The Joys of the Unexpected

I thought that when I had my third baby, our family was complete. My little blonde boy had been unexpected, but he brought a fullness to our family.

But God had other plans.

If Gibson was unexpected, you can probably imagine that finding out I was pregnant with our fourth was a complete shock. I had begun to dream again about my own plans and goals. Gibson was out of diapers and it seemed like the right time to pursue my passions. I signed up for a missions trip, my first since getting pregnant a decade before. I signed up for a blogging conference longing to grow in my desire to write. My life seemed poised for a new season.

Pregnancy felt like a step backwards. Starting over again with sleepless nights? Having to deal with diapers and wonky schedules and wasn’t I too old for this?!! The “Advanced Maternal Age” sheet my doctor handed to me on my first visit confirmed my swirling thoughts. I cried for the loss of the direction I thought my life was heading. It was all so unexpected.

But God’s plans are always perfect.

After the initial shock, I began to embrace my pregnancy and to dream about the precious little one growing in my womb. I went on the missions trip, delighting in my precious companion who shared my adventure. I went to the blogging conference and it impacted my life in profound ways despite the shift in my personal priorities.

Then we had the ultrasound to find out the baby’s gender. With one girl and two boys, it felt unreasonable to hope for another girl. Would God really bless me with such incredible sweetness when my initial response to this child was less than stellar? Turns out he had decided to bless our lives with another girl despite my selfishness and failures. I was overwhelmed with his kindness to me.

For nearly a decade prior to this surprise, we had been slowly losing my precious Dad to alzheimers. This incremental loss brought great sorrow to my life. My Dad was precious to me, a lover of Jesus, the Word of God and his girls. Our bond was tight and so my heart was breaking as I watched more and more of him slowly slip away.

Four months after Ainsley was born, we knew it was time to say goodbye to Grandfather and so my bookend girls joined me on a flight to Kansas to introduce my Dad to his last grandchild and to say our final goodbyes.

What should have been a heartwrenching, sorrowful time turned into a joyous celebration! My Dad, through the fog, smiled when he held his granddaughter. Ainsley brought joy to all of us in a time when our hearts were breaking. She was an unexpected balm for our souls and I was reminded that God knew exactly what he was doing.

I fought against his plans, protesting that my plans were better. Oh, the foolishness of my heart! God knew that she would arrive at just the right time to bring me comfort, joy and purpose in the midst of devastation.

Today we are celebrating eight years since Ainsley joined our family, truly completing us in all of the best possible ways. She has brought joy to my life beyond what I could have ever imagined. She keeps me young! She has kept me going at times when I have wanted to give up or simply wallow in my grief.

When we sing “I see the evidence of your goodness all over my life” while we’re driving in our car, I look in my rearview mirror and see my four precious children and my heart is full. I’ve lost both of my parents now, yet the Lord continues to remind me that he is so very good. I don’t have far to look. No matter what we lose in this life or the struggles we face, God’s sweetness shines through. Even when I fail, he continues to pour out his steadfast love on me, lifting my eyes from my circumstances and teaching me to fix them on him.

I have learned to stop making my own plans and instead hold them loosely. Because I have learned one of the best secrets in life. Sometimes the best gifts are the unexpected ones.

 

Happy birthday, Ainsley Rose! We love you beyond what you can imagine! Always, forever.

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