After a rainy day yesterday, God painted the most amazing masterpiece in the sky at sunset. Just another sign from Him that if we can endure the rain, beautiful things are to come.
WARNING: This post is long—but it is a story worth telling.
“God is in control.”
“You just have to have faith.”
“Everything happens for a reason.”
How many times have we said those words? Did we believe them? Like really, truly believe them? Or were we just trying to convince someone—ourselves or others—that something better was ahead?
So many times we pray for God’s will, but more often then not what we really mean is, “God, please let MY WANT be YOUR WILL.”
I first heard the song “Glorious Unfolding” by Steven Curtis Chapman in August 2014. As I listened to the lyrics and thought about the adventures and opportunities my family had been given, I just knew the song was a sign. I knew God had big plans for my life.
However, my prediction of His plans and the reality of them were completely different. If you listen to the lyrics, you will find that nowhere in the song does Chapman sing, “All the exciting things in your life are happening right now in this very moment.” Nope, not at all. What he says is:
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you WAIT AND SEE and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
Wait and see. WAIT and see. God was telling me to wait. If you don’t already know, I am not the most patient person in the world. And when what I thought God had planned for my family during that time didn’t work out, I was devastated. I was numb. Why would He build our hopes up just to let them come crashing down? For the first time in my life, I felt angry at God. But He wasn’t at fault. He was just letting his plan unfold. I was the one to blame. I didn’t “just wait and see” what His plan was. I wanted instant gratification.
His plan for my life during that time included buying a house in a wonderful neighborhood. It was the house next door to someone whom I now consider a dear friend. It was the house with the sidewalk on which Emma Claire would learn to ride her bike. It was the house that we brought our second-born home to, making Team Martin a family of four. It was a house that was part of God’s plan. I listened more to the beginning of Chapman’s song:
Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
I finally felt peace in my heart and gave up on trying to figure out what God’s plan was for my life. And that’s when He showed me.
Late last fall I received a phone call from a former boss about an opportunity at The University of Alabama. Not only was it an amazing opportunity for my career, but it was for one of the best, most elite institutions in the country.
“Do you think we would ever move to Tuscaloosa?” I asked Chris. Outside of our experiences at a few Alabama football games in college, neither of us knew much about T-Town. What we did know was that we were both ready for a new adventure, even if it wasn’t in Hattiesburg. We decided to spend a weekend in Tuscaloosa and explore the area—and we immediately fell in love with it. As we got in the car to head back home, we both looked at each other and knew this was it.
“So…are we jumping in?” Chris asked.
“With both feet.” I replied.
Chris and I prayed together daily that God would guide us on this journey and if it was part of His plan that He would show us with clear signs.
The first sign came into view just before Christmas when after a few rounds of interviews, I was offered the position of Director of Communications for Advancement at The University of Alabama.
We kept our news a secret because Chris had yet to find a job. Our plan was for me to stay in Tuscaloosa during the week while Chris took care of the girls, leaving me only the weekends to be with my family.
Once we started telling people, the questions started popping up.
“What about Chris? What will he do?”
“What about the girls? Where will they go to school? How will Emma Claire feel about leaving her friends?”
“But aren’t both sets of your parents here? Why would you leave when you have such great help? Will you be ok without having them there?”
“But didn’t you just buy your house? Will you be able to sell it quickly enough?”
More often than not my answer was, “I don’t know.” Because I don’t. I don’t know how this will all come together. I don’t know how we will transition our family from one state to another. I don’t know anything about schools or neighborhoods or babysitters in the area. But you know who does? God. God knows His plans for my life. And there is no point in me trying to figure it all out. I just have to have faith.
HAVE FAITH. That is so much easier said than done. It is so hard to trust God when we can’t see the road ahead. But His timing is impeccable, and when it happens it is simply amazing! Things fall into place because it is HIS plan. I have learned that even if I think I know how my life should go but the pieces don’t seem to fit just right, it’s because I am trying to control the plan. I’ve got to stop trying to put a square peg in a round hole! It just. won’t. work.
We were so afraid to tell EC about the move. But kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for. I researched how to break the news to her, ways to explain the move and tried to find books to help her make the transition. And it was all a waste of time. Because instead of following advice from the internet, I decided to listen to my girlfriends and my gut instinct and tell her all about the exciting adventure our family could go on together. Her reaction stunned us.
“Wait, wait, wait. Are we moving to a different neighborhood in this town or a different town?”
“A different town,” we said.
“So you are both still going to use your same talents? You know, talents are magical things God gives you to help you be good at stuff. So Daddy, you’re still going to use your talents to be a boss? And Mommy, you’re still going to use your talents to be like creative and stuff? But you’ll both just be at new jobs and we will live in a new town?”
As we picked our jaws up off the floor we both managed to utter, “Yes.”
“Ok,” she said.
And that was that. No tears. No fits. She just needed a simple explanation of what was going to happen. After that, she was ready to learn all about her new town and the exciting things she could do on this family adventure.
I have learned a lot through this process of transition. And one of the biggest things I have learned is that people are there for you, no matter what. There’s always somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody. This past fall I read the book by Bob Beaudine called The Power of Who. And I have seen my “who” coming through for me in greater ways than I ever thought possible!
The Thursday night before I started my new job, Chris got a random phone call from a GI doctor in Tuscaloosa. A friend of ours who lives in T-town is friends with the doctor’s wife. Several weeks ago, she told him about Chris and gave him his resume. He put the resume aside because he didn’t have any leads for a job at that time. But on Wednesday the lead administrator of his private practice turned in her notice. The doctor found Chris’ resume and called him the next night. The similarities of his practice to the clinic Chris manages now are strikingly similar. Chris told the doctor we would be in town that weekend. The doctor said he would get the doctors from his practice to come in to the office to meet with Chris on Saturday. He met with them that morning, which was followed by lunch and a tour of the surgery center. It went GREAT! Chris said they are a really good group of doctors and very personable. He just couldn’t believe how great of a fit it would be. He figured it would be a few days before he heard from them. However, he got a call from one of the doctors THAT NIGHT and was offered the job! Our heads are still spinning at how this big piece of the puzzle fell into place in just 48 hours. Thankfully, our time apart has an ending that is closer than we hoped.
I will admit, moving is nothing without the stress. And while I wish I could fast forward to the part where we have a house, the girls are settled into school and we are both fully accustomed to our new jobs and the new town, I know that that’s not how God intended it. The steps we must take are all part of how God wants this journey to unfold. As Chapman sings:
This is just the beginning of the beginning
Goodbyes—tough as they may be—are part of the journey. But so are introductions to new friends.
The unknown—as scary as it may be—is part of the journey. But so is being willing to put our future in God’s hands.
Packing up our house—as undesirable as it may be—is part of the journey. But so is finding a new home with new places to put everything.
There have been points in this journey where I had no idea how things were going to work out. Until Chris received that phone call, we had no clue how long we would be apart. But you can’t embrace what God has planned for you unless you are willing to take a leap of faith. Sometimes the leap is a baby step, and sometimes it may feel like you’re jumping off a cliff. But no matter how great or small the leap, God will always be there to catch you if you let Him. And as you open your eyes and let your fear turn into faith, you will see the glorious unfolding of His perfectly orchestrated plan.
PS—I am one week in and loving the new job! I miss my crew like crazy and can’t wait for them to be here. Chris is doing a ridiculously amazing job of taking care of EC and Ellie while I’m away during the week. Saying goodbye to them on Sundays is awful, but thankfully the end of our separation is in sight!