When God Surprises You

Early on in my pregnancy, I was grieving over not having a traditional nursery for our daughter to come home to. My parents basement is a huge blessing, but doesn’t have a second bedroom to turn into a nursery. She will be sleeping in our room in some sort of bed for the duration that we live with them. Even though I know she won’t know the difference, I was struggling with this cultural expectation as desire that was going to be unmet. This was directly connected to being in a season where things were not going according to plan and that I had always dreamed that we would have a place of our own when we would reach the milestone of adding to our family. Somewhere along the way I had adapted the cultural idea that the correct progression of life stages went along the lines of graduating college, going to graduate school, getting married, having an awesome career, buying a house and then starting a family. Let’s just say that this “model” of living was shattered and I came face to face with the reality that life is a lot more complex. Life actually doesn’t look like Pinterest, and doesn’t have to in order to be beautiful. Also, God doesn’t really work in models. He is creative and committed to cultivating character in us that often comes through enduring seasons that are far from our expectation.
I allowed myself to grieve this, however, because I knew that without stepping into the reality that things were not what I wanted or expected, bitterness could grow towards my Heavenly Father who knows best.
For a while, my grieving looked like avoiding stores where baby bedding, cribs and adorable nursery decor was sold. I didn’t participate in pregnancy forums where they were discussing how their nursery was coming together. Instead I researched pack n’ plays and looked into alternative bed options.
One day in one of my therapeutic mall wanderings (where I go to the mall alone and just look at things and enjoy a simple cup of coffee and check out the latest fashion and things but buy nothing), I ventured into Pottery Barn Kids. The expensive mecca of children’s nursery goods was filled with the latest things to beautify a space and I just let myself dream. I found this adorable set that I let myself love for a moment, and pondered what it would look like in a space my husband and I created. I decided that when we had our own place I would come back and pick cute things out for her, no matter how old she was. I would give her a nursery in his timing. Even if it was a year after she was born or longer. My heart whispered to God, I love this, but it’s not important for me to have for her arrival or even ever. But I do love it. I told him and then walked out before the tears started to flow. I cried on my way home letting the grief flow out that I couldn’t give her a room, but I could give her arms that would hold her and promised to love her no matter how many things we had.
I never told anyone about this set. Not even my husband. It seemed frivolous and inconsequential given our circumstances. Truthfully, I let it go and set about preparing for her to come in other ways. The occasional times I found myself in the mall again I would venture in and look at it and dream and then walk out and let it go again.
One day, my sister texted me a craigslist find. I call her the craigslist queen because the girl can find a deal like no one else. I am not particularly good at bargain hunting, something I could really learn from her. I haven’t cultivated the patience of combing through pages of used things that people are selling to find a treasure. My sister had been looking for a pack n’ play for me but recently had planted the idea of putting a crib in our room. She found a $75 crib on craigslist that was adorable. It needed to be refinished but really was in fairly good condition. I hadn’t pulled the trigger because I couldn’t wrap my brain around buying bedding for it. I opened the link she had sent me and discovered it was the very set that I had fallen in love with at Pottery Barn Kids. The entire set (normally around $300) for $40. It looked like it was in good condition, and had everything except for a bed skirt. I couldn’t believe it. I told her to see if it was still available and when she said it was, I cried.
We could afford it and it was my hearts desire and no one knew expect God. He had made it happen unbeknownst to the person selling it, and my sister finding it and picking it up. She picked up the crib for us as well and in a matter of three days we had a complete bed set with the bedding my heart had longed for.He surprised me with something that I had deemed impossible because he knew it would delight me.
Recently, my mom refinished the crib and helped me set it up in our room. We have an alcove that was meant to be a closet and the crib fits perfectly inside. I am delighted. I look at it still marveling at his provision. We turned half of our room into a nursery space, while the other half remains ours.
Baby Girl's Crib
I am completely in awe of how God took something that seemed impossible and honestly unnecessary and made it happen. It’s just a testimony of his goodness, his kindness and his love. He sees us. Even the desires we think are worth overlooking.
He really is the God Who Sees.
I’d love to hear your story of how God has surprised you recently.
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The Third Road

Third Road Image
Flashback to May last year. The husband graduated Seminary and we were full Β of expectation as he walked across the stage. We were praying about pastoral positions he had applied for and several of them looked promising. The other road that we were peering down was an opportunity for him to teach at the college level. Both were exciting and meant big change for us. We were overwhelmed but very excited about the possibility of either option.
Several of the pastoral positions ended up taking him through each step further and further. We were in some of the top positions and it almost seemed as we had options. We took each step in prayer and sought counsel. We thought we were doing everything right. In many ways I think we did. We always prayed for God’s best and said we didn’t want to settle for something other than what he had for us. The funny thing is we didn’t fully consider what this could mean if there was a third road.
The door to each church one by one closed and it seemed like the dream of ministry came crashing down. So we turned our attention to teaching. And this door also came to a close. Though an opportunity came very close to fruition, it still ended up as a no. So then I watched my husband turn his attention to a job. Any job. I watched him spend hours a day applying to anything that he could find. Still nothing. He worked a 40 hour a week job just searching for work. Recruiters, postings that he was beyond qualified for. Nothing. I watched him go to interview after interview with hope and come home with no news. We waited for calls and an answer and still nothing. I watched him be faithful even when there was nothing to show for it. As optimism faded, he still soldiered on. Even minimum wage positions told him no because he was over qualified. Grief crouched at our door. And then was ushered in. This went on for months.
We moved in with my parents in the transition when we were a final candidate at a church out of state. At the time we thought it was a temporary landing place for us to move from. We resisted signing leases because we were holding out for God’s best not knowing that he was positioning us in that place unbeknownst to us.
With each no, we considered that maybe we took a wrong turn and we came back to the drawing board. I watched my husband holding a diploma with a masters degree and say maybe I need to start again. And by begin again he meant start a new degree at the bachelors level. It all felt like a waste. A joke or an empty promise to run a race so far and have nothing but a piece of paper with a signature saying he had mastered something. To start again felt like a dead weight, but it was one of th few viable options. So he applied. Was accepted and even registered for classes. Engineering. It was the logical choice. But the debt loomed over us and we wondered with unsettled hearts how this could be God’s best.
I pleaded with God that somehow we wouldn’t have another 4 year road for another degree and an additional mountain of debt. That the work he did in school would be fruitful and some job would come that would provide for us. At a random networking event, one my husband almost didn’t go to, God answered that prayer. Β But not in the way I expected.
He heard about a program that was a trade school. It was a bootcamp of sorts for computer coding. The field he was considering pursuing instead with a four year degree and debt that consumed us. Β He met with a person who encouraged him to look into it and also try a few exercises to see if it was a good fit. So then I watched him explore a new topic and like it more than he expected. He then began the competitive process to get in. This 7 month program was not for the faint of heart. The application process included an essay, an exam like the LSAT, a video and paperwork. If you were one of the 25 percent moved into the next round, you then faced an interview which was an hour long and then you had to take a logic test verbally with the person you were interviewed by. Then half of those interviewed were selected. It was grueling and seemed like a total bait and switch for my heart. But we had run flat out of options. So he gave it his all and we prayed the same prayer, God we only want your best.
And God said yes. He said yes to an option that wasn’t even on our radar. And it was so far outside of the box of what we thought we would be doing ten months post graduation. And then I watched him dilligently prepare. And we humbly accepted that for at least seven more months we would be living with my parents. We struggled with broken dreams of ministry, career, living situation and timing of plans. Grief crashed over us like waves during a storm, but God held out hope with an answered prayer. His best for us. Even though it was and is still so far from the plans we had made.
I watched my courageous husband weather a storm of rejection and questions as he sought to provide for our family. And I watched him give thanks and solider on being faithful with each step of the process and say yes to God even when it hurt. I learned a lot watching him. I learned a lot about trusting God’s best and believing in his goodness even when circumstances screamed otherwise. I watched my steady husband camp on the Rock and commit to do anything, including apply for jobs that he was over qualified for or start over in a new field for the glory of Jesus. And I watched him do it all with the highest level of integrity and faithfulness.
And I learned that God is good. No matter the circumstances.