There’s no way to put into a few words how incredible this weekend was.
If you want the short version – I found the family I’ve been searching for for years in Mobile, Alabama.
The long version:
Started almost four years ago in July 2014. I was in my last month on the World Race and the Lord had instilled in me a new dream. A dream that consisted of, somehow, being up on stage in front of hundreds (maybe thousands) of women (maybe men too, but just lots of people), speaking the gospel.
This dream got me excited at the possibilities and what it might look like. Of course I had no clue how to get there. But just remained content in knowing that if the Lord really wanted that to be part of my story, He’d make it happen.
Fast forward a few years and that dream is still alive. I’d gotten a few opportunities to speak in front of crowds of people but I wanted more. So last summer I asked for prayer in my bible study, and my friend Amanda told me about this evangelism course her friend Mattie Montgomery was starting online, called BASE Evangelism.
I looked into it, applied, and was accepted. Learning more about the gospel and how to preach it was the perfect training ground for possibly getting one step closer to that dream.
But in the midst of this course and trying to figure out a few other things, came a cross roads. Which did I want more. To pursue my dreams, or be a stay at home mom. Sounds drastic, and I’m not going to go into major detail here – but essentially I felt like I had to choose either one or the other.
And the thing was, I grew up with two working parents so a stay at home parent wasn’t normal for me. I also didn’t start liking kids until I went on the World Race in 2013-2014. The Lord also didn’t instill in me a natural desire to want to be a mother.
So whenever people asked me, “Do you want kids?” My answer has always been, “If my husband wants kids, I will gladly have kids.”
Romantic right? And exactly what every Christian man wants to hear.
I’ve felt like a broken Christian woman, and like there was something wrong with me. Because when I was in a relationship and they wanted kids or wanted a stay at home mom, I just couldn’t promise I’d be happy in that life.
I’d do it, because the Lord instilled in me a natural desire to be a wife, so I would gladly submit [through many many conversations and prayer and coming to a compromised understanding between me and my husband. Not just automatically].
And I knew He’d eventually be faithful in giving me the desire to be a mom as well, if I was ever called to that. But I wasn’t excited about it, and that’s what my ex’s wanted me to be – excited.
Instead, all of my thoughts about motherhood were rooted in fear.
Fear of losing my life. Fear of losing my freedom. Fear of being held back by a husband’s expectations of motherhood. Fear of being held back by society’s expectations of motherhood. Fear that I would lose my community and friends. Fear that I would lose part of my relationship in the Lord. Fear that I couldn’t pursue all that the Lord might call me to because I had to fit someone else’s expectations and mold of what motherhood looked like. Fear that I would have to give up other dreams and desires. Fear that everything would be so different that I would become lost.
But over the past year, the Lord has been at work in my heart. Slowly, but faithfully, revealing more and more truth in what motherhood means.
It started with realizing that my ultimate dream is to preach the gospel and spread the Lord’s love in whatever ways I can. Which can happen while being a stay at home mom through blogs and bible studies with other moms. Which can happen by marrying the right man that, if the Lord called me up on stage to preach in some way, he would be by my side in the wings and supportive, and not at home wishing I was someone different and trying to hold me back.
And through very intricate and intimate ways, revealed to me more and more how beautiful a season of life it could be with not only my husband, but with my community.
But I still wasn’t sure.
Then this weekend, I got to worship with reckless abandonment for the first time since the World Race. And with even more freedom than on the Race, because that was only the beginning compared to now.
I got to be surrounded by brothers and sisters who worshipped with reckless abandon. Who weren’t performing for anyone around them. Who didn’t care “how crazy” they looked, or “how crazy” someone else looked, because we were all, equally, weird and crazy for Jesus.
Brothers and sisters that danced and waved their arms and swayed and fell on their face and cried out in praise at the top of their lungs and prayed out loud uncaring of who heard and just worshipped freely.
Have you ever felt that? Complete freedom in worshipping before the Lord because it’s just you and the Lord in a room filled with people who aren’t judging how you’re worshipping?
It is so amazing. And I pray everyone gets to experience freedom like that.
During Saturday morning worship, I watched as Elijah Ward’s wife, Macie, worshipped with a baby in her arms. And Macie wasn’t just standing still singing, maybe an arm raised and eyes closed kind of worship. No, she was rocking out for Jesus with her baby securely in her arms. Macie was shaking her head in freedom, arm waving, body rocking. She was free while she held her daughter in her arms.
It was so beautiful. And through witnessing her worship as a mother, the Lord set the final piece of fear within me, free. The fear that I would have to give up my ability to worship freely and with reckless abandon before the Lord. But that instead, I would worship exactly how I was created to worship, with my children by my side, watching, learning, and worshiping too.
Because I want them to grow up in a home where their parents worship with reckless abandon and without fear. I want them to witness parents who love their Heavenly Father with all they’ve got, and without shame or fear of embarrassment as they dance and praise and shout and sing and wave their arms wildly, welcoming the Spirit into their midst. I want them to grow up in a home where they too feel free to worship the Lord however they feel fits them best. I want them to learn that freedom in the Lord is not weird, and not something to stifle. And I want them to learn all that from not only their parents, but the community they grow up in.
If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that people are created to be who they are created to be. The Lord has a specific purpose for them, and it might not fit into the mold you want them to look like. And that’s ok. It is very possible for the Lord to work miracles and change people’s hearts. But those hearts will never be changed through reciting knowledge, manipulation, or by force.
Hearts will only change through love, grace, and endless patience.
I’ve been praying over this piece of me for a long time. Not knowing what was going to happen with it. Would I always continue with my answer, “If my husband wants kids I will gladly have kids”? Or would the Lord change my heart to a place where I became excited to have kids.
I think this piece of the puzzle has been perfectly placed at just the right time. Not a moment too late or too soon. Perfectly timed, for just the right man. But not because of that man, as I so fervently tried to change about myself for someone else previously. Because of Jesus, and His endless grace and patience. Because of His mighty plans, and not my own.
And it will be a precious gift I will be excited to give.