Monday, June 21, 2010

The Lord has been testing my idealism

I walk into one of my client's homes: it's dark, the floors are sticky, it stinks, i hear rodents scurrying on the floor next to me as I walk up the steps (thank goodness there isn't enough light for me to see them in the staircase.) Here I am, in Bedford Stuyvesant - notoriously known for being one of Brooklyn's most dangerous neighborhoods. Strikingly similar to the city of Detroit.

I sit down with this 2 1/2 year old child. It's 90 degrees outside. I'm hot, sticky, and there are no lights on in the one room apartment. As I pull out the most ordinary toys like bubbles and Mr. Potato Head, this sweet little girl is amazed. As we begin our session, I'm frequently distracted by movement in my peripheral vision. Within two minutes, I notice a big long rat tail in the corner of my eye. This home is infested: rats, cockroaches and desperation. The child's mother is trying. She is a good mom that attempts to provide the most language-rich environment with the resources she has. As I leave, I'm scared. I'm scared because men are whistling at me and one man even follows me a couple of blocks until I reach the subway.

For the past couple years, I have preached about how I desire to practice as a speech therapist in the city of Detroit with low-income families who live in the 'hood'. As I left Bed Stuy two Wednesdays ago, I caught myself thinking, "Lord, are you sure? Are you sure you want me to put myself in danger just to give some kid speech therapy?" My idealistic tendencies were being tried.

Just as I began to question myself, my job, and my commitment to children of low-income areas, I received an email from my clinical supervisor at Wayne State: 24 speech and language pathology positions would be opening for the fall. WHAT!? 24 open positions in the city where Jeff & I ultimately want to be? Obviously, I thought, this is God telling me to quit my job and move home.......I surprised Jeff one evening by telling him I would be applying to one of these jobs in Detroit (not my most proud 'wife moment'.) He told me that he didn't think this was the time the Lord had for us to go home. Boo. I respected him [with my teeth clenched.]

A few days later Jeff called me to have a 'talk' (eek, I was nervous.) He told me that I should apply for a job in Detroit for the fall (WHAT!? jeff was giving me a 'free pass' to detroit in the FALL!) He was afraid he was standing in the way of God's will. I immediately started shaking and crying. The Lord was doing something within me.

I hate admitting this, but I know the Lord does not want us in Detroit this fall. It took every bone of my body to tell Jeff, "No, we can't go to Detroit this fall, we need another year in new york (aka this place that I HATE!)" As I frequently look back and regret that moment, Jeff has spoken so much truth into my heart:
  • I am learning so much about early intervention in new york. i have resources here that detroit does not have to offer
  • I am learning so much about serving low income children and families here in new york that will guide me when we do move back to Detroit
  • And, although it freaks Jeff out to dwell in this, "HE goes before me, HE shields my way." Even when it feels unsafe in these neighborhoods, the Lord has gone before me to prepare a way to minister and love on these families here in new york. He is my Protector.
So, as I sit and play with my little Bed Stuy kiddos, I am praying for the children in Detroit I will someday better serve (with or without the rats and cockroaches.) I have fervently prayed the Lord would prepare me for Detroit while I"m here in New York and, to NO surprise, He is! Praise God.

Much Love.


  1. thanks for sharing how God has been working in you, Laura.

  2. I know He's watching out for you, but how about a mace key chain and you start taking some self defense classes at the gym or Y? You know, just to be on the safe side :o)

  3. Wow Laura. I wish that I had as much conviction to follow the Lord's plan for me as you do. I pray that the Lord will continue to keep you safe in these neighborhoods. I bet it was worth it at least a little when you see the smile on the kids faces. God Bless! Love Krys

  4. Praise the Lord. I'm encouraged by your faithfulness and trust in Him.

    - Scott Wyatt -

  5. I echo what Scott said. =) I love you both, and I see God moving in & through you two so much in NYC. I will be ecstatic when it's time for you to come home, but I am glad you are waiting on his timing. =)

  6. Ali - jeff did buy me pepper spray yesterday. Haha - i think he is more worried about me than I am about myself!

  7. I knew I liked Jeff for a reason!