Life is incredibly unpredictable when you let God lead you. We have had so many thoughts on how our life would be, so many plans changed, and so many blocks in our way. Has it been easy? Definitely not. Has it been worth it? Oh heck yes.
When I first met Branden we thought we would get married and move to Vancouver, BC for the first part of our marriage. Then we thought he would try to go to the UK for his PhD, and then finally make it to Ireland where he would become a lecturer and we'd live our life out with him teaching and me raising our family. Ha!
Three months before our wedding Branden called me to say he found a Master's program in Scotland and 2.5 months after our wedding, we were there. It wasn't what we planned but it was what God wanted for us, and boy did He have to sort a ton of stuff out to get us there! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get married, change names on legal documents, get a passport, and get visas in less than 6 months? Since I couldn't change my name until we were married, we actually got legally married 20 days before our actual wedding so we could start the paperwork process early. We didn't count it as being married so we signed the papers in Branden's parents' kitchen. So technically we had about 3 months to get everything changed and mailed to the UK embassy in San Francisco to be processed and sent back to us in time to fly out for our new life.
Two days before our non refundable flights were scheduled, our passports were still 2 states away and we had no way of contacting the embassy without someone's name to get through their phone system. In panic and prayer we thankfully received an email within an hour that gave us the name of someone we could call. Unfortunately the email said that the financial document we submitted wasn't acceptable, so we needed to mail a new hard copy and then they could finish our visas in 4-6 weeks. More panic and prayers as we called the only lead God gave us in the form of a name and we watched with amazed eyes as He gave us favor with both the embassy and the financial company as they made exceptions and 24hr express mailed our visas back to us with less than 24 hours to spare.
When we got to Scotland, we had the plan for Branden to get his Master's and PhD from the University of Edinburgh, but then the doors started shutting in our faces for the PhD. All of the potential advisers were either retiring, going on sabbatical, or maternity leave. He looked to other universities that had advisers in his area of expertise and only found two universities. One in Wales and the other in Ireland. Since we missed the date of renewing our UK visas, and knowing that Ireland was always where we were called to in the first place, we jumped for Cork, getting to Ireland years before we ever thought or planned.
Once we were in Ireland, Branden continued his plans of pursuing the PhD with the goal of becoming a professor and we would start a family and settle down after his degree was over. God still had to come through for us when we got here, as promises of me being able to work fell through and we had to survive almost a year on support from family and friends. You could say we lived off of prayers as that was all we had.
The three years of being here have not been easy and again God changed our plans. Ireland is still the place He has called us to but we have been broken, ground down, and are being remolded for a life we never saw and still don't know what looks like. Branden won't finish a PhD but will instead get an MPhil and he won't go on to become a lecturer but will instead look for work anywhere outside of the university. Our plans for children have been removed, along with our thoughts of being 'settled down', as God has displayed over our entire relationship that He wants to use us in miraculous ways, ways that constantly change, and we can't make plans that will make us "sedentary" or "settled".
Even now the time is ticking down to when we have to renew our visas and there is a major roadblock in our way. We face either breaking right through the wall in front of us or being deported back to the States at the end of the month. But we know in our hearts that we are in the land God wants us in and this is His battle to get us to stay. Let the wall come, let it loom over us and leer at how pathetic we are to defeat it, but thankfully it isn't our wall to break through. God's got it and we will be there to rejoice at yet another wall crumbled at our feet.
This is the life of letting God take the lead. It is unpredictable, sometimes chaotic feeling, but there is always a plan, even if we can't see it. We can still have some plans as they can guide us in the right directions but we have to be willing to take the scary side roads we never saw coming.