We’re home. After 9 weeks of bouncing around between home, camp, and grandparents’ homes, our little family is (to my knowledge) staying put for the rest of the summer. As much fun as we’ve had this summer travelling around New England, throughout the rest of the summer I’m looking forward to having some times with just my boys doing cheap local stuff. Although, I can’t lie… a huge highlight since we returned has been completely emptying our suitcases and putting them away!
In the midst of applying sunscreen, shopping at thrift stores, walks to the park, and an intense family volleyball game, God has taught me some huge lessons this summer that have not always been easy to learn, but I’m grateful to have been taught them.
Lesson #1: God’s plans are greater than mine
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Being native New Englanders, my husband and I (who am I kidding?- mostly me…) start planning our summer while we still have snow on the ground. We want to make the most of each sunny 60 degree or higher day we have! We had many plans for our summer – many of them have become traditions and some are things we’ve always wanted to do. Either way, they all seem to revolve around spending time as a family and with other family members. This summer was no different, except that in June God added a few other events on my calendar (and they weren’t exactly in the category of “summer fun”). In June I made an unplanned trip to my parents’ house (well, I didn’t plan for it). In June, my dad unexpectedly had some medical tests – that were initially planned for later that month and in July – rescheduled for the same week that I would be visiting. Also in June, the day before I left to head home from my parents’ house, my dad announced to me and my siblings that he had bladder cancer. I didn’t plan for this, but God orchestrated each of these events perfectly. Cancer and perfect aren’t exactly words that go hand in hand, but even in the midst of hearing this terrible news I couldn’t help but see the perfection of God’s timing immediately and praise Him for it.
Lesson #2: God can make my plans His
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
I can’t say that I was completely free from worry and anxiety as I awaited my dad’s surgery, but God tremendously blessed me during this time of waiting with peace that I could never have imagined having given the circumstances. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there for my dad’s surgery, but I know God had me where He wanted me. I’m a need-meeter, and I’m a firstborn. Both of these qualities created in me a huge desire to be there for my dad, mom, and siblings. How could I possibly go about my day as usual? I had to find contentment in praying while changing a diaper, texting my sisters while making a grilled cheese, and talking to my dad during nap time. I’m thankful that during this time God could set this need-meeting, controlling firstborn aside and use my younger, very capable siblings to support both of my parents during a very long, stressful day (that turned into days).
Plans had been made (prior to dad’s diagnosis) to head north to my parents’ house around the time of a couple of family weddings. God made my plans His once again when it worked out for me to get up there even earlier. I arrived at my parents’ a week after my dad’s surgery and was able to spend 2 weeks with them (instead of the initially planned 10 days).
Lesson #3: Stop tracing, keep trusting
The day before we were leaving for home was a memorable day for a number of reasons. I got to spend some quality time with a lot of family I don’t see very often. We had one of those afternoons that kept bringing me back to when I was about 10 years old with all of these same family members (goofy cousins, crazy aunts, and a grandfather who was reveling in his overflowing “quiver”). Then we had a cookout and campfire with a smaller group at my parents – intimate family time together. But the part of this day that stood out to me the most was how it all started because it was a Sunday in my home church. It’s always wonderful to be with my church family (and they truly are family), but this Sunday in my home church was different because my husband was speaking in place of my dad. Unfortunately, I was not able to give my full attention to the sermon (due to a certain 2-year old who messed his pants and then refused to stay in the nursery because he wanted to “go upstairs and be quiet”). Even in the midst of snacks, crayons, and shushing, one thing from his sermon has stuck with me and that is a quote he referenced.
“We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart.”
God’s been teaching me to stop always trying to figure things out and just day by day, moment by moment, keep trusting God’s heart. I can no less anticipate God’s plans then I can predict the weather in New England (blink and it will change!). God is faithful, righteous, just, and loving in both the anticipated and unexpected moments in life. And so, even now…
“We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
My your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.”