when god wrote us a new story {part 2}

::: yesterday i wrote on telling your story.  this is our story.  this is what it looked like for us.  Sometimes when God moves, He is obvious, and just maybe this will help you to pay attention and notice his footprints over your world :::

Right now we have been married for 9 years.  We live in Colorado close to both of our families while my husband ran a non-profit Christian organization in our town.

But years 0-6 were spent in the military.  Several of those years we spent with the Ranger Regiment.  Those were very significant, very formative years for us.  Camaraderie, adventure, and growth all in the midst of goodbyes, difficult realities, and war.

We made a very intentional, very well-thought-out, prayed-over, and final decision to get out of the military to begin our family, to get out of the heartache, and get closer to family.

Back in December of 2012 {once Lane was out of the Army and we were settled in civilian Colorado life}, Lane’s Army buddy Dan was getting married at West Point in New York.  Dan was a 3rd Ranger Battalion friend; Lane’s most significant friend while at Battalion for many reasons.  When we had the conversation of whether we travel across the country for his wedding or not, it wasn’t really a conversation: we were going.

The wedding was beautiful: Military ceremony, Dan and his groomsmen were in their dress uniform, the couple exited the chapel through a saber arch, several of Lane’s Battalion buddies were in attendance.

military life

There was a long space between the wedding ceremony and the reception so Lane and I decided to go out to eat to pass the time.

While sitting at the Chinese restaurant right outside of the West Point entrance, I decided to ask Lane a question.  A harmless question, really.  Just one to pass the time and be a conversation starter between the two of us.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic for our military days after all of the pomp of this beautiful ceremony.  Was he?

West Point wedding ceremony
“Lane, do you ever think about going back into the military?”

{We had never talked about going back in, this was just to have something to talk about over lunch.  Because, you see, we did not want to be back in the Army – we lived near our families, we had a family of our own, we did not want to sign up for any more goodbyes. You see, this was not in our plans AT ALL.  It was just a conversation.}

“Well, it’s funny you would ask that.”

And my heart stopped for a quick second.

It turns out that he had been thinking about going back into the military that day.  He did appreciate being back in the military culture and he too was feeling a bit nostalgic for the life and the culture that had been so formative for us and that he did love so deeply.  And over the course of that lunch conversation, we talked about what being back in the military would look like.

He said that the only way he would imagine being back in the military would be as an Army Chaplain.

And the longer we talked, the deeper this sense washed over me.  In the pit of my stomach, in the bottom of my heart, I knew that this very conversation would be a hinge on which the rest of our life turned.  I knew that this would be a conversation that I would remember for a very, very long time.  My gut, my intuition, my discerning heart right then told me to pay attention… big things were happening.

And we chatted for quite awhile about what being a Chaplain might look like.

And it ended there.

We attended the reception, sitting at a table of fellow military people, most of whom we didn’t know.  As the small-talk and get-to-know-you chatting began, they asked Lane his story.  He told them that he was currently out of the Army but was running a Christian ministry in our town.

The young Army veteran sitting next to us asked Lane the question: “Well, have you ever thought about going back in as an Army Chaplain?”

My heart skipped another beat, Lane and I locked eyes, and he said “Well, funny you should ask me that right now… my wife and I were just having a conversation about that very thing.”

The woman, a dear friend of ours, across the table volunteered a friend of hers, a well-known and respected Chaplain that she would get Lane in touch with.

The Iraq veteran next to us grabbed a napkin and wrote down his old Chaplain’s number urging Lane to call; he would show him the way.

The man across the table spoke movingly about how influential his Chaplain had been to him in a difficult time on deployment.

We loved these connections, we swam through military nostalgia with gladness… we still thought it was all just a wonderful coincidence.

We celebrated Dan and his bride, we cheered their first dance, and we left for the home we were staying in for the night.

When we entered our bedroom, Lane grabbed my arm and whispered: “Do you see what I see?”

And there it was, sitting on our bedside table, left there by our hostess for nighttime reading: 1000 Things to Love About Being in the Military.

This, this coincidence, was just funny to us.  Hadn’t we just been taking about being back in the military?  Hadn’t we just been weighing pros and cons?  Even if it was all just still dreaming and remembering what it was like when we were “In,” weren’t we just talking about that?

Weird.

The following day, Sunday, we made the 2-hour drive to New York City for a whirlwind day of sightseeing before catching an early flight Monday morning.

By the end of the day, we were in love with the city.  By the end of the day, we were tired.

But without question we knew that we had to go to Times Square.

It was breath-taking.  The lights.  The people.  The buildings.

And then Lane noticed this neat little amphitheatre seating in the northern triangle of Times Square.  Seating available to people-watch, rest weary legs, look at all of the sights, take in all of the billboards.

We sat, we rested.  And once again, Lane’s breath caught in his throat.

Baby.  LOOK UP.”

And SMACK IN FRONT OF US was a statue.  This statue, this GIANT STATUE that we sat right behind in the middle of Times Square was for an Army Chaplain.  Chaplain Francis Duffy fought in WWI and was the most decorated cleric in the history of the United States Army.

And of all of the places to see in New York City, of all of the benches to sit down on in Times Square… we sat down right next to Chaplain Duffy.

Times Square Chaplain Duffy

By this time Lane and I were starting to get a little weirded out.

Things kept happening.

Was this just one of those weird cases of coincidence?  When something is on your mind, you just tend to notice it more as things play out in normal fashion in your world?

But we had this sense… this feeling… something bigger was going on.

We returned home from our trip and the following day Lane went to a YL Staff Regional meeting and someone led a devotion on Mary.  This devotional focused on the fact that she was being asked to do something difficult.  Holy disorientation is what he called it.  The question the staff were left with: What is the Lord preparing in me?

We felt this holy disorientation.  We asked ourselves that same question: was the Lord preparing something in us?

We began to pay attention to the things that were stirring in our hearts.

And Lane began to reach out to people he knew and loved and trusted.

He made a phone call to his former Ranger Battalion Chaplain, just a simple phone call to get a Chaplain’s perspective on this military life.  Chaplain Kramer affirmed Lane with what he saw in him when they served in the same unit together on deployments.

And then he laughed and said: “There might not be a better person in the Army to ask your questions.  I am working at the Pentagon as the Accessions Officer for all Chaplain candidates in the U.S. Army.”

By this time, by this coincidence, we knew this was something that we needed to pay attention to.  We needed to listen.  There was something bigger going on.  It was bigger than just a strong bout of nostalgia after being back in the military community for Dan’s wedding.  It was bigger than us trying to write our own story.  It was bigger.

And so we decided that we each needed a day away to think, to pray, to journal, to process.  We examined the possibilities of a life in the military with a family.  A life as a Chaplain and a family.  The pros and the cons.  The meaning of calling.  Holy disorientation.  What to do when God just really seems to be trying to get your attention.  What to do when we feel like we are so clearly being led back into a life that we would not have written for ourselves.

And then, towards the end of my time that day, I drove out to a scenic overlook and gazed upon our beloved Colorado mountains.  I asked God what in the WORLD He was doing.  I asked Him what in the world He wanted us to do…

And clear as day, I heard it.

Go back in as a Chaplain.

Not audible, but in the pit of my soul. I heard it clearly as I have heard anything in my life.  My stomach dropped, my throat caught, tears hit my eyes, my hands clasped.

I heard it.

Go back in as a Chaplain.

walking into a new story for your life

Lane and I went out to dinner that night, and just because I like life to be one giant game, we weren’t allowed to simply talk about what we processed that day.  I handed each of us a piece of paper and a pen and we could write one of two things describing what we heard that day: Chaplain or stay in Greeley.

We both wrote, looked up and smiled as we caught eyes.

On the count of three! we turned our pieces of paper over.

They both said it.

Chaplain.

And so we go.  And we have peace.  And we are excited.

A new chapter to our story begins right here.

 :::

xoxoxo

Sarah

Comments

  1. says

    Sarah, I just clicked over from the incourage site from the link you shared. Wow. This is so incredible. I love that you shared this story! I love that there was a small part of you that wondered if it was mere coincidence. I’ve been there and I’m living that. Trying to discern what God has been telling me. And all I know is I shouldn’t move before he does. And there are days I get so anxious wondering if he’ll come through for little ole me. I wonder if he’s forgotten about my countless prayers and never ending tears. But in my soul I know I need to wait. To be still. To look to him with hopeful expectation. So thank you for reaffirming these things for me. God is so wonderful, isn’t he?

    • says

      Oh gosh, Sheri- my heart completely goes out to you because I know these steps you are walking so well. It is so hard to sit in His processes when they don’t seem to be going how we would would script, or just aren’t as apparent as we’d want… But I think that through this process that my husband and I are in I have really really learned to enjoy and appreciate the process. I have learned and grown and stretched so many ways, even in this difficult season. I assure you, my friend, He is GOOD… He has your best in mind. How I long with you though to be on the other end, and to look back and to see how He was at work through it all. xoxoxo ~S