’re not going to know unless you take the time to enter into the quiet, pray about it, and listen.
And the beauty of it is that it’s not going to look like my life, or the person’s life next to you — it’s entirely unique to your life and your family. I don’t know what it’s going to look like — but I know it’s going to be amazing.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Linking up with Kelly.