It’s time. These posts are working. I feel the most Divine shift going on here, making room for what’s to come. For new life. For all parenthood will bring. For her. Even so, it’s not enough. This soul organizing has got me feeling all “ahhhh.” But it’s time to do what I really came here to do. To tell you the good stuff. The hard stuff. The part of the God story where I started losing control. The part where He really started showing off.
Have you ever had like a reeeeally good idea? I mean, we’re talking an, epic, no-one-could-ever-disagree, nothing-could-go-wrong, everyone’s-going-to-love-this kind of idea? I get these frequently. Always have. For example, when I was somewhere around 5th grade [post bowl cut and power headband, praise Jesus] I had the great idea of my family going to the beach. Convinced my parents and sister would agree and probably jump in the car immediately, I proposed my plan. Crickets… Nothing. I’m sure some kind of “maybe next year” was tossed my way for the sake of getting me to stop talking, but all in all, this plan was dying fast. But I wanted to. Like I really wanted to. It wasn’t fair. I had it all planned out. I called it in my head.
Now this is the part in the story where most kids would have pouted, maybe even thrown out a few last convincing benefits of such a lovely family vacation, but not me. No, no. I would make it happen. This was an interesting turn of events, that my parents would suddenly become so cruel and unreasonable, but it wouldn’t stop me. No way. I’d just need to go at this in a different way. That evening I got to work. With no money, no lawyer to plead my case, and no real power, I’d have to be resourceful. How could I gently persuade them to change their minds? Signs. A full-on billboard campaign! This would be perfect. An hour or so later, with shades of palm-tree green, ocean blue, and sunny yellow smeared across my little hands, I snuck around the house and made. my. case. Honestly, I don’t remember all the places I hung my sure-to-work beach advertisements, but I do remember one. For years, the sign with the simple words “Beach please?” hung on the back wall of my dad’s closet. Yes, “beach please?” If you haven’t already mentally removed that question mark and inserted a comma between those words, your mind is so pure. For the rest of you, go ahead and get those giggles out.
*hilarious addition. After I posted this, my mom sent me this picture. The sign still hangs! Beach, please!*
“Beach please.”Crooked and barely hanging on by a single piece of tape, it hung in vain. We didn’t go to the beach that year. I don’t know that we even discussed it again. I’m sure my parents had a few laughs over the whole thing. Over my “disinfranchised childhood” and over my pathetic persistence. But y’all, it didn’t work. My plan was a complete failure. All my imagining. All my knowing it would surely work out had been for nothing.
I could go on and on about the amazing, truly breath-taking travels I have been blessed to take in my years since I hung my “beach please?” sign. One of my greatest joys in life has been traveling down open roads, up mountains, and through national parks with my husband. Even those mean ole parents took me to enough beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and across lakes and oceans to last a lifetime. But that year, my plan hadn’t worked. No matter how much I tried, it wasn’t going to happen.
Learning to accept a good “no” every now and then isn’t something many of us find fun. Some of us actually hate it a little. Especially those strong-willed, salesman, this-conversation-isn’t-over-until-I-say-so people like me. I’ve spent the better part of my life convincing friends, teachers, and now customers to see why my way really makes the most sense. I’ve literally made a career out of it. God is different though. He hasn’t seen it my way several times. To be honest, my 20s were full of alot of “no’s.” Strong “no’s.” He never even wanted to negotiate. No amount of hours spent in prayer convincing Him to “see things my way” ever seemed to matter.
Sometimes I wonder if God rolls His eyes. Ok, I do realize that sounds ridiculous and maybe even a little sacrilegious, but this is a safe space here, right? I am a major eye roller. Chad, mom, no need to nod so aggressively in agreement. You’d think I would have grown out of this by now, but I’m 30, and here we are. God says we were made alot like Him. Now I know this is minus all of the sin and everything, so if rolling your eyes is a sin then yes, God doesn’t do it. If that’s the case, I’m also in big trouble. But you see, I don’t imagine God in heaven rolling his eyes at me in disgust, maybe a little sometimes in frustration, but usually, most of the time, I imagine there’s a grin involved. A “come on, Katelyn. Could you PLEASE quit it with the ‘beach please?’ signs? I’ve GOT this. You need to chill.” Yes, God speaks to me in terms I understand.
The older I get, the strong “no’s” in life are starting to stir up in me a different sort of reaction. A more-mature, more-accepting, more-teachable me even shows up on occasion. No longer am I frantically trying to figure out my next move or tweaking my sales pitch. I’m starting to learn that my “plans” are just that. Plans. Ideas. I can’t forsee into the future and honestly, seriously, this story is the reason I don’t even WANT to try. I realize this post should be wrapping up, but it’s just starting. It’s going to start going quicker. Go grab a coffee, your phone charger, here we go.
The plan. Sorry I kindof ruined the story by disclosing at the beginning that this plan was a major bust, but let’s back track for a second, and I’ll tell you what it was… For the sake of a few laughs. First, I would obviously find the perfect mate. We would get married and enjoy being married for approximately 1-2.5 years [depending on the circumstances of course]. How flexible of me, right? During this time of newly-married bliss, we would obviously purchase our first home. It wouldn’t need to be huge, but that’s fine, we’d only be there 3-5 years anyway. Ok, approximately 2.5 years later, baby #1 arrives. She’s perfect! She’s healthy. She never cries and potty trains herself by age 2. What a delight. Work for me is obviously over when sweet baby girl gets here because, thank goodness, after all I have been working for nearly half a decade! The struggle! Next, another 2.5 years or so later, healthy baby #2 joins the family. Now this baby could be either a boy or girl, because again, I am so flexible. Once healthy babies #1 and #2 get settled into our beautiful, new, custom-built home, it is time to start thinking about those precious orphan babies in China again. We’ll get there eventually…. Probably. Sure we will.
Now I don’t understand how to incorporate graphics and all the frills and pyrotechnic effects, but I want you to know this is the point where I wish I could make a huge bomb explode on your screen. The glass would appear to be breaking. You’d jump back from the sound. All the effects. Instead, let’s just say, the plan went *boom.*
Husband, check! Cute little house, check! Things actually started off quite nicely. On to step three! Crickets…
“Hello, God, it’s me, Katelyn. Hey there. Great sunset yesterday. Anyway, pardon the reminder but we’re starting to get a little past-due on baby #1. I’m sure you just forgot. No, maybe you wanted to teach me a little patience for a month or two? Aw yea, good idea. I’m good now. Thanks! Next month is fine.”
A year later. “Hey God. Me again. I thought we had a plan. I’m sure you’ve been appreciating my patience. You’re welcome. I guess it’s fine. But let’s get to it. How will baby #2 get here by 30 if you don’t get going. I know you hear me. Please don’t make me start leaving a billboard campaign all over the place again. You’re up.”
And that’s when I sensed the eye roll.
I’m sure you’re starting to see where this is going. I’m just going to say it. My plan derailed. It was a trainwreck. Too fast, too furious, people. Most days, I was pretty much OK with this. Atleast this temporary career I’d agreed to was really working out. And I mean, the husband I picked was turning out to be even more amazing and Godly than I really even put in the plan. Not everything was bad. But everything was off course. Other days, other days I fought God with all my might. I fought dirty. I fought with weapons of deceit and worst of all, I pretended everything was fine. I pretended I was still in control.
2013. I’ve lost control. If this train has derailed, it has fallen off a bridge. Grasping for control, Chad and I sat in a cold waiting room. The coldest of waiting rooms. Pregnant bellies and smiley couples were scarce, but they’d walk through occasionally. Awkward glances and incessant clock checking was in abundance. After months of trying this and that, we had a decision to make. My ovaries sucked. What an ugly sentence to type, but plain and simple, here we were. Babies of our own weren’t never going to happen, but they were certainly never going to happen easily. IVF was the only chance. We couldn’t decide. We left the doctors office that day with no real words, lots of talk, but nothing much to say. We were numb. I was empty. IVF was such a great miracle for people we loved and respected, but my heart just couldn’t get on board. This was my chance to take back control, but really, I didn’t want it. All I wanted was for someone else to decide. My pen was down. I didn’t want to keep writing the story. My story sucked.
December 2013. Baby stuff on hold. We’ll think about it in January. The clinic doesn’t even start the process in December. Thank goodness, my heart, my brain, every part of me needed a break. A night with friends would be good. The Andrew Petersen Christmas concert would be even better. The best story ever, the story of Christ sung over me for 3 whole hours? That sounded great. The only problem was that pesky video they would show at intermission. The one about those Chinese orphan babies. The one with Steven Curtis Chapman and his whole adorable family, The perfect family, China dolls and all. I couldn’t sit through it. Not again. I remembered every frame from the last time I watched it . The year before when I sat in that same beautiful concert hall, the Ryman Auditorium, and choked back tears at the faces on the screen. The faces of those babies. Those babies without mommies and daddies. The ones who needed rooms. Rooms like the empty one we already called “the nursery.”I got up and went to the bathroom. I couldn’t watch that video again. I’d get some wine. Cheers to not being pregnant, right?
Walking to the car later, my friend Zach walked over next to me. Chad was a few steps ahead, not paying attention to our conversation. It was a great night. Great friends. Cute pics, the whole nine yards. The Friday night of dreams. Chad even wore candy-cane striped suspenders. He’d never been more awesome.
I wish I could remember Zach’s exact words as we walked towards our cars that night, but I can’t. It was all a flurry as we walked quickly in the cold December air. All I remember was the mention of those orphan babies. Something along the line of “don’t you want one, Katelyn?” I blew him off. I usually loved Zach’s “tell it like it is” style, but I wasn’t in the mood. My gate quickened to the car.
Saturday. Work. Always work on Saturdays. Stupid job. I came home and we had plans. December is exhausting like that. Sunday. Church. Jake preaching. We loved jake, we still do. We love our church with such a passion. More on that another day. Jake asked us to stand in honor of the reading of the Word. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27. I don’t remember much about the sermon. I remember wondering though what was going through Chad’s head. Was he even paying attention? Did he hear this?
After church we went to lunch. Brick’s cafe right across the street was a usual spot. Convenient and easy to get in and out quickly so I could be at work on time. Before the food was ordered Chad said, “so what did you think about that sermon?” Delighted it caught his attention too, I dove right in. I wanted to hear his thoughts. I wish I could remember every word of that conversation. I really wish someone had a video camera. I can’t wait to watch the footage in heaven, because what happened next changed everything. There was lunch. The conversation grew and got more serious. And then, both hands on the table, Chad said “let’s do this. Let’s go get our baby girl.” I cautioned myself a bit. Was he being serious. YES! I wanted to scream, but I wasn’t sure how serious this was. “Okaaaay, I said. Well if we were going to get her, where would we go?” He paused a moment. “Well, China, I guess. Those kids are so cute. That video the other night. Man. Haven’t you always wanted to do that anyway? Why not?”
I gathered my thoughts. A family was being seated right next to us. They were really close. We needed to hush this conversation to more of a whisper. I looked over as the hostess passed out their menus. A quick glance to make sure I didn’t know these people before I said any more. That’s when I saw them. Two beautiful Chinese girls, chatting with their “white” family, sitting as close as the tables could get and still fit a server between. I quickly returned my wide eyes to Chad. “Do you seeeee that?!” I whispered. “What are the odds of that?!”
Chad looked over towards the family and my eyes couldn’t resist. I had to look again. But this time, I stared. Two seconds felt like an hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Why did they all look so familiar? I didn’t know any families in town like this. Did I? I did. Not personally, but woah did I know those faces. I’d never seen them before in person, but I knew their story.
The concert. The video. The stupid/beautiful video I had to ignore. I’d seen those faces one year and 2 nights before on a screen in the Ryman Auditorium. Chad knew them too. And now they were sitting next to us. Right there. ” Yep.” I whispered. “That’s the Chapmans. The family from the video.” I had to leave. My heart pounding, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. “Ok, babe. Call me on your way home from work,” he said.
I drove to work in silence.
This is part where I wish I could make firework graphics explode on your computer, btw. Every way you imagine I felt on the ride to work that day, I felt it. I still feel so much of it typing these words almost 3 years later.
That was the day God picked up the pencil and took over this story. That was the day I truly started to believe, to know in my gut, I wasn’t in control. I quit worrying about the strong “no’s” that day. I’d heard a “yes,” and I wanted to run towards it. If you’d asked me before that day if I believed in signs, I would have said yes. I might have shrugged a bit though in my response. After that day, though, I will look you in the eye and assure you God loves to give us His “yes.” It is worth the wait. All the sales tactics and homemade billboard campaigns will never convince God to change his mind on the strong “no’s” for those He loves.
As you keep reading this story, I hope you’ll start to see a bit of yourself here. For my peace of mind if nothing else, I hope there are others of you who have spent days, weeks, or years trying to change God’s mind about something. I know I’m surely not alone. I hope you find comfort in knowing a “yes” will eventually come. In the meantime, I hope you can quit trying to figure out what the “yes” will be because your ideas probably suck. Mine did. Put the pen down.