“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.”
My Dad often asked me when I was little, “What do you think you want to do when you grow up?” My answer was always the same, “A missionary and a mom.” Somewhere around middle school my answer began to change. When my Dad asked the same question I would say, “I want to be a writer.” However, as I began college my Dad, who saw a gift I did not, suggested I consider teaching. Four years later, in 1991, I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.
As I think about the declaratory statements I made as a young person regarding what I thought my purpose in life would be, I now see God gave me the desires of my heart but brought them to pass in His timing and His way, not at all how I expected.
My brother and I were born to parents who loved the Lord deeply and walked closely with Him. From a very early age, I was aware of God’s love and accepted Him as my Savior. I can remember laying awake one night telling Him I wanted to do something for Him because of all He had done for me. Missionaries would often come to our church and speak about what they were doing for the Lord and my tender heart would yearn for that kind of a life. I wanted to go and tell everyone about Jesus.
However, as I grew older, I began to think about “bigger” things than the mission field. I wanted something more trendy and fun. I saw myself hustling New York City in search of the latest news and working late into the night so my readers would have my words hot off the press while riding the train to work or pouring their first cup of coffee. But there were some challenges which made that dream quite difficult to achieve. In third grade, after struggling every day in school, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I spent the next nine years trying to catch up to my peers, which never quite happened. I knew deep down inside that I was not as smart as everyone else around me and my writing abilities were not nearly what they would need to be in order to succeed at a big newspaper. The idea of teaching school seemed so passé to me, but after some coercion, I declared Education as my major with the idea that I could always write for a small newspaper on the side.
After years of working extremely hard in the academic realm, I reentered the classroom once again but this time not as a student but the teacher. I was hired immediately upon graduation by North Penn School District to teach seventh grade reading and study skills. My first day, I remember thinking “I am back in the place that had caused me such difficulty for so long!” The irony still astounds me. God certainly does specialize in things called “impossible.” Two years into my teaching career, I met my husband, Michael, and we were married in July 1994. I also earned my Masters Degree during that time and began my Ph.D. My life was very full as a wife and teacher but my desire to be a mom started tugging at my heart once again. For three years, Mike and I traveled the road of infertility. It was painful. It was there that I learned only God can grant the blessing of children according to His timetable. In December 2000, the Lord gave us Rebecca. I recognized the miracle of conception and delivery. Three years later God would bless us with one more child, our son Ethan.
The desire to have a successful career and to be a mom had been fulfilled but I still remember feeling so empty. Many of my heart’s desires had been realized and yet I felt dissatisfied and restless. My walk with the Lord at that time was based on what I learned from my parents. I had not really embraced it fully as my own. My Dad was the center of my faith. God saw the need for this to change. Between the years of 2003 and 2005 I faced the most difficult days of my life. I experienced great loss on every front. Our house caught fire. Our daughter was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. The tech market dropped and we had a large financial loss. My three living grandparents died. There was no area of my life that was not impacted. In addition to all this, my earthly father died. His death caused a massive faith crisis because I was not rooted fully in Christ but rather my Dad. I was shaken to the core, even to the point of turning away from my faith for nearly a year. Yet, in God's everlasting mercy, He used this time as a new beginning for me. Together He and I started over. When I got to the other side of my trials, God allowed my child like faith to appear once again. My heart’s desire was to become the missionary that I though I would be.
In 2006, God took my gift of teaching and asked me to use it for Him. He opened doors for me to speak to women about Him in various churches. My home church asked me to speak at their Christmas luncheon in 2007. Oddly enough, Stacy Davis was present at that event but our paths did not cross until a bit later in the summer 2008. Stacy asked me if I would pray about joining the Thursday morning Bible study as a small group leader and occasional teacher. That is where our ministry journeys intersected. Little did either of us know what the Lord was beginning to do, but He saw both of our heart’s desires and recognized we would be a good team. In 2011, after searching for a Bible study on the book of Matthew, we felt the Lord direct us to write what we could not find and which was a deductive, verse by verse study for women, on the Gospel of Matthew. In May of 2012, on the last day of study, I realized two more desires had been fulfilled. I was an author. Although my words were not on the pages of the New York Times, it was far more rewarding than I think that would have felt. In addition, I was finally a missionary. I was ministering in His name, telling people about Jesus.
As Psalm 37 so aptly reminds all of us, as we commit our ways to the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. My desires have not all come at once, but slowly, one by one as God has seen it best to give them to me. They are not as I first envisioned but they are so much more than I could have ever imagined.