Sarah Altendorf via Flickr, licensed cc
I'm sure from the top, where God sits, looking down, the plan is working out beautifully. But where I am sitting, looking up, there are a lot of knots and tangles on the underside.
Just before my last child was born 11 years ago, I hit one of those tangles.
Mr. Pete and I had all of our children involved with swimming and the swim team. We started by putting my oldest son in swimming because it tired him out and made him more manageable. As he got to be high school age, it became a big part of his life, and I think the discipline and the fatigue that came with being a competitive swimmer made him a better person.
I thought I had found the recipe for success with raising little boys. Being in the water took the fight out of them! I couldn't imagine that a drug would work as well as a couple of hours racing in the water. So all of our subsequent sons took swimming lessons and then joined the swim team. At the time, this was very expensive for us. But I thought it was worth the sacrifice to provide this for our children.
Two weeks before my youngest child was due to be born, one of my long-time clients sent me a note that said she had to cut costs in her business and so she would no longer be using my services. This was a huge financial hit for our family and being hormonal anyway, I fell into despair. The timing of all of this, with a new baby on the way, wasn't great, but I had no choice but to accept it. Yet I worried about how this would affect my sons, and all I could see ahead of us were tangles.
But God started working His plan for us immediately. Not having that extra work and stress on me, helped with my recovery from a Cesarean delivery at age 46. But I still worried because I knew that we weren't going to be able to afford swim team for my younger sons any more, and I fretted about how to tell them and what to replace it with.
A few months later, there was a notice in the parish bulletin, that CYO was offering Cross Country for elementary students! I thought that maybe that would be my answer. Financially it certainly was! The cost of joining was a fraction of what the team fees were.
I had never run before, and Mr. Pete is not a runner. We weren't sure what we were getting into, yet I felt compelled to at least give it a try. So we showed up for the first practice and my kids, who were avid and capable swimmers, started learning about distance running. Blessings started coming to us from that as well. Because this was a CYO activity, we started feeling a little more closely part of the parish life. Cross country practice was also a lot less time consuming since the practices were only about an hour long and the routine of that was better for our dinner time and family routine.
Sam and Gabe were never stellar runners, but they enjoyed the comraderie and the benefits of running. They occasionally run now as adults. But what I didn't know then was that two of my younger kids would be good runners, and that the new baby I brought into the world when this started, would possibly even be a talented runner.
Five years ago I put her in her very first one mile race. She didn't ask me, "Mom, what if I don't finish?" she asked, "Mom, what if I don't win?" I knew right then that this was the sport for her.
Next week, Noah starts running on the college level with an NCAA 2 school. That never entered my mind as a possibility when we showed up for that first cross country practice all those years ago. I have no idea how God will use that. Maybe he'll meet a lifelong friend? or maybe there will be experiences with this team that will serve in the future? I don't know.
God either cleared out the knots and tangles for us, or showed us the purpose for each one. I know there will be more ahead. But when I have my doubts, I look back and see the design that I can sort of kinda make out from my new perspective, and this bolsters my faith, and makes me anxious to see how it will all work out in the future.