When Life Doesn’t Turn Out the Way You Planned
May 27, 2014


In the movie While You Were Sleeping, Lucy reminisces about her father as she narrates, “He would get these far-off looks in his eyes and he would say ‘Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan’. I just wish I’d realized at the time, he was talking about MY life.”

Mother’s Day was just an ordinary day for us this year. Okay, not that ordinary since our life seems to be filled with constant twists, turns and surprises. Why should this day be any different?

My husband Russ and I traveled north on the I-5, just north of Seattle to attend a Disaster Relief Training the Thursday before. We’ll join a team of trained chaplains and associates who are able to respond in case the need arises either nearby or anywhere in the country.

After two full days of training we began our journey back to Roseburg, tired and emotionally drained by all the information. Our oldest daughter was graciously taking care of her sister at home.

By the time we reached Portland we decided to take a night in the city. Pulling out a travel app I found an amazing last minute deal on a downtown boutique hotel.

I love my rural home but I must confess, there is something about the city that rejuvenates me.

My mind raced with the possibilities. Yes, our purpose was to rest but I couldn’t do that until I explored the city. After a late dinner we took a short walk and settled down for the night.

The morning of Mother’s Day I woke up without my kids around. It was a really odd feeling. After all, it is the amazing blessing they have brought to my life that has allows me the title Mom anyway.

Still, I sprung from bed ready to take on the city. No makeup required. I would pop my hair in a barrette and walk to streets with Russ, looking for a good cup of coffee with a side of atmosphere.

We made our way to Stumptown, a great little place attached to a hotel lobby full of character and charm. I quickly made a call to my daughter to let her know we were going to hang around for a bit, perhaps find a good brunch before heading south again.

As she answered, I heard her voice, raspy and tired, my girl was sick. She hadn’t wanted to call and bug me but I could tell she needed to sleep. We walked back to our room, checked out and drove back to do my job nurturing my offspring.

As rough as leaving Portland before brunch was, we found ourselves a week later in an ambulance headed north with our youngest aboard. Her high fever and abnormal blood counts gave cause for concern. I’m writing this in the hospital room in Springfield, post surgery and waiting for the next piece of news.

Over the years I’ve been learning to hold on to expectations with an open hand. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish for different outcomes or events. It just means I’m understanding more that life doesn’t derive its rich moments in out of high expectations or well laid plans.

The best moments of our lives are in the every day. They can even be found during illness and days of sadness. They are woven with light and dark threads and the foundation of joy that keeps the pain from sinking us into the deep.

I often think of Joseph in the middle of his life. He must have wondered if his dream was really from God. The road he took to get there is one he couldn’t have envisioned but nothing went to waste.

There is nothing we go through that doesn’t pass through God’s hands first. Sometimes we feel as if we are being sifted while we choose to trust Him completely. I think it’s path being prepared for our hearts purification.

I believe this is where wisdom grows.

My friend Christa taught recently that Joseph wouldn’t have made an impact on those who paved the way to his dream if His heart had been in the wrong space. If he was holding bitterness towards the brothers who threw him in a pit or the woman who falsely accused him of rape.

In Isaiah 26:3,4 says,

Lord, you will give perfect peace

to anyone who commits himself to be faithful to you.

That’s because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever.

The Lord is the Rock.

The Lord will keep us safe forever.” (NIRV)

When the road bends, it is my heart that must be stayed on Him. It’s in His Word, not my circumstances that I find peace.

Even when life doesn’t turn out the way I planned.


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  1. Jolene Philo

    Thank you for this reminder to leave my agenda in God’s hands and trust his agenda over mine. You do that with grace and sweetness. Thanks for linking this post to the DifferentDream.com Tuesday link share, too!

  2. Tiffany

    This is the second post I’ve read today dealing with keeping my eyes on God instead of circumstances. Coincidence? Unlikely. How is your baby girl doing now?

    • Jemelene

      Thanks for asking Tiffany! She is still struggling with a cough and the trip up north is still a bit of a mystery. She is happy though and I’m grateful!


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