The many roads it took to get here

One day long ago I dreamed of being a travel nurse. We were just wed, two nurses, we had adoption paperwork in process and we dreamed of apartments in far away cities; burn and trauma units, children laying in beds under those city lights waiting for our hands, our hearts.

I was up in a deer stand in Minnesota when I felt the Spirit's nudge. I prayed for our first child, whoever he or she was, prayed a long list of dreams and hopes and fears. Six weeks later, I stared down at a miraculously positive pregnancy test. It was the second I'd seen this in 3 months, me with the undeveloped eggs and the atrophied Fallopian tubes and the low hormone levels. I, the infertile myrtle. My husband with the similar diagnosis. How could we conceive twice in 3 months of marriage? Would this baby disappear into the dark shadows of the ultrasound screen like the first had? I turned around to face the toilet, and vomited bile.

We chose the spot, we dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground to have and hold

As Autumn falls to Winters sleep
We pray that somehow in the Spring
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn
~from Planting Trees, Andrew Peterson~

There was no disappearing, and my first baby emerged from my body 2 weeks late and shocking in her awareness and hunger. She pushed up on her tiny fists while lying on her father's chest that first night, her eyes wide and black, as if she were memorizing every detail of his features. In that instant, every dream I'd ever had disappeared into the hormonal mist and this babe became the entirety of my world.

A brief 18 months later, she was toddling and captivating everyone with her adult vocabulary, starting almost all her sentences with "Actually..." And on a cold and bright March afternoon, her sister arrived black-haired and rosy-lipped. I would look at them, sleeping together in the afternoon, their heads sweaty and covered in curls, and they were at once totally foreign and wholly familiar. 

The third and fourth came just as quickly. We had grown used to the fact that the doctors were wrong, and we would produce children by the grace of God, and our world revolved around them, the diapers, the nursing, the bonds like iron bands holding the barrel of our family tighter than any dreams could have.

But I still dreamed. The microscopic visions of motherhood burned my eyes by then, and I squeezed them shut and imagined telescopes into the universe and periscopes up from the underwater grave of home. 

I could hear the highway song

I dreamed that I was
A world traveler
Set me loose to find my way
Just get me out on the road someday
With my sails unfurled
So many mysteries
I wanted to unravel
If I could travel the world
~World Traveler, Andrew Peterson~

I was on two roads, one part of me home with my children and the other on a highway of longing for grand adventure. The distant cities still glittered in my imagination. The mystery was this tether in my heart, the tangle of four of the "least of these" planted right in the very fibers of my being.

Night is falling on a foreign sky
And distant cities are breathing out 
The lights, tangled on a long thin line
Like diamonds shattered on the ground
And the lights call out from distant cities

You come alive, like a melody
And you shine you shine, brighter than a new day
And I sing along, into the mystery
As the lights call out from distant cities

The tears, filling up my empty eyes
Pour like shadows on the ground
What found me here spreads across a million miles
Breaks the gallows, lifts the shroud
As the lights call out

I was looking for emotional reasons to link me to the life God had given me. But what lay before me was choices, a million tiny decisions. I learned, in that season struggling to stay home,while forcing myself, teeth gritted tight, to keep my focus square on the life God had blessed me with, was the call-and-response of living for Jesus. He calls, yes - but that call is not always an explosion of brilliance that triggers a tidal wave of love from my heart to His. Sometimes it was just a tiny whisper behind me, "This is the way. Walk in it." My response was not often a heart on fire, but simply a soul willing to put the next footstep down on the path He'd laid before me.

As I kept walking forward on what seemed like a dimly lit, poorly marked path, the emotions followed. The heart follows the mind sometimes. The tidal wave of love I heard about in worship songs and testimonies wasn't my experience. It was a soft turning, a quiet and gentle creeping up in the throat. 

Now the world turns again, and dreams and duties co-exist. I am no longer on a divided highway, pulled between east and west. As surely as I kept stepping forward, He bridged the gap between the desires of my heart and the portion of my life.

If you'll step inside this great glass elevator
It'll take us up above the city lights
To where the planet curves away to the equator
I want to show you something fine

You can see the roads that we all traveled just to get here
A million minuscule decisions in a line
Why they brought us to this moment isn't clear

Could it be that the many roads
You took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story
And for you to hear this song
And your many hopes
And your many fears
Were meant to bring you here all along

How I love to watch you listen to the music
'Cause you sing to me a music of your own
As I cast out all these lines, so afraid that I will find
I am alone, all alone

Could it be that the many roads
I took to get here
Were just for you to tell that story
And for me to hear that song
And my many hopes
And my many fears
Were meant to bring me here all along
We were meant to be right here all along
~Many Roads, Andrew Peterson~

Is there a disconnect between your dreams and your reality? Do you struggle to hear and respond to God's call in your life? Have courage, and take the next step. Someday, like me, you will step into the clearing and that crooked path behind you will be but a memory, for a time.

Photos today from the irrepressible Amelia.

The Hollie Rogue