Dear 21 Year Old Self

Woman-writing-a-love-letter-1You’ve just celebrated a big birthday: 21! You have a year left of college and you’re assuming that, like your friends, you will find the love of your life and get married right after graduation. But guess what. That’s not going to happen. Your friends will graduate with engagement rings on their fingers but you will not even have a boyfriend.Continue reading

The Master Chef

Unknown-1We’ve celebrated almost every wedding anniversary at Rooneys. The outside is nothing to write home about, but the inside captures you with a warm, simple elegance. We like the ambiance and we really like the food. Everything we’ve eaten there is perfectly seasoned: just the right amount of ginger, or cilantro, or sesame. We haven’t had anything we didn’t love. I’ve often thought, this is what separates a good chef from an excellent one: surprising combinations of flavors that work perfectly together. Kind of like a good marriage.Continue reading

Returning with Joy

We had the privilege of spending this past summer in New Hampshire.  My husband, Marvin, was invited to Dartmouth’s engineering school as a visiting faculty member, so we packed up both cars and moved east for the summer.  We rented a house in Hanover, which is the quintessential New England college town, and my sons and I spent many hot afternoons at a nearby pond.Continue reading

A Time for Juggling

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Eccl 3:1).

When my husband and I prayed on New Year’s Day 2010, we had no idea that this year would be as busy and as full of change as it has been.

We decided to ask God one last time that we would conceive our second child; if God continued to close my womb, we would take that as a sign and pursue adoption. I was pregnant two weeks later.

We prayed that God would make it clear if I were to host the first Ruth’s Company Conference at the Rochester Radisson. He did, and we had an awesome time in June, being inspired by great teaching and the company of almost 100 like-minded women.

We prayed that God would show us if we were to buy a house. We closed on a lovely home on August 1st. And moved in a week later.

We prayed that God would make it abundantly clear if we were to leave the church where we had been attending and fairly active and seek another. We’ll be going to a New Comers’ class at our new church this Fall.

We prayed that God would lead us to the right preschool for our precious first son. We found one that seems hand-crafted for our Isaac; he starts this month!

We prayed that God would show us if we should try to sell or continue to rent out our home in New Hampshire. He made it clear that we were to rent it and then we sustained two stress-filled months with no renters. God finally filled our home with new, great tenants.

When conventional wisdom says one should have no more than two major changes in one year, we Doyleys embraced six changes or events, each of which came with major financial, emotional or physical stress.

Marvin and I took turns losing sleep and worrying about one or more of these events. At times our lives felt like we were on a fast roller-coaster ride, hanging on with one hand and juggling with the other. Marvin carried a larger portion of the financial burden, plus responsibilities at work, and I carried our second son, with the hormonal ups and downs, exhaustion and relentless nausea. And we had some petty arguments as stress and sleeplessness got the better of us.

At one point we asked the Lord, “Are all of these things from you? Did we run ahead of you in any of these decisions? Are we on track?”

And we felt at peace about it all. We felt that He called us to do all of these things and that He would see us through. We also felt sure that this season of busyness would soon end. After this hectic pace would come a time of rest. Human beings weren’t created to sustain a treadmill pace for very long. Our bodies can’t handle it; our emotions can’t handle it; our children can’t handle it and our marriages can’t handle it. There is a time to work and a time to rest, and we are looking forward to a boring 2011!

There is one scripture in particular that sustained me this year, and continues to sustain me as I look forward to delivering this beautiful baby and then caring for him along side our energetic preschooler:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)

If you were to ask me at any point of this year how I felt, deep down inside, my response would be “Weak.” Often it was physical weakness. I know some of you have five, six, seven children and could keep going. But for me, being pregnant while caring for our son has been the second hardest thing in my life (the first hardest was giving birth to Isaac!). I’ve been told that I look good pregnant. Well, that’s ironic, because I certainly don’t feel good! And scores of times I asked God to be strong where I was weak.

We asked God to sustain us through His grace and He has. Now as the storm is waning, our marriage is stronger than ever: our love for each other tested and proven. And our love for the Lord has skyrocketed. He has proven Himself faithful, and loving and strong time and time again and we sit and look around at all that He has done, stunned and grateful.

The Changing Seasons of Our Lives

Something very special happens this time of year. The geese come home. When you live in the North, sometime around October you watch longs V’s of geese flying SOUTH with great precision. You usually hear them honking overhead and then look up and low and behold, that amazing V. Well, this time of year the same thing happens, but now they are coming BACK. It’s early spring and these fair weather friends have left their Florida retreat to fly back home, filling our northern skies. This year it is particularly special because my 20 month old loves birds. He hears the honking, looks up and great delight fills his eyes. I love watching him watch the birds.

The V is one of many early signs of spring: it is lighter longer; the warm days out number the cold ones; the ground is mushy, and I even saw some crocuses poking their heads up in my neighbor’s yard. And there are people – everywhere! Entire families convene at the playground, kids ride bikes up and down the street, and, of course, the ubiquitous joggers, joggers galore. It’s as if we’ve all been hibernating like the squirrels, only coming out for food, and now we flood out of our confining homes, spilling into the streets and smiling. Everyone is friendly again.

There are always ample signs when seasons change – both in the natural and the spiritual. Just as God provides many indicators that spring or summer or winter or fall is coming, so too does He provide confirmation after confirmation when a season in our life is ending and a new one is afoot. We begin to get an inkling that something is shifting. We feel uncomfortable, confined, closed in and sense that it’s time to spread our wings. Perhaps it’s time for a move, or a career change or that hard phone call. Just like the natural world, our lives are comprised of seasons. There are times to stay put, rest, pray, fast, pull in, baton down the hatches, decrease, lay low, stay close. And then God begins to breath. The leaves start to rustle; we feel the wind in our face. The air shifts and blows in from another direction and we sense deep in our sprit that things are about to change. It’s time to get to work, press in, take a risk, walk on the water.

Especially with big changes, God gives us many, many signs. He knows our nature. We may be bored, but at the end of the day, we’re leery of change. The status quo seems safe and comfortable because we know it. But the truth is, if we stay there, we’ll rot. We need change to stay fresh and to grow. Growth only comes with change.

My husband and I experienced this in a very profound way about a year and a half ago, when we heard the Lord whispering that it was time to move. I had lived in New Hampshire for 23 years, making deep, wonderful friendships. My husband and I married there. We had our first child there. And then the wind began to shift. A job offer. A yearning for a more urban life. A sense that it was time to “leave and cleave.” A conviction that only in leaving would there be the kind of growth God now demanded of us. And ultimately, the tearing as we said goodbye to amazing friends and ventured out onto the water.

Not all changes are this dramatic – and some are more dramatic. But the bigger the change, the more confirmation He brings.

If you are sensing that God may be bringing you into a new season, don’t fret. You won’t miss it. He will give you sign after sign. Just pray that He will give you eyes to see and a heart that understand what the Spirit it saying to you. In the end, it will take faith to step out and go with the change He is bringing. But you must take that step. Don’t risk stagnation. He’ll hold your hand every step of the way and you will come to know a facet of His goodness that you would have never known had you stayed in your comfortable world of status quo.