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    The Adventure of the Unplanned Life

    January 30, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Every time I read a posting like this, I want to rejoice and weep all at the same time. If our life together {Si’s and mine} has been one thing, it is unplanned. This is not to say we didn’t have plans, for we certainly did! Our plans had to do with jobs and vacations and cars and houses and financial stability. Doesn’t having children require all these things, including the initial childless travelling adventures? We thought so, and we had plans for it all.

    And God had other plans, namely little E. I’ve discussed this a bit before in the context of learning to be content, which is a struggle I’ve found to be greatest when life has not been according to my plans.

    What I haven’t mentioned at all is the joy that can be found in the unplanned life. Here I am, 4.5 years after that “surprise” second red line {for that is the true starting line of parenthood}, and I think only now am I beginning to understand the significance of it all.

    In E., God had His way with us using a means I would never have imagined. And we have learned more about struggle and heartache and disappointment than I ever thought possible, especially in such a short period of time. But we also are learning to rejoice in the smallest of small daily events, a first word or first step, something that never could have happened in a life cluttered with the world’s goods and missing our two beautiful children.

    Because God made us parents while we kicked at the goads, we have been changed. We even live in a different city and Si has a different job. But more importantly, we are different people.

    Slowly, we are learning to let go of our control. For us, that’s what birth control really was {and is!}, especially in the beginning. It was a means of control, a shaking our fists at the Almighty and refusing Him rights to intervene in our lives. We liked them the way they were, thank you. We wanted to walk in faith in some areas, but not all.

    And God had mercy on us. He turned the tables on us while our hearts were still hardened {if you can believe it, I actually apologized to Si, telling him I thought that, by getting pregnant, I had ruined his life}. Reminds me of the verse…While we were yet sinners…God knows the appropriate teaching tools for each of His children, and little E. was the best lesson He could have given us.

    So now, I am learning {slowly} to rejoice in the unplanned life. God delights to conform His children to the likeness of His Firstborn, and the unplanned areas are signs that He is working. As painful as it can be, it is a sign of His love that He is caring for me, that He is teaching me, that He is not as far away as I sometimes think.

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  • Reply d.g. January 31, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    I agree with you about the BC issue. We had a whole series of discussions about it in our Young Marrieds SS class! (Yeah, that was fun!) We continue to debate it ourselves, and I honestly can see good, biblical arguments on both sides. It’s a toughy! =)

    Thanks for your nice reply. I like it when I say things that are scriptural. What a compliment! =) Your posts are generally scriptural, so I commend you as well.

  • Reply Brandy January 31, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    Gracie–For being one of the most organized people I know, you are becoming the poster girl for flexibility! I know that you are beginning your own little adventure, and I rejoice with you! Keep me posted and I will be praying for you.

  • Reply Brandy January 31, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    DG–Good point about planned versus control. It is the controlling part that gets us into trouble.

    Scripture exhorts us, for instance, to look to the ant and follow the example of preparing for the future. And then we also are told to make plans, but always preface with the idea that “if God wills, then we will go to such and such a place.” So, not only do I agree, but you are speaking scriptural truth.

    And, of course, a planned child is just as much of a blessing. Scripture says all children are blessings, a reward from the Lord.

    A. was technically “planned” in the sense that I was desperate to have her, especially after my miscarriage. Some have told me that E. was actually planned, just not by me. =)

    With that said, and please note that Si and I are still debating the birth control issue (my posting didn’t make that clear enough), the idea of birth control is very young. As Si likes to say, culture is not infallible. I think this is one of many cultural givens that we have a responsibility to step back from and reevaluate.

  • Reply Dessert Girl January 31, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    I certainly agree that God often has surprising plans for us. (Me in South Bend, Indiana???) In fact, I bet we’d be surprised at the things we thought we had planned, that in fact God was orchestrating the whole time. I do think it’s worth noting, though, that this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to ever make plans. I believe He gave us reason and intellect to do just that– decide on a goal and pursue it, with His blessing. I for one could probably stand to set more goals. Yes, we should be open to our plans getting changed or being different than originally supposed. But, it’s not the planning per se that’s the problem; it’s the control and/or narrow-mindedness. Planning and control are two very different things. (Just like: “Quirky and weird are two very different things.”

    Also, not everyone learns lessons the same way. Our loving Father knows what each of His children need. We should be careful not to judge one another based on how “planned” or “unplanned” our lives seem. I don’t think a “planned” child is any less of a blessing than an “unplanned” child. Amen? =) Speaking as a mother of zero at this point (and a “planned” child–gross!), I think it would be unfair to say that I have not surrendered my life to God’s control. Granted, He still has so much to teach me in this area, but I don’t think that giving me a child at this point is the only way He can teach me faith and trust. I can see Him teaching me that lesson by moving me to a strange area of the country, and closing doors at jobs I thought were perfect for me. Me, a secretary? Not what I planned. But do I feel blessed by the Lord? Definitely.

    This goes on record as my longest blog posting to date. Love ya guys!

  • Reply Grace January 31, 2006 at 7:59 am

    Amen! Thanks for sharing! I totally understand! Sometimes it’s so hard for people to understand that you are really okay with the “unplanned life.” Everyone wants to know what the next plan/step is. Everytime I want to pursue something I want, it seems God has other plans. So, I applaud you for your adventure. I think it’s quite exciting to not know what’s going to happen next. =)

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