A Divine Setup

Signing for the deaf in church

Signing for the deaf in church

Span the decades with me and let’s connect the dots. “Living life” is just a way of saying we’re  juggling good times, rough patches, distractions, and many responsibilities. And as a result we may be unable to recognize some event or situation as a divine setup from God. Perhaps His perfectly laid out plans were so far apart that we didn’t recognize how they were connected. But with some reflection, God’s divine setups become more evident. During my middle and teen years something happened like this. I hope you will be inspired to reflect on your past after I share with you a part of mine. And I hope you see clearly, maybe even for the first time, where the hand of God manipulated the events in your life.

I went from the “Haves” to the “Have-nots” overnight. Like so many, I suffered the effects of my parent’s divorce at the early age of eleven. What may be different, though, is that this divorce occurred in California in 1974 when divorce was granted in only six weeks and no determination of fault was necessary.

In six weeks my mom moved me and my three brothers 3000 miles to North Carolina. I entered into a new school, and went from living in a comfortable home in a beautiful subdivision to an apartment. It was a new world for me. One that was very different than I’d experienced… at least from an eleven year old’s perspective.

Mom knew that finding a good church would take top priority. And within months, mom found one. Although it was a large church, it felt intimate and people knew each other. On one particular Sunday night my pastor greeted me with a huge smile.

“Come to the new sign language class,” he said.

I’d never thought about sign language before, but because the pastor invited me, I went. Mom bought me the sign language book I needed to have. I continued to go every week for a year and became proficient at signing.

“You’re a natural” the deaf would sign to me.

SCAN0024 - Copy (2)Signing was fun and I enjoyed interpreting regularly for the Sunday sermon. It became new my hobby.

Mom worked hard at her new job but raising a family on her own was difficult and money was always tight. But mom depended on her faith, even sleeping with her Bible on the pillow beside her. We didn’t have much, but in retrospect we had all we needed. Once we had the power cut off but it came back on. And we ate popcorn one Thanksgiving, but we didn’t starve. I knew things were hard, but I loved and trusted God and felt He would take care of me. My praying-Mom was a good example.


Senior High graduation, heading to college

Senior High graduation, heading to college

Five years later I was a senior in high school and all of my friends were preparing to head to college. Listening to their conversations about the hard decisions they had to make concerning which college to go to, left me disheartened and sad.

With nothing to contribute to the conversation, I often walked away alone, fearful I would be abandoned and friendless. They would move on and find new friends and opportunities. Due to financial constraints, college was not a possibility for me.

At that time college applications were made available in the high school guidance office. I can’t explain where my motivation came from, but I filled out one or two.

Then one beautiful spring day, the university contacted me by phone and I got a huge surprise. What I thought was impossible became possible!

“Debbie, we see that you sign for the deaf. We have deaf students at our college. Would you consider attending our college while at the same time interpreting for the deaf while they attend their own classes? You will be paid for your services. So after your allotted financial aid, you will likely owe very little for college.”

It was truly a divine encounter when my pastor personally invited me to learn sign language as a seventh grader. I had no idea that this class would lead me to possess a talent that would be my ticket to college. But God knew. He knew all along what I needed before I even knew to ask. Five years prior to my need God had already made a way for me.

I think God was smiling from heaven. No, I believe He was laughing out loud when He saw my amazement and joy at His marvelous gift!

Sign language. College. A life changed forever.

Thank you God, for making a way.

I went from a “Have-not” to a “Have” thanks to God’s intervention. Looking back on those years, however, I realize I was a “Have” all along- I had God and He had me in the palm of His hand.

What about you? Do you have a five year story? Now might be a good time to take pen and paper and write down in sequence the important events in your life since childhood.

Did God send a person to you during a particularly hard time? When did the doors open at just the right time? When did they close forcing you to go another direction? When were you out of strength or money and God provided? When were you without hope only to see a new plan? Have you been given a special gift or talent and now you are using it?

Let’s all thank God for the divine setups. He has been here the whole time! Looking at his faithfulness in the past helps us move forward, trusting that God will continue to make a way for us to be in His perfect plan.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

After college, Debbie became a teacher to elementary students for nine years while she earned a graduate degree. Then she worked in higher education for 21 years as the coordinator for the Early Childhood and Elementary Education department.



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19 Responses to A Divine Setup

  1. cindysproles says:

    Very nice. Enjoyed this.

  2. Gloria Spears says:

    Wow! What a TESTimony of God’s provision- a on time God! Love this inspiring story.

    • Oh Glory, and we just keep learning. I have seen so much of God’s provision just these last two weeks. I am so thankful for His mercy and grace and compassion on me and my family!

  3. wendybrz says:

    Debbie, this is my favorite of your blogs so far – I didn’t know any of these things!!!

    • Awh, really? It’s time for us to have a catch up date! Thank you for reading my blogs (I could be scared MS EDITOR) I’m glad you read for content and transparency. Love and miss you very much!

  4. Gail Fields says:

    Debbie,thank you for being so transparent. When we open our lives for others to see what God has done for us, hearts are touched and ministered to by Holy Spirit. Your testimony opens the door for others to allow God to do a general heart cleaning – clearing out things that have no purpose or place in our lives except to drag the owner down. Then God is able to fill us with joy, love, and understanding where the old rubbish was taking up space. Our relationship with Our Abba Father grows more intimate and precious. Be Blessed in His Mighty Love!

  5. Donna Cannady says:

    What a beautiful testimony, Debbie! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Hi Donna! Thank you for reading my blog and for posting a comment. Share it with anyone you think would enjoy it. God is so into the details of our lives and I’m thankful! He’s working in yours too, Donna! Let’s get together soon!

  6. Miriam Lewis says:

    I so enjoyed this beautiful and outstanding testimony. Thank you Debbie and I love you .God bless you now and always.

  7. Hi Miriam, Glad you enjoyed it. God is at work in all our lives!! After all, my testimony brought me to your college where I got to meet beautiful YOU!

  8. Judy says:

    Beautiful! And to God be the Glory.

  9. Carol Anderson says:

    Since I can’t remember my password to respond online, thought I’d email. Great blog! Great reminder that out of the seeming worst, he brings his best. I didn’t know any of this besides the divorce and the move, not even when you learned signing. What a great storya and loved the photos. This is one of your best! Love, Carol

  10. It’s remembering my past and God’s faithfulness, that gets me through the day to day. He was working then…and He is working now in all of our lives! To God be the glory! Thank you for reading, Carol, and your encouragement. 🙂

  11. Michelle says:

    Loved this. Sometimes we do get caught up in the “whys” or “what ifs” Your testimony offers so much encouragement to others. It is often needed to hear other’s stories to be able to put ours into perspective. I do sometimes forget that God is always there walking before me laying out my paths journey. God does have a master plan for us, we just need to get out of the way; so to speak. I want to tell you how much I appreciate your words of Faith and wisdom. I look forward to reading your new posts. Thank you for sharing, praying and caring for me. Keep up the work you are where you need to be! Much love to you my friend.

  12. Michelle, I’m so glad you loved this! I Thank you for your comments. i will continue to write as long as God gives me words. To God be the glory. He is more amazing than my mind can comprehend.
    Love you!

  13. Gerda says:

    Your stories always amaze and uplift me. Thank you for the reminder that what we myopically see as a “have-not” situation (ie: bad) may initially be God’s way of getting my attention, and then, by transforming either ME or the situation, He alone is glorified! Love your stories; so glad you “got a million of ’em!”
    Love and blessings,

  14. Yvonne montgomery says:

    Adversity is God’s ‘classroom’ of teaching/growing us in faith and trust. Never forget that the Teacher is always in the class (storm) with us! Try to go ahead and give Him ‘thanks’ at the beginning of a storm, (- not years later,) – showing Him your faith and trust that He is in control. Ephesians 5:20;Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 5:16; Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28; And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Just 3 of the many commands and promises in the Scriptures. Debbie, you have much more writing to do; Phil.4:13; I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength. I love you!

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