I wanted to be a nurse. Until I found out I had to take—and get A’s in—math way beyond algebra to get in. I failed pre-algebra in high school. There was no way I was going to be a nurse.

I had a hard childhood. I was “cheated” out of all things normal and stable. Other children seemed to have normal families. I couldn’t even define the word, except to say my family wasn’t. 

I started to search for a god—any god—that would take me to a place worth living in. I thought the One I knew of didn’t like me. I was not surprised. There was nothing stable or dependable in my life. 

When I turned 16 the One I was looking for found me. And I just knew it was going to be a wild ride. All I had to do was hang on. That was all I knew. 

He lit my path for me. Wasn’t that supposed to be a good thing—a warm and fuzzy drifting-on-clouds thing? Sometimes it was. But more often it was a buckle-up thing where I continually had to reconfirm who was in control. Because nothing made sense anymore.

I heard students talking at the community college. A young man opened a door for two female students. “They’re going to be nurses.” Like they were special. And they were, but I wondered if there was any way… Advisors didn’t think so. My family said no way. But I thought maybe? And that was enough to enroll in some of the prerequisites. Somehow, I got A’s in all of them. And I became a nurse. 

I loved my job. But one day I felt like there was more. I wanted to be a nurse practitioner. That was definitely impossible. With four kids in four different schools. And a job? No way. But I prayed. Listened. Said yes to whatever I heard. I stopped asking why or how. He had already done the impossible.

He carried me through my BSN, MSN and FNP programs. I became a family nurse practitioner. But I wasn’t really free. I had bitter roots from the past, like thornbushes, rooted and grounded in the good soil–choking out that abundant life they talk about in Costa Rica (Pura Vida—Pure Life). 

So, I was looking for a side gig to help God bring me to that peaceful perch in the blue-sky cloud where life looks like fun. You know, with the gentle breeze, instead of the hurricane, harps instead of gongs and cymbals? That place. 

“You’re looking for it in the wrong place,” the voice in the nice cloud place whispered. Hard to hear with all the gongs and cymbals. It was a time of humbling. “Remember how I brought you through the nursing school wilderness? Dry bones, desert, math thing? To the other side—the milk and honey place? You just had to hang on. Remember?”

Oh yeah. Now I remember. Sorry. That’s how our relationship goes sometimes. Grace. Yes. It’s a thing. And mercy. So, I prayed a different prayer. It was a quick one, with all those kids and jobs and all. “Help!”

Ha! He did. “Listen.” Okay, I could do that while multitasking, no? He seemed to think it might be easier for me to hear if I got up earlier. So, He woke me up earlier. Like at 3:30. He still does. We talk then. I’m not as distracted by noise and stuff. Just the heater fan, and later birds and roosters. He tells me His plan for my day. If I listen. 

Sometimes it is a good plan—a yes-and-amen plan. Wow! Other times, not so much. Africa. Hmm. Never wanted to go there. But we went and God moved in a beautiful, life-changing way. Idols. Wasn’t that just a singing competition? Yeah—no. It was a congregation in my head—gongs, cymbals, flashing lights and lures. 

The third step he mentioned was “yes”—with the quotation marks. He made it pretty simple, since He knew about my short attention span and the wayward marching band in my mind. Pray. Listen. “Yes.” A 3-PLY Life Plan. 

What came next was a new freedom—from myself and my marching band. He showed me all the people I had not yet forgiven. I shot back a quick list of good reasons I could never forgive them. And there were more good ones. Shouldn’t He know that?

And, come to think of it, where was He when all this was going on? Did He forget His role? The whole perfect peace, renewed strength, mounting up with wings, flying like eagles stuff? I wasn’t going to go there, but…

Pray. Listen. Yes. I heard it again. The praying was easy. The rest, not so much. He had already done the impossibleMath, nursing school. Kids. Jobs. Maybe He could do the impossible all day every day.

I repent, pretty much every day now. Before I read His Word. Then I pray. Listen. “Yes.” When He told me to forgive (as I am forgiven), I told Him I had already done that. And I told Him I could not do any more than that. It was impossible.

Huh? That word again. He nodded. Did you know God nods? He smiles, too. At me, anyway. Like a good Father. He nudged me and suggested I try the 3-PLY Life Plan on that one. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. He didn’t know what they did to me. Maybe He didn’t care? That one wasn’t fair. Ouch. 

I had to wait a week or so. He’s patient. Then I prayed again and asked Him to help me reallyforgive. I think there was great rejoicing in heaven that day. Harps. Trumpets. Flutes? No gongs or cymbals. No gnashing of teeth, even my own. I listened then.

“See them as I see them. Pray that I will show you My heart for them. And I will.”

Oh…hmm. Wow. “But Your heart is so loving. And they did that to me.”

“Yes. And they did what to Me?” And you did what?

Ohh. There was silence then. No roosters, children, dogs yet. “Yes.” I heard myself say it. From that place deep inside—the place that knows His voice. And He showed me His heart for them—all of them. And for me. And I was free. 

I was done. Or undone. Done holding onto the bitterness, watering the thornbushes with their bitter grip on my heart and lifeblood. The moment was suspended in time–maybe in heaven–there was a new freedom, like the thorns were unwoven. I felt it in my neck and shoulders, like a vice grip releasing in the pit of my inner being—free. 

And I prayed for each person as He led–with His heart. I saw many of those people after the prayer. As an adult, I was safe now. And I was free. So, I was able to love them. Like He does. Some of them have surrendered to His love, and we have basked in the beauty of His mercy and grace. Together.

I just finished writing White Stone. It’s about freedom. And grace. And forgiveness. And so much more. I wrote it for you—for all of us—that we will find that place of sweet peace—beyond the noise and the need to know why—where heaven and earth converge. And there is healing. And meaning. And freedom.