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Natasha Metzler

when life turns out different than what you expected
Some stories don’t turn out like we expect them to.

I’m sure Mary would agree with me. She said yes to God’s plan, despite her limited understanding. She put her hand right in His and followed the path laid down for her.

But I somehow doubt she ever expected where all it would lead her.

When my husband and I were first contacted about adopting a little unborn baby, we went right to our knees. We were Gideon with all his doubts. We weren’t strong enough, wealthy enough.

Four times I stretched out a fleece. Not just the twice that Gideon did. Four times.

Are you sure, God?

Every time He laid my fears to rest. This was His battle, His decision, His plan.

As we followed the road, prophecies and words of wisdom came. Annas and Simeons and humble shepherds full of confirmation. The verse came to me, right…

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Don’t tell me I don’t understand love at your age. I realize over two decades separate us in age, but I remember my first love like it was yesterday. I
remember what it felt like when he first whispered those words, and I knew with every fiber of my being that he meant it. I remember what it felt like to be with him, and it seemed like the rest of the world just vanished. I remember looking into his eyes, as he looked into mine, and our souls touched. Don’t you dare tell me I don’t understand.

I know how you view me: crazy woman, always talking on the phone or on her laptop, dealing with work issues. You step into the door, I pause briefly, say hello, then continue on my maddening pace. I’m cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, dealing with your little half-brother. I’m asking you “mom” questions like if you need new socks or if you are hungry. You see me for 48 hours and then you are gone.

You know I love your dad, but I’m old. Old people don’t “get” love. We don’t “get” all the struggles you face. We don’t “get” how difficult life is. I hate to break it to you, but I’m a child of the eighties. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, baby. More than half of my friends’ parents were divorced. Drugs were more available than alcohol. EVERYBODY was “doing it.” Fast Times of Ridgemont High showed how easy it was to get an abortion. We didn’t worry about sexually transmitted diseases. AIDS didn’t impact us (or so we thought). It was one big party.

In the middle of all of that, my friends were getting high, getting drunk, and cheating on their significant others. Classmates died from drug overdoses and suicides. I was trying to get out of high school without getting pregnant or getting arrested – and I was one of the good kids, little miss goody-goody.

So, sorry to burst your little bubble, but yeah, I do “get” it. It’s been a long time ago, true. My issues now are perhaps more complex, but I would say that infidelity, arrests, pregnancy and death are way bigger than some of my problems now. So cut me some slack. Listen to me when I give you a little advice. I don’t do it often, and I never say, “Oh this isn’t a big deal.” I know it is. I know what it feels like to love and to lose that love, especially the first time. It feels like you’ve lost your entire world. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be love.

Don’t tell me I don’t understand. I do.

November marks the month of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’ve read about this for the last several years, and thought, wow: I wish I had known about this BEFORE I had kids. My job is crazy, requring 50-60 hours a week. My home life is not exactly calm, with a blended family including kids aged 7-18. Growing up, I enjoyed writing, but science was my strength. I ditched the stories for entries in lab notebooks and later, all kinds of fun scientfic reports and global policy for a fortune 500 company.

After my son was born (now seven), our family went through some very difficult times with illnesses and other issues. I picked up a pen and began to write creatively, as a means of stress-relief. It was never intended for public viewing. In 2012, I first heard of NaNoWriMo. It sounded so fun, so exciting – but who has time for stuff like that? I already didn’t watch TV. It was tough to get the laundry done and keep the house clean.

Flash foward to 2014: several days ago, a friend reminds me of NaNoWriMo. In the blink of an eye, I mentally tell myself I am doing this. To be honest, I don’t think I will finish a novel. If I can just begin the process, however, and start this project, I will be thrilled. It’s been too long. I need to write.

Our community is home to a very small zoo. Each year, as one of their main fundraisers, they host “Boo at the Zoo.” Kids can come in costume, play games, “trick or treat” at various stations, and take a haunted train ride. We have attended since our son was four.

He and I arrived ten minutes before the gates opened. Anticipation was in the air, with kids excitedly waiting for admission. Once through the line, our first stop was the mad scientist lab, where we able to help with “experiments” and learn how to make slime.

As we exited, there were several games nearby. I was juggling a wet painting, a bag of slime, and trying to wipe the “gak” off of my son’s hands, which was really just cornstarch and water. As it dried, it turned to powder and flaked off. Of course, this could not happen fast enough for my little first grader. He played one game then walked to the next one. As he finished the pumpkin bowling, I realized that I did not have his blue plastic pumpkin, now holding his slime and painting. I vaguely remember handing it to him to wipe off the stuff on my hands. “Where is your pumpkin?” I inquired, looking around. His look turned to panic. “I don’t know!” he said, frantically looking around. I thought it couldn’t have gone far; he just sat it down for a moment. The seconds started to tick by, with us looking next to the games, by the line of people that had formed behind us, and in between the two games.

Gone. His blue pumpkin was gone. In less than sixty seconds, it had somehow disappeared. He hadn’t forgotten it along the way. He sat it down to play a game, and now it was missing. My helplessness turned to anger quickly. Who steals a little boy’s pumpkin? Did another child accidently walk off with it? I was immediately comforted by this thought, as this did not make my child a victim of a crime. My guilt was through the roof. It’s my job to protect him. He’s seven. That includes his pumpkin. I explained to him that maybe no one stole it, but maybe a small child wandered off with it. I consoled him with a sword that lit up and made sounds. I had the bag that was given to us when we entered, that most children are using to capture their candy and prizes. After a few games, some face painting, and a promise of fast food on the way home, he was seemingly over the incident and had fun. I told him that I was very proud of him. While a devastating event occurred, he recovered after a few minutes of sadness and was able to put the past behind him . We made it to our car unscathed, enjoyed a very late treat on the drive home, and recounted the tales of the evening to his father.

As I prepared for bed that evening, the narcissistic part of my brain went into overdrive: what if this had nothing to do with the pumpkin or my son? What if this was directed at me? Was this a stalker? Mommy paranoia made an appearance. What if my son has a stalker? A few deep breaths later, I was able to reclaim my sanity. Common sense tells me that a child did this. Whether it was a three year-old mischief maker or a ten year old meanie, I’ll never know. All I can do is stay vigilant. The world is not always a kind place. It’s not fun to learn that while trick-or-treating. The important lesson, however, is to not let that one bad moment ruin the future. My little guy has a good grasp on this. I should take a lesson from him.

Natasha Metzler

How to prepare for God's silence

All of life moves in seasons. Sometimes things are bright as a glorious summer day, and the next moment winter bleakness has settled in.

I’ve faced some long winters.

Between a childhood in Alaska and adulthood in Northern New York, there are a few things I’ve learned about winter. You can survive it. You can. It’s entirely possible. But you have to do the work. You have to cut the wood, or fill the oil tanks, or store the coal. You have to be wise about where you go and who you listen to. You have to plan ahead.

In Alaska, winters include hours of darkness—days when the skies remain a muted gray and fade into black. Day after day after day.

The honest-to-goodness truth is that God allows us to go through winters in our souls, where things freeze and struggles abound. And we have to be prepared. We…

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Natasha Metzler

How to Survive God's Silence

I was drowning in a vast ocean of emptiness. Why was God silent while I, who had followed Him faithfully for so many years, was begging for answers?

I mourned the loss of a baby who never truly lived. I buried the dream of children under the ashes of infertility. I screamed at the heavens for answers. I sat crumbled on the floor for hours and forced myself to breathe. And silence echoed.

Questions filled my journals and tears filled my nights instead of sleep.

Where are you, God? Where? What have I done to deserve your indifference?

By the time I turned to Scripture, I was dying for oxygen.

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Natasha Metzler

Learning to Trust God's Silence

This year I finally received answers to questions I asked 9 long years ago. Questions I etched out into my journals with moans and tears.

I wondered why God was granting my sister-in-law the answers to her prayers, with the gift of beautiful twin girls, while I begged and pleaded for just one child. Why did He say no to me, and yes to her? Why did I have to suffer, while others rejoiced?

For years those questions remained unanswered. They sat dormant through a long winter season. Years and years of icy coldness.

But the moment when my daughter arrived, this amazing bubbly eight-year-old girl, who may not be born from our genes but is the spitting image of her Daddy (every last ornery, stubborn piece of him), winter thawed.

God’s silence on the subject of my infertility broke. His words echoed in thunders from the heavens.

It…

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