BY KARA WILLIAMS
Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
Every person reading this has received the time-gift of living through the past decade: ten autumns and winters, springtimes and summers; 3,652 sunrises and sunsets; air filling and leaving your lungs over a billion times. There were moments of ecstatic joy and times of devastating sorrow, but mostly a lot of in-between times where life just rolled along and we tried to keep up. But can any of us reflect honestly on the past decade and say, “Well, that ten years went just as I had planned?” I certainly cannot.
Did I plan for my vibrant 69-year old mother to die of ovarian cancer? The woman whose father lived to 95 and whose mother is still alive at 93, whose grandmothers and aunts all lived into their 80s and 90s? No, not in my plans.
Did I plan to have a total hip replacement at the young-ish age of 41? Did I plan to never run again and struggle to regain strength and full-mobility? No, I never had a clue about the congenital issue I had lived my whole life with and the life-altering repair it would require.
Did I plan to pace anxiously in hospital waiting-rooms for doctors to say my children’s surgeries were over and then comfort and care for my babies as they healed? Did I plan to navigate the medical-trauma induced anxiety and fear in my daughter because she has had so many childhood surgeries? Nope, didn’t choose it or want it.
But, on the flip side…
Did I plan that during this decade I would travel to China twice and bring home two children, and that somehow, through grief and loss and the brokenness of this fallen world, God would see fit to grant me the privilege of being their mommy? I wouldn’t even know how to plan that. It was all Him.
Did I plan that I would spend most of the decade schooling my five children at home, learning infinitely more than I ever taught them? I learned about truth, beauty, goodness, and the God who is not only present, but at the heart of EVERY subject, EVERY discipline. For example, my mind was blown to discover that math is not a neutral subject. It is the very hand of God ordering His world. This journey of homeschooling and discovery was never in my plan, but it is where He led.
My husband and I began the decade in what we thought was our “forever” house in a neighborhood, with two small raised-garden beds, a cat and a dog, and 2 small children. Did I plan to end the decade on 8 acres in the country with a huge garden, 3 cows, 2 goats, 40 chickens, 2 cats, 2 dogs and 5 children, ages 6-15? How is this my life? I did not plan this. But I could fall on my knees in gratitude that He did.
Why would I accept His leading and guiding for these immense blessings and not accept and trust His will for the hardships and trials? Job understood this well as he rebuked his wife saying, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV) It all passes through His hands – the unexpected joy and the unexpected pain, the beautiful and the hard and the beautifully hard, and often the line ends up blurred because when clinging to Him, the hard produces so much growth and blessing that I would not wish it away.
Approaching a new decade, I know that I cannot fathom what God has in store for me. I have a little inkling of an idea of maybe some things that might happen. Is that vague enough? I am learning to have hopes and dreams, but to hold my plans loosely. I marvel at His faithfulness and goodness this past decade and offer up this new decade to Him: to mold me, to hold me, to shape me, and grow me into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ. I truly believe that though He writes the story differently than I would, He always writes it best. For He is the author of life and the lover of my soul. And Reader, He is the lover of your soul too. I pray that you also feel secure in His perfect plans, that you will trust that His ways are higher than your own, and that you will know Him better because of the unplanned places He leads you in the coming decade.
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.