What is God Doing When Our Plans Change?

In a matter of days, I’ll say goodbye to a dear friend and neighbor who I’ve grown close to since our move to Holyoke almost three years ago. Katie Wilson and her family have been a treasure to my family. She’s changed my youngest son’s diapers, we’ve celebrated our girls’ birthdays together, and she’s watched our kids any time we had a need.

When I needed encouragement, she’d bring me chocolate and coffee unannounced (yes, hold on to that friend!) I’ll always remember our shopping trips to Denver and Greeley and her wisdom and insight from sitting beside her in Bible study the last 2.5 years. I’ll always remember her girls raiding my pantry for food and how they loved playdates. Katie has been a true friend and a delight to know.

Katie’s husband, Dr. Wilson, has been a part of our family as well- he was always available to answer any of Jeremiah’s medical questions after the shooting accident in 2016. He never cared if it was after-work hours. He was a blessing to many people in our community as a wonderful doctor and a man of integrity who loved and deeply cared for others.

In these coming days, I’ll be preparing my heart and my kids’ hearts to “let go” of their playdates with the Wilson girls, hearing their girls’ voices echoing across the road while on the tire swing, and just knowing they were always there.

Change is never easy. Sometimes the very word causes us to cringe in our seat. In fact, our human nature is pretty resistant to it. But it’s a natural part of life that if we don’t embrace, we may become bitter at God for allowing something into our lives that we didn’t ask for.

Perhaps, in your own experience you’re having to let go too. Or maybe you’re bracing yourself in regards to a different situation – sending your child off to college, a career change, saying goodbye to a family member or someone you love, or trying to figure out the new normal in your present situation. I think of Abraham in Scripture who the Lord told to,

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Further on, we see that Abraham obeyed immediately and left idol worship in the wicked land of Ur to settle in the land of Canaan. He was seventy-five years old and I’m guessing he was quite comfy living right where he was. But God had called him to go. He had a plan that involved some pretty amazing things including that many nations will be blessed because of his obedience, his descendants will be more than all the stars in the sky, he will inherit the land, God will act for Abraham even though he is childless with Sarai, and that through his very lineage, Jesus Christ- the Savior of the world- would be born.

It’s important to note that God says to Abraham, “Go to the land I will show you.” This was not about Abraham’s plans and agenda, but about what God was doing through the people of Israel and the plan he had for the redemption and rescuing of mankind. He was going to use Abraham in a mighty way, even though Abraham had no idea how God’s promises would exactly unfold.

Sometimes in life we’re forced to move forward and it’s beyond our control. Or sometimes we’re quite comfortable living in a land of prosperity and would rather stay complacent. Or sometimes we just know it’s time to move on. Whatever the case, God works in all our circumstances – good and bad. He never changes who He is, but he’ll often call us to change for our own growth and to fulfill his plans in our life.

Saying goodbye is never easy on my end. I can be selfish and want things my way but God is helping me trust him through the different seasons. I can thank him for the precious memories I’ll always have with the Wilson’s in Holyoke. I can give him thanks for bringing them into our lives when we needed them most. I can thank him for giving me a sweet taste of real friendship. I can praise Him for using them in a great way to better the lives of so many people in our town.

There’s so much to be thankful for even when change is hard and there’s a temptation to doubt God’s goodness. Just as we see the flowers starting to bloom and the deadness from winter disappear, let’s watch together in anticipation with how the Lord longs to bring newness and life to our situation that we’ve never experienced before.

Samantha

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

 

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Big Life Changes and a Never-Changing God

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah accepted a new position at a well-known hospital where we live. Just a few days into his nursing job, the higher-ups decided to get rid of the entire floor he was working on for budget reasons.

All of the staff including his manager are seeking new jobs, hoping that the recruiters in the hospital can place them on another floor soon.

Of course this came out of nowhere for us. Jeremiah was so excited about his new job and I was happy too. We were excited about the awesome benefits and convenience in him walking to work. Clearly, it was God’s will. How could it not be?

But in an instant, that security vanished like a vapor.

Just before Christmas? Really, God?

I’ve asked him many times.

Not only that, in October, we found out we’re expecting a special little gift at the end of June- our third child to which we are very excited!

A job loss while I’m pregnant? Really, God?

I’ve asked him many times.

And in May, Jeremiah will graduate from seminary and before the summer ends, we will have to move out of seminary housing and know where we are going to live and do ministry.

Where do you want us, Lord?

I’ve asked him many times.

Right now, there have been no clear answers to my questions. But I know it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

And even in the midst of my questioning, a sweet, still voice has spoken truth into my heart. Truth that comes straight from His Word, reminding me that He. Is. God. The God of the Universe who created me and loves me and my family deeply.

When life is crazy and ever-changing, there is no shadow of turning with him as the old hymn says. He is constant, yet fully engaged in the details of our lives.

What I am starting to understand more as He takes me through trials is that he is teaching me God-reliance instead of self-reliance.

Way too often, I love to have the control and to tell him my plans. I’m often wrapped up in self instead of what God is doing. I often forget the bigger picture at hand.

God has proven himself in the past and has always been faithful as I wrote about this past summer, I have no reason to doubt him. It would be foolish to not trust Him this time.

So in this Christmas season, my prayer of course is that Jeremiah will have a job again. Soon! But more than that, my prayer is that God will change me and teach me what it means to cling to Him in the good times and the trying times. I want to look more like Him and give him glory no matter what season of life I’m in.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:5-9

What I saw in Whole Foods

Last week I went to Whole Foods to grab some drinks and trail mix for our afternoon at the lake. I hurried to the express lane and waited behind a heavy-set woman with long, tangly light brown hair sitting in a power scooter. She was digging through her purse trying to find the exact change.

The cashier rolled her eyes waiting for her. The people behind me stood impatiently and it was one of those moments where all eyes were on this lady including my own. I was thinking, Are you serious? Come on. I started to judge her based on her appearance and grew impatient with her.

There was another checkout station in front of her so I was called to that one. The lady continued rummaging through her big purse. I started to realize that my attitude had been wrong towards her. I needed to serve her. So I asked, “Do you need any money?”

I thought that maybe she couldn’t find any. The cashier looked at her for a response. “Oh, no. I’m fine,” she replied in a drawn out voice. I nodded my head, said okay and headed back to the car.

On the way to the lake I started to wonder if that lady was a beautiful, savvy, well-dressed woman who stood tall, if she would have been treated differently. I thought about how I didn’t have a servant’s heart initially. I followed Christ and needed to have patience towards her.

I look at what’s on the outside way too much and form my opinions and conclusions. I sometimes esteem someone greater because of their good looks or awesome abilities. But how shallow is that? I know the cliche that beauty is only skin deep.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Sam. 16:7

The heart is where we find the whole person: the thoughts, the motives, the sin, the hurts, the struggles, the hopes, the dreams, and the joys. The heart is where the wellspring of life is kept and it is a most precious thing.

The outward appearance, whether beautiful or ugly, can deceive. I’ve had my own days where I kept a certain image on the outside, but inwardly I was experiencing pain no one else knew. Outwardly, I’d smile, laugh, and continue to act how I wanted to be. But there was something more to the story.

It was definitely frustrating to wait in line behind this lady, but who knows what she was going through and  where she stood with God. Why would her appearance then matter so much? The bottom line is that God is her Creator. She was made in His image and has needs like all of us. She needs the gospel lived out in her life like all of us. She needs to be shown patience and compassion.

So who am I to think I am any better? The make-up on my face, my sporty outfit, and nice purse don’t show a full picture of my heart. Frankly, they don’t really mean anything.

I’ve been called by God to love and serve all people, especially those who seem difficult to love. And while I feel very far from this, I’m thankful God can help me do it.

I never got to know this lady at all and I hope she found her change, but God used that incident to help show me what’s in my own heart. I pray God will bring more people into my life like that so he can use them to help change me.

What do you love about fall?

Fall is my favorite time of year.

While it comes a bit later living in Dallas, I often reflect on the beautiful fall days I enjoyed in college and in seminary in Virginia.

The bright orange, yellow, brown, and red colored leaves on the trees are breathtaking.

The gentle, slightly cool breeze brushing against your face lets you know change is ahead and a new season is at hand.

Pumpkin spice candles and lattes permeate the air and hug your soul.

Sweet apple cidar with cinnamon sticks simmer in the crock pot, smelling so good, your mouth melts.

Fall for our family is also significant of life. My husband Jeremiah, my son John, and myself were all born in the fall (October exactly). Our baby girl is expected to arrive this fall as well.

I believe God gives us all the tiny little joys of fall to remind us that he’s involved in the changing colors of our lives. He makes all things new and he’s in the process of transforming all of us, season by season.

What do you love about fall?

Coming up to breathe

It’s definitely been an eventful past few weeks celebrating Easter, dealing with morning sickness, major fatigue, spending time with family, and working out some details with my husband’s school schedule and my work schedule. I have to admit that we’ve had some tough days like never before. The weight has been hard to carry and I just haven’t had it in me to blog, socialize, much less read email, cook, or clean. Yep, it’s that bad. And the main problem is that I haven’t been in the Word for spiritual renewal.

But, I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and my first trimester will be over soon. That’s not to say I won’t be sick after it, but I am praying for renewed strength. I am praying for change.

In a sense, I am thankful for the times I feel like I’m in the fire struggling. For the times I sense God’s discipline in my life. He loves me and is making me the woman he’s called me to be. I pray that I will be more like him in this season of struggle and in the areas he’s refining me in.

I’m curious to know where you’re at right now. What season are you in?

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