When A Wrong Number Turns Into a Calling

Jul 31, 2014

I didn’t recognize the number.

Texas. Who would be calling me from Texas?

I ignored it, let it go to voicemail, quite certain it would end up a wrong number. Minutes later, I listened to the message. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

What followed that long-ago October Wednesday included a return phone call, a surprise invitation, a stomach twisted up in nervous excitement, a whirlwind conversation with Troy, and a plane ticket to Sacramento, CA. Over the next 48 hours, I scoured scripts, memorized timelines and bios, and packed a suitcase to California. And on that Friday night, cheered by new friends, I climbed a dozen stairs in front of an audience of 11,000 to smile and shout the following words to an arena filled with Jesus-girls:

“Welcome to Women of Faith!”

What. A. Night. I’ll never forget it. The weight of my responsibility as emcee. All those beautiful faces looking up at mine. The thrill of hearing thousands of women’s voices lifted in worship. It was surreal, beyond imagination. Which is why I couldn’t help but wonder if the phone call two days before had been fluke. I had so little experience, so little to offer. Why did they call me? Wrong number? Probably.

Even so, I leaned into it. You see, eleven months before, I’d first heard the word cancer. I knew the sacredness of a life. And I understood that rare and unexpected moments required embracing, savoring. Not second-guessing. So when I found myself on the Women of Faith platform, it wasn’t so much a dream come true as a moment to take the grave clothes off. Like Lazarus, I’d been resurrected. And I planned to give my life back to the one who saved it.

In the years since, I’ve tried to do just that. Sure, at times I’ve grown distracted, numbed with busyness just as before. I’m still fully human. Even so, l think back on that October day from time to time, think about the wrong number that turned out to be a calling. It wasn’t a fluke, God, was it? It was YOU. Jesus standing outside my tomb, telling me to walk out and live. 

Two weeks ago, Monday, July 14, my phone rang yet again. Once again, I didn’t recognize the number. Once again, I assumed a wrong number. Once again, I was mistaken.What followed was this:

Starting tomorrow night in Washington DC, I will be the new emcee for the Women of Faith 2014 tour.

I hardly know what to say. I’m just an ordinary midwestern girl who grew up in Illinois cornfields. I’m a wife and mom–living in a complicated family filled with in-progress people–who still doesn’t always know how to do this marriage and mothering thing. I’m just one more cancer-thriver who still wrestles fear to the ground every single day. I’m a mistake-making, friend-failing, I’m-sorry-saying, Jesus-loving woman who grabs for grace with both hands. Because she knows she needs it more than air.

It makes no sense to me that God would appoint someone like me for such a responsibility. These are shoes too big for my dirty feet. And, yet, I also see this next adventure as another piece of God’s Lazarus-sized redemption. For one simple reason:

Four months ago, I didn’t know if I’d ever speak again.

I can almost hear our Father chuckling, can’t you?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us … {2 Corinthians 4:7}

These next few months will be both difficult and beautiful. A calling’s path is seldom lined with hammocks and shade trees. That said, can I ask you a favor?

Pray for us. I’m fully aware of my humanness. Both my physical & emotional limitations, as well as the strain this will put on my family. Will you pray for my husband, as he cares for our children in my absence? Will you pray for my children, that they will feel secured by the love of a Father and two parents? Will you pray for my marriage, that we would continue to be bound together, in heart and mind and body even with the distance? And would you pray for me, that I would honor the God who saved me by giving him every cell of this one, feeble life?

From my heart, thank you.

One more thing: I’d love to see you. Women Of Faith will host 16 different events around the United States between August 2 and December 5. Won’t you come? Bring a friend or twenty and spend the weekend worshipping the God who redeems wrong numbers:

I’ll see you there. We’ll exchange wrong-number redemption stories and throw off the grave clothes. Because the One who saved us is calling us to live.

Have you experienced a seemingly “wrong number” that turned into a calling? Share it with us here. 

42 Comments

  1. Amy Thedinga

    Michele, I’m over the moon thrilled for you. I love the imagery of you casting off the grave clothes. May we all have the courage to believe God for resurrection in our moments that feel like death. Thank you for inspiring me to remember that He who promised is faithful. Cheering you on friend!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you, Amy! He IS faithful, even when I can’t see or understand. Thankful I get to share this life with you.

      Reply
  2. John R. Meese

    That’s fantastic news, Michele. Congratulations! With the support of Christ, anything is possible. You can do this 😉

    Reply
  3. Bruce

    Michele – very candid thoughts which gives me hope in my own life, specifically at an intersection of uncertainty which I am currently traveling.

    Might I suggest a resource regarding those times that want to haunt you regarding what God has healed physically in you? It is a book by a former pastor: HOPE BEYOND REASON link below. I will keep your requests in my prayers….Bruce

    http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Beyond-Reason-Embraced-Presence/dp/0768426979/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406809678&sr=1-1&keywords=hope+beyond+reason

    Reply
  4. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michele. I know exactly what you mean. Exactly. Each day I wrestle fear to the ground and at times I feel like I suddenly wake up from a dream. I think, “Wait a minute! How did I get here? How can I be doing what I am doing? I shouldn’t even be alive!” God is amazing. When unexpected opportunities come I know it’s Him, opening another door. It’s scary to walk through these doors. I always wonder if it’s really Him or if I’m crazy to think I can do these things. But I don’t want to live my life in fear. I want to live it in awe. I wish I could go to a Women of Faith event! I’ve never been…but maybe next year. :o)

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      You said it so well: “It’s scary to walk through these doors. I always wonder if it’s really Him or if I’m crazy to think I can do these things.” Yes, that’s been the ongoing theme of the past few weeks. And yet I refuse to live hunkered down and afraid to move. Thank you for always inspiring me, Linda!

      Reply
  5. Tracy L

    Congrats! I always love your blog, and its exactly because you are an “ordinary midwestern girl who grew up in Illinois cornfields” that so many of us can relate to you. And thanks for posting the Women of Faith schedule, I didn’t know the conference was coming to my area (how did I miss this?). Count me in, I’ll see you there! 🙂

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thank you for that kindness, Tracy.

      (and I’ll see you soon!)

      Reply
  6. Sundi Jo

    So cool! God is a BIG God! Will you be at the even in KC?

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Yes! I will be at every event except for Hartford (due to a previous engagement).

      Reply
  7. Lily Kreitinger

    Yay God! What a miracle it is that not only you get to keep your voice, but you get to share His message with us. Beyond thrilled for you. Will keep your family in my prayers, for sure! Oh, and BTW, you will be in my neck of the woods right after SCORRE Conference in October!! How awesome is that????

    Reply
  8. Paulette Harris

    How wonderful for you my friend. I’ll pray even more for your success. You’ve come a long way so fast and what a great witness and help you are to many. I’m happy and proud for you.

    Hope I can make it to your work in Denver. 🙂 Hugs and blessing for now. God Bless and God speed you on your journey.

    Love,
    Paulette. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Deanna

    So exciting, Michele!

    I LOVE how God works through what we believe are wrong numbers — and how these grace filled calls are SO right!

    Praying for your family — that God fill all these places and little lives with his presence and peace — and for YOU, that HIS amazing LOVE would speak deep and wide into the hearts of women you will speaking to and celebrating with at WOF.

    P.S. I have a ticket for the SUMMER!!

    Reply
  10. Kathleen Thompson

    Michele, I love the image of Lazarus rising from the grave, throwing off the grave clothes! When we are crucified with Christ, we rise to new life in him. And this is some new life indeed. May you and your family be blessed through this time, as you will undoubtedly be a blessing to many.

    I won’t see you at Women of Faith in Hartford, because I’ll be at the Platform Conference with you in November.

    Reply
  11. Angie Webb

    Awesome Michele. How exciting for you and we can always be surprised by our Father, right? He had a good plan for you even in the midst of uncertainty. God Bless you on this new adventure.

    Reply
  12. Kelsie H

    See you in OKC!!!!

    Reply
  13. Mary DeMuth

    So thrilled for you, so very thrilled.

    Reply
  14. Holly

    Michele,

    Not surprised in the least bit that God chose you. You radiate His light and presence when you speak.
    Thank you for being willing and for the beautiful encouragement for all of us today. Prayers for you and your family.
    Holly

    Reply
  15. Sheridan Voysey

    What a lovely story, Michele. Congratulations, and God bless you in what is a fun, challenging, and essential role.

    Reply
  16. Gretchen Yoder

    Congratulations Michele! Our God is an awesome God indeed.

    Reply
  17. Matt Ham

    This is so fantastic Michele! How blessed will those arenas be to have you leading them on their journey. My prayers go with you as you travel.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Those prayers matter most of all. Thank you, Matt.

      Reply
  18. Melissa Milbourn

    Wow. Amazed. Not that they’ve chose you, oh no, but amazed by the way I see God at work in your story. Crazy exciting stuff. Love you to pieces, and happy birthday!!

    Reply
  19. Eileen

    Congratulations, Michele! I love these moments when we are positive we are not the person for the job and then God hits us over the head and kinda says, “D’uh…I’m looking at you, girl!” 😉 I experienced that several years ago when I felt sure that we NEEDED a recovery group at the church I was attending. I kept telling people SOMEBODY needs to start this. Umm…turns out that somebody was me. I’m kind of slows sometimes. 😉

    Reply
  20. Carolyn Grammer

    Michele I cryed as I read your post. What a testimony of the faithfulness of our God. Also, I talked to my brother just this morning and he ask how you were doing. I can’t wait to send him a copy of this, I know he and hif fellow inmates will rejoice with us over what God is doing. My prayers will be with you in the next few months. May be even see you in Dallas:)

    Reply
  21. Sheree DeCouto

    Michele,
    We met in Orlando at the SCORRE conference this past spring. Your story is so encouraging to me as I too have walked the road of throat cancer and thought God would never use my words again. He does redeem that which the enemy tries to steal from us.
    Praising God with you!
    Sheree DeCouto

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      YOU know, more than most, why this is nothing short of miraculous. This isn’t about a big platform—it’s about a second chance at life. Thank you for your story and your life. I will never forget our meeting in Orlando, my friend.

      Reply
  22. Melissa Mashburn ~ Mel's World

    Oh my stars girl, I am sooooo excited for you! That is stinking awesome!!! Woohoo, celebrating with you. ~ Melissa

    Reply
  23. Cara Putman

    Wow! This is such a wonderful opportunity! So excited for you, Michele! I can see why this is a dream come true. 🙂

    Reply
  24. Christy Largent

    Oh, I’m so VERY happy to hear this!! I was debating on whether to go this year, (Sacramento) and now for sure I WILL! What a wonderful opportunity. Yippee!! 🙂 I’m so proud of you and how you are walking out your life journey.

    Reply
  25. Veronica "Pinky Vern" Hutcherson

    Rejoicing and praying a covering over you and your family as you begin this beautiful calling!
    Gratefully celebrating with you – WOOHOO!! PRAISE GOD!!! – for your increased strength, continued healing and especially for the release from those horrible grave clothes!!
    Hope to see you at the WOF in Dallas or Charlotte!

    Be Inspired,
    Veronica

    Reply
  26. Rachel Wojnarowski

    How exciting is this! Really blessed to hear you at Women of Faith and meet you for just a few minutes. God is up to incredible, marvelous works!

    Reply
    • Rachel Wojnarowski

      oops- I meant She Speaks. Oh mercy, a girl shouldn’t start typing immediately after her children go to bed. 😉

      Reply
  27. Kim Cottle

    Can you hear me cheering?! Oh, Michele, I think of those late nights and van rides having fun and talking about how God was working in us and through us; wondering what He had in store. I knew He would use you in big ways but WOW! I am beyond excited for you and for those who will be touched in your continuing ministry. Praying regularly for you and your family. If I make it to Indy, you’ll hear me cheering you on. Go be amazing!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Those van conversations were such a sweet time for me. Seems like only yesterday. Isn’t it profound that our friendship continues and grows after all this time? The grace of God, sister. Love to you.

      Reply
  28. Jacque Watkins

    Oh Michele!! When I saw this on Twitter I almost cheered out loud! I LOVE WOF, and have been to the Anaheim, CA event for the past 5 years in a row…what a perfect fit for you and they are blessed to have you as an emcee. God is SO good and He leaves nothing unredeemed. And maybe there’s a chance I’ll see you in person this fall?!…xoxo

    Reply
  29. Ilesha

    Michele!!! I don’t know how I missed this post, but I just got your newsletter!! Oh my!!! So. Much. Goodness. I literally have tears in my eyes as I read your newsletter. All I gotta say is, I’m calling dibs on you when you come to Sacramento. YAY!!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Aw, thanks Ilesha! Such a sweet message. Appreciate you more than you know!

      Reply
  30. Carol Doody

    Michelle,
    A few of us Shelter Rock Church women are heading to Philly next weekend for Women of Faith. I am so excited that you have joined their team. You are the perfect person for the emcee job. Your disposition is so graceful and loving just like Mary Graham’s. You so blessed us when you spoke at our retreats. What a treat that we will get to see you again next week. May God bless you in this new role!
    Carol Doody
    Women’s Ministry
    Shelter Rock Church

    Reply
  31. Leah DiPascal

    Michele … WOW! I have goose-bumps on top of goose-bumps! I’m SO excited for you and what a beautiful testimony of God’s love, grace, power and favor in your life. In the midst of such loss – having to say good-bye to your dad – comes this burst of joyful goodness from God. Just when we think our lives might be over He resurrects us for His glory! His love for you extends beyond all borders! I’m praying for you and your family today.

    Now, go write Ephesians 3:20 on your bathroom mirror and rejoice that God is a-b-l-e, girlfriend! He’s got this covered!!

    Hugs and Continued Prayers,
    Leah DiPascal

    Reply
  32. Debbie Erickson

    What an awesome story! I just finished a mg fantasy/adventure novel and hope to someday have the honor to speak to kids!

    Reply

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