Thanksgiving evening, as the excitement of the day began to quiet, we loaded empty platters into our car and headed for home. And tears began to surface.
Early the next morning I would be catching a flight to Toronto, a trip more than 6 months in the planning. I had received a lovely invitation to speak to women in an entirely different country. But when I had said yes, I never planned for this.
It all started about a weak earlier, when the 5 year old got sick. Days of fever and a nasty cough, it was nothing concerning, just the normal yuck we all seem to take our turn with every now and again. But then the kids started dropping like flies, each day another child joining the chorus with chills and coughing.
Watching the storm unfold and fully aware of my impending trip, my husband declared, “We either need to pray you get this sickness right now or not at all.” I should have made my opinion on that matter just a little clearer; I woke up the next morning with a fever.
There are far worse things than a fever though. Even while being laid up for a few days feeling pretty miserable, I was thankful, so thankful, to being getting this sickness out of the way before I had to leave town.
By Monday, my fever broke and with it, my voice.
Some people seem to be prone to losing their voice. Get sick, cheer too loudly at a football game and their vocal chords go on strike. I’m not that girl. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever really lost my voice.
Until now. Voice gone. But it was only Monday.
Tuesday I continued to feel better. Everything but my voice, that is.
Wednesday was much the same. I sent out a Thanksgiving e-mail to blog readers and made a simple request – please pray for my voice? The response of prayers and encouragement was so very generous.
But Thursday came and went. My time was running out. And if I spoke much above a whisper my voice would simply go silent.
What in the world, God?
This is just not how I wanted this to go.
Saying yes to Canada was a bit of a stretch for me. Granted, talking to women about living out a bold faith in Jesus Christ is kind of my wheel house, but jet-setting across the country is mostly not. I primarily type words in the dark hours and speak less frequently, more locally, as time allows.
But some beautiful women from Canada, blog readers, got brave and put their feet in the Jordan in the form of a women’s conference. They invited me to come and speak and my husband and I agreed we could make this work for our family.
So I planed well in advance to make Canada happen.
But you know what happens when you are a mom and all of your kids get sick, right? All of those kids wake up and wake you up in the middle of night. I am no longer in waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night shape, friends. I thought I graduated from that several years ago now.
And then when you get sick you stopping sleeping through the night yourself and prefer to do things like cough and think and cough some more and then you – the girl that wakes up at 5:00 am every morning no matter what – starts sleeping in until the kids wake up because you’re sick and tired and need sleep.
So this is where I found myself days before leaving for Canada. This, with no voice. Prime shape, no doubt. And so Thanksgiving night, I cried.
Because, why God? Did you really bring me to the desert to die?
That’s dumb, I know. It was dumb when the Israelites said it and it was dumb when I was thinking it, but still. I could break my arm and still get up on a stage and speak, but no voice – for 4 days no voice? There is just not much I can do with that.
And here is where we begin to see the cracks in me. The fissures in all my preparations and planning, the cracks in the very surface of my smooth framework of how I am going to pull all of this off.
But that isn’t really the point here, is it? Me pulling it off never was, never is, the point.
I lose sight all too easy, even in my brave stepping, and seize control of something that was never mine in the first place.
That is humbling, friends. Humbling and true.
It is fascinating how quickly I become Eve in that garden hungry for a little more knowledge, a little more control. God, I could be so helpful if I could just pull this all together for you.
My flesh lends itself to role reversal in ways I barely notice.
But really now, can’t a girl just please catch a break, because we all know I’m kind of a rookie here. I don’t do this every day. Homeschooling kids and writing are my gig. I can write with no voice – but this Canada thing we talked about, not so much.
So I cried. I thought I was being brave, stepping out of my comfort zone saying yes to this, but this here is not what I signed up for. I did not want to be this brave.
As I prayed through the tears, I thought of Peter walking on the water, the fear heavy, cutting and cold, so very near as he looked at all that surrounded him. And Jesus was bidding him, as he bids you and me, to keep walking.
Eyes on me, Katie. Keep walking.
You guys, brave is not always easy. In some ways it does get easier-er but I will never confuse easier with easy. Because faith is a battle some days.
So I got on the plane weak, believing that His power is made perfect in my weakness and knowing that I was serving up a heaping dose of weakness for Him to work with.
And I got your e-mails and texts from friends.
I’m praying for you, Katie. Praying for your voice. Believing God with you.
Bringing our people into our brave journey is such a gift for both us and them, friends. Working this out in community, the good and the hard and all the teary parts, grows us all in the process.
I took those prayers with me to Canada. I got on a plane and God never once left my side. That fragile voice, far from perfect, was strong enough to speak. The cough was silenced long to get the message across. And God taught me lessons that will last longer than the memories of Canada.
He doesn’t bring us to the desert to die, friend. Not the Israelites, not me, not you. He brings us to the desert so that we might know His faithfulness, know Him, like never before.
Our brave may be the impetus, but the power is always Him.
If you’re there right now, look again. Listen closely. He has promised He does not leave us, so hang on to those words tightly and keep stepping. He is nearer than you even know.
I’m blessed to walk alongside you in the journey.