When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Guest Blog with Writer S. Kim Henson

My novel, Catch a Falling Star, asks the question: Is life about accomplishing plans … or wishes coming true … or something more? 

Today’s post is the second in the “When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan” Wednesday blog series, 11 guest posts by authors and writers, including Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, and  Susan May Warren,  who explore the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Today’s post is by my friend, writer S. Kim Henson.

 

Preparing to start undergraduate classes, my husband arrived home after winding down the final week at his full-time job. But his excitement turned to confusion when he walked through our front door.

Instead of celebrating, I sat cross-legged on the couch, a box of tissues on my lap.

“Oh, babe, we talked about this already,” he said. He put his arm around me, trying to ease my fear. “We’ll be fine. Between me finding part-time work and the money you’re making – ”

He didn’t finish for my sobbing.

“I won’t be making any money,” I said. “I lost my job.”

Several weeks earlier, we’d sat for hours in our dining room with pen and paper, planning how we would pay our house and car payments, as well as support our two preschool children while their dad earned an education degree. We didn’t factor in the cross-stitch company I worked for downsizing on the same day he quit his job. (Yes, the same day.) In fact, we had counted on my hours increasing.

“This is so bizarre. God must have a hand in it,” I said, wiping away the last of my tears, at least for that day.

I’m not sure if I was looking to blame God or preparing to ask for his help. However, I do know the occasion happened prior to me trusting that God’s plans always turn out better than ours do. Although I wasn’t completely convinced to trust him, I held tight to what little bit of faith I could muster, mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.

Within days, a friend called me, frantic to find someone to substitute for her in her classroom. She knew I was out of a job and wondered if I would be willing to fill in for two days. Her request jump-started my work as a substitute teacher, which, in turn, helped convince me – even though I said I would never teach – to get my education degree as well.

Teaching afforded us time off with our kids, offered opportunities to work at a local university, and supplemented my husband’s business and my writing career until we got them off the ground … all better plans than any we wrote that evening at our dining room table.

 In Your Words: When was the last time God’s plan landed you in the middle of something you said you would never do? Or in the middle of something you thought was a really bad idea? I would love to hear how his plan turned out better than your plan.

S. Kim Henson lives in sunny Myrtle Beach, S.C. with her husband, John, and the puppy (Hannah Grace of God) they never planned to rescue, but did.  You can connect with her at her website or her blog, where Kim writes honestly about real life.

When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan Goodie Basket Rafflecopter Giveaway: I’m putting together a collection of goodies — including books by Rachel Hauck, Deb Raney, and Cynthia Ruchti — & the reader-suggested chocolates, a journal, a Starbucks card … and more. Click on the Rafflecopter link to enter. 

And just for fun, I’m hanging out at Kim’s blog today talking about Making a Choice When Plans Change.

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61 Comments

  1. April 17, 2013, 6:01 am   /  Reply

    Fun story, Kim! God likes to take us places we said we’d never go.

    I said I never would move from California. I said I would never write romance. And I said I would never give up my career to stay at home with the kids. Hmm. Zero for three (or three for three, depending on how you look at it!)

    • April 17, 2013, 8:21 am   /  Reply

      Carla, our stories are good reminders to stop saying “never.” 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I love having company in Neverland.

  2. April 17, 2013, 6:07 am   /  Reply

    It wasn’t the last time, but a significant time. The final assignment for my correspondence course in creative writing was to prepare the script for a 15-minute radio broadcast. Couldn’t do it. Remember thinking, “Lord, I live in the middle of rural central Wisconsin, eight miles from a town with barely enough people to warrant a ‘Welcome to’ sign. When would I ever have the chance to write for radio?” Finally dragged out that assignment and finished it. Poorly. When would I ever…?

    Two weeks after receiving my certificate of completion of the course, I was handed the address of a brand new radio station in North Carolina, of all places, and told, “Send the first program here.”

    Thirty-three years later…my radio partner/neighbor and I finally retired what had been a daily 15-minute (that’s right) radio ministry. I still shake my head thinking about what He did!

    • April 17, 2013, 8:30 am   /  Reply

      Cynthia, what a funny, inspirational and encouraging story. It gives me hope for all my “Like that’s going to happen …” scenarios. Really, I just love this!

      I often say “He does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.” Now, to live what I say I believe by doing my part.

      Thanks so much for dragging out your assignment turned miracle, and for sharing it here.

  3. April 17, 2013, 6:39 am   /  Reply

    Wow, like being thrown into the deep end of a pool and having to learn to swim when you might not have had the courage otherwise. Great story and outcome. Thank you.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:35 am   /  Reply

      “Deep end” is certainly how it felt, Delores. And, at the time, I wasn’t very trusting of my Life Preserver. I appreciate you calling it courage when it sounded and looked more like whining and being drug the whole way.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. April 17, 2013, 7:14 am   /  Reply

    What we see as terrible, God sees as an opportunity to show us His power. We pray for something and when it happens, we say, “I can’t believe it!” And we jump up and down with excitement. Would it not be better to jump up and down with excitement when we first ask, knowing that what He gives us is best? 🙂

    • April 17, 2013, 8:37 am   /  Reply

      Oh, Patricia, that’s exactly what I want. I’d love to know it’s best right from the start. To settle down and be grateful. Not sure I’ll ever arrive there, but you’ve written the blueprint for where I’d love to live!

      Thank you.

  5. April 17, 2013, 7:30 am   /  Reply

    I love reading stories of how God shows up in surprising ways. This isn’t the most recent, but it’s one of the most significant times in my life when God had plans faaar different from my own. My plan was to be a mother by the time I turned 30–biologically of course, since we have so much control over this aspect of our lives. 😉

    Thirty came and went with years of infertility. God chose to make me a first time mom when I turned 36 via adoption. I wouldn’t trade our precious boys for anything. 🙂 His plan was so much better than mine.

  6. April 17, 2013, 7:53 am   /  Reply

    It’s a delight to have Kim visiting today. She and I keep discovering “You too?” moments — everything from double black eyes to daughters who are pregnant at the same time (and both having girls!) to a shared love of quotes.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:45 am   /  Reply

      Delighted to be here, Beth. And even more delighted to share our “You too?” moments.

      It’s so much fun being on your blog (I love hearing others’ stories and wise words) and being your friend. So much fun!

    • April 17, 2013, 12:41 pm   /  Reply

      Oh My! OH MY!! How exciting, Beth! No, not the part about black eyes but about both your daughters being pregnant!!! I’m so excited for you all!!!!!!!

      • April 17, 2013, 12:41 pm   /  Reply

        Oops, I just read your comment below Roxanne’s comment. Yet another blonde moment. 🙂

  7. Roxanne Sherwood Gray
    April 17, 2013, 8:16 am   /  Reply

    Kim, thanks for sharing your story. I love hearing how God works out the details in ways better than we could have imagined.

    Beth, BOTH your daughters are pregnant?! We seriously need to talk.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:41 am   /  Reply

      Both “our” daughters are pregnant, Roxanne — as in Kim’s daughter is pregnant and my daughter (one daughter) is pregnant.
      Whew!

      • April 17, 2013, 8:50 am   /  Reply

        Not only are they pregnant, Roxanne, but they’re due about a week apart and they’re both expecting girls. How fun is that???

        I love these sorts of “better than we could have imagined” stories too, especially when they’re over. 😉

  8. April 17, 2013, 8:22 am   /  Reply

    Great story. I believe all the events in my life are better when I allow God in and accept His will, as if I could ever think I could have better plans….Not.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:53 am   /  Reply

      I know, Joel. Silly us!

      Sometimes I still act like a know-it-all and try to direct God, but I usually have a inkling that I’m out of control and I think, “I’m doing it again.”

      Thanks for always relating. I’m in good company with friends like you.

  9. April 17, 2013, 8:55 am   /  Reply

    Oh my goodness, pretty much everything I’ve ever said I’d never want has ended up happening in my life. And it always ends up being awesome. But it’s happened enough times that now I’m oh-so-tempted to play reverse psychologist on God. Like, “I would never want to come into a wealth of money that would allow me to travel the world to my heart’s content!” 🙂

    Great post!

  10. April 17, 2013, 9:49 am   /  Reply

    Melissa, I think I just found my reverse-psychology (my major is college) twin. I wondered where you were. 🙂 I was afraid I might be the only one who played those sorts of silly games with God.

    Snorted over your comment. Thanks for that!

    • April 17, 2013, 9:50 am   /  Reply

      Btw, let me know if that works with money. I have the same dream.

      • April 17, 2013, 12:50 pm   /  Reply

        Haha, I’ll let you know. 🙂 I have a feeling God gets a good laugh when I think I’m fooling him with the reverse psych thing. 🙂

  11. April 17, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

    I was kind enough to mention to God that-Nobody in their right mind would move to New Brunswick. Yeah, umm, guess where we live?
    -I wasn’t going to have any more than 3 children. THE NEXT DAY I found out I was pregnant. At 39.
    -I was always going to be extremely shy and care alot about what people thought of me.

    • April 17, 2013, 2:53 pm   /  Reply

      Jennifer, at least you were “kind enough to mention to God.” I’ve had a few scenes when I’ve gotten a little louder than a mention. 🙂 And I can see he doesn’t listen to you any better than he does me.

      Thanks for sharing your “nevers” that happened anyway.

  12. April 17, 2013, 10:27 am   /  Reply

    Isn’t it always true that God shines the brightest when the world seems the darkest? It’s sometimes hard to see His light through the clouds, but it’s wonderful to look back and see how His plan unfolded!

    • April 17, 2013, 2:59 pm   /  Reply

      That’s so true, Christi. Reminds me of the quote that says the same thing about stars – they shine brightest when it’s darkest. I so appreciate hopeful sayings.

      And yes, yes, yes – hindsight is one of the best gifts for building faith!

      Thanks for stopping by, blogger friend.

  13. Mallen Roberts
    April 17, 2013, 11:03 am   /  Reply

    Wow! What a story! Thank you for sharing it! 🙂
    Definitely God has a good sense of humor to tease and teach us.

    • April 17, 2013, 3:04 pm   /  Reply

      Mallen, I’m grateful to have a funny story to tell, as well as being appreciative of the faith-building that took place along the way. I’m even more grateful to have that lesson behind us. *big grin*

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  14. April 17, 2013, 11:38 am   /  Reply

    Two bits.
    a) I loved this line: “This is so bizarre. God must have a hand in it,” because it made me think of something my mom said when she and my dad were trying to make HIS next educational level happen; “Either God is saying no, or he’s getting ready to show how awesome he is, because we can’t make it happen.”

    And God made it happen.
    It’s left me with a twisted type of anticipation when things get hard :}

    b) To answer your question, I think most of the time God has honored/acknowledged my frailty. Or maybe part of my frailty is that I don’t particularly make hard plans, so there’s not so much surprise changes in direction as there are surprise accelerations.

    In the last three weeks I’ve launched (and begun promoting) a business I hadn’t even conceived (of) one-month ago. God seems to be opening doors, and I feel like I’m riding a wave: getting momentum from beyond me.

    But he knows my frailty– that I would have waited and wondered and watched for who-knows-how-long. So instead he invited me into the current and now we’re going for a ride together.

    • April 17, 2013, 3:12 pm   /  Reply

      There are so many phrases from your comment that I love and relate to, Amy Jane.

      “It’s left me with a twisted type of anticipation when things get hard.” Me too!

      “Getting momentum from beyond me.” I love that feeling.

      “I would have waited and wondered and watched for who-knows-how-long.” What’s wrong with that? 🙂 Laughing because I just wrote a post about stalling even though I know what to do next.

      Thank you for all these wise words that I’m taking with me this week and month.

      • April 18, 2013, 1:02 am   /  Reply

        You wrote “stalling” but I read “sailing.”
        It took me to the line my mom has used a lot in terms of action:

        “It’s easier to change the direction of a moving vessel.”

        That is, even if you’re not 100% on-course, … well you get the idea.

  15. April 17, 2013, 11:41 am   /  Reply

    What an incredible story! Thanks so much for sharing that. Just wow. God’s plan most certainly landed me in the middle of somewhere I swore I’d never go – Christianity. Ironic, no? I cannot begin to innumerate how His plan was far better and more fulfilling than any old sad plan I could’ve conjured up. 🙂

    • April 17, 2013, 3:16 pm   /  Reply

      Wow, Donna. Landing you in the middle of Christianity if that’s not where you were headed – now that’s a big change of plans. I’d like to hear how that transpired.

      Thanks for stopping by and relating. I love being here and sharing with you and others.

  16. April 17, 2013, 12:20 pm   /  Reply

    Love this Kim!!
    I’m too scared to say “I’ll never” when I know God is listening. 🙂

    • April 17, 2013, 3:18 pm   /  Reply

      Hahaha, Beth. I wish we had known each other back then. I could have used your advice.

  17. Linda Dietz
    April 17, 2013, 1:26 pm   /  Reply

    One of the other comments reminded me of a “years ago & far away story” as well. Husband was on his way to Viet Nam w/the AF. I finally surrendered to God & said o.k. I would learn to trust Him. Program got scrapped & he didn’t have to go… to Nam, that is. We were sent to Biloxi, Ms(told God I didn’t want to go there…they have hurricanes!) and then after telling God, ok I’ll go to Biloxi, but I WON’T live in a mobile home!(Guess what…that was the next thing I had to do!) Looking back on our time in the Deep South, these 2 Yankees can attest to God’s Hand of protection, provision & guidance!

    • April 17, 2013, 3:21 pm   /  Reply

      Linda, sounds like you and I could have both used Beth Pensinger’s advice. Never say never when God can hear.

      Glad you survived so you could join us here and tell your stories. They made me laugh.

  18. cindy wininger
    April 17, 2013, 2:08 pm   /  Reply

    Funny how God,s plans are never mine I never wanted any more children 2 boy,s were more than enough for me I had just turned 42 ..when I made up my mind to start doing things around our home I had always wanted to do.. Late april 2003 I found out much to my surprise I was pregnant .. I needed some tests done because of my late age ,It was during these tests I also found out I was expecting twins who would subsequently be born early in Sept 2003 they are the delight of my older years and One ended being Autistic , God,s plan in all of this was to show me what it,s like not to speak (CHAD) the one with Autism is non verble And I am now a advocate for all special needs children Pretty awesome plan God.!!

    • April 17, 2013, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      Okay, Cindy. Not one, but two surprise babies and you’re still saying God’s plan is awesome. You’re my hero, and you’re also the hero of many special needs children. Really is an awesome plan and story. Thank you!

  19. April 17, 2013, 2:25 pm   /  Reply

    This is such an encouraging conversation — and I love everyone’s perspectives and contributions today. 🙂

    • April 17, 2013, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      It sure is, Beth. Thanks for inviting me to tag along.

  20. April 17, 2013, 2:41 pm   /  Reply

    Great post, Kim! Thanks for sharing and I’m loving these comments, too. Don’t you just love how God amazes us with the way He works things out? Never say never indeed. Whenever people say, “That’s so unrealistic and could never happen!” (whether in fiction or real life) it always makes me smile. Sure it can happen, especially when you’re talking about the hand of the Almighty being involved! Letting go of the reins and being willing to trust in Him is the hardest part, but when we do and let Him take over, it’s nothing short of exciting! Many blessings.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:50 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks so much, JoAnn. I’m happy you stopped by.

      “Sure it can happen!” – I love that comment and you are so right. God isn’t limited by our imagination, our power (or lack of power), or our logic. Trusting has been the hard part for me, so I’m very grateful he’s not limited by our lack of faith either.

  21. Marissa E.
    April 17, 2013, 3:00 pm   /  Reply

    Currently I am in a situation that I don’t like very much. My family is planning on moving and I’m having a hard time with it. Not sure what God’s doing with it all, but we’ll see.

    • April 17, 2013, 8:53 pm   /  Reply

      Marissa, I’m saying a prayer right now that your transition will be a gentle one. I hope you’ll let us know how it turns out.

  22. Rachel Hauck
    April 17, 2013, 5:07 pm   /  Reply

    Great post! I love seeing how the Lord works all for good. I’ve not ended up in a plan I didn’t think was right… more like it took “forever” for the Lord to launch me on the plan I knew was right! LOL.

    But it’s been a great ride.

    Rachel

    • April 17, 2013, 8:59 pm   /  Reply

      I’m with you, Rachel. God takes his sweet time when it comes to my life. Looks like I’ll have to live to be 113 at the rate he and I are going. 🙂

      Thanks for the reminder that life is a great ride.

  23. April 17, 2013, 5:32 pm   /  Reply

    Kim, any plan that leads to Myrtle Beach is a pretty good one:-)
    The scene in the living room is a perfect example of our plans going off the rails in order for God’s Plan A to continue. Thank you for giving us a glimpse at your pain, disorientation and hesitancy to trust. I can relate to all of that.
    Seven years ago when my life blew up, I made it my highest priority to map out a plan to find the right career path and follow set course to a financially secure future for my family. None of that has happened. God has had other priorities. His plan has been to use a season of difficulty as His means of ministering His healing and cultivating relational intimacy with Him. I’m not crazy about the plan (I mean, where’s Myrtle Beach?), but I’m delighted with what He has accomplished by it. Great post, Kim.

    • April 17, 2013, 5:34 pm   /  Reply

      Hey, Hey, Dave! It may not be Myrtle Beach, but Colorado Springs has it’s own distinctive beauty. No beaches in sight … but never the same sunset twice. And I’m thankful God led you (and your family) here.

      • April 17, 2013, 9:08 pm   /  Reply

        Hey, wait a minute, Beth. We’d love to have Dave and his family relocate to Myrtle Beach for a while. No Colorado sales pitches while I’m blogging, okay? 🙂

        Dave, from what I’ve read on your blog and seen of your creative illustrations, it looks like God has a great plan way beyond any you could imagine. Just my viewpoint as an onlooker. Plus, I much prefer watching him work in others lives than having my applecart overturned. Lol.

        Thanks for your comment and your transparency.

        • April 17, 2013, 9:27 pm   /  Reply

          “I much prefer watching him work in others lives than having my applecart overturned.” Me too!!!
          Thanks for you sharing your kind encouragement and your great sense of humor!

  24. April 17, 2013, 5:40 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I’m glad the Master Plan lead me to Colorado Springs. It took a while to get planted in the high desert, but now it sure feels like home.

  25. April 18, 2013, 7:52 am   /  Reply

    Thank you for the encouragement. Definitely shows how God likes to shove us out of our comfort zones.

    • April 18, 2013, 11:09 am   /  Reply

      Marney, shove is a good word. I guess that’s my fault though – if I let go peaceably, God wouldn’t have to be so pushy. Lol. Thank you for your encouragement as well.

  26. Beth Jarrott
    April 18, 2013, 10:33 am   /  Reply

    Do our plans ever go according to God’s? My life’s journey has been one of countless detours and unexpected interruptions. My plans are not even close to where God has planted me; yet I seem to be in His perfect Will, knowing I am being effective right where I am. Thank you Kim, for the lovely reminder that when our plans, hopes, dreams, get blindsided or sideswiped, God has something even greater to offer. I am going to copy your post and place it above my desk as a reminder not to get my panties in a wad the next time things don’t go as planned! Because God has a greater plan!

  27. April 18, 2013, 11:13 am   /  Reply

    Oh, Beth, the thought of my post over your desk makes me smile big.

    I know some of your story, and I so admire the impact you have on the people around you. God does have you right where you’re supposed to be, and from my perspective, it looks like you’re handling it much more gracefully than I would. You’re an inspiration.

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