PART I: Caught Between Two Worlds

 Me holding Bo at 4 days old.

Me holding Bo at 4 days old.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I remember having a baby doll glued to my hip from about the age of 5. My favorite doll was one of those shiver newborn babies from the early 90’s—it never shivered but I didn’t want my mom to return it to the store because I loved it so much—it was perfect to me. She was perfect to me. I named her Christy and Christy went wherever I went. Through my schools years and onto college I still dreamed of the cookie cutter life: husband, kids, nice house, nice things. I never had a specific passion or drive aside from being a mom and wife someday, but I developed a love for art in high school and never felt I was overly great at it but it was fun to me. I majored in Fine Arts right out of high school just because I knew I wanted to do something creative...just didn’t know what exactly. I spent my spring freshman semester abroad, studying in Caen, France; I was the first freshman from my university who had ever participated in the study abroad program. Upon my return from Europe, I transferred to art school in Charlotte, North Carolina to study Fashion Marketing and Management, thinking it’d be cool to work in the fashion industry because I always loved fashion. That lasted all of 7 months and I’m still paying for those short 7 months today, 12 years later. Lesson earned, right? When I dropped out of art school, I went and got my Associates in Paralegal Studies. Where that big career field jump came from is still a mystery to me but I was determined to finish school, albeit an associates degree, when I had spent enough time in school that I could have received a Bachelors, but whatever. I earned many degrees in the school of Lesson Learning and Life Living. Those "degrees" weren't always fun earning but they were experiences that were added into my book of life and have added to what made me who I am today. I made a lot of bad mistakes, I got caught up in an unhealthy relationship and so on, but by golly I worked while in college, lived on my own, and did was I set out to do—get a degree. I moved back to my hometown in South Carolina after I graduated and landed my first job at a law firm, and that is what I did for about 4 years, even after I moved here to New York. I had put art on the back burner and didn’t pick up a paint brush again until I moved back to South Carolina. It’s crazy how God works. I remember being in a season of loneliness and emptiness and I don’t know what prompted me to go and purchase some canvases but I did. I used the same brushes and paint that I had leftover from one of my college art classes and I just painted some random stuff. Nothing earth shatteringly amazing but it was just what was coming out of my head.

Eventually I moved here to New York where I continued to work in law and then the year after Rob and I got married, a job opportunity presented itself for me to be the assistant for a CEO of an internet startup company. The job was nothing like I had been led to believe but the company was, in a sense, graphic art-related and it helped pay the bills so I tried to ride it out as long as I could. I was pretty miserable there and extremely bored but I truly feel God had me there for a season to learn specific things and I don’t regret leaving law to go there. Being there got my creative juices flowing again and I started dreaming again—dreaming of much more than I could picture for myself but the dreams felt so real and there was a point that they were nagging at me. I felt trapped inside four walls, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer with my own dreams in my head and heart but having to do busy work for someone who I felt was unappreciative and wasn't using me to my potential.

However, in November of 2013 I went to a women’s retreat with my church and everything changed. It was the next-to-last day of the retreat and our guest speaker, Rita Springer, gave us homework for the day. I can’t remember what exactly the homework was but when we returned that evening after dinner, one of the women in our group, April, said she had heard a Word from God during her quiet time—it was a song that came to her and she didn’t quiet believe it was God speaking to her so she told God that if it was, to let her hear that song again. As she was walking up the back steps to the room our evening service was being held in, there was another church group having worship and they were playing the song she had had in her heart before. She shared this revelation with us and Rita led us into powerful worship. During worship, I remember screaming internally at God to speak to me. I wanted a revelation like he had given to April. I wanted to hear Him audibly. I wanted to know He was speaking to me. There were 3 areas in my life I was pleading with God about—I had been begging Him to get me back home to the South for 3 years by then and nothing was panning out to allow us to move, Rob and I had been trying to get pregnant for more than a year before that retreat and it had come down to me having to decide to start taking medication in order to conceive, and the last thing was that I hated my job and was feeling the pull to quit and pursue my passion of art and creating things. I continued to scream and beg God inside to speak to me during worship that night, “God please, I’m begging you to speak to me! Talk to me!! Give me a sign, SOMETHING!” During my begging session with God, I began to sing the song “Great is thy faithfulness” and I remember asking Him to let me hear it if I was to quit my job. I know, sounds silly, but I was so desperate to hear from Him and know that it was Him, not myself in my mind. I also prayed about getting me out of New York and getting pregnant; when I prayed about the latter, I remember an audible male's voice inside saying, "just a little longer...just wait a little longer." Rita never played the song that night but at some point she started calling out things and speaking over people. She specifically prayed for barren wombs and I lost it. My knees hit the floor quicker than I could realize what was happening and my sister-in-law, Bree was beside me, consoling me because she knew what was happening. I felt heartbroken but also victorious because I think that was the first time in my life that I felt like I had a true; divine appointment with God—that He had a Word specifically for me. I went back to my room that night and got Rob on the phone and told him that I wasn’t going to start the meds that the doctor had recommended I go on to try and conceive. He supported my decision and said, "if God said not to, then I'm not going against that." The next morning was our last morning of the conference and I was still on fire from the night before. Rita had brought a friend, Lisa Corley, who spoke that final morning at the retreat on fear and being catalyzed with fear. She delivered a powerful Word and I left that conference room feeling uplifted and ready for battle. Bree and I had driven together that weekend so after we packed up all of our things and got ready to head back to New York, we decided to pop in to the bookstore they had on the grounds of the place where the retreat was held at. It was a Christian retreat place so we thought we’d be able to find a little momento to bring home from our weekend away. I brought home a lot more than that. We walked in to the little bookstore and the first little trinket I walked into said, “Great is thy faithfulness”. My jaw dropped, my eyes probably bugged out of my head and I stood speechless for a second before brushing the thought away about my begging session with God the night before, I continued to browse the merchandise only to see, “Great is Thy faithfulness” over and over again on more signs and items. I had shared with Bree all that happened the night before so she knew about me asking God to let me hear, “Great is Thy faithfulness”—she was tripped out as much as I was when I grabbed her and reminded her of the song. I purchased a few things and left that little bookstore in Po-Dunk Pennsylvania, feeling on Cloud 9. That was November 17, 2013.

I got home and told Rob all about the retreat and my revelations God had showed me, including the fact that I felt He was telling me to quit my job. Rob was skeptical but supportive and we sat down to go over finances that week—he said that if it was truly God’s Will, we would be ok and he requested that I wait until the new year to put in my notice at work.

On the night before Thanksgiving, almost two weeks after I returned from the retreat, we were heading off the island to North Carolina to be with my family for the holiday and we totaled our truck. Like BAD totaled. As in got clipped by an 18-wheeler on the LIE (I-495) in the pouring rain, spun around, hit a guardrail and bouncing back into oncoming traffic. God was all over us that night. My father-in-law came and got us, took us to LaGuardia airport, we got a rental car and still made it to North Carolina in time for Thanksgiving turkey. About 3 weeks later, we found out I was pregnant with our first child, not knowing that I was likely very very early pregnant when we totaled the truck that night. Not knowing that as Rita Springer sang and spoke on barren wombs to be opened, that she truly was speaking over me. A few weeks after we found out I was pregnant, I quit my job and within two weeks of quitting my job, Rob essentially was laid off of work. I went from Cloud 9 to, “ummmm what just happened?!” I knew God was the One orchestrating the miracles and the calling, but I didn’t know what in the world was going on when Rob came home and said, “there’s no work for a few months”. Any other time I would be in straight panic mode, feeling like I had to fix the issue but I had an overwhelming peace. We were strapped tight financially and for about a month or two, resorted to Food Stamps and WIC. Talk about a humbling reality check! I remember Rob handing me a $100 bill one day and saying, “this is for groceries, make it stretch. It's all we've got.” He was able to find work with a local mechanic, getting paid cash under the table so we could pay the bills and I was steady creating stuff for my little Etsy store. God was so FAITHFUL during that time. By March of that year Rob was back working construction and I continued to do custom orders for people I knew as well as sales here and there on Etsy. We no longer needed assistance and we began to get ready for the arrival of our first child. On August 20, 2014, our son, Bo was born. He was and still is one of the greatest blessings in our life and is truly an answered prayer. 

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