February 21, 2015

A New Website and a Fresh Start

Hello Friends!

I just wanted to let you know that I will now be writing at a different location: www.kendrabroekhuis.com 

Please check out my new sparkly website, and continue to follow my blog there. You can sign up to receive email updates when I post new articles, at the bottom of the blog page. 

You can also connect with me on social media: go to Facebook and "like" my new page: Kendra Broekhuis: Grace&Peace, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram! @kendrabroekhuis

Thank you so much for your continued reading and support. 

Much love to you all!

Grace and Peace,
Kendra


February 18, 2015

The Train Wreck Called "When Body Met Pregnancy”

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of my human body over which Pregnancy, who likes to think she is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’”
 - Abraham Kuyper’s Pregnant Wife probably

Clip art of Pre-Pregnant/Pregnant Pollyanna done by yours truly. 

Every. Square. Inch.

As if pregnancy is the latest remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” As if it’s not a beautiful, precious little child growing inside, but rather something sort of like a life-sucking parasite.

This is for those who are pregnant, or who have recently been pregnant, or who remember being pregnant a long time ago because the transformation was simply that memorable. 

And this is for those who do not feel like a magical pregnancy unicorn for nine out of the nine months of gestation. 

(Because it’s better to laugh than to hormonally cry as we already do much of the time.)

We'll start from the top. And work our way down to the deepest depths.


1. Pregnancy Brain. Why did I enter this room? Why did I open the fridge? Did I remember to flush the toilet? What was I going to do? Where did I set that thing? What “thing” did I set down in the first place?

2. Pre-pubescent Acne. Did I get pregnant, or did I re-enroll in puberty? PLEASE NO.

3. Zombie Eyes. Trouble falling asleep. Tossing. Turning. Wanting to punch Husband's peacefully sleeping face straight out of the bed and across the room just because. An endless cycle of daytime cat naps and nighttime insomnia. Being blinded by the light when venturing outside even when it is overcast. All attributing to eyes that look like striped Christmas candy canes and make me a prime candidate for next season's tryouts of The Walking Dead.

4. Fattened Shnozz. Did you know this? That your nose can literally swell when you're pregnant?! Does that explain how I can tell my next door neighbor forgot to put on deodorant this morning?  Or how three days post-chopping, I can still smell onion on my hands? Or how I can sniff out a Big Mac from miles away?

5. Moles on Moles on Moles on Moles. (Moles on ery'thing.) The best kinds are the ones with hair growing out of them.

6. Chipmunk Face. “Doc, you say it’s water retention, but I swear I pee out all of my bodily fluids on an hourly basis.”

7. Gorgeous Locks. Thank you, Prenatal Vitamins. Because of you, not all pregnancy changes are bad. But I’m pretty sure my gorgeous, fast growing hair is just your apology for setting me up on a never ending blind date with Constipation.

8. Sausage Fingers. “Lady Fingers, meet Sausage Fingers. And say ‘goodbye’ to your wedding ring. You won’t be seeing it again until you endure two weeks of Night Sweats post-delivery.”

9. Hillbilly Teeth. "Oh, I’m sorry. Did you only brush your teeth twice yesterday?" snickered Cavities and Gingivitis. 


10. Ring. (See #8: “Sausage Fingers.”)

11. Drool. You thought your pee muscle was the only incontinent part of your body? Wrong. WUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

12. Burning Heart. I be poppin' Tums like Smarties. All because of the three tortilla chips I slathered with salsa. Mild salsa. Maybe I can just pop one of my new water balloon boobs to put out the fire in my chest.

13. Water Balloon Boobs. You can look, but you can’t touch. Or you will be seriously killed. 

14. Stretch Marks. “Spread some cocoa butter on your stomach!” she says. “That will prevent getting any stretch marks!” she says. (Tell that to the purple map of Zimbabwe that miraculously appeared on my stomach and buttox after eighteen gallons of cocoa butter treatment.)

15. Toxic Gases. Now, I’m not quite sure. Was that one called the “Machine Gun,” or the “Crop Duster?” And will the smell stick around for all eternity like a wet booger on the tip of my finger? For the love of potpourri. 

16. Warped Belly Button. Oh, you didn’t know? My belly button is with child too! 

17. Apple Bottom Butt. “How do you fit all that, in them jeans?” sang Jason Derulo to his pregnant Baby Mama probably.

18. Unreliable Sphincter. Meet your new BFF:


And meet your other new BFF: Kegals.

19. CRAMP!!! As if I was actually trying to exercise in my sleep!!! I don't even exercise in the daytime!!! It's like a thousand bees stinging my legs beneath a thousand stinging jellyfish!!! Make it stop!!! I might need to offer Husband a kick to the gut to go with the punch to his peacefully sleeping face!!!

20. Spider Veins. “Mommy, why did you color on your legs with a blue marker?”

21. Sasquatch Feet. Am I pregnant, or did I contract elephantiasis? Will my feet ever fit into anything besides thong sandals again? And by "thong sandals," I mean actually wrapping a stretchy g-string around a thick slab of cardboard, simply to avoid having to walk barefoot up and down the aisles of the grocery store?! (Side note: I swear I just clipped my nails yesterday. Thanks again, Prenatal Vitamins.)

22. Wooly Legs. “Ignorance is bliss,” said every pregnant woman who couldn’t see her hairy legs beyond her beluga whale belly. ("But to know is pain," said every pregnant woman's husband sharing her bed.)

And oh yeah, did I forget to mention...?


Grace and Peace to you who are also on the beautiful, miraculous, awesome (and sometimes interesting) journey of Pregnancy,

Kendra

February 12, 2015

My Boyfriend Didn’t Love Me

I had been dating this guy for awhile. And I liked him. (I liked him a lot.)

We were on another date together, and I don’t remember exactly how our conversation went, but I remember the main point: 

My boyfriend didn't love me.

We had been discussing when we think couples should say “I love you” to each other, and my boyfriend came right out and said he wasn't going to say “I love you” to me. Not yet, anyways.


At first I was a little bummed. After only three months in I knew I was going to marry this guy. (Check that: I knew I really wanted to marry this guy.) I was practically head over heels for him, almost bursting to say those three little words.

But he came from a town where you don’t take a girl home unless it’s pretty serious, and you definitely don’t take a girl to church unless you are engaged. Forever and always. 

So I first thought that was the reason He didn't want to say "I love you" yet. (He’s just a slower “relationship progressor” than I am.)

But then he explained: “Actually, I don't want to say ‘I love you’ to anyone until I get engaged to them.” (Okay, I guess he’s just a much slower relationship progressor than I am.)

His further explanation: “You see, I think of love as a commitment, not just as words you say to someone because you really like them. So I don’t want to say ‘I love you,’ to a girl who I’m not promising to be committed to. Forever and always.”

Okay, he probably didn't say “forever and always.” But now he had my attention, and not just my disappointment.


To him, saying “I love you” didn't mean trying to communicate that he really liked someone. It didn't mean splurging the word "love" over every little thing as we tend to do these days. (“I love the brownie chunks in this ice cream,” or “I love the lyrics of this song,” or “I love everything about winter minus the cold and the snow and my transparent skin tone.”)

“I have never said ‘I love you’ to anyone before, so I want it to be a special thing I give to the woman I marry,” he continued.

That also got my attention.

Because I had told another person that I loved him. And at the time, I really liked that person. A lot. But we weren't together anymore, so did we really love each other? Were we really committed to each other?

Love, indeed, is first and foremost a commitment.

When we say “I love you” to our family, it’s because we know they have been there for us and will be there for us no matter what. They have guided and helped us grow and change and mature. They are committed to us, and we are to them. (Even when we don’t really like each other.)

When we say “I love you” to our friends, it’s because they have seen us through some of our lowest lows and highest highs. They have weathered distance and disagreements with us. They are committed to us, and we are to them. (Even when we don’t really like each other.)

And the same should be true for anyone to whom we say the sweet words of “I love you.”


The words "I love you" aren't words that describe our romantic, fuzzy feelings. Because love isn't a feeling. They aren't words that are used to bribe or manipulate. Because love isn't meant to take advantage of another person.

But they are words that should always be backed by one thing: commitment. 

Because that is the meaning of the words “I love you.” 

I am committed to you. I promise to be loving and faithful. I will serve you with tenderness and respect. I will encourage you. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do us part. (Remix of mine and Husband's wedding vows.)


Now, I know that many couples don’t take the route of waiting that long to say “I love you,” and they still end up with a healthy, committed marriage relationship. (Kind of like when I heard about those couples who waited until their wedding day to kiss and I just thought, “Heck no, that’s not for me.”)

But what I do hope is to encourage us to remember and understand the meaning of love and the weight of the words “I love you.”

When I was in high school my Grandma would always say, "Guard your heart, Kenny Sue."

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

I wasn't always very good at that. (I tend to fall fast and hard.)

But she was right. She knew one way we guard our hearts is by treading carefully through our relationships, not jumping in too quickly or misusing the words "I love you."


While love is an awesome and lovely thing to "fall" into, it can also be dangerous when we only think about whether or not we really like someone, rather than whether or not we will choose to be committed to that someone. Forever and always.

So this Valentine’s Day, I celebrate love. True love.

I celebrate the love of our families, who I know are committed to us and our support and our well-being for as long as we all shall live. (I love you.)

I celebrate the love of our friends, who I know are committed to us through our highs and lows and struggles and celebrations for as long as we all shall live. (I love you.)

I celebrate the love of our God, who is the only One capable of loving us with perfectly unconditional love, for all of eternity. Who is the reason we choose to love others in the first place: We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) (I love you.)

And I celebrate the love of this boyfriend, who eventually was willing to give me not just the gift of those three {huge} words that I cherish hearing every day, but also the lifelong commitment to back up those words.

This boyfriend, who didn't quite wait until we were engaged either, but on one sweet summer night looked at me and whispered the words, “I don’t have anything shiny to give you quite yet, but I love you.” 

This boyfriend, who shortly after made a trip to Zale's to pick up "something shiny," and creatively carved out his commitment to back up those words: "Will you marry me?”


This boyfriend, who I have very joyfully called “Husband” for over three years. This boyfriend, who indeed does love me, and to whom I can honestly say back, “I love you, too.”

So as we celebrate this holiday that everyone loves to hate, as we work past disappointment of gifts and dates (and lack thereof) not meeting our expectations, and as we dress up in red and pink and inhale way too much Dove chocolate, I hope we can remember and celebrate the true meaning of love. 

And Valentine's Day or not, I pray we will share this kind of true love with those oh-so-important people in our lives. I pray we won't hold back the words "I love you" from the people we are committed to, or forget to back up those words with both our actions and commitment.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

February 5, 2015

I Am My Husband’s Cheerleader

“If you can’t say anything nice…”

Ugh. Sometimes I still need my mother to peek around the corner and yell at me.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Because honestly. Sometimes I can be the epitome of all those “quarrelsome wife” verses in Proverbs.

A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day. (Proverbs 27:15)

(Did you hear that, Self? King Solomon compares being around a quarrelsome, ill-tempered, critical, negative, nagging wife to Chinese Torture. Congratulations.)

Criticizing how he drives.

Criticizing how he takes care of Toddler.

Criticizing how he dresses.

Criticizing what time he gets home from work.

Criticizing what he didn’t do.

Criticizing what he did do because he didn’t do it exactly the way I wanted him to.

Criticizing how he says something.

Criticizing with a tone of voice that is not called “Talking” but “Snipping.”

Criticizing anything I can think of in front of family and friends.

Criticizing him for how he chews his food, or brushes his teeth, or how he decides to breathe during that one second I’m paying attention.
  
Drip. Drip. Drip. Yikes.

If I had criticism constantly dripping on me, I’d probably call “Chinese Torture” too.

This is a legit angry face.
Because who ever thinks it is a good idea to swim through caves of cold water?
Nobody who is my real friend, that's who.

It’s not that Husband is never at fault, or that he never makes mistakes. It’s not that I shouldn't be honest with him, or tell him how his actions make me feel. It’s not that I don’t wonder if he tries to pick the parking spot farthest away from our destination and park my door right next to an abundant amount of foliage on purpose. (I swear.

And it’s not that I’m above blaming an overly critical attitude on pregnancy hormones. (Because that’s totally a thing.)

But.

Trying to live and work and make a healthy marriage with someone who is too often negative (or critical or downright mean) is difficult.

(Did you hear that, Self? Your marriage isn’t better off with your snarky comments whose sole purpose is to make Husband feel dumb. Your marriage won’t stand if one of its team members keeps tearing the other one down.)

Because here is the truth:

My words as a wife have a lot of power, but it is up to me to choose what kind of power they will have: The power to heal, to build up, to encourage? Or the power to hurt, to tear down, to hinder?

"Let me take a nice picture of you two," she says.
"Act natural," she says.

Last year a few of my friends decided to do the Love Dare Challenge. We thought it would be a good idea to encourage each other to be wives who love and support their husbands.

Here was Day 1:

The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.

“It’s only 24 hours, right? I can go that long without saying something negative, right?” (Probably wrong.)

And then Day 2 came:

In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness.

“Umm…48 hours total of ‘no negatives?’ Um…I can try.” (This is hard.)

And then Day 3 came:

Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It’s hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says, “I was thinking of you today.”

“72 whole hours without saying anything negative to Husband is SO easy!” (SAID NO WIFE EVER.)

How are we so gorgeously tan mid-winter?
We are actually really butt-white right now.

Thankfully, my friends were vulnerable enough to admit that they also struggled to make it three whole days without saying anything negative to their husbands.

But even though Husband probably has no idea I attempted this 40 day challenge because I was that awesome at it…I am my husband’s cheerleader.

And even though I may not be the stereotypical cheerleader personality (says the wife who wore sweatpants and no make-up every day last week except Sunday,) I am my husband’s cheerleader.

And I will cheer him on, in both his work and his life at home. I will focus on the positives that my teammate brings to my life and to our marriage.

And when I am not cheering on Husband (because he doesn’t always need sweet nothings whispered into his ear until the dawn’s early light,) I will do my best to refrain from making negative comments that tear him down: in our home, outside of our home, and especially in front of other people.

I will refrain from being a Chinese Torture Wife, and I will build him up instead.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down…by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 14:1, 24:3)

(Okay, at least, I will try really hard.) Try to fill our house with the rare and beautiful treasures of wisdom and understanding, not tear our house down with constant quarreling and criticism.

That is my challenge. That is my resolution. (Am I late to the “Making New Year’s Resolutions” party?)

And if you would like to take the Love Dare Journey for yourself, either to get out of a funk or to simply freshen up the good thing you and Spouse got going on, click on this link here:


(I highly recommend asking friends to take the journey with you, as a way to encourage you and hold you accountable.)

And remember, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

January 29, 2015

The Mommy Pep Talk I Just Gave Myself (Because I Have a Stubborn Child)



Self.

Mother of a Stubborn Child.

Woman who came pretty darn close to turning in her resignation papers this morning:

You got this.

I know, I know. Some days can be really hard.

Like those days when you have play dates, and the Mommies spend the entire time playing Police Officer because your child cannot for the life of her learn to share. And you wonder why you don't just stay home so Toddler can have all of the toys (and you) to herself.

Or like those other days when you actually feel kind of afraid to say “No” to Toddler, because you know the Tantrum-Storm that will immediately come your way. (Complete with throwing herself to the ground and what the Bible calls “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth.”)

Or like those days when you tell Toddler to say “Please,” or to give Grandpa a hug, or to be nice to her Aunt, and she lifts up her arm like she is going to try to backhand you instead. (Complete with that Stink Face that makes your blood boil.)


But Self, it’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.

Because remember when Toddler was younger, and there were so many things you thought would never happen?

Like, remember how you thought she would never sleep through the night? And then many months and consistent bedtime routines later, she finally learned to sleep a full twelve hours?

And remember all of those times when you thought she would never stop slapping your face? But then many weeks, scoldings, and spankings later, she finally stopped doing that?


And Toddler is not the only one who has grown. You have grown up in a lot of  ways too:

Just think, it has been almost a year and a half since you cried for an hour with your child through her first major bowel movement.

It has been almost sixteen months since you hucked that musical seahorse as hard as you could against the wall in your frustration that Baby would not for the life of her take a nap.

It has been almost a year since you sat your screaming baby down in one room and then walked into the other room to scream obscenities at the top of your lungs in your anger that you could not for the life of you figure out how to soothe her.


Progress.

Whether you realize it or not, there has been progress.

You and your child are making progress. And the same will be true for whatever stage of Motherhood and Childhood you are in right now.

Time flies. And this too shall pass.

So take heart, Self. Mother of a Stubborn Child. Woman who came pretty darn close to turning in her resignation papers this morning.

Your child refuses to wear clothes, but demands to wear a winter stocking cap? (I bet she won’t do that in Middle School.)


Your one-and-a-half-year-old already rips off all of the healthy crust from her morning toast, but then minutes later claims she is still hungry? (She will probably make up the next “I-Only-Eat-Grass” Health Movement when she’s an educated 22-year-old.)

Your stubborn Toddler has the will of a donkey and the strength of an ox? (Pray to the good Lord above that someday she will put that same stubborn will and strength into a life that is full of justice and mercy and humility and love.)


I know, Self. Some days you are tired.

But remember what Husband told you that one time when you asked him: “Why am I so tired all of the time?”

He said: “You are raising a child to become an adult.”

Indeed. You are raising a child to become an adult. And that takes energy. And sweat. And guts. You are in the trenches, my friend.

But remember this: there is nobody better equipped for this job than you are. You are her mother. 

In the group called “Humans That Live on Planet Earth,” nobody knows your child as well as you do.

No matter who she spends time with during her day, no matter how big of a village it takes to raise your child, this job of teaching her justice and mercy and humility and love, this job of discipline and consistency is primarily yours. (And Husband's, of course.)

More than School’s job. Even more than Church’s job.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)


And Self, you know.

You know that nobody in the group called “Humans That Live on Planet Earth” loves your child as much as you do either.

You love her so much.

And if you ever forget how much you love her, just remember those times you tip-toed into her room after she fell asleep at night. Remember how her face that was once contorted by a Tantrum-Storm now lays peacefully still.

And remember how when you looked at her sleeping peacefully you swore she is the best thing that has ever happened to you and Husband. The best.


So keep on keepin' on, Soldier.

Go to those play dates that I promise will eventually teach Toddler to share.

When necessary, say “No.”

Consistently discipline.

Pick the battles that teach her justice and mercy and humility and love.

And let the other battles go.

Show her through each mundane task that keeps your family alive and healthy – what love is.

And tell her with your words just how delighted you are that she is your child.


You got this.

Through the grace and mercy and love of God alone, you got this.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

January 22, 2015

Dear High Schooler Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

I wish we could sit down and have a chat. I wish I could share with you some of my experiences in dating and looking for love in all the wrong places.

And even more so, I wish I could introduce you to my sister. She has such a beautiful story to share.

It’s filled with heartache and pain and embarrassment and choosing the wrong path for awhile, but also filled with grace and love and maturity and true joy.

You see, my sister was seventeen when she had her first baby.


As you well know, that’s not usually the age girls think about having children. 

At that age, my sister was in high school with a life that revolved around sports and friends. She was one of those all-around stud athletes: playing basketball, volleyball, and softball. She had lots of great friends, and a fun social life.


But as with many high schoolers, she also struggled with insecurities – insecurities that led to making poor choices:

Am I pretty enough?

Am I good enough?

Am I worth loving?

The answers to these questions can be hard to find – when you look in all the wrong places.

You see, it’s natural for a human to desire love. But so often we forget that the love we actually need can’t be found in people, or activities, or things.


Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places, if you could sit down and chat with my sister, here are a few things she would tell you from her experiences:

Daughter of the King – stop looking for a kind of love that only Jesus can offer.

Stop trying to find lasting satisfaction in your friendships and dating relationships.

Stop being deceived. Giving everything (your time, your energy, your thoughts, your body) to someone will not make them love you unconditionally.

And after telling you to stop, she would say this:

To the One Whom God Delights in – begin again:

Begin to recognize that no human person can deliver the satisfaction that comes from a relationship with God. Only God can provide the unconditional love and affection that we strive for. Even someone in a relationship with the right person can still be looking for love in all the wrong places. Relationships built on the mentality of trying to find fulfillment are doomed to failure, and will leave you lonely. 

Begin to recognize the relationship with God you are missing out on. The Christian life is not simply about going to church, youth group, or Christian schools. It’s not just about having a supportive family. It’s about putting your whole heart into a relationship with Christ. Begin to recognize where you are just going through the motions, and where you lost the passion that is essential for your faith to be rock solid.


Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

You are not alone.

We all do this – we look for satisfaction in a new outfit, shoes, phones, TV’s, friends, dating relationships, you name it. The difference is that as you get older, you simply shift your focus to other things you think might satisfy – a good college, a new job, getting married, having kids. But the truth is, none of them can even compare to what God offers us when we submit ourselves to Him instead of worldly things that do not last.

When your insecurities lead to bad choices (like pre-marital sex), and your bad choices lead to huge life changes (like having a baby), suddenly the things you thought were so important (like sports or who you will hang out with Friday night) aren’t anymore.


My sister could tell you what it was like to be pregnant in high school, what it was like to have a baby during her senior year.

No more sports. Limited social life. No scholarships. Limited choices of where to go to college. Praise God I had supportive parents who were helpful in every way.

She could tell you about what life has been like beyond high school.

I got married on June 15, 2013. I graduate from Grand Valley’s nursing program in just a few months. And I am the youngest mom in my daughter’s kindergarten class, which brings its own insecurities.


But she could also tell you how God has demonstrated His unconditional grace and has created absolute beauty, even from her worst mistakes:

“In my daughter’s eyes I am a hero. I am strong and wise and I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see, she was sent to rescue me. I see who I want to be in my daughter’s eyes.” (song by Martina McBride)


Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places, I wish you could know how truly beautiful, smart, and talented you are. 

I wish you could know how even though adults look like they have it all together, that we struggle with some of the same insecurities too. I wish you could know how we haven’t always made the best choices in our relationships either, and that sex or “going too far” or giving too much away in a dating relationship is a temptation to many.

I think it’s important to remember that being pregnant is not against God’s will. It is the act of premarital sex. That is the sin. 

It is so important to not judge girls who are pregnant. If every girl and boy who had premarital sex became pregnant together, there would be a lot more pregnant people in this world.

Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

#1) It is so important to surround yourself with good people who will encourage you in the direction of God’s love and grace. Sometimes it just takes that one person to send you down the wrong path. And on the other hand, sometimes it only takes that one to get you back on track.

#2) Growing up, many of us find it difficult, uncomfortable, and even shameful to talk about sex. But remember that sex is a purely beautiful act when used how God designed it to be within a marriage.

#3) Understand WHY. We are told over and over as we grow up to “save ourselves for marriage.” But until you understand WHY God designed it this way, that statement doesn’t hold much value. When you forget the WHY, then it’s easy to toss your beliefs out the window when temptation arises.

#4) And finally, Sweet Child of God, know that it is never too late to make the right choices in your life and in your relationships. God wipes our sins as white as snow when we ask Him to.


Dear High Schooler looking for love in all the wrong places,

Are you pretty enough?

Are you good enough?

Are you worth loving?

A thousand times yes. Just remember that the answers to those questions are much easier to find when you look for Love in the right place.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra and Her Brave, Beautiful Sister, Mackenzy

January 14, 2015

When God Ruins Your Life

I am a planner. I own a planner. I like to make plans.

I have been this way for a long time: organized, thinking ahead, prepared. It’s one thing that made me an okay teacher. (And it’s one thing that makes me somewhat of a very boring person.)

Favorite part of my birthday? 
Probably sharing a greasy-faced breakfast with this weirdo.

But the unfortunate thing about being a planner is that sometimes my plans don’t go as planned. And that can be devastating.

I have had my entire life planned out on many occasions. And most of those plans have been ruined at one point or another. It started when I was in Kindergarten.

At my kindergarten graduation, where all six-year-olds declare to their entire world what they want to be when they grow up, I said I was going to be a gymnastics teacher. (And then God ruined those plans by reminding me that gymnastics is for cute, tiny, graceful girls, not the ones who awkwardly tower over everyone else.)

And then in 5th grade, the age when everyone starts talking about puberty, I planned for my budding breasts to pop and flower like all my friends’ seemed to. (But then God ruined those plans when I started getting impatient and finally asked my high school sister when she got hers. She flashed me her “Little Women” and said, “Are you kidding me? I never did!”)

Fast forward a few more years to high school, during junior year when every adult and their cousin expects you to have an idea of “what you will do with the rest of your life after high school,” and “which college you will study at to attain the job you plan to get for the rest of your life after high school.” I mean, of course I knew. I was going straight to the mission field after graduation. (Until God ruined those plans when I went to the CRWRC recruiter and he said, “No, you can’t go straight into the mission field. You have to get a real job first. What do you think about becoming a teacher?”)

Two weirdos.

And then during senior year of high school, I knew which college I was going to attend. (Until I did a college visit and God made it clear that those plans were also ruined.)

During high school and college, I knew a couple of different times exactly who I was going to marry. (Until Justin Timberlake broke my heart and decided to marry Jessica Biel instead. And probably more importantly, until God introduced me to the hunk of a man I now call "Husband.")

We most definitely planned to wait at least two years of being married before we would start trying to have babies. (And just over two years after we said “I do,” we were holding beautiful baby Jocelyn in our arms. Insert: sentimental tears caused by pregnancy hormones. Also Insert: discussion on how the only safe sex indeed is no sex.)

I also thought we would live overseas longer. (And after three short years in Guatemala God made it clear that He was redirecting our desires and plans back to our homeland.)

And if you would have asked me ten years ago, “How do you think you will celebrate your 26th birthday?,” I probably wouldn't have said, “In my sweatpants with greasy hair and no career and a butt-naked child sitting on my lap fighting another case of extreme diaper rash.”

But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. 

This is a legit Kodak moment. 
As in, I did not command her to give me kisses.
As in, my heart just melted a little bit.

With each of my ruined life plans, God always revealed something better.

(God: Breasts? You?! Please. Why not enjoy the luxury of being flat-chested for playing sports instead?)

(God: Straight to the mission field? You?! Please. Why not first go to this specific college, play four years of your favorite sport, and meet your Prince Charming who will love you just the way you are instead?)

(God: Gymnastics teacher? You?! Please. Why not try teaching a few Guatemalan children how to read and write instead?)

You get the picture.

I make life plans. God ruins them. And yet, like a cliché country song I sing, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

It’s not that I wasn’t sad or heartbroken when some of my life plans were “ruined.” It’s not that break-ups don’t hurt, or unreached goals aren't disappointing, or empty wombs aren't devastating, or the death of a loved one isn't the worst thing ever. 

It’s not that I wouldn’t have loved being a gymnastics teacher in Africa, married to Justin Timberlake, flaunting a nice set of “Dolly Partons.”

But I would still say I’m pretty grateful that the Lord has a way of “ruining” all of my genius plans.


Two extremely weird weirdos.

So young people – and by “young” I mean the world’s babies who think anyone over the age of 18 is old – continue to dream and make plans for your life. Then, give yourself permission to cry when some stuff doesn't work out like you hoped. And finally, hold tight and wait for those “aha!” moments when God reveals exactly what He was doing when He decided to "ruin" your plans and replace them with His better ones instead.

Old people – and by “old” I simply mean people who have more years of life experience than others – please continue to share stories of how your life plans were ruined. Please impart your wisdom of how God remained faithful to you through disappointment and brokenness and fear and impatience. Be examples of hope and encouragement as you pave the way for the world's babies.

God’s life plans are always greater, always better, and always more thought through than our own. He knows what He is doing, and if we are patient enough to wait and pray and sometimes cry along the way, we will someday know exactly what He was doing too.

God is faithful, and He promises His continued faithfulness.

His mercies are new every morning. Even when the night before didn't go exactly how we planned it to.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra