Last weekend I went to a women's event at my church. The speaker was talking about some of the 'surprises' God has sent her way, and it got me thinking about some of the ways God has surprised me in the past.
Of course, there are the ongoing surprises like...God never seems to answer my prayers using any of the options I give Him. You know how it goes, "God will you please take care of this situation? You can either do Option A, B, or C. Which one do you think is best, God?" A little bit later, God shows up with Option XYZ, which, of course, wasn't on the list. Surprise! Who'd have thought God knew more about the possibilities than I did?
Some of my surprises have been like that. In fact, so many, that I'm kind of getting used to it. I still have a bad habit of giving God options, but I think I'm starting to learn that when I pray about things, God will likely answer me with something I never even thought of.
So, let's see. If I go back about 10 years, I'll find myself graduated from high school and ready to launch off to college. I had no idea where I was headed, what I was going to study, or how I was going to pay for any of it. I kind of made my way one semester at a time. Two years of community college on a full scholarship got me into a local 4 year school with decent scholarships. I chose that school because it was local and I could live at home (much cheaper), and study Nutrition, which I was interested in. However, I didn't like that after one quarter (paying all that tuition to wash dishes?), so I switched to Economics. Had I known I was going to study Economics, I would have gone to a much cheaper state school. But...two years later, I was applying to graduate schools (surprise! never thought of that before my senior year!). Next thing I knew I was being offered an assistantship (tuition AND a paycheck!) at some random college in southeastern PA called Lehigh. Hmmm. I didn't want to go there, I wanted to go to a school in Virginia that had a Public Policy major. Oh, well. It didn't make financial sense to turn it down. So, I packed up my car and off I went to what was a scary city to this country girl from rural NY. I didn't know a soul in the state.
After just 3 weeks, I visited a church down the street all by myself and met two fellow Lehigh students. One was the means of getting me into a Lehigh Christian group that did much to further my Christian walk as well as gave me wonderful friends and activities that I'd never had before. And, what do you know? That church has been my church family for 5 years, one of those fellow Lehigh students whom I met that first day is one of my dearest friends, and 3 years later, I married the other one! Surprise!
At 19, I thought I wanted to get married and have kids. There was no way I was ready for that (even had it been an option at the time- for a long time I was missing that essential ingredient called a 'man'). God knew He had a lot of work to do on me, although I didn't. My undergraduate degree gave me a good academic education and helped expand my mind. It also got me into Lehigh. The head of my department in my undergrad school had gone to school with the head of my department at Lehigh and put in a good word for me. I'm pretty sure that is what got me the position!
God knew I needed to move to a new place, meet new people, and find a good church. He orchestrated it all perfectly. He even got me a position in a second Master's program at Lehigh (the week before classes started!) which kept me there just long enough to turn my acquaintance with aforementioned young man from church and Lehigh into a whirlwind romance that had us dating and married all in a year's time! On top of that, even though I had always said I could never marry a younger man since it would just seem "weird", I married one that was not just a little younger than I, but nearly 5 years younger! Surprise! I got over the "weirdness". God wanted us together, so I had to. Ok, I WAS kind of love with him too, which helped...
Within two short months after our Christmas-time marriage...surprise! We were going to wait a year to have a kiddo. God had other plans. Ten months after our marriage we had a beautiful girl who is the joy of our lives. In those first ten months, we also had financial struggles, job loss, health insurance loss, a new job involving a career change, and a house hunt. That's not to mention the surprise of getting a girl when I was sure it was a boy, and having a C-section when I was planning a home-birth! Surprise, surprise, surprise!
I always wanted to live in the country. I love the outdoors and animals and thrive on open air, quiet, privacy, and space to roam. Surprise! God wanted me to learn to be content in other places. After a year and a half in our tiny apartment, we bought a house in the city. God was good, though, and gave us one that was not only affordable, but had a big yard, good neighbors, a great view, and more privacy and quiet than is the wont in a city neighborhood. The proximity to our church and community is what we need, and God was teaching us all kinds of things about trusting Him. He was maturing us.
And He still is (there is a long way to go!). What lies around the corner next? We don't know, but can't wait to find out! One thing is for sure, it likely is not any of the options I have in mind!