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Friday, May 25, 2012

When God's Plans and Your Plans Don't Mesh

Almost five years ago, we purchased our current home. At the time we had four days to find a house and three weeks to move in. It narrowed our options. But God provided and we found a home that fit our needs.


We promptly painted walls and added a beautiful deck. As time wore on and we were able to save
money for other projects, we added more landscaping and finished our basement. But 18 months ago, my husband's commute grew much longer--almost double his previous commute--and we decided to put our house up for sale. We were going to build a new home in our school district but closer to my husband's job.

We had many intentions and good, solid plans, but as the months wore on of multiple house showings and no offers, I kept getting the impression God was telling me something. In January, I had a series of disappointments in life, and on top of that, my husband admitted he wanted to eliminate his commute and move much closer to his job, like minutes away.

My brain could not process this. Moving would mean putting our kids in new schools. It would mean leaving my dear, dear friends from church. It would mean giving up the volunteer duties at school that I love.

It would mean starting over. Again.

I wasn't ready to even consider it. My insides sobbed--we've lived in 9 homes in the last 14 years--but I prayed about it and told my husband I would at least think about it. My stubborn little heart could barely touch on the subject at that point. Shortly after, my prayer sessions made me realize God kept calling me to put my dreams--all of them, including my publishing and personal dreams--into His hands. And I did.

Some days I doubted. Many days I couldn't even think about any of it. Twelve hours before our realty contract expired (we were going to take the house off the market and stay in our current home if the house didn't sell in 6 months), we received the house offer that changed everything.

The tough shell around my heart cracked open. I finally was ready to hear God's plan.

The last month has been wonderful, challenging, terrifying, and stressful. My beautiful daughter made vows before God in a confirmation ceremony. My son continues to impress me with his empathy and athletic skills. My friends have helped me over and over. My family has kept me from going over the edge (thanks Sarah and Mom!). And my relationship with my husband is stronger than ever.

It's funny how God works. We've put offers on three homes. The first sold the day before we made our offer. The second was truly my dream home, but we didn't get it.  We're still waiting to hear on the third, which needs a ton of TLC.

Yesterday, a beautiful lot on the street we originally wanted to build right here in our school district came on the market. I knew exactly why it came up. It was God's way of asking, "Do you still want it your way? If you do, it's available. But if you're willing to do it My way, you won't be sorry."

I don't know where we're going to live. I don't know how this adventure will end. But I do know that God opened my heart to embrace His plan, and there is peace in not knowing what my future holds. All that matters is that God's the One holding it.

I'll keep you posted on what's happening in my life. It's going to be an exciting summer, that's for sure!

Have you ever had different plans than God's? How did you get through it? Did anything surprise you about the process?

Have an amazing weekend!!

48 comments:

  1. What an amazing experience. God is pretty terrific in the ways he works sometimes. Scary to trust but it sounds like you'll be blessed in the long run. Moving is never easy!

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    1. I'm still struggling right now, Laura. I have good hours and bad hours! The worst is the endless waiting to hear if our offers on houses are accepted. After losing two, my brain is shutting down about this third!

      Thanks!

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  2. Wow, such a cool story. I love to see how God works in mine and other people's lives.
    My plans are usually different from God's but of course I don't realize until after I've stressed myself out. When I finally let go, it always works out best.

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    1. Oh, I'm good at the stressing myself out too! Sometimes I have to take a step back and ask myself if it will be worth stressing about in two weeks. Usually, it isn't! :)

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  3. Admittedly, my faith in "Him..." is strained right now. The main reason is that I feel like he (My writing friends too) is insisting I write nonfiction, and I don't feel it's my strength at all. I don't like being tied to facts and research the you have to be for nonfiction, and as much as I don't want to write about my life, maybe I have to in order to write what I love without being so hard on myself.

    I also feel like he wants me to do things I've never been good at (i.e. Go back to school), despite trying so hard before but couldn't make it, and only further making me loathe the idea of the education system as I knew and grew up in.

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    1. My heart goes out to you, Taurean. I know you've been dealing with a lot this year. Why not give yourself a break and toss all the "shoulds" out the window? Figure out what makes YOU happy instead of what everyone else thinks? I know, I know--easier said than done, right? :) Still, we sometimes put needless pressure on ourselves.

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    2. Jill, I wish it were that simple, but it's just not. It's not that I don't know what I want, that doesn't mean getting it is straightforward.

      There's nothing should about-

      Going back to school after dropout burnout
      Making a living
      Mysterious secondary career for main income, and you know what I mean, you're a writer.

      Those are the things I'm facing right now, and there's no "should" about any of it. Sorry if I'm taking this too dramatically, but I'm simply telling the truth.

      While I don't live your life (Not married, no kids, still living at home and NOT loving it), and I know starting over by moving is hard, but it's also hard for some things to stay the same. Please remember that.

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    3. *sigh* I wish it were that simple too, Taurean. Nothing in life is simple, though, is it? I'm thinking about you and hoping the next phase of life brings you joy!

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  4. I can't count how many times God has rearranged my plans. We make plans, but He orders our steps. I'm so glad He does or I'd have stepped right into a land mine! Which for some odd reason brought me to this question: Do you still watch the Zombie show? LOL

    Have a great weekend! Praying everything moves smoothly! Pardon the pun.

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    1. I DO still watch The Walking Dead, but the season ended until October. Bummer. :(

      I nodded throughout your comment. I'm the same way. I get all excited about some plan of my own, and then it changes. Only looking back do I thank God it did!

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  5. I've learned through my many years on this earth that there are many paths in life I can take, but no matter which one I choose, God is rooting for me. I know that because I am a child of His, He wants me to be happy. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me on my many journeys through this life and to give me strength. Sometimes, I haven't always seen the path, but as all Christians should do...I walk in faith. Jill, your summer will be hectic, but try to enjoy this new path before you.

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    1. So wise, Em. I read 3 mantras in a book, and I repeat often:

      1. I believe I'm always divinely guided.

      2. I believe I'll always take the right turn in the road.

      3. I believe God will make a way where there is no way.

      There's so much truth and peace in these!

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  6. Oh, Jill. What a beautiful story of surrender. After my son was born, I felt God telling me to put my writing dreams in his hands by giving up writing without any promise of whether or not I'd ever get it back. I cried. I pouted. Ultimately, I agreed. I knew my sole focus on getting published had become toxic for me and my relationship with God. Nine months later, I got an unexpected publishing contract, and I felt God reopening that door for me. He is so good!

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    1. Yes!! I got the same call--except mine lasted a lot longer! I put my writing to the side until my youngest was in preschool, and I don't regret it. I truly felt it was God's plan. So cool that you listened and it all worked out, Julie!!

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  7. I was just going to email you today to find out your update. Been thinking about you and what you were going to do! It isn't easy but sounds like you are on the right track.
    Going through some weird things here--might be packing my moving truck again for another journey!

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    1. It's not easy. But we are on the right track! And I'm shocked you might be getting on the moving van again! Keep me posted, okay?

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  8. Jill, thank you so much for sharing your story. I love the way God is unfolding His plans as you surrender and obey.

    I remember Hubby coming home from work and sharing about lay-offs. I remember driving home from church, turning left by the hospital and telling God that Hubby was safe...right?

    In January 2009, Hubby came home from work early--due to economic downsizing, he had lost his job. Oh the panic that bubbled up... that same year, our son graduated from high school, I graduated college, my book gained contest recognition, my dream agent's attention, and my dream editor's attention.

    The last three years have been filled with many ups and downs as Hubby returned to school to obtain his college degree, our budget tightened, and living without medical benefits, but God continues to touch my heart and ask, "Do you trust me?" He opened doors for my writing career and continued to provide.

    Even with a tight budget, looming college tuition for our two boys, and hubby not working full-time yet, we have been able to pay off all credit cards and pay our bills on time. By November of this year, the only debt we will have is our house payment. That's not us....that's all God showing us He is providing no matter our circumstances.

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    1. Lisa, I'm filled with sympathy right now. The last four years has been such a tough economy. I know the worry you felt. We lived with that worry for years. Then, last year, the worry for us came true too--the store my husband managed closed down.

      We were incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to stay with the company. It just made a much longer commute for my husband.

      Also, I'm so impressed with your finances! It's hard to take a decrease in income (ours fell drastically several years ago too!). I'm praying God restores your financial security to eliminate the worries of college. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It touched me.

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  9. I thought I was going to marry someone totally different than my husband.

    God knew what I needed.

    And I'll keep praying (and talking) you through this.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. You did? Wow! I'm glad you listened to God and went with bachelor #2! (I'm calling your husband Bachelor #2, by the way. Yeah, it's the Dating Game here!)

      Thanks so much for always being here to support me!!

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  10. I'm confident that things are going to work out for you, Jill, but I selfishly still want you to stay close. :( We're going to miss you and your family terribly. Many prayers for a easy and peaceful house hunt.

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    1. I know, Brandy!! It's hard! Like I said, we still have no idea where we're going to live. If this house deal falls through, I might be in a van down by the river! Okay, getting stressed again... Must remind myself of God's plan!! :)

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  11. Awesome story! It helps to see someone else's story written out... It gives a perspective that nothing else can!

    Bless you, Jill... and everyone who might be trying to figure out what's next!

    Trust. (note to self)

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl! It helps me to see my own story written out. It doesn't seem as random and scary!! Ha!

      Have a wonderful weekend!

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  12. Oh, Jill, I didn't realize what an upheaval you've been going through, poor hunny. I admire your strength and your faith.

    Although I'm a rather quiet person when it comes to talking about God and His plan for me, I do believe that we each have an inner, quiet part of ourselves that, if we tap into it and listen, we will understand what God wants for us and how to get there and be the person he wants us to be. But it's a lifelong endeavor, isn't it?

    I used to think that God wanted me to be a college teacher, and I got my doctorate and taught. But the job circumstances were never ideal, and the tenure-track professor job market is a tough one, and I couldn't bear to detach myself from the little boys I had at home in order to make it a single-minded goal (think: publish or perish). It just didn't feel right.

    Now, I feel guided in another direction: fiction writing. Of course, that's not smooth sailing, either, but I'm still doing it until - or unless - I get "notification" otherwise, LOL! I think each step contributes to the overall plan in some way: nothing is wasted.

    Hang in there, Jill!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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    1. Kathy, I think God has us on the same plan! I quit my engineering job to stay home with our kids. Then I wanted to write, but He was like, Uh--not yet. Now I'm writing and it's been anything but a smooth ride! Still, I believe I'm meant to do this. He never promises a smooth ride!

      Thanks for the encouragement!!

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  13. Friend, thank you for sharing this! It's funny...most of my plans have been brought to fruition, at least in the last five or so years. But I think I've gotten comfortable with that...and that He is probably gonna shake things up sometime soon. Probably in something to do with my writing career. I want it one way, but He might say wait. We'll see...

    Thanks for your honesty and sharing your heart!

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    1. That's wonderful, Lindsay! I think there's an ebb and flow with everything. I've had some lovely "ups" too. :)

      One thing I know, if my writing had taken off right away, I wouldn't have the humility I have right now. I also probably wouldn't have been able to help other writers due to time. All of this has been a blessing, even when it doesn't feel like it!

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    2. Well, it's been a huge blessing to me personally, so I've benefitted from your waiting. :)

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  14. It's so hard to listen to Him sometimes. I am struggling with that right now, too, wondering if He wants me to be a published author since the door seems to be continually closing, or if He's building patience in me to wait for the right agent to come along.

    This post is so honest, though, Jill - that's why I love it. Following God isn't easy. It's incredibly hard, giving up our own plans and our own ways of thinking. I pray it all works out for the best for you and your family. :)

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    1. Melissa, so many of us have dealt with closed doors. I've had many over the last 5 years. I don't think it's a sign to quit. I think it helps us determine how badly we want it. What are we willing to endure to see our dream come true?

      It IS hard to give up our plans and follow God's!

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  15. Great post, Jill. It's so funny how the doors open when we trust God.

    Keep trusting!

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    1. Thanks so much, Loree--I needed to hear that!

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  16. Oh, Jill, that part where God told you you cold have it your way, but if you did it His way you would be blessed just gave me chills. Relinquishment is very hard, but it has wonderful results. I hope wherever you go, it will feel just like God's best.

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    1. I just got chills too, Nancy! I've really struggled today with trusting in His plan. We still haven't heard word on the house and I'm a frazzled, crazy mess! Checking in and seeing all these comments has given me so much strength--thank you. :)

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  17. My husband keeps talking about moving. Maybe I need to have a nice long heart to heart with you if it happens. I dread the idea of uprooting my family from the community we've built here.

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    1. Johanna, I think it takes a lot of time to process it and get your head wrapped around even considering it. But things will happen that will give you clues. Like, the fact the property we loved ended up selling. Or the fact there are no rentals in our school district.

      If there's anything I can assure you of--if you let a tiny crack of possibility open in your heart, God will prepare you to make the decision. It's not always easy, but it's not devastating either.

      I've moved many times, so please, e-mail me if you want to talk. jrkemer@yahoo.com

      Good luck!

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  18. Great post, thank you for sharing this. I have also been in a very challenging season. My hubby and I call it a night season. You can't see where you're going, its confusing, often scary, and sometimes the night is restless, you feel like you are fighting your way through every hour. But then God gives you a glimpse of dawn, hope, promise, and suddenly, the day has come and you are basking in warmth and light. Praying our mornings come soon!

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  19. Amy, I know that restless night. I know it. And I'm so sorry you're going through it. Wish I could snap my fingers and make it turn to daylight. *hugs*

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  20. Announcement:

    We just found out we got the third house!! Woo-hoo! I'm not going to be homeless!!

    Grinning...

    Jill

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  21. When our son was almost 31/2 he was scheduled for neurosurgery. We took long weekends for trips in lieu of a vacation. We also were looking to find a house;our mobile home was getting old and smaller. I found one we drove by just to see what Hubby thought;he liked it. I called and asked about seeing it. Due to our work schedules, we couldn't see it until after a one of our long weekends. I waited and waited for confirmation of the appointment. I finally called. The agent said,"We can't show that house to you. It had a bid on it that didn't go through and someone else was waiting to see it when it came back on the market. We had to put it on our sale pending list."

    Now this house was out in the country and the winter weather here has been known to be heavy. Three years and a half years later we had a blizzard. Two months after the fiasco with seeing the country house, we saw one in town. I had to work and needed to be able to get out of town. God knew this; He allowed us not to even see that country house because He knew what was ahead for us weather-wise. We have been here in the town house for over 30 years.

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    1. It's funny how we can look back and realize what a blessing something is! I've done that many times, too! And I'm glad God kept you from having to deal with that rough weather. :)

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  22. Hi Jill, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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  23. Jill,
    We moved a year ago, and it was such a blessing, even though I had thought I'd stay in the old house forever (18 years of getting comfortable can do that to person). The new place is beautiful and sparkling and landscaped, and perfect for the kids. And yet....my husband and I both feel very clearly that this is not where we will stay. We were both afraid to admit it to each other, worried we would disappoint each other.

    If we continue on what we believe is God's plan for us right now, we will be downsizing by about 90 percent (it's just stuff, right? A lesson I need to remember) to move into an RV for a couple years and tour the country with the kids while they are still at home.

    Eight people, 350 square feet, and one bathroom. What could possibly go wrong, right?

    As scary as it sounds, I feel strongly that God is asking me to let go of some of my ideas about what it means to be secure and to trust that HE is my security.

    Best wishes with your move, and thanks for sharing. I needed to see that others get called out of their comfort zone as well.

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    1. Wow, Rose, that sounds like an adventure!! And, yes, it definitely IS just stuff. Since we've moved often, I've learned to let go. We have no problem tossing and donating. :)

      Best wishes as you figure out what the best course is for your family! May God give you strength!

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  24. Whoo, child. Sometimes I feel like God and I are never on the same page. :)

    His page is always, always better.

    Love you!

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    1. It is. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it at first, but it always is!!

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