A Better Plan

Shipshewana 3

How does a small town girl, one of 13 children, grow up to do anything worth writing about? Well, let me tell you. It wasn’t my plan, and I didn’t do it alone.  It’s not that I didn’t have plans. I did. I wanted to be a singer like my mother. She had studied opera at Indiana University for three years before becoming a wife and mother.  The babies just kept coming and soon the opera part had been thrown out the window with the bath water. Still, she didn’t give up on singing. I think everyone in town had my mother, and her equally talented sister, Rita, to sing for their wedding or funeral. Besides that she taught all thirteen of us to sing and harmonize with her. We were one big musical family. So my first career plan was to be a singer, preferably on the Lawrence Welk show.

My second plan came about because my dad was a recovering alcoholic. My older sister, Sherry, and I had to babysit our siblings at least three nights a week so that Dad and Mom could go to AA and Al-Anon meetings to keep Dad sober and mom from going crazy.  Sherry and I would get the kids bathed and in their pajamas. Then I would tell them a whopper of a story I made up. After I had their attention, I’d finish with a big finale. Putting them to bed with a story was fun. I started thinking maybe I could be a writer. I really loved working with children and dreamed I would be a children’s book author.

My last plan was to get married and have a home and children of my own. That one wasn’t going so well either. Sherry got all of the dates in High School. I never really had a boyfriend.  My father wanted all six of us girls to eventually be married off and in homes of our own. He felt that being a wife and mother was God’s greatest calling for a woman, but since I was not dating, he told me I definitely needed a job when I graduated to support myself.

I talked to my dad about my dreams; being a famous singer or an author, but he said I would never make any money in those two careers.  I always wondered if I would have been dating someone at the time, if he might not have been ok with my aspirations. After all, I could sing and write and still be a wife and mother. I did pretty well in High School and my counselor told me I might want to consider being an elementary teacher.

I had one of those “Aha!” moments when she said that, even though I had no idea how I’d be able to pay for college. I went to Ball State and that was where I found Jesus. Dad hoped I would come home with a degree and a husband, which I did.  I taught 5th and 6th graders for 29 years. I read my students stories I had written to encourage them to write. I sang songs I’d made up to make them laugh or to help them learn a particular lesson.  I became a mom and wrote songs and stories for my children. In the summers I sent my stories out to publishers. In the winter of the year, I counted all of my rejection letters.

It seemed none of my plans were quite working out like I wanted, except for being a mom. That was the absolute best.  I wondered if I should keep writing stories and songs when they took so much time and effort. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God had plans for me too, but He had a timeline that was different from mine.

Several years ago, our church started a Praise Band and they wanted someone to sing who could do harmony. They chose me and I was thrilled. I am still thrilled every Sunday that I get to sing in the Praise Band.  Then just when I was wondering when to retire from teaching, a publisher called me out of the blue and wanted to publish my first novel, Call Me Lizzy.  If I could put that whole book down into one sentence, it would be this: Never quit believing that God answers prayer.

Maybe your plan is not going how you want it to go either.  Ask God to show you what His plan is, and be ready to wait for His perfect timing. In the meantime, use those talents any way you can.  Ecclesiastes 11:6 says, “So your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” So sing, write, dance, draw, whatever inspires you and trust that God has the better plan. He’ll show it to you when the time is right and you are ready for it.

 

 

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This Too Shall Pass

tomatoes

Recently we had a great weather event when summer showed up again after temperatures had dropped into the 40’s. It was in the 70’s for a week and in late October that’s a pretty wonderful thing here in Indiana. If you live in a four season state, you can understand what I am talking about.

We’d already had our nights of frost, even one night when it froze, so our tomato plants had to be covered in order for them to continue to live. On one of these plants, there were three or four very big green tomatoes; the slicing size. When the first night of frost was predicted, they were still green, so we covered them up. Now due to the Indian Summer we had, they received warmth again and finally started to ripen. A few days later, the weather changed once more and we had to bring them all inside to finish ripening on our kitchen counter.

Soon the snow will fall, and after that spring will come. Then summer will return to be swallowed up by fall once again. That is just the way it goes for seasons and for life. God promised that the seasons would never stop until He comes back, and so far they haven’t. He is a faithful God.

My dad had an adage he repeated everytime he was experiencing a low period in his life; “This too shall pass.” Not only does it work everytime when you are experiencing a low period, but the good times do not last either. They are like the seasons; seasons of our lives. One following another, good and bad, but always changing. Are you in a low season of your life? Have hope, because it will pass. Are you in a good season in your life? Unfortunately that will change too over time.

My tomato plant was having the time of its life making big slicing tomatoes, until a frost came and threatened to throw it into a bad time. We humans helped it out by covering it so the frost would not kill it. We allowed it to live under the covering until the Indian Summer arrived and it once again thrived in the warmth of the sun.

What does that have to do with you? We have a heavenly Father who covers us when we are in our lowest valleys. He hides us under the cover of his wings. Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

That tomato plant needed me to cover it during frost and freezing temperatures. I need God to cover me with His wings in times of trial and suffering. Your bad times will not feel as bad, when you remember who is covering you. Before you know it, the bad time will have passed. And after it, you may have a refreshing season that could be your Indian Summer. Rejoice in those special times while they are here. Whatever the season in life, “This too shall pass.”