For the most part, the callings on my life have been quiet.

One calling has often led to another. Like heading down a quiet side street can lead to the same destination as the busiest intersection, the Lord knew I needed the scenic route.  Had my life path been straight down a big thoroughfare, I would have missed too many wonderful side streets, beautiful views, and quirky corners.

The quiet calling, like a quiet street, prepared me for some surprising views. It reminds me of the first time I went to Paris. Having just graduated from college, my friend and I haphazardly booked a hostel from the train station. Taking the Metro, we exited what we hoped was the correct route to the hostel. We walked up the stairs and were surprised to see the Eiffel Tower perched before us.

Traveling off the beaten path led to the main attraction almost by accident. It leads me to believe God enjoys surprising us in wonderful ways.

I look back and I see how one quiet calling led to another, often mixed with the desires of my heart. There was no way to know that my calling as a counselor, wife, and artist would one day lead me to loving the beautiful girl who found her way into my heart and our home…

A few months after my husband and I got married, we moved from Denver to Greeley, Colorado. While Greeley was never my destination of choice (known for its cow stench- supposedly the smell of money), it quickly became clear that this was the city where God was calling us. We had prayed for clarity, and my husband Heath’s only job offer came from a school called Heath Middle School. That felt pretty clear.

A few months after moving we became connected to a wonderful church. I remember sitting in the light filled balcony of the old sanctuary with tears in my eyes and a quiet, deep knowing in my heart. This was where we were supposed to be. A quiet calling.

After leaving a counseling job at a wonderful non-profit in Denver, I was searching for a job in Greeley. I eventually started a private practice in town, focusing on grief counseling. I enjoyed it more than I thought and began to incorporate art into my therapy practices. More quiet calling.

One thing led to another as we got involved at the church. I went from Bible study attendee to Bible study leader.  And then a friend and I began leading spiritual formation groups and retreats. Having attended seminary for both a counseling degree and a spiritual formation degree, my heart was joyful as I was living these pieces of my calling.

To my surprise, I was asked to be an elder of the church. I had never felt qualified, or old enough, but I found myself sitting in the company of a respected and wonderful group of men and women. On one particular night, a Monday to be exact, the elders wrapped up our meeting with the news of a mother and daughter in our congregation. The mother had been hospitalized and her sweet daughter needed a temporary home. The pastors hoped to approach a few families about taking her in. My heart beat quickly with a deep knowing burning inside. I came home to talk to my husband, and by Thursday of that week we were the foster parents of a seven year old.

The quiet calling to be a mom had been buried in my heart and uncertain for months. When this decision arose, we found we had no reason to say no. But the calling to say “yes,” to become foster parents, was quiet and clear. Although maybe a bit terrifying.

The entrance of this sweet girl into our lives woke up the desires of my heart. Stella quickly made herself at home. One of Heath’s favorite stories is coming home from work the day she arrived and having a Nerf gun war by way of introduction. She has been an energetic bundle of joy ever since!

I looked back in my journal, and just a few months before this happened, I had been praying for a child. My heart’s prayer was specifically for a blonde hair, blue eyed, little girl whose hair I could braid. I had something specific in mind, expecting a baby. But God’s plan was even more specific. This daughter was not just a child to dream about, but one I already knew, who at that time was facing some of the most difficult circumstances a child can endure.

My heart often grieves for all that my daughter has gone through. While it hasn’t prepared me fully, I’m thankful for my earlier calling as a counselor and my husband’s as a teacher. This has given us a tiny road map to navigate the twists and turns of foster care, lots of transitions, big emotions, deep grief over her mom’s death one year later, and eventually our adoption.

When I watch Stella, sometimes I see her mom’s smile or animated expressions. Other times I see her sincerity in an apology that we try to example (we have a lot to apologize for at our house). But mostly, I see the daughter the Lord called by name, calling her His, and placing her in our care. We have been called to a lot of things, but for now, with the Lord’s help, we are called to be Stella’s parents. We are the ones she now calls Mom and Dad. What blessed names and a holy calling. Lord, have mercy, because we need all the help we can get.

Our daughter is indeed blonde haired and blue eyed. Most mornings she asks me to braid her hair before school. She is a girl with quiet fears, huge smiles, a joyful spirit, and a caring heart. We’ll have less time than most parents before we send her to college, finding her own callings, her own paths, and hopefully a trip to the Eiffel Tower. She reminds me weekly that she wants to go to Paris!

Looking up and being surprised when we stumbled upon the Eiffel Tower is much how I feel about becoming a mom. I had hoped for it. I attempted, but failed to plan for it my way. And yet, I was surprised how it happened and how much joy it continues to bring.

I don’t know why the Lord chose me to be Stella’s second mom, but I am so very thankful He called.

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