Disclaimer to my sweet friends:  One of my favorite writers, Emily at “Chatting at the Sky“, posted an opportunity on her site for one blessed writer to obtain a scholarship to the annual “She Speaks” Conference in Concord, North Carolina by the wonderful Proverbs 31 organization led by the even-more-wonderful-and-uplifting, Lysa TerKeurst. (I think I might have just won a different contest for having the most links in one sentence…) I think most of you know of my dream to actually get this writing thing up and going but I recently discovered that I have a call to speaking as well.   Not to mention the fact that women’s ministry has just recently been placed on my heart.  Whew.   There is so much I have yet to learn so I am going to reach out of my comfort zone and just do it.  Yep.  Just do it.  Get me a Nike swoosh and set me free…Click here for more information about the incredible “She Speaks” Conference.

Unfolding.  Yes.  Unfolding.  That would be me.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon this T-shirt from  Wild Olive Tees and I stopped dead in my tracks.  For this, my dear friends, is exactly what is happening within the soul of this sister here who is typing.

And on the back?  One of my favorite verses:  Philippians 1:6 which tell us “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to  completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So hopeful.  So exciting.  What will be?  I don’t know about any of you but just the thought of the good work He is brewing in me is enough to increase my heart-rate and make me feel like I just might die of the anticipation (which, of course , would be incredibly ironic and counter-productive but still…).  What’s even better is the fact that He promises this to each and every one of us.

I don’t think it’s a big mystery that God works in, well…mysterious ways.  However, upon recent reflection of my story, it is clear that God has literally been chasing me – yelling my name, pruning my branches, drying my tears.   From the beginning.  Literally from conception.

I recently shared my faith journey, my testimony, with my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group.  When I was initially asked to consider this, way back in the fall, I first answered with “No.  I don’t think so.  Don’t think I can go there.”

The ever-gracious coordinator asked me to pray on it and I said I would.  Darn her.  I love her.  She has a way to make me move.

I immediately jumped in my mom van and as I was driving, I heard a loud and clear voice say “If not now, Natalie, when?”

Friends, I spent so long ignoring that voice that when I hear it loud and clear like this, I can’t silence it anymore.  Even when I want to do so.  Even when all I want to do is run the other way or make excuses as to why I can’t do what He is calling me to do.

I knew it was time.  Wasn’t it obvious?  If not now, when?

After a somewhat confusing childhood, I was ready to take on the world at the tender age of 21.  I had it figured out.  I knew how things worked and I knew the “plan” of where my life would be within five years.

However, as we all know, life just doesn’t always work out exactly how we had planned it to be.

At the age of 27,  I found myself rejected by a husband who chose his drug addiction over our marriage.  Almost bankrupt with the debt he left upon my shoulders.  And did I mention a father who was literally dying in the hospital at the same time?  Who had only been sober for the last six years of his life?

I was literally on my knees.  It was more than I could handle alone.

I cried out to God and begged Him to show His face to me.  Begged Him to teach me how to know Him.  Finally, just finally, I listened to the call of my name that I had repeatedly heard up to that point but chose to silence.

While this personal turmoil was overtaking my existence, my professional life was taking off.  In a way that was more than I could have ever imagined.

I had been an elementary teacher but was given the opportunity to leave the classroom for three years and focus on conducting training sessions in the area of literacy and science for fellow teachers.  I traveled the state and worked with over fifteen schools and well over 100 teachers.  Speaking in front of a group became “just another day at the office” for me.

While writing my testimony, I was awestruck by the several circumstances throughout my life that I now see as clear pursuits of God.  One of my life verses became Jeremiah 29:11 which says “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”  Soon after I discovered this hopeful verse, I found Romans 8:28:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”  He had a plan for me?  And it was good?

I started running.  I prayed.  I immersed myself in the Bible.  I met with a spiritual adviser.  I learned.  I reached up.  I found.

I met a boy.  We started to date.  I fell in love with him though I was slightly terrified by the idea of handing my heart over to him.

He proved to be worthy of that heart.  He still holds it.  Along with our three children.  He loves God first with me a close second and our babies next.  I am in continuous awe of that man.

That wonderful man has gifted me with the blessing to be home with our children as we raise them.  They are young.  I am tired.  However,  I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams and thankful even more.

And yet.  There is a spark within my soul, a voice I cannot silence anymore.  I am unfolding. I’m being called to something that I can’t ignore any longer.  He has been setting me up all along.  His plan has proven, in fact, to have been good.  The pieces that didn’t seem to fit together earlier in my life are now neatly arranged in the nice little jigsaw of an unmistakable call.

I’ve already ordered the shirt.  Should I be chosen as the “She Writes” scholarship recipient, I will be wearing it throughout the conference.

Maybe I better order another one.  Just in case.