The other day, I saw the most beautiful dragonfly buzzing around our front door. Dragonflies. I love them. In Japan, they are called tombo and serve as a symbol of good luck.
This vision of a tombo in my front yard brought back memories. As a college student, I longed to travel. And my heart has always been fascinated by France. The people. The food. The gorgeous language and scenery. I wanted to study there. But despite my greatest efforts, I could never pull the funds together. I was frustrated and discouraged.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
One day, at the end of a political science class, my professor called me to his desk. And right there, an opportunity I could never have imagined changed my life forever. I could go to Japan to study in a university on a full scholarship through the Japanese embassy! The day I turned in my application, a dragonfly or tombo was hanging about my front door. I knew that day that I was going to get my scholarship! The two years I spent in Japan were some of the happiest in my life and truly blessed me. And that provided a valuable lesson to me. Sometimes when God says "No" it is because He has greater plans for us. Plans we could never imagine.
There was a time early in my career when I was laid off and couldn't see past my tears and feelings of embarrassment. I'd considered that company like family and worked until the wee hours of the mornings, invested in its financial success. But despite my feelings of defeat, what followed was a completely new career that took me around the world and to my beloved France for the very first time!
God said "No" to many a college boy that I tried to mold into my idea of husband material. But at the age of 35, after 5.5 years of dating, He (ok, can I say "finally"?) married me to my best friend. A lad from Ireland that I met in Colorado of all places just one month after we were both transferred there for our jobs!
God said "No" when I cried out for a baby. I cried when I couldn't get pregnant. I cried through miscarriages. And I cried through a cruel ectopic pregnancy that had to be terminated. But on the eve of Isla's first birthday and just eleven days from Teagan's third birthday, I can say my babies were worth every tear and moment of waiting. I didn't become a mom the way I imagined. Instead, God brought me to my knees and back to Him. To depend on Him and His timing. And in the process, He taught me how to appreciate every single moment of my motherhood. Even the sticky, poopy, frazzled, vomit-filled days full of no sleep (all of which I've had in the past 24 hours)...because they are precious.
Now when I pray over a big request or decision we have, I imagine a stoplight, an idea given to me by a pastor in a sermon I never forgot. Red. Yellow. Green. You see, sometimes God's answer is "No" and sometimes it's "Not right now." Sometimes it's "Go. All the way. Go for it!" And sometimes? If we are lucky? It's something we've never even thought to ask for. Something "Wonderous" as our Poppie would say. Something magical. And it feels so right.
I know there are also more serious decisions, painful decisions and I don't want to dismiss them. I only intend to offer hope with this post. Is there something you are praying for today? It would be my privilege and honor to pray for you and your family. Please leave a comment below. Or if you would like more privacy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, let us say this prayer together:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and wisdom. Thank you for seeing a big, brighter and more brilliant plan than we could ever imagine possible. Comfort us in our disappointment. Soften our hearts and have us turn to you with patience and gratitude, assured that you have great plans in store for us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.