Image via Hobvlas Sudonelghm on Flickr
It's early morning as I write these words, far too early for most of humanity on this side of the hemisphere to be up and stumbling about their kitchen, searching for coffee.  

To-do lists are swirling in my brain, and my fingers are itching to set ideas to paper, to stop the swirling, to make sure nothing gets forgotten in a week that will prove to be busier than the last. I love the feeling as ink flows over paper, as ideas and tasks and requirements pour forth, putting order to the chaos -- giving me perceived control over my day, my week, my month. 

Even better is that satisfying feeling as I carefully start striking off each item, showing that my day had worth (that I have worth) as revealed by accomplished tasks and goals and small steps on larger projects. 

I speak of my days based upon my to-do lists; I am either successful or unsuccessful based upon that tiny scrap of paper torn from my grocery store receipt with script only I can read scribbled in numbered order on the back.   

I have been known to wail in frustration that "I got NOTHING done today!" - meaning that my day was filled with intrusions and interruptions, leaving my to-do list intact, unchecked and unaccomplished. 

I have a tendency to measure my importance by the length of my to-do list and to measure my value by the number of items checked off my list before my head meets my pillow at the end of the day.

When I found out I was pregnant with our first child in 2009, my heart felt so full. I sat on the stairs in our house, waiting for my husband to get home from work.

When he arrived, I ran down the steps.

“Let’s go out for dinner to celebrate!” I said, grabbing his arms.

“Okay – um, what are we celebrating?” he asked.

“We’re having a baby!” I said. Our Mexican feast at La Casita that night had never tasted so good.

But just a few weeks later, my joy turned to dismay. During a work meeting on a Friday, I felt a whoosh and just knew that something was wrong. In the emergency room, I tried be brave while we endured tests and were told that there was no heartbeat.

Community. We find it in lots of places, all different ways. Whether at work, through a faith or civic community, school, parenting, marriage or singleness, there are places we belong. People with which we find a common bond.
Photo Courtesy of David Marcu

And I have found many of these communities helpful, jumped in with both feet proudly proclaiming myself a social worker, married person, or parent.

But there is one title I have yet to say. One title I have in the back of my mind, something I'm still too afraid to claim. I wasn’t really expecting it, and maybe it’s because I am not trained in this area, I have no education or degree to stand on -- just my own life experience, along with the desire to do it.

Maybe it’s because I don’t get a paycheck (as if money is the only validation for a task well done we can receive).

What I am too timid to say, to admit to others in conversation?

My tiny, divine appointment at last fall's BTG conference.
The countdown is on: we are only two days away from Bridging the Gap's fall conference!

Dozens of women have been hard at work for months: planning, praying, pulling speakers and music and all of the details together.  

As final preparations are made, as the leadership groups pulls together with hopes and dreams of how God will show up and how he will change lives, I cannot help but be reminded of all the big and little ways God uses us, when we leave space in our busy lives to respond.  

If you live in Minnesota, if you happen to have Friday and Saturday available, we invite you to join us.  You can find all of the information here. You won't leave disappointed, I promise.

And, I leave you with a re-post of my experience from last year's fall conference, because I still need this message, this lesson and can't say it any better than I said it last fall. Sometimes God chooses to use us in the small, quiet things - in ways no one but He will ever see.  
I had the honor of spending part of last weekend serving at a women's conference. I was so excited -- my fellow website writers and I had put together a devotional given to each attender, we were working at the Resource Table, and we were part of the conference team. Yay! It felt so wonderful to be on the team and on the mission with so many other amazing women. I just knew BIG things were going to happen, and I was excited to be in the middle of it!

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about my difficulties getting pregnant, how I was having a hard time curbing my own impatience and the increasing bitterness I felt at a situation that made me feel helpless and out of control. 

The positive response I received was so humbling, the many “me too” comments so comforting, that for me it was a chance to both purge and heal. For too long, I had denied my hurt over the situation, and being vulnerable enough to recognize and admit it was restorative. 

Here’s the thing: Even as I wrote my post this summer about not being pregnant, I actually was pregnant. I just didn’t know it yet. Isn’t that just like God? It wasn't until I found myself at the end of my own strength that I realized he had already done it. 

Jasmine's first day with us.
Our daughter came to us through tumultuous circumstances. My husband and I had only been licensed foster parents for a month when we got the call to take a sweet baby girl, just three months old. She was physically healthy, in an emergency home for the time being, but they wondered: Would we be interested in taking her?

With nary a thought of consulting my husband, the words tumbled out before the social worker could even finish, “Yes! We’d love to take her.” 

I remember that long holiday weekend spent going home to paint with my husband the room she’d be sleeping in and setting up a borrowed crib. Praying for the weekend to pass quickly, afraid the emergency home might decide she was too precious and want to keep her, anxiously awaiting her arrival that Tuesday afternoon.