January Joe Dare: 3 Gifts That Might Never Have Been

Marriage

I never did the dating thing really. At the age of 20 I still never had a “boyfriend.” At that time I was seeking God’s will for my life in regards to missions. I wanted to be a wife and a mother, but I also wanted to please God and not find my identity in those roles if that was not his will for my life.

Marriage might never have been if it were not for God completely intervening in two uncrossing lives. Josh and I worked at the same camp. I didn’t know him very well but then in the summer of 2010, God saw fit for our conversations to spur on a love for each other that was unlike all others. I had just concluded an extremely difficult semester getting a minor in applied linguistics at an institute specializing in literacy and bible translation. That was all I really cared to talk about at the time. I was wanting to go overseas soon. As Josh and I were walking out of the dining hall of the camp, he mentioned that he was about to move up north to study and prepare for bible translation. Jaw drop. Wait…what? Five days ago I didn’t know what a week of work with him would be like and now he stood before me sharing the same passion? That night we chatted on the dock of the lake (if only I could take snapshots with my eyes and show just how beautiful it was under the stars and not to mention the exploding shooting star we witnessed) and found out more about each other’s hearts. We had both just read John Piper’s Desiring God and were completely changed by it. Things we were raised believing in church, especially concerning the doctrines of grace in salvation, were changed. Our week continued in blissful fun and deep conversation.

My husband went on to pursue me in ways I never expected anyone to. We lived two and a half hours away from each other and not a week went by where he wasn’t coming to see me or even coming to get me so we could go back to his parent’s house and spend time with his family. He showed me God’s love and pursuit of me in amazing ways. Just as I did not choose God, but He chose me – Josh showed me that he was choosing me and he was going to have me.

That was just the beginning. Now here we are almost three years into marriage and expecting our second child. He still pursues me wonderfully and dates me whenever he gets a chance. This might never have been if it were up to me and my finite mind.

God saw fit for so much more and I’m filled with gratitude that the man beside me as I’m typing this is flesh of my flesh.

Norah Grace

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I got pregnant immediately after Josh and I married. We found out that we had a miscarriage after a couple of months. We were devastated and hurting. We had a longing for a child at this point. We had just found out our plans to move overseas were not going to happen as we had expected. We were confused. BUT GOD. Josh and I always like to go back to this phrase from Ephesians. BUT GOD. He intervened. He made a way for healing, namely through Christ. Specifically in our situation, this was fleshed out by wonderful community with our new home group at church. We found comfort in them and the encouragement they extended to us. We were embraced by them like family as we were living a couple hours away from our own parents.

We asked God why. He made it clear three months later when we found out we were expecting again. This time with our daughter, Norah Grace.

If it were up to us, of course we would have had that first child. But then Norah Grace might never have been. I know it sounds crazy to even talk like this, but it truly does bring gratitude in considering God’s will to bring about the most glory for himself and the most joy for us. We know that the child we were never able to meet is with God, apart from sin and at home with The Lord. There is a grace for that, a grace that is mysterious concerning the unborn, but we believe that God has a grace for that and we are eternally thankful.

Norah Grace has brought us before God in ways we would have never experienced otherwise. As mentioned in my previous post, I am learning more about my affections for Christ as a mother and finding where my motivation truly lies. Josh has embraced a role of provision and ability to flourish in that. Not to say that it is not tough, but he knows that God has done this for our good and his glory.

Living Here

Living in this home and in this town, serving at this church might never have been if it weren’t for God putting it in the heart of Josh’s aunt to mention a job opening to Josh’s mother and she then calling us to let us know. We joked our first few months here because we had said we just weren’t going to move back to East Texas. We didn’t see that in God’s plan for us. Again, God saw fit to bring about something else, better than what our minds could fathom, to bring himself the most glory and us the most joy.

It has been joyous indeed living here though I miss being near my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and friends in Dallas. Having our parents less than an hour away is wonderful! My mother stops by to see me and Norah nearly once a week. Family has become a huge joy increaser for us as opposed to a very planned, time-sensitive visit where we had to be back in Dallas by a certain time and leave according to Norah’s schedule with the long drives.

The friendships we have made at this church have been life-transforming. We are able to have people in our home, our best friends that we do life with on a daily basis, so much that sometimes Josh has to remind me that it’s okay to not invite someone over and we can just have a night to ourselves. I just love them and I love having the community of believers around me – it is pleasant to the soul.

Living out in the country is beautiful. We get to experience God’s creation on a whole new level now that we are outside of the concrete jungle. We can go play in the pasture. Josh can go hunting. We can go on walks without having to drive 20 minutes to the most appropriate, non-city like park that’s still in the city. We can really experience a stillness out here as well. It’s nice (and sometimes scary!!) to have the silence and hear just the birds in the morning or the cows at night.

It’s a gift that might never have been if we were the ultimate planners. Thank God we aren’t.

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