Opening my email the other day, I saw one titled "New Blog" but from an email address I didn't recognize. Intrigued, I opened it, and slowly began to read.
Then I re-read it. Then I re-read it yet again.
With tears in my eyes, I saved the email to respond to later, but in that moment, I needed to stop and shake my head about the 2 x 4's that I am so fortunate to have God whack me with (Trust me, I need whacking in order to get it! I am extremely hard headed!)
I ask for them, regularly, these glorious 2 x 4 moments. Shockingly, and with great regularity, I get them in ways that are simply too obvious to deny from whence they cometh.
As I was struggling to write over the past several months, and as I was considering that this phase in my life was likely over...the blogging phase...I still had this sense that maybe I should be writing. I couldn't shake it OR resolve it. The problem? The old blog was our family blog and photo album, but that wasn't what I was feeling drawn toward any longer, and hadn't for quite awhile. I didn't consider for a long time that perhaps a new blog with a different focus was where I was headed, I just felt "done". Yet every time I had felt "done" in the past, and that happened numerous times, almost instantly I would receive an email from someone who I didn't realize was reading. They wanted to share something with me, or needed encouragement or guidance on a particular adoption or homeschooling challenge, and I would be solidly reminded that perhaps I wasn't really writing solely for myself and my family, but that our experiences were being used in ways I would never understand.
Fast forward to considering creating a new online home to write and reflect. I asked my best friend what she thought of the idea, and she quickly asked an obvious question, "Well, why don't you just keep writing on your old blog and talk about new things?" Not a bad idea and that was the very question I was asking myself, but somehow it felt "wrong" and I couldn't discern why. Fascinatingly, within two minutes, Candi completely reversed herself...something she almost never does because she is thoughtful when she speaks the first time. She said, "Wait a minute, no, I am totally wrong here and I don't know why but you absolutely should write a new blog." I asked why the sudden turnaround and she said, "It was like God slapped me upside the head and told me I was steering you wrong. I am 100% certain about this, and that this is really important...you need to start a new blog that is about your new journey, and there are reasons you need to that we don't understand right now. Just know I am really sure about this."
Now, I am not one who blindly follows anyone, not my husband, not my pastor, not my best friend. But I heard "between the lines" and realized there must be something there, so I would go along with my original thought and create a new blog home.
Would anyone read it? Am I writing for an audience or am I writing for myself? Does any of it really matter anyway? Knowing I needed to set aside any concerns about others, and yet fully realizing that this blog would be very different and have no cute photos of adorable little kids, nor a compelling story line with the building of a family, I still knew I needed to write. So with no real reason other than feeling the need to have a place where I intentionally work things out, I began.
Immediately, the old pattern returned, and God responded through the email of yet another person, surprising me on multiple levels. This reader didn't adopt, but instead found our blog randomly
More importantly, I was deeply moved as she shared with me that she was very grateful I was going to continue writing, and that my words had provided great meaning in her life, particularly at this moment in time when she was on a spiritual journey of her own and we are beginning a lovely back-and-forth dialogue about insights we have, and a growing yearning in her heart.
This woman discovered me through a link from a friend's own blog. She started reading years ago, and has followed ever since. This person was a special needs educator and shared that she had learned so much from my blog, had shared ideas with families she worked with, and discovered things about kids in front of her because she was able to make connections from having read of particular episodes of our special needs journey. Our experiences, challenges, and strategies for educating our kids were being used in ways I had never fathomed!
Could God have provided a more clear 2 x 4 for me? I think not. And I was profoundly touched to think that my past words led to a comfort level for someone to share such intimate and important thoughts with me...a person they had never spoken to before but who had heard my life laid out for years, and that life spoke to her. Unbelievable, humbling, and what a strong reminder of something that we all forget.
This isn't unique to me. Your actions, friends, speak volumes. Your words have weight. Your essence changes people, for good or for bad. You are being watched when you don't realize it, and you are modeling when you are not intending to. We understand this when it comes to our children, we see quickly how a cuss word that slips out is next uttered from their lips. We watch their behaviors and see the impact we have on the person they are becoming. Are we reflecting patience and kindness? Or frustration and coarseness? Are we showing how to deal with challenges and disappointments? Or are we acting the equivalent to a toddler and metaphorically stomping our feet? Are we speaking words of light and truth? Or are we practicing obfuscation and darkening our corners of the world?
We are leaving an impression of some sort, and most often when we are not even aware of it.
The affirmation this woman offered me about my "next" in life was something I didn't know I needed until I received it. I am, indeed, moving in the direction I am being called toward. It isn't just a desire, it is something I can not escape. I am saying "yes" without being able to envision some end result. But this email conversation is responsible for eliminating any residual doubts I had about enrolling in seminary, and honestly, the interfaith component is going to broaden everything for me. It is who I truly am.
I have walked around all week feeling so grateful, not only for this email, but for my past resolve to keep writing....writing through tears of sorrow and great personal pain, writing with excited anticipation, writing as I was challenged and puzzled. I have never known who all was observing my journey and learning from it, be it learning how TO do something, or conversely, deciding how NOT TO do something!
What God does with my words isn't really my business. I just need to be authentically myself, as I feel I have always been, and share where I am in my life now. That's it. I need to let writing continue to be my spiritual practice that is sort of on public display, because oddly that, too, seems to be a unique calling of mine. It isn't about readership, it isn't about being a "mommy-preneur" and likely never will be for me. I am not even sure what THIS blog will really be about!! What I do know is that I regularly ask God for wisdom to share that has been hard earned, and for insights and 2 x 4's that might help others in the world, be it as homeschoolers, as parents, or as people of faith.
And you just never know who needs the lesson you have to offer. You just never know who will not have to learn something the hard way...the way you did...because you are open and honest enough to share your truth. You just never know what an impact you are in the world around you, for most of us don't take the time to share with others what we have garnered from their life.
We can't do it alone, friends, we never have been able to.