My suitcase was packed. Every item on the to-do list had been crossed off. And we had left for the airport with plenty of time to spare.
We took the swiftest route to the airport from our Iowa farm — a quick shot up the county highway, into Minnesota. Thousands of acres of lush fields blurred past us.
I was looking forward to a great week ahead — meeting with my publisher, and later serving at a conference in Tennessee. To top it off, my husband would fly out separately to meet me in Nashville to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. The girls were eager to evict us, because they were about to embark on a week at Grandma Camp.
In the back seat, the girls buzzed with stories, questions, and beat-box rhythms.
Then my phone rang. It was my travel agent.
“I don’t have good news. Your flight’s delayed. I’m not sure you’ll catch your connecting flight.”
I told her that we’d continue toward the airport, assuming the best.
The best didn’t happen. The phone rang again.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but all of your flights have been canceled.”
The beat-boxers went quiet. My heart dropped into my stomach.
The travel agent said my only chance was this: Drive three hours to catch a different plane in Nebraska. But I’d need to hurry.
In one skinny minute, my grand plans seemed to fall apart.
I dropped off my family, and set out for Nebraska alone, skidding into the airport just in time. I couldn’t help but laugh with relief when I finally reached the gate for my flight. I texted a friend, “I’m about to step onto my first flight of the day, and already, the wheels of my car have driven into four different states: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.”
Why am I telling you my crazy travel story?
Because some of you are on a life journey that isn’t making sense.
You had it all worked out, but in one skinny minute, the plan unraveled. Because you’re an optimist, you hoped for the best. Then things cruelly turned from bad to worse.
Maybe today you’re at a fork in the road or stuck at a dead end. Perhaps you’ve lost the map and can’t find true north anymore. And like me, as I headed for Nebraska, you’re not sure if you’re going to make it.
When I finally stepped onto the plane that afternoon, and flopped down in my seat, the sun shone brightly through the oval window. The light glinted off of my bracelet. It was a bracelet that I hadn’t worn in months, but for whatever reason, I had slipped it around my wrist before walking out the door.
I ran my fingers along the scripted words on the bracelet: Embrace the Journey. It was an eye-opening moment for me.
The bracelet reminded me that in Jesus, detours are never wasted. It reminded me that I miss so much of this life’s journey because I’ve got my eyes glued on tomorrow. But God is saying to us: “Be on the lookout. Embrace the now.”
You know, we all have a lot of destinations during our years on earth, but we’ll miss most of our actual life if we don’t pay attention to the actual journey. The most important reasons for moving from one spot to the next might have very little to do with arriving. The most important reasons are revealed in the in-between — the rest stops where you sought refuge, the fork in the road where you had to lean into the wisdom of God, the dead ends where Jesus gently turned you around.
I still don’t know for sure what God intended with my rerouted journey. There were no spectacular moments where God made some Grand Plan known to me. Maybe it was the encounter I had with a frazzled mom on the plane. Her little boy wouldn’t stop screaming. “We’ve all been there,” I reassured her. “I can see how much you love your kids. You’re doing great.” Or maybe I was intended to cross paths with that sweet grandma in the airport who promised to pray that I made it to my destination safely.
Maybe it happened, simply so I could tell you this story.
This I know: every reroute in life is swollen with the possibility of redemption.
Maybe the reasons for our detours are hiding like gems underneath all of the un-spectacular-ness. Maybe we’ll have to wait all the way until heaven to find out.
Until then, I can almost hear Him whispering: “Just wait, my daughter. It will all make sense someday. Until then, embrace the journey.”
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I am trying so hard to embrace the journey, but this morning I’m really feeling disheartened. I’ve recuperated from two major surgeries…one successful…one not. I have been plagued by yet another injury/problem that may require surgery. I feel like I’ve embraced what God had for me to learn through the other recuperations, but to be quite honest…right now my heart is weary and tired of being physically “broken”. I could really use prayers for healing and for a good attitude as I head into the days in front of me. Thanks.
Anna Smit says
Praying for you, Bev. Lifting you up before our Heavenly Father.
And thank you for praying for me recently at incourage that I would not run and hide. Your prayers have been answered in a mighty way. In the opening of my heart, mind and soul, when I felt incapable of this and had run and hid, the LORD humbled me in His comfort. In my PTSD treatment, image after image and words after words spoke of God’s control and His encouragement for me to let go of the pseudo control I thought I had. The further the session went, the more raw emotions (heartache, anger, fear) were uncovered, brought out of hiding, and placed in His lap.
From the moment we enter this world we are encouraged to hide our weaknesses, to hide our human emotions. But I discovered in my therapy session, the more I allowed myself to feel what I felt and had repressed, however wrong that felt, the more truthful I became and the more relaxed and free I became in the arms of Jesus, who I heard calling and beckoning me to lie down and rest on Him. It really brought home that Scripture about casting all our anxiety upon the LORD.
Anyways, all this just to say I wish I could give you a hug and say thank you in person. Instead I’m going to pray and thank God for the heart He has placed within you and pray that He would draw you unto Himself, unto His strength, His healing Hand and His almighty Peace.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
When I read your very kind, sweet, and heartfelt response, it brought tears to my eyes. Instead of trying to be stoic…I believe I need to collapse into the loving arms of Jesus. I’ve gotten to the end of myself and like the helpless lamb, I am picturing myself (with your help) being held in His strong and capable arms. I know my heart is secure…I need to trust His control over the physical problems I am having. Thank you for the encouragement to humble myself and let go – casting my anxiety on Him. Thank you for your prayers!!
Love and ((hugs)),
Anna Smit says
Big huge hugs. I think it’s human to want to hold onto the semblance of control and a day-to-day humbling experience as we journey with Christ. I am blessed by souls such as yours exactly because you are so open, raw and honest.
What a beautiful testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life. Also, what a beautiful picture of what it looks like when one friend (in)courages another! So grateful that God crossed your path with Bev’s.
Anna Smit says
He is so very good and faithful and much bigger than I’ll ever be able to fathom.
I’m thankful to God for Bev’s blessing. She has such a beautiful heart.
I am so sorry for all that you’re going through. I do suspect, like I said in the post above, that we will have to wait until heaven to figure out why we had to go through some of the things we had to face while hear on earth. I’m taking some moments this morning to pray especially for you, dear Bev. xo
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Bev, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. I know that physical suffering colors all you do and can be so discouraging. (I’m going through a lot of physical pain myself just now). If you would permit me, I’d like to send you my book, where among other things I talk about a very difficult time after foot surgery and how the Lord ministered to me. If you would email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing info, I’ll send it to you. May God bless you and bring you healing, peace, and wholeness from your brokenness.
Joanne Peterson says
Bev, You are loved. Hugs, Joanne
Beth Williams says
Prayers for complete healing. May God bring his healing touch upon you!!
(((((Hugs))))) from Upper E. TN!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Thanks so much, Beth!!
Love and (((Hugs))) your way,
Anna Smit says
Jennifer, thank you for this reminder. A few days ago I sat there discouraged at the stand-still of life I felt myself held in. I’d quit my job after feeling led to do so, to lead a quieter, more restful life at home with my girls. But it’s in this rest, or detour of the plans I’d been making, that tension, anger and frustration grew. And God led me to uncover that which I’d pressed down low. His detour for my life has been the most difficult and stressful of times, but also one in which I’m seeing Him turn ashes into beauty, brokenness into wholeness in Him. Yes, it is all about the journey, but not our journey, but His Spirit-led journey to freedom…freedom that won’t be complete until we stand face-to-face in Glory before Him.
Thank you, Anna, for sharing this. Yes… to embrace the journey that GOD has set us on, not the one we try to forge on our own. I so appreciate your words today, Anna.
Anna Smit says
And I appreciate yours so very much too. I believe God placed your book on my path for a reason, too. I read it right after coming back to faith and it was a huge eye opener and I still reflect on what you shared almost daily. I have made love and approval of people my idol in life and it still something I’m fighting against. Thank you for sharing your story and in your humility surrendering your story to the glory of God not only in your own life, but also in others’.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Ah, Jennifer….detours and circuitous routes, dead stops. They can really be difficult. Sometimes for me, I don’t know if it so much detour itself that is hard, but that it’s long. I’ve been on a wilderness detour for eleven years. Ugh. But what I am trying to remember is that Jesus led me here, He is with me, and He knows the way out. When we embrace the journey, ultimately, we are embracing HIM! (And, of course, He never stops embracing *us*! Thank you always for writing with such encouragement. And I also find it encouraging that you were visiting your publisher! Hmmm….
Love you a ton,
I know that your detour is very hard, and what inspires me, is how you continue to walk each step in faith. I admire you, Lynn. Thanks for your witness to God’s faithfulness, especially in the hard places.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
Jennifer, your encouragement always means so much. You are truly a gift for this pilgrim.
Love you so much!
Diane Gum says
So appropriate for me today. My mother-in-law moved in with us near the end of March, all of us hoping for a full recuperation from a week-long hospital stay that left her weak. Nearly 4 months later, she’s lying in a hospital bed in my daughter’s room, dying. Talk about a re-route! My family’s lives have completely changed. Our lives are not our own. We can’t just run to the store or go out with friends without making sure there are care givers here to be with her. It’s been a journey. And it’s about ready to get a little more difficult as my son leaves on a mission trip next week for 10 days, my middle child moves back to her home in Lynchburg after a 2 month stay with us, and my oldest child has her hours increased at work, leaving me as the primary care giver with a list of hired help to call and juggle hours and money to make sure there is enough help to assist me in turning my mother-in-law in her bed and cleaning up after her. I will embrace the journey, the process, because I have no idea how long she will be like this – just one more day or another month? Only God knows. Thank you for reminding me that this is where my focus must be, with my eyes on God and my heart singing a song of praise to Him no matter the circumstances, trusting Him that He has all of us and everything in the palm of His large and loving hand!
That is so much, Diane. So very much. Please know that I am lifting you up in prayer this morning.
Joanne Peterson says
Embracing the journey…..I realize I haven’t been. This has been tough with starting over raising two little boys after grown children, and my husband’s health issues, and now mine, and winding the maze of so much change since my first round of kids were in school. So many of the things I just wanted dealt with and done. It’s not working out that way. I can see through this blog to embrace the journey, God deliberately chose this journey for me and my family.
I am encouraged by the vulnerability and the love poured out I see, hear, and feel met by the women, in Bev’s need, and their/our need to touch and be touched, moved by compassion. It’s beautiful. I feel Jesus’ Presence as I type this out, His love poured out. This is His body.
Thank you Jennifer and thank you ladies.
Jennifer, (and all you ladies that commented and are going through detours my heart is so with you today!),
This message today could not have been more timely.
We were suppose to leave a month ago for TN. Me, my hubby, kids and mother. My mother has not seen her family in three years. She almost died in December from a massive internal bleed, recovered, and this trip was something we were all looking forward to.
Then, days before we were suppose to leave for the trip she comes down with pneumonia that lands her in the hospital. We were so bummed but, the doctors reassured us when she got out if she was up to it she could go.
She comes to my house for a few days to recover and ends up with a horrible rheumatoid arthritis flare so bad it kept her in bed for days unable for us to go on the trip. We canceled it and rescheduled it for next week.
After everything my poor mama went through she was ecstatic to go, we went shopping, got her new clothes for the trip, and then the next day I get a phone call that my mom has fallen and they are taking her to the E.R. (talk about detours Jennifer), ugh.
She broke her hip and wrist, had surgery and is now in a rehab facility. She will be there for weeks. She has been so depressed and discouraged and asking God why. (for whatever reason she was not meant to go to TN). 🙁 On top of it all, we buried my father in March after walking with him through his cancer and we are still trying to recover from that.
So, as I sit here and read your ladies stories, I find comfort knowing I’m not alone. You ladies are all going through it as well, and I’m reading your stories nodding, crying with you. There is something to be said about suffering and when we go through the hard stuff, the compassion we have for others that can’t be attained unless we’ve been through it ourselves. Praying for each of you today.
May we each know this: As we walk through the valley of the shadow, our Shepherd is with each of us. He will carry us, He will will never leave us, He will restore our souls and it will all be for His glory. We may not get all our answers here, but as Jennifer so beautifully said, every reroute is swollen with the possibility of redemption. May we embrace our journey knowing we are not alone. Love and prayers for all you ladies today. xoxo
MaddyChristine Hope Brokopp says
That is a fabulous post. Good for all. For me, we are in the middle of some serious strive with our foster son. We knew all of this would happen but no one can truly prepare for the pain, heartache and struggle that comes with foster care, despite training. And, as we are on a missions trip, today is not happening as planned as we hit rock bottom with our boy. My husband and I were reminded today that God knew all along what would happen today. We just have to roll with it, sit it out, as painful as it is. There is comfort in knowing God knew and didn’t prevent.
Ally V says
Thank you for this. Right now, my plans for our family are just… well, they’re just not happening. Infertility has taken me on quite a detour- one that I never expected and one that really cuts to my core.
Bonnie Stafford says
Oh, Ally, infertility is not a path that I have walked, but I can only imagine how painful it must be on several different levels. I am praying for you today.
Ally V says
Thank you for your prayers, Bonnie!
Crissy pinzon says
I understand very well what ur going through . Its almost our 12 yr anniversary and still waiting for Gods promise of our child. We have decided to do artificial insemination next month… For god s glory
I can related to your journey. After years of infertility, my husband i were able to conceive through fertikity treatments. Unfortunately, the pregnancies ended in miscarriage. In November 2015, we found out that we conceived naturally. As you can imagine, we celebrated this great blessing from God. Little did we know that our daughter would would be born 3 months (April 2015) premature due to pre-eclampsia and live only 2 days. We watched helplessly as the nurses and doctors did call they could to improve her breathing. she passed away in my arms. We watched as they tried to revive her. Grief has certainly consumed us, but we can see God’s strength in helping us take one breathe and one step forward every day. Its the most horrifying and surreal experience and I have questioned why God would allow her life to be taken away so suddenly and I yearn to learn the purpose and lesson in the death of our daughter, Jasmin. Although I dont have the answers now, i am thankfuk that He has allowed the impossible to happen. I believe that satan stole and killed my child but why God allowed it, i dont know. Yet, I find joy in knowing that she is in Heaven and there is no denying that my quest to get there has increased ten folds. We never plan for such detours but we know that God, through Christ, has equipped us with all that we need to endure the life’s journey. James says to count it all joy when trials enter ur life as such trials increase endurance, character, and faith. For me, this is the ultimate testing of faith that has rocked the core of my being. Nothing is familiar and the minute things that seem to matter, no longer does. I yearn more than ever to leave this world and be joined with God and my children in Heaven.
Correction to my original post: we found out November 2014 that we were pregnant.
Also, i wanted to add that I know the oain and heartache assiciated with infertility. Im so sorry that this has been ine of your “thorns” in life. The Word says there are two things that are never satisfied: the grave and the barren womb. Its hard to understand why the physical body does that work has we believe it should. Its hard to understand how others who birth children fail to understand the blessing In it. I certainly understand your plight and am praying that you continue to believe and have faith in God’s will for your life. the hardest part of this is accepting that God’s will is not now. Our definition of time cannot be comared to the timing of God. Trust that He is guiding and directing your path to eternal happiness and joy.
I just wanted to say Jennifer I’m so glad that the halt in your journey worked out in the end. We never know what’s in store for us so yes we should embrace the moment with gratitude.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you ..
Love this article! Where’d you get the bracelet???
Crissy pinzon says
Detours just make us closer to God
CM Hazelwood says
Hi, I’m not sure what’s next in my journey, but thank you for the reminder that the moment is now. I got laid off at the beginning of May, so I am job hunting, and writing, and marketing some photographs, and …. I keep seeking a larger purpose, but for now to keep focused on Christ.
Judy flowers says
Ah such beautiful posts and we are all connected by our different stories
my husband of 5 short yrs went home to Jesus in May
I prayed he would be healed and delivered this side of heaven and that we would serve God together but there is a different path for me to take now
my life verse now is Prov 16:3
Beth Williams says
My life has taken a huge detour these past two years. Last year we moved dad into assisted living. He had multiple medical issues-landing him in ER 4 times. That took a toll on me and my work. Last month I quit my job to be more available for my dad. This year he has had worsening dementia and a quick decline in the last few months . Within the last month or so he has quit eating or drinking much. Recently we have had 5 episodes (sundowners’). Last week he refused his meds for 2 straight days and was up walking around for 2 days. Friday we called in hospice to see if they could help with getting fluids and meds into him. Very rough time and I am weary right now from lack of sleep.
Courtney Cole says
“…every reroute in life is swollen with the possibility of redemption.” I love that. I desperately needed the reminder that God knows what He’s doing, even when we feel lost. Thank you.
Sandra Oden says
I’ve struggled with this for years. Because I’m a “planner”, I’m always looking down the road to the next thing instead of embracing the journey. Boy, do I need one of those bracelets so I can be reminded constantly. Thanks for the post.
Martha Orlando says
Ah, yes, Jennifer, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Blessings!
Glenda Mills says
I needed to read this today. It was like God whispered “this is for you”. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked the last line…”just wait my daughter. It will all make sense someday. Until then, embrace the journey.
This was definitely a very good read. I have been on one of those side-tracked road trips for so many years. Just when I think things are okay it seems like life slaps me in the face and says “Oh no, you can’t be financially secure or be at rest and sleep at night or… Or… Or….. I just have no idea what God wants me to learn. He says in His words He does not harm but prospers us. Oh Lord make it so. My husband was without a job for 4 years. We sill had a child in college and one in high school. He finally got a job but it pays 60% less than he was making. To keep us afloat he used all our retirement fund to pay healthcare costs and mortgage payments. Well we had to do a quick sale on our house this year. And we had to settle for something far, far less than we owed on our house. And now we will have to pay taxes next year on the difference because it’s considered taxable income. Oh help us Lord I pray. I don’t have a car. My husband drives my dated 2000 van. We live with my 91 yr old mom. I am grateful for the roof over our heads and our beds to sleep in but it’s a tiny house and my mom isn’t always gracious. We really need to move out and give her her space back because although we rented 3 storage units we still have boxes here and it drives her crazy. We pay her some rent and help buy groceries and pay the cable bill but because she speaks loudly on the phone I hear her trying to be “quiet” while she complains to her friends. She is not hard of hearing either. I can’t seem to get my husband to understand that my living here 24/7 is ruining my relationship with my mom. I mean she is 91 and in good health for her age. He is a go with the flow and let’s thing roll off his back. We are Christians. I pray to the Lord continuously not only for our family but I minister to others who have absolutely no idea what we are going through. We need prayer please everyone if you wouldn’t mind taking some time to lift us up. I am not enjoying the journey. I am stressed, sleepless, gaining so much weight, had knee surgery on one knee and it’s not better. Still need surgery on my other knee. I don’t hear God on this or maybe I do but my husband doesn’t and we can’t get on the same page. Our daughter lives here too during the summers off from college. This is not healthy. There isn’t even room enough for a larger bed so my husband and I can share a room. Plus he snores and I can’t sleep. Okay enough of woe is me. I am asking total strangers for prayer here. God bless you all. I’d appreciate your prayers and Holy Spirit given words. Thank you,
Jane O'Haley says
Would appreciate your prayers. My marriage is in very serious trouble. My husband is not living in reality. Watches TV on computer and Facebook and escaping and avoiding us. He needs a job but even more so he needs a reality check and mental and emotional healings. His adult son lives with us now. He too lives in nonreality and absorbed in computer games. I am 64 yrs old and can hardly cope with all of this not to mention our financial woes etc also. Thanks for your prayers
Elizsabeth Lope'z says
As i am here upon my last of desparation for crys of hope. I come accros your website and here i am depressed and feeling of suicide. But i know I have purpose. Cause I came across this site. I know God is hearing my crys. Need prayer to get it all together. I once smiled of his love now im so lost.
Missy B says
Where did you get this bracelet? I love it! Embracing each day, each moment and the journey is a struggle for me especially when plans change. I’m a big planner and like to be in control. I have a hard time enjoying and embracing. I have a picture that says carpe diem – to seize the day to help remind me. Thanks for your post.