I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. In high school, I made a timeline of my life, on styrofoam poster board. It housed milestones from my past—places we lived, important relationships, accomplishments—and hopes for my future.
- Go to Central Michigan University
- Become a Special Education Teacher
- Marry a youth pastor
These dreams became reality but there were also things that happened that were unplanned.
- Job loss
- Failed adoption attempt
- Relational strain
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we’ve envisioned it.
In those unplanned moments we are faced with a choice. Will we demand our way or choose to lean into the unexpected—focusing on the beauty that lies beneath the surface?
A Turn of Events
We were planning on adopting our fifth child. I wasn’t planning on being pregnant at thirty-nine. But having a child four months before my 40th birthday was one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received.
When I was pregnant with our Songbird, my doctor did not make me feel old. He did explain more about genetic testing and such but we declined. My ultrasound lasted longer with her than with previous pregnancies—I’m guessing they wanted to be more thorough.
I’m not offering medical advice here, but I want to mention that sometimes the unexpected curves in the road (and around our middles) can be the very thing that leads us in a new, life-giving direction.
Our youngest turned three on Mother’s Day, and I can’t imagine our lives without her. She is strong-willed like the rest, thinks she is Elsa from Frozen (minus the cold shoulder, please), and warms our days with “I wubb ewes” that come at just the right time.
Many women fear that a child will disrupt their well-laid plans.
But what if this child will enrich your life in ways beyond what you can imagine at present?
What if this child will stretch you beyond what you feel capable of, and you will grow stronger and wiser because of it?
What if this child will be the one to champion a cause that will improve our planet?
What if this child will help you stay young at heart?
What if this child will cause grief yet choosing to love them was worth the risk anyway?
Unplanned moments are not always as glorious as the arrival of a new child. They sometimes come in the form of loss and heartache, or unfair treatment and betrayal. What then?
My oldest daughter, Brooke, and I recently saw the movie, Unplanned, about former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson.
There were many moments in Abby’s life that didn’t turn out as expected…things she wouldn’t have listed on a styrofoam poster board, at her high school graduation party. Yet through the unplanned and unexpected moments of her life, God wove a powerful story that is helping many find life.
Often we see our circumstances from our own limited view, yet God is working and weaving a vibrant, strong tapestry that reaches far beyond what we see—often for redemptive purposes greater than we could guess.
Our willingness to pivot, or straight-up turn around and run in a new direction, can make all the difference, not just for us, or for today, but for future generations.
As flowers push through the earth, trees unfurl their leaves, and allergies flair, let’s ask God to help us grow and thrive in this particular season, even if it looks differently than expected.
Sometimes life doesn’t go as expected, and yet, God can use those very things to deepen our faith in ways that goals on a styrofoam poster board never could.
As we live surrendered to God, let’s trust Him to be just as faithful in the unplanned moments as the ones we’ve strategically planned or desperately wished for, while blowing dandelion seeds over a carpet of green.
It was a joy to encourage women on Mother’s Day with this message called, Manna for Mama.