When I think about my life and all that has happened, I get a bit teary because it’s not exactly what I had thought, planned or hoped for. Anxiety, fear, doubts……and eventual survival has marked my journey with many mistakes and missteps along the way. A good reminder for me has been Roman’s 8:28. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” When life gets hard you really have to hang on tight to the ONE who will get you through to the other side and the ONE who can cause everything to work together for my good. Over the past 9 years or so I’ve asked why this happened and why that happened...and I always came back to this promise in Romans 8:28. I may not know all the answers/reasons this side of heaven, but I do know that I’m here for a reason, there is life to be lived and because of God’s GRACE and FORGIVENESS, ALL things will work out and be OK. God took my mistakes and missteps and helped me see how He could work good in my life in a way that would help me make a difference in the lives of others. I hope someone reading this will be encouraged and maybe even inspired…
Fast forward to the summer of 2015 and my search for “what’s next?” My two daughters are in their late 20”s (how did that happen!), so I’m not busy doing the parent thing. I work full-time at a good job, I enjoy health and fitness activities, I love my church and the opportunities available to serve, and I have a wonderful network of friends. But I was hungry for something new, something more. I just didn’t know the specifics yet. I stumbled across a book called “Anything” written by one of my favorite writers – Jennie Allen. Thankfully two friends and I decided to meet and read through her book together and follow along with her weekly video. What a sweet time of fellowship and learning! (thank you Jody and Leigh!) Through Jennie Allen’s own very personal search for more, she shared her family’s journey about what their “anything for God” looked like. This book was so inspiring, and yet it was still so difficult to see where I could make a difference.
In addition to reading Jennie’s book, I also found myself reading blogs and articles about family life and marriage. I wasn’t sure why I, a single again mom of adult children, was drawn to them, however there seemed to be a constant theme in what I was reading. Yet, nothing became clear right away, so I kept on reading, asking and searching. During this time, I also took a really neat question/answer inventory from Jennie Allen that I found helpful. She suggests asking questions like, “What are your unique strengths and natural abilities? What things/events make up your story that could help someone else, and what are the things that get you fired up.” The next step in this process is to ask family and friends who know you well, how your gifts and natural abilities might fill some gaps. Is there anyone in your life (family, close friends, co-workers) with needs? How about needs in your church or community? In this broken world we live in, needs are everywhere. We just have to find where we fit.
SO, I had this idea one evening in September 2015 that brought me to tears. Was this idea from God? Ever hear of DATE NIGHT? I was pretty sure a “passion and a burden” had just collided. But this idea had to be thought out and made practical in my life, so I followed my own advice and sought the counsel of a couple close friends I didn’t know any of the specifics of how this was all going to work out (but felt fairly confident God did) – the who, what, when and where - but I decided to find a young couple who needed time away from their kids on a regular basis to nurture each other and their marriage. I could watch their children so they could have a date night. It took a few more months of waiting on God to work out all the details …BUT GOD IS GOOD and in His perfect timing He showed me the family.
Fast forward to February 2016. It was as if someone (God) screamed in my ear……….”HERE IS YOUR FAMILY.” You know who you are if you are reading this. I am so grateful we found each other! When I shared what I wanted to do, I was blown away how God had been working behind the scenes long before the idea was birthed. You see, our lives had already touched several months earlier because of my daughter and her husband’s international adoption journey that is still in the works. I love how God works out all the details. He only asks for our availability and a little creative thinking.
It is now May and two date nights are in the books. And the bonus for me is I adore their kids! It is really cool when God’s plan works out.
Diane Sexton lives in Grimes, Iowa and has attended Valley Church since 1993. She works at Aetna Life Insurance Co in Urbandale as a licensed benefit advisor working with small employers in over 30 states. Her two daughters are grown and 1 is married, living in Iowa City. Diane is looking forward, along with Erin & Brian, to welcoming home 2 adopted little boys from Ethiopia later this year. Diane also stays active looking after her 94 year old mom, keeping fit and eating healthy, participating in Women's Bible Studies, and loving/serving others during this season of life.