If you know me, then you are aware that I LOVE the desert. Its beauty is singular and magnetic from the heat, sand, lizards, muted colors, and prickles. I am captivated by the creativity and unusual life I find here. I can’t get enough.
My husband and I are on a road trip making a big loop from Dallas to Phoenix through California to Redding — where we are now. We will attend a marriage seminar for leaders. Later we will travel on to Yellowstone, Estes Park in Colorado, and Red River, NM. We are now talking about adding Kansas City to the mix. We are having so much fun.
After 15 years, our ministry board members gave us a three-month sabbatical. Right now we are only taking six or seven weeks. The main thing we want to do is have fun, relax, and not board a plane. I still hyper-ventilate if I pass an airport… but that’s another story and for another time… So far our road trip has been great and refreshing.
One morning while in Phoenix we decided to go to a local park for the usual daily walk. After making a few loops around the walkways provided for joggers and bikers, I spotted the playground. It was early so no children were hanging on the monkey bars yet. And I enjoyed something that I loved as a child: swinging. The air was cool and the morning bright as I pumped my legs, soaring up and up into the sky. The wind whipped my hair and face. I flew so high that I got dizzy and giddy. Really. And I kept going. Suddenly my childhood sprang to life!
A world of memories flooded my heart. Good ones — of simplicity, carefree living, dreaming, easy chores, friendships, and blustery days. For a few minutes, I landed back in Colorado where I grew up and found myself on my backyard swing set. I could see everything clearly in my mind’s eye as if it had happened yesterday — the smell of mown grass, the sand box behind me, the fragrance of roses around the fence, the clothesline pole with laundry gleaming in the sunshine, my dog, Red, barking, the sound of children laughing, Dad grilling hamburgers, and the picnic table on the back porch…
Those were tender days of sheer fun and preparation. Little did I know, just how far life would carry me. Often I blink my eyes in amazement…
A few memories popped up on that swing: In my parting counsel session with my counselor in high school, she suggested that I pursue a career of being a telephone operator. Ha. Yes, we had them in those days. That would have been short-lived.
Imagine? That was her highest goal for me according to my academic scores. I never did well in school. In fact, homeschooling was not popular then; but I probably would have really succeeded with book “larnin'” had I been taught in a different way, like home schooled or tutored. I didn’t grasp things like everyone else or move at the speed of my classmates.
As I sat in front of that counselor, I KNEW I wouldn’t become a telephone operator. I drew up plans from another kind of hope that was centered on God’s will for my life. I understood fully I was beloved of God, and He had amazing blueprints for my life.
I wanted to become a nurse and a missionary. And indeed, in time I did those things. Later, I married, adopted a daughter from Guatemala, served in leadership in a local church, and spent 15 years living abroad and traveling extensively as a missionary. I learned another language — even began to write poetry in Hebrew!
I began writing when we were sent out from our home in America because someone had to communicate with those in the church who believed in us and launched us into the deep. All that writing lead to more opportunities to write and eventually publish. It opened many doors.
Who would have imagined? My life has been 100 times better than I dreamed and a 1000 times better than my high school counselor designed for me!
I am so glad that I didn’t let her discourage me. I kept pushing higher, believing God had an eternal purpose for my life and giftings. When I think about it now, my whole academic experience as a child was a desert. I just wasn’t the kind of kid that thrived in public school. And I always felt beat down compared to others. I couldn’t rise above it in my actions, but my spirit did rise above in time.
Once I had a junior high counselor tell me that my IQ scores were average and that I didn’t need to bother to see her anymore because she was only interested in the above-average students. I remembering feeling so lost when that happened. And yet there was something deep in my heart that connected to God that kept dreaming and pushing upward. I felt I had purpose beyond the statistics and percentile brackets of school. I wanted to burst through those limitations. I wasn’t driven my academic achievement but by knowing and pleasing my heavenly Father.
Amazingly, I retook the IQ test as an adult and scored in the gifted range! I am not bragging on me, but God! He took an average, would-be telephone operator and used her life in a myriad of ways around the world. It has been a joy to serve those around me and a testimony to His power to change us.
My childhood was a desert, dry and prickly and barren; but it produced seeds that caused me to dream. It was also beautifully filled with rich colors and cool nights that allowed me to never quit dreaming and gave me great spiritual foundation to handle my life’s calling.
This trip during our sabbatical in the desert and a day in a playground has been healing for me, as I let go of painful childhood memories, as I forgive those that had low expectations of me. I am remembering the scripture in Hosea 2:14: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”
In this stage of life, I rejoice that many dreams have come true. And I am still pressing on for those that haven’t. I am also asking God for new dreams, new desires, to do and accomplish for Him and His kingdom things I can’t dream… things that are beyond my scope of understanding to imagine.
I wonder what healing situations and tender words the Lord will deposit in my life on our next stops of Yellowstone, and the amazing Rocky Mountains of Colorado… right now, though, I am going to enjoy northern California. The weather is 70 today.
Eat your heart out all you sweltering Texans!