Prayer: Our Powerful Parenting Tool

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Sometimes, all we can do is wear out the carpet with our knees. 

God used my son to teach me this valuable lesson during his first couple years of elementary school. I knew he was an energetic kid, but when his behavior started to fall behind his Kindergarten peers, a small seed of worry began to grow. Could he have special needs? A learning disability or ADHD?

Countless attempts at discipline, setting consequences, and rewards without improvement left me feeling defeated. Reassuring the school principal we were handling the situation became harder the following year as the reports kept coming home: Has difficulty focusing. Is a distraction to his classmates. Cannot complete assignments. I dreaded answering the phone when the school called. What if they ask him to withdraw?

Before I knew it, that seed of worry had grown into full blown momma anxiety. I felt ill-equipped to handle the mental strain and emotional stress of a child with academic and emotional delay. 

I needed a plan to fight the fret. Tummy butterflies, shaking hands, and trouble breathing became physical manifestations of a spiritual lack of trust and I simply couldn’t live like that. One night, I went into my son’s room after he fell asleep and knelt beside his bed. I laid my hands on him and began to pray for guidance. 

Psalm 91 has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, but in the shadows of my son’s dimly lit room, I experienced the comfort of being covered by the Lord’s wings. Verse 4 says, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. I found refuge in remembrance of the Lord’s faithfulness. I knew He was in control and would guide me through the ups and downs of this journey.

As I reread Psalm 91 in its entirety, my anxiety fizzled out as the words became relevant to my circumstances: 

  • God will protect my son. (v. 4) 
  • I have no reason to fear what will happen. (v.5) 
  • This process will not bring harm or disaster to our family. (v. 10) 
  • When I call on Him, He will answer me. He will be with me every step of the way. (v. 15)

Perhaps you understand how the weight of parenting can lay heavy on a momma’s heart. But that’s why prayer is the most powerful tool we have. Consistently going to God lessens anxiety; as our knees wear out the carpet, God lifts our burdens. He protects our children more effectively than we ever could. Let’s put our trust in Him.

When Life Is An Upstream Swim

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
Colossians 3:23

Living a life of faith is difficult sometimes. I go through periods when I feel like I’m all alone, swimming against a current of resistance. I’m trying to follow God’s direction while most others around me are living by the world’s guidance. And there are days I want to give up and go with the flow. Weary of defending the choices I make for myself and family, I long for the ease of common ground.

It’s during those hard days that I am encouraged by Paul’s perspective in I Corinthians. In a letter to the church in Corinth, he describes his plans:

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. (I Corinthians 16:8-9) 

In the same breath, Paul embraces his calling to preach and the resistance he will face. The importance of his assignment is not altered by its difficulty. He will be like a salmon making the treacherous journey upstream, swimming against the current, navigating fish going in the opposite direction

What strikes me most in this passage is how Paul acknowledges there are many who oppose me – those who wish to undermine his work are just as important as those who are open to it. He embraces both the challenge of spreading the gospel and the opposition he will face as a result. Paul understands that God has specifically chosen him for this challenging, tumultuous ministry because of his courageous dedication to effectively sharing his faith. He will not allow discouragement to replace a passion for sharing the Gospel.

All too often, we can be distracted by the opinion of others. They chip away at our confidence and leave us second guessing our convictions. We may feel the need to defend ourselves, but the reality is, there is nothing to defend when we are doing God’s work. Let us remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

If your life feels like an upstream swim, be encouraged by the promises of God: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10) Let us walk in bold obedience as we live long and prosper. (Deuteronomy 5:33) God has a specific assignment for you just as He did for Paul. So in the words of Dori, just keep swimming.

Let God Have The Ending

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:41

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for the Godly Chic Diaries. The article, also featuring the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat found in Mark 4, was entitled Power through Panic with Prayer. You can read it here.


To say I was anxious was an understatement. My mind flooded with what if’s the moment I found out my husband was returning home from an 8 month deployment. What if he’s different? What if I’m different? How will the reunion go? I couldn’t help but imagine countless scenarios but the truth was, I had no idea what to expect.

Do you struggle with anticipating a bad ending to a situation before it happens? Our minds race three steps ahead, assuming a negative outcome that may not be true. Perhaps you mentally process how a conversation will play our and then resort to avoiding it because there’s no way it will go well.

In Mark 4, we find the disciples in a boat with Jesus after a long day of ministering. Verses 37-38 say, A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples panicked.

Overwhelmed by the situation, they wake Jesus in dramatic fashion – “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” This was no gentle jostle of the shoulder while speaking in a calm, low volume as to not startle Jesus awake. Panic screamed from their lungs as they shook Him conscious. They had already determined the outcome and it was certain death. They had done all they could and drowning seemed imminent.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

When we experience difficult circumstances, it may feel like they will never end. We may conclude that God doesn’t care. Like the disciples, we may fail to recognize the power of Who is with us. But no suffering lasts forever. And God does care. He allows us to endure the doom in order to develop a dependence on Him. He proves His power through the process, demonstrating His control over the ending.

Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. So let’s expect God to calm the storms of life’s unexpected events. Let’s put our faith in the One who orchestrates every detail of our day. Because even the biggest of waves obey Him.

Childlike Forgiveness

Have you ever seen children peacefully playing together, sharing, and taking turns? Perhaps for a short time, but more commonly, they snatch, bicker, and frequently yell, “mine!” Sharing may not be a child’s strong suit, but they seem to do pretty well with forgiveness. They could be fighting and biting one minute, then hugging and holding hands as they trot back to the sand box as if nothing ever happened.

What makes it so difficult for adults to forgive in the same way? Often, our first instinct is to hold a grudge against someone who has offended us. We are quick to judge their motives and protect ourselves from being mistreated or embarrassed. We forget that just this morning we needed to ask forgiveness from someone else.

As we age, the experiences of life create wounds and as a result, we develop insecurities or push down unwanted negative emotions. We acquire sensitive areas representing these wounds in various stages of healing. When we are hurt by someone else’s words or actions, these sensitive areas are pressed and it doesn’t feel good. We react in defense rather than respond with forgiveness.

Children, however, haven’t accumulated a bank of negative experiences and live under the bliss of short term memory loss. They are wired to live in the moment, quickly moving between emotional responses. They have the ability to forgive and forget.

Childlike forgiveness is what God offers to us and how He desires we forgive others. In fact, it is such an integral part of our walk with Him that He included it in the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greek word used for forgive is aphiémi which means to send away, let go, release. Imagine our sins to be like a balloon filled with helium. As we confess them to God, we are letting go and He simply watches them float by. He does not snatch them up, adding them to the millions of balloons we’ve confessed over the years. No, He sends them away. He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

So why, then, do we hold on to the sins of others against us? When we do, we position ourselves above God as judge, deeming it our responsibility to keep track of their balloons. Inevitably, our balloons mingle with theirs making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two. We cannot expect to openly receive forgiveness from God with our hands tightly gripping a bundle of balloon strings.

But who are the debtors we need to forgive? A debtor is someone who sins against us or withholds the love and respect owed to us. We often view forgiveness as a willingness to accept the sin itself. This is difficult because we want heinous offenses to be unforgivable. We want our pain validated.

Alternatively, what if we could shift our focus from the act of sin to the lack of respect or love we have received as a result? Choosing to forgive what we have been deprived of rather than the offense itself can revolutionize how we forgive. Because our ultimate need for love and respect comes from Christ and not from other humans, we experience the freedom to let go of what has been done to us and receive healing from God.

We are not responsible for how we are treated, but we are responsible for how we respond. We need the forgiveness of God as Matthew 6:14-15 says For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Forgiving frees us from the bondage of grudges and clears our slate with God.

Are you clinging to a handful of balloons? Whether they are your unconfessed sins or the sins of others against you, open your hands and release them all. Consider forgiveness through the lens of a child. To truly forgive means to truly forget, as if the offense never happened.

Are You Wrestling With God?

Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Job 22:21

This past weekend my sons competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), a martial art focused on ground hand-to-hand combat. Points can be earned by executing specific techniques of take-down and control, but the ultimate goal is to win by submission through joint locks and chokeholds. Elementary-aged children aggressively compete under the supervision of a referee and coaches. It is intense and exciting to say the least!

In BJJ, a submission is fought for. There is strategy, skill, and strength involved. Force is used against an opponent who is desperately trying to avoid loosing. All it takes is one move and the match will be over.

With God, submission is the opposite. He will not wrestle us into compliance. It does not take strength, skill, or strategy to surrender to the will of God. And rather than a singular burst, God desires a willing heart, dedicated to following Him daily.

This is what Eliphaz was referring to in Job 22. In the midst of great loss, Job was looking for understanding as to why God allowed him to continue suffering. His friends erroneously thought Job was the cause, that somehow he was not right with God. If Job would just willingly submit to God, the wrongs would be righted and he would experience the Lord’s blessing again.

Ironically, Job was a strong example of a man postured under the will of God. Chapter one tells us Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. Satan set out to shatter his faith by destroying his family, servants, and livestock. Job was stripped of everything all at once and yet he did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:22)

How many of us can honestly say the same? Personally, I’m quick to question God’s plan when life gets rough. My trust in Him weakens. I am less willing to submit my heart to Him when difficult circumstances arise – I find myself wresting against God rather than surrendering to Him.

Job 22:21 reminds me to “Submit to God and be at peace with Him.” The Hebrew word for submit used here is cakan, which means “to be of use or service”. Submitting to God means we yield our will to the Father, allowing Him to use us as He sees fit. Be at peace with Him is described by the term shalam which means “to be complete”. Therefore, we are complete in the Lord when we surrender our hearts and minds to His leading.

May we never forget the way Jesus demonstrated a willingly compliant spirit by praying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Is there something God is calling you into but you are resisting? Perhaps you’re wrestling with God to see prayers answered the way you want them answered. Be encouraged that He is trustworthy. He can handle whatever life is throwing at you. It may feel scary to leave the familiar, to walk away from routine, or to step out in faith; God will be with you every step of the way, coaching you to victory in Him.

**Personal side note: currently, my goal is to post to my blog weekly on Mondays, preferably in the mornings. After a busy weekend of family birthdays, it just wasn’t going to happen.

When I asked the Lord what He wanted me to write about this week, He gave me the word submit. But rather than “submitting” immediately, I thought it would be more efficient to complete a work of writing I had already begun rather than starting from scratch.

So I sat in Starbucks this morning, desperately trying to complete something worth reading. Nothing. My mind was completely blank. Finally, after 30 minutes of writer’s block, I gave in. I began writing this post and the Lord poured the words through my fingers onto the screen. He was teaching me the very lesson I hoped to encourage others with – submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog! xoxo

A Word to the Anxious Heart

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come, he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 
Isaiah 35:4

“What is the world coming to?” I overheard a conversation between two ladies as they watched the news playing on a tv perched above the bar at the airport.

Who hasn’t muttered a phrase of similar persuasion in the past few years? It seems as if violence is becoming a regular occurrence, fear an all-too-common emotion. Many of my friends are also moms who voice concerns about the environment their young children will be growing up in. We worry if they will be adequately equipped to handle the struggles they may face. We question our ability to instill Godly conviction in them. We wonder, will they turn out ok?

I imagine our concerns may be similar to those of the remaining faithful Jews living in Israel while the vast majority had walked away from religious traditions. In the book of Isaiah, we find a message of judgement in response to the Israelite’s rejection of God. Impending doom for God’s chosen people must have evoked fear and worry in the hearts of those who desired to obey. Perhaps they questioned if their commitment would be enough. Would the Lord remember His promises to Abraham and King David if their descendants forgot about Him? They may have felt desperate for change yet powerless to do anything.

Have you every felt that way? I wish I had a crystal ball telling me how things turn out in the end. My hope is that my sons grow up to be kind, independent, and courageous Christ-followers. I want them to find God’s path for them, but worry that the noise of this world will cause great distractions.

That’s why I find Isaiah 35:4 particularly comforting. In this chapter, we see a shift from the message of death and destruction to one of encouragement and hope for restoration.

And I think it speaks to a specific group of people – those of us who have a tendency to worry. We believe in God and trust His authority, but relinquishing our need for control is extremely difficult. The verse says, “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong and do not fear; your God will come, He will come with a vengeance; with divine retribution, He will come to save you.'”

Say to those with fearful hearts; the Hebrew word used here is leb, which refers to a fearful mindset. The heart, mind, or will of a man is in a state of concern or alarm. It’s a tendency to anticipate a bad outcome. It’s an ever-present unsettled feeling, rather than being scared about a specific situation. A fearful mind finds it extremely difficult to trust God. We want to manage our circumstances with substantiated evidence of tangible control; believing an invisible God will give us what we need is uncomfortable and nerve-racking.

But God has a tender spot for those who long to be brave. He cares deeply for those who are fighting fear and worry day in and day out. He wants to whisper in our ear, “I’ve got this. I see what you’re facing and I’m in control. There’s nothing too big for me.”

If your heart has a tendency to worry rather than trust, be encouraged today that God has a special message just for you. He calls us to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9) for our benefit. God doesn’t want us trying to play god – He’s the best one for that position. He longs for us to experience His peace (John 14:17) but tranquility and turmoil cannot co-exist. It is impossible to live a joyful life when our minds are consumed with the possible outcome of circumstances beyond our control. When we know The One who has the authority to command the wind and seas to obey (Matthew 8:27), we can rest assured that He will take care of us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Keeping Score… In A Good Way

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

My mind raced as aggravation consumed me. In less than one minute I had tallied all the things I was doing and how little I was receiving in return. Thoughts like, I shouldn’t be treated this way and I deserve better, swirled me dizzy as I sunk deeper into a whirlpool of of negativity.

Has that ever happened to you? Perhaps you’ve been mistreated at a job, spoken to disrespectfully by a family member, or given the cold shoulder by a friend. It’s easy to dwell on all the things that person is doing wrong and everything we’re doing right.

This message hit home for me while listening to a podcast about relationship dynamics. The speaker challenged the listener to ask one important question – “What is it like being in a relationship with me?” In other words, am I easy to get along with?

I was hit with an embarrassing realization that I often keep score in a bad way. Focusing on the shortcomings of others builds my self-confidence and centering my attention on how I’m not doing those things allows me to feel better about myself. But only temporarily. And it’s exhausting to hold onto these offenses.

God never intended relationships to be that way. We can’t build each other up as we’re called to do in I Thessalonians 5:11 by tearing each other down and when we keep track of mistakes, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Philippians 4:8 gives examples of what our thought life ought to be like – whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – think on these things.

Choosing to think about what God wants us to think about changes our mood and outlook on our circumstances. Looking for the good helps us forgive the bad as we mentally tally the positive.

Now, when I find myself focusing on the negative, I take inventory of my thoughts by asking three questions:

  1. Are my thoughts true? There may be truth to the negative thoughts I’m having, but it’s likely I’m exaggerating the circumstances a bit. No, they down always speak with a rude tone. No, they’re not always on my case. We can release agitation by keeping the situation in proper perspective, thus being set free from a negative thought cycle (John 8:32).
  2. Are my intentions pure? If my intentions are to build myself up, I need to shift my heart from a position of defense to one of peace-keeping. I Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” When I keep score of how others are offending me, I miss the opportunity to love them. It takes intentionality and mindfulness to extend grace when we’re being rubbed the wrong way. Keeping pure thoughts towards one another leads us to forgive.
  3. Does God admire my thoughts right now? This one is a real show-stopper for me. I’d like to believe that what stays inside my head is concealed, but Psalm 139:2 says God perceives my thoughts from afar. Nothing is hidden from Him. Imagine the prick of disappointment God experiences when we think harshly of His other children. Knowing how much Jesus loves me stirs a passion to please Him with my thoughts, words, and actions. It takes practice, but we can learn to redirect our hearts and minds to think on what God would deem admirable.

Taking inventory of my thoughts diverts them to a favorable pathway. I’m reminded that the person I am criticizing is loved by God just as much as I am. This shift in perspective leads me to consider their good qualities, tallying positive marks for them and releasing my bitterness and resentment in the process. And that, my friend, begins my method of keeping score in a good way. Ready to give it a try?

(more…)

At the Intersection of Chaos and Calm

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

 

Do you ever have trouble sleeping?

This is unusual for me as I am chronically fatigued from the mental and physical demand of raising three young, energetic boys. Our days are filled with curiosity, conflict, and craziness. Needless to say, bedtime is an event I look forward to daily. 

I typically fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. But recently, I cant seem to get my brain to turn off. I think about all the mistakes I made that day, all the conversations I could have handled better. I wonder if Im following Gods plan for my life. Insecurity about my mothering skills, anxiety about the future, and feelings of loneliness steal my peaceful dreaming. 

If only I could calm the chaos and get some rest, I think as the moments tick by. Have you ever felt that way?

The network of our minds is similar to that of a carefully designed map of a large, heavily populated city. Thoughts travel the highways and byways like lightning fast race cars, and if we let them, they will overtake our ability to live a healthy life. The overwhelming thoughts I was having were an indication I had gone too far without a break. Rather than heeding the caution of yellow stop lights, Id rush through the intersection full speed ahead. But taking breaks are crucial to our well-being and we have Jesus example as proof.

In Luke 5, we find Jesus beginning His ministry. He has been baptized by John, tempted by Satan, and called the disciples. Now, He is performing miracles. While in one of the towns, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking for healing. Jesus heals the man and orders him, Dont tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. 

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. (Luke 5:14-15 NIV)

Can you imagine? Crowds of people came to hear Jesus preach and ask for healing. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people followed after Him. I think its Jesus can relate to feeling overwhelmed. He understands what it feels like to be in high demand. And He knows what it takes to maintain calm amidst the chaos as the next verse explains. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

From the beginning, Jesus carefully and diligently set aside the duties of ministry to commune with the Lord. I dont know about you, but I have a tendency to recognize my need for rest well after I am exhausted. For Jesus, solitary moments with His Heavenly Father were a necessity. They provided the energy needed to continue preaching and healing. In those moments, Jesus was refueled and recharged. 

We are unable to control the amount of chaos we face, but we can control how we respond. At the intersection of chaos and calm, we find Jesus. There, the craziness of life meets order. Anxiety meets peace. Fear meets courage. Insecurity meets confidence. Jesus is waiting for our daily visit and as our key verse mentions, His presence will go with us, and He will give us rest. 

If youre feeling overrun by your thoughts today, find hope in the promise of peace Christ offers – From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding. May we be mindful of our tendency to press through fatigue as You teach us to purposefully pursue time with You as Jesus did. Restore our hearts, minds, and souls, equipping us to be used by You.

Amen

Freedom from Mom Guilt

Those who look to him are radiant; 
their faces are never covered with shame.
Psalm 34:5

The first hour of the morning is often the worst part of the day in my house. The hustle and bustle of getting three boys dressed, fed, and lunches packed while they are constantly distracted to do anything but leaves me anxious and frazzled. I can’t tell you how many times I’m heading to work wishing I could have a do-over.

Since do-overs are not possible and the morning logistics are not changing anytime soon, I began to wonder what can be done? No matter how well I plan my time in the mornings, doing as much as I can before the children awake, things happen. Namely, emotions happen. They’re tired or whiny. They don’t want to get dressed or eat as quickly as I want them to. I feel my patience thinning as I make second and third requests for shoes to be put on.

When I don’t tend to my emotional state, the irritation grows to anger and I end up speaking louder and with more condescension in my voice. And that’s what I feel guilty about. That’s what leaves me wanting a do-over. It’s not that we are late or that bellies are empty or arms are bare on a chilly morning. The actual stuff that needs to happen, happens. It’s the way in which it happens that I want to change. I want to handle myself differently.

As I look to free myself from this mom guilt, I’m reminded of Psalm 34. This passage was written by David after he had done something extremely shameful. While running from King Saul, who was trying to kill him, David pretended to be insane in order to avoid being identified. In fear, he allowed saliva to fall to his beard, a sacred part of his body. This helped him escape, but I’m sure he felt the sting of guilt afterward. He had dishonored the Lord and himself. I imagine he would’ve liked a do-over.

But what strikes me most is the way David deals with his shame. He knows exactly where to go for comfort – the Lord. He begins the chapter with praise, having already accepted the forgiveness God so freely offers. David understood that God was not an irritated, condescending Father who would shake His head or turn away when David repented. David understood the character of God to be loving and forgiving like that of a parent who welcomes a child in after making a bad choice and sits them down over warm chocolate chip cookies and ice-cold milk to discuss. Verse 4 says, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me;  He delivered me from all my fears.” God didn’t make David feel worse about what he had done – the magnitude of his choices did not elude him. Instead, the Lord’s radiance extended to David’s face, cleansing him from the guilt and shame.

On my most difficult mornings, I have the opportunity to do the same with Jesus. When I pause to look at Him rather than the chaos around me, I find peace. I can be free from mom guilt because He always extends an arm around my shoulders, comforting me and calming my fears of failure. He doesn’t reprimand me or say, “You better get it right next time, or else!” He’s more like a warm hug of encouragement saying, “You can do this. Just keep your eyes on me.”

I’m never going to be the perfect mom. Thankfully, I don’t have to be. God’s grace covers what’s been done so I can embrace what’s to come. Freedom from mom guilt provides a fresh slate to move forward upon. And who knows, maybe I will get it right the next time.

Life’s Unexpected Turns

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Some days just simply don’t go as planned. They may start off well, but then, without warning, turn sideways, never to be fully recovered. This was one of those days.

After a couple of busy weeks, I finally had a day to complete all the grunt work I’d been putting off – vacuuming, mopping, and laundry. Mounds of laundry.

But first, the gym. I knew that if I didn’t exercise first it wouldn’t happen. Once I completed my workout, mentally checking off the first “To-Do List” item, I headed home in my car.

As I pulled out into the street, a loud rumble caught my attention. Something didn’t feel right either. A sinking feeling came over me… could I have a flat tire?

Sure enough, I did. In that moment of realization, I knew the day would unfold much differently than I had originally planned. Maybe you can relate. Unexpected traffic causes a missed appointment. An infant’s blowout requires a trip home to change. A long-anticipated vacation is dashed by a significant life event. We’ve all been surprised from time to time, either by little hang-ups or devastating loss.

What can be done when life suddenly turns sideways? That day with the flat tire, I wanted to sit on the curb and cry. I wanted to focus on the disappointment of my well-intentioned day and sulk. I wanted to have a pity party. But Proverbs 19:21 came to mind, which says, many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. The verse gave me hope that maybe God had a purpose hidden in my messed-up plans.

The next four hours were spent replacing the flat tire with a spare, watching the spare go flat, receiving a tow to the tire shop, and buying four new tires. My time, energy, and finances were emptied that day. And if that was all I chose to focus on, I would have missed the ways God was encouraging me to trust Him. He gave me the ability to change the tire, something I had never done before. He gave me the determination to not give up when the spare went flat. And He blessed me with the opportunity to have new tires placed on my vehicle, an overdue necessity.

God’s purpose was going to prevail that day whether I liked it or not. Initially, I felt anxious, agitated, and angry over my circumstances. But with the Lord’s help, my heart changed. His protection and provision led to assurance He was in control, confidence He had a plan, and comfort in knowing He was with me each step of the way. And that was His true purpose – His blessing in disguise.

Lord, thank you for showing me that even when I make plans, I must allow them to unfold under your purpose. Teach me to honor You with how I manage the events of my day.