January 7, 2015. It was my thirty-third birthday and I had officially been divorced for four days. Divorced. Ugh. Never in a million years did I think that word would be associated with my name. And yet, after years of separation the finalizing of papers was not a shock, but a relief.
I was living in Virginia and had been for nearly a decade. A former Air Force officer, turned full-time missionary, turned business owner, I loved my coaching clients and the consulting I was doing. But I was ready for a change. With no husband, kids or traditional desk job, I was free to move on with my life though I had no idea what that was going to look like.
On that cold January day, I received a package in the mail from a dear friend from college. Melissa sent me a book for my birthday – one that a friend of hers had written – and one she was sure I would love.
I opened the cover to Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer and browsed the table of contents. It looked like something that was written just for me – a recovering perfectionist, overachieving Type-A woman who sincerely wants to change the world. But something told me it wasn’t the right time to read it. Not yet. So, I put it in the “books I’m going to read someday” pile and didn’t think much more of it.
Fast forward six months. It was August and I was living with my good friend and new business partner, Natalie. Both recently divorced we were hoping to take our consulting business to the next level and thought Dallas was the place to be. Booming economy, lots of opportunities and a strong Christian community – not to mention that I had several friends and an aunt and uncle in town. And yet, nothing seemed to be lining up. There was uncertainty, unforeseen roadblocks and I swear, we could not find a single house on Zillow within our budget and in a good location that was okay with Natalie’s two dogs.
I felt stuck, frustrated and convicted that God was trying to get my attention. I needed perspective…inspiration…something! Maybe a good book? I walked into the office and stared at my piles of books. My eye was immediately drawn to the pink one. I picked it up and held it in my hands for a few seconds as I gazed at the front cover. It felt right. I can’t explain why, just that I knew. This was the book.
“Natalie,” I said, as I walked back into the living room, “I feel like I’m supposed to read this book. It’s a 31-day devotional. Want to do it with me?”
She nodded. We both felt God asking us to be intentional about praying and seeking His will for our lives and we decided to jump in with both feet. Within the hour it was settled. We would take the next month to fast and pray. We’d do the devotional together each morning, abstain completely from alcohol and television and once a week we’d fast from food during the day.
To fully describe what happened next requires a novel, not a blog post. But here’s the short version: At the end of 31 days of being challenged, convicted, inspired and encouraged by the daily devotionals, it was clear where God was calling us…a trip around the world. Within two days we found a couple to rent Natalie’s house fully furnished. We spent the next month going through our personal stuff, hosting a garage sale (NEVER again), putting the rest of our stuff in a small storage unit, cashing out our retirements, and preparing for the trip of a life-time.
I left Virginia Sept 30, 2015 and drove through Alabama to see my parents and then to New Orleans to see my sister and her family on my way to Dallas. Natalie met me there. We left my car and continued our road trip across the country in hers with the dogs in tow. We spent the winter months in a small house we rented on the Pacific ocean in Mexico – about an hour south of San Diego.
During that time we wrapped up our work commitments, got our affairs in order (Natalie’s Mom would watch the dogs, my parents would handle my mail, etc) read tons of blogs, purchased backpacks, and obsessed about what to bring on a trip around the world. Confession: we did have a blow dryer, hair straightener, makeup and jewelry. I was all about being a world-traveling badass…I just didn’t want to look like a vagabond in the process.
February 6, 2016, we arrived at the San Diego airport. We had no idea where God would lead us on what we had dubbed, “The Great Enlivening,” but we had a one-way plane ticket to Buenos Aires, stuffed backpacks, yoga mats, a two-night hostel reservation and a sprit of adventure.
Over the next five months we visited 17 countries as we completely circumnavigated the globe. We saw unbelievable things, prayed, laughed, cried, grew, journaled, enjoyed some romance, healed and met amazing people as we documented our travels through a weekly blog, http://www.thegreatenlivening.com
When I returned to the States I spent some time with my family. Natalie felt led to move to Phoenix and I felt God calling me to move to Dallas…finally! On September 1, 2016, I packed everything I own in my Acura MDX and arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house in Coppell with no clear plan but complete assurance that I was here for a reason.
Since then I’ve been divinely connected to phenomenal people and I just started working part-time for a wonderful nonprofit, 4word. Yay!
One of the women I met through 4word is an amazing woman named Allison. We were grabbing coffee back in November and getting to know each other. I was telling her about my new job, and plans to move closer to the city by March.
As we chatted, I mentioned that I was looking to publish the book manuscript I wrote three years ago, “Hope: Choosing to Dance Through the Storms of Life.”
“You need to publish that book,” Allison encouraged. “And once you do, we should host a book study. I already know someone that I think would love your book,” she told me. “Her name is Jenn Sprinkle.”
“Wait, a minute….I know that name. How did I know that name?”
I rack my brain and then I remember, “She wrote a book about dreaming and doing, didn’t she?”
Allison nods and I’m speechless. “Allison, that book changed my life.”
I tell her the story and by the end we both have tears in our eyes. “So, as you can see,” I conclude, “I definitely want to meet Jenn!”
As luck, or God, would have it, we end up meeting…on New Year’s Eve. That’s me next to Jenn ringing in the New Year!
I used to say it’s a small world, but I know otherwise. God just connects you with the right people at the right time. What a gift it was to meet the woman whose book was the catalyst for such a positive change my life! And if you haven’t read Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer yet, you should! You might not be led to take a trip around the globe, but you’ll be challenged and inspired to live a more purposeful and passionate live as you pursue your dreams.
I still don’t know exactly what God has in store for me here in Dallas. Will I get remarried? Have a family? Truthfully, I have no idea. But then again who does? I’ve never known God to give us the “strategic plan for our lives,” as much as I’ve wanted it at times.
What I do know, as I continue this journey called life, is that I am beyond blessed and so grateful for the unexpected path and people that have led me to this place at this time.
And also that as long as I keep following Him, and dreaming and doing, I’m in store for one incredible ride.
Is there a dreamer or doer in your life that could use some love and prayer this Valentine’s Day?