I love it when Jesus speaks with undeniable clarity in the Bible. The burning bush to Moses and the voice in the night to Samuel are two of my favorite passages in the Bible. I can safely say that I’ve never experienced the burning bush. The Lord has given me dreams; I’ve made a point of getting up and writing them down because the wisdom always proves itself in the future.
More often for me, a walk with God has been about being obedient to the next step. I believe it was evangelist Charles Stanley who talked about how sometimes the next step after prayer is to get up off your knees and wash the dishes. Such was the case a few weeks back when we ventured up to Austin for the University of Texas’ “Explore UT” day. The marketing and pre-planning for this event made it sound like the event of the year for any kid looking to pursue a college education—exposure to a flagship university, interactive workshops for attendees, and all day fun planned for every age. They even prepared a place on the website so that you could plan and print your agenda for the day. How much closer to college, without actually being in college, could you be?
The two younger kids had a blast. My husband and I split up to cover more ground, and he came back with licorice sticks and marshmallows, neatly converted into DNA. He found T-shirts for all three kids and all kinds of other neat places and surprising things to do—he’s so cool.
For the oldest one, I would grade the trip a D+. For a kid who’s looking at a college from the angle of possibly making it home for 4 years, this “exploration” concept failed miserably. Exhibits would close early, others that were billed as “interactive” turned into more of a “stand and watch me” event. Hot and increasingly tired, I was determined not to voice my disappointment, but instead to allow her to have her day as she wanted it. We both hit a low when we reached the textiles dept. (her love) and found that a number of highly marketed exhibits were science fair-like displays. When we got to the “Be A Future Designer” (or something like that) display, we found an empty room of mannequins, fabrics and the like. I asked another parent passing by if she knew where the exhibit was, and her reply had me thinking that I was in the wrong room, and that, in the right room, the oldest would be sewing, cutting, and so forth. Trying to run so as not to miss one minute and vacillating over whether or not our daughter was old enough to operate a sewing machine, you can imagine the emotional roller coaster I was on when we reached the right room, only to find a group of uneasy college seniors working on their final projects. Apparently, no one told them the details of the event, and so they were a bit disconcerted that people were walking through their area all day and watching them work. Not wanting the whole experience to be a waste, I asked the oldest, normally our social butterfly, to ask the kids a couple of questions–a request that she flatly turned down. Now I’m starting to lose it. We drove all the way up here and we’re meeting kids in a field you want to study, and you have nothing to say? So under great duress, she complied (emphasis on complied) with uncharacteristic timidity. Yeah, it’s not much of a praise report thus far, but…
We left what we thought was the right room, and while looking through another couple of displays, we met a faculty member. As outgoing and vibrant as our daughter, she talked to us for at least 20 minutes. For all the people who crowded the hallways, suddenly no one was there. We talked extensively about high school preparation, intro “weed-out” classes, textile fundamentals, even reasons not to go to UT! Incidentally, I found out that part of the high school preparation for the fashion program is a solid command of math and science. Why, you ask? (I did). Because of the fabrics themselves—each responds to heat, water, chemicals, etc., differently, and understanding of chemistry and math helps with knowing what fabrics to pick for what you want an outfit to do.
So, after repeated talks about passion, self management, and all those other intangibles that determine success in college, and in life, truth be told, this was a huge catalyst in lighting a fire under the future designer. We even returned this past weekend for the senior’s presentation—a full-scale fashion show. This event did not disappoint, and the oldest is far more encouraged in her dreams.
This was larger for me, however, than seeing a great fashion show, or enduring a grueling 8-hours of walking a HUGE college campus with little harvest until the midnight hour. It’s not a promo or a criticism of UT. For me, it was about getting out of the way and trusting Him to lead us to the right places and the right faces. I believe in my whole heart that because I didn’t grumble about what I thought was a bust, I didn’t blow a good day for everyone else, there was something larger in it for me, too—a boost of inspiration and encouragement, a sense of direction that I didn’t orchestrate, and a message of perseverance from someone other than a occasionally anxious mom.
All of this put me in the mind of a hymn that you don’t hear much in modern-day churches, but its words are timeless:
‘Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pains we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.’