When your day doesn’t go as planned.

Yeah, today didn’t go as planned.

I woke up thinking: I should be on an island getting dressed in my new Tommy Bahama shirt and linen pants for our Keats island wedding. A wedding that was birthed out of a relationship with Ruth that seemed absolutely perfect – a “God thing.”.

We had our future all dreamed out: A home on Keats Island, a home in the city. Writing several books we had thought about and discussed. Enjoying writing and quiet times together on the island. We had a great evening thinking about names for the beach house and really laughed at Sea-Esta. We wanted to travel together so I might show her the world. I had already booked trips to San Diego, Alberta, Toronto, Ireland and she was going to come to Rwanda with me in the new year.

Ruth was wide-eyed at the prospects. We saw ourselves ministering together together with a focus on young adults and helping Barnabas however we could. Ruth and I enjoy being grandparents and loving our kids so family would be a big part of our new life together. Entertaining, concerts, holidays, Disneyland, speaking together about our beautiful story, encouraging hope in God. All of these exciting dreams. We had a plan!

All these dreams, and all were threatened with the diagnosis that Ruth’s cancer was back. It was back with a vengeance and eight days later she passed through surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Blueprint for future life

You and I all have plans/dreams for our future. I was cherishing and nurturing dreams with Ruth, holding them close to my heart. She and I finally had a new blueprint that we would attempt to build our future lives according to. I’m sure you, in your quiet moments away from the busyness of day to day living, have some dreams that you are cherishing and that you desperately hope for. Well I’m 63 this year and, over the experience of life, have come to know that we don’t always get our way. God, haven’t I learned that already? I would have thought that the death of Brenda (my wife) and other twists and turns in my life and leadership would have taught me by now. Yet I still find the desire to try and meticulously plan the details so nothing is left to chance.

This quote from Steve Kellmeyer, Catholic author and culture commentator, caught me with the accuracy and potency of his words.

“There is a war that each of us fights within ourselves. When unforeseen difficulty arises, when our initial choice demands of us a sacrifice we did not foresee and when this sacrifice we unknowingly chose strikes at the very heart of what we cling to, what will we do?”

What will I do?

What will we do when we are shaken to the very core of who we are by something we could not possibly have anticipated. When our faith, hope, excitement and happiness are challenged so strongly that it paralyzes, what will we do?

Over the past weeks I have gone to some dark places in my thoughts. Places where what I claim to believe has been once again, put to the test. Places where I wanted to abandon what I have committed most of my life to. I wondered if I would ever find the strength to believe and hope again knowing that answers to all my “why” questions would end up falling into the answer category of Job 36:26, “Look, God is greater than we can understand.”

Will I have the courage and strength to take all the pieces of what I thought was a perfectly future and place them in the realization that our lives are beautifully imperfect.

The way you answer the question, “What will I do?”, can or will be the making of us. Surrounded and accepted by my family and close friends I feel supported this day in choosing not to lose confidence in myself, or in God. Today, most of Ruth’s family and grandchildren gathered together will all my clan. We just wanted to be together. It’s unusual because we are not family, yet we are very much family. We realize that what we will do is a choice, and we want to encourage the best decisions based on faith.

I want my faith to arise.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have decided to take some time to mourn. To give permission to go to peaceful places, remembering our memories and our dreams. To wrestle with God about further areas I need to submit to him. To not be afraid to admit my feelings and keep talking to God until I rest in the fact that somehow, he is going to work this out for good.

I want my faith to arise. I have encouraged many while mentoring not to let your setbacks define who you are. I don’t want this setback to do that to myself. After all, I’m a child of God and that is my identity. Learning to submit to God means learning to trust and follow him even when you don’t think his way makes sense. So today. I choose today to trust him regardless of the outcome.

Yeah, today didn’t go as planned.

29 thoughts on “When your day doesn’t go as planned.

  1. Hi Carson First time I opened your blog and so pleased to have read it Yes tears in the eyes and tremor in my heart as you opened your heart to all who read it. I look forward to seing you soon and being enlightened on what is happening in your life at this time
    He says Lo I am with you ALWAYS Proven and assured in both our lives Eddie

  2. Dear Carson, I just wanted to thank you for being so open and honest about what you’re living through, words cannot express… I want to thank you, because I should have thanked you before but never did, for everything you’ve invested into Arrow. If it wasn’t for you I probably wouldn’t have had the privilege of joining class 41, of delving deep into mentoring for spiritual leadership, of enjoying the beauty that is Barbabas, even if only for a few days. Thank you. If ever you’re in this neck of the woods, this corner of South America in Peru, there is a warm welcome, somewhere to stay and be fed and watered. With love in Him, Paul

  3. Thank you dear friend for this deep sharing of your heart. Your hope in the sovereignty of God while facing such grief points me to His restorative power. We will continue to carry you in prayer. Much love, D&K

  4. Thanks for sharing this. My sincerest sympathy goes directly to you! I lost my second husband to cancer two years ago. Much as God has always been the center of everything to me and much as His presence has miraculously been there “through it all” and much as Christian and non-christian friends have been there for me…this loss has taken me out at the knees like nothing else. It’s a journey of faith and healing and consciously choosing to be grateful each day….even then there have been days when I wasn’t sure If I’d make it. Good news is… You will get there! You will laugh and love again. As God brings you to my mind I WILL lift you up in prayer.

  5. Oh my friend, you bless us all by sharing your heart! Thank you!😢❤️ I’m grieving with you over the shattered dreams and this deep loss. I think your faith is rising and you will keep moving forward in faith and trust. Praying that you’ll be held close to Jesus heart tonight. Love you.

  6. Carson,
    This was a heart wrenching and beautifully honest
    Post that spoke to me deeply. So much of my life has not gone as planned and I too have struggled and gone to dark places. I’ve tried not to dwell on the “whys” and to accept and learn from our sons death, loss, set backs, job layoffs and my own cancer journey. It’s crazy- it’s Jesus’ upside down ways – the more we suffer the more we share in his suffering- the more we suffer we can step into the suffering of others – and through the terrible ways and days that certainly “don’t at all go as planned” we become more like he designed us to be- man what a paradox!
    Thank you so much for sharing your true struggle- it makes your faith more beautiful and Gods grace more real.
    Walking with you, Karen

  7. Dear Carson, Loved your recent post, obviously right from your heart. Dealing with God in such heartbreaking circumstances is so difficult. I finally did understand that He knew all happenings since before time began and since then any and all my plans, no matter how small, are always “God willing”. Jenny has gone through a nightmare of a move, but it’s finally done and their stuff is in storage. But then Carsten had trouble with his new electric car. At the first charging station, he found the plug didn’t fit in his car. So he had to rent a vehicle with an attachment for the car, and then drive to Corona. Kerry got home from Halifax late last night and today she suffers from jet lag, but I think she’s also exhausted from all the fun stuff they did in Nova Scotia. Could you give me the dates for your Ireland trip again? I forgot to write them down. Love you, Mom

    Sent from my iPad


  8. Carson. I am so sorry to hear what you have been through and are going through. Donna and I are on two weeks vacation sitting by the lake. I picked up a book I have been wanting to forever read by Philip Yancey – the combo two in one – “Where Is God When It Hurts” and Disapointment With God”. I am reading some incredible stories of how people have responded to some great personal pain / sufferings / tragedies. Then I paused to look at FB and there was your story. I was just reading about how when things happened, people tend to focus on the “cause” (ie why God, why me, why?) versus the “response” for the future. From what I read from you, you are doing all the right things in the midst of this great lost and deep sadness. I can only say I am praying for you and may God’s great compassion comfort you and give you hope!

  9. Carson, it is hard, hard, hard for you. But somewhere, somehow, God is in the heart of your grief – sharing it with you, still loving you. I still hope it will be possible for us to meet when I am in BC next month but will understand if you prefer to leave it.

  10. Oh Carson,
    What a rotten hand you were dealt!
    The pain in your words is palatable, yet the hope you hold is astounding. You have served God tirelessly, but again he has allowed your heart to be broken, your soul to be searching.
    And search you will and hope you will find. Hold strong Carson, you’ve got this!❤️George

  11. I have been thinking about you so often and especially this weekend. My heart cannot understand the grief you are going through and I don’t have words to express. Just know that I struggle in my faith and you continue to minister to me through your openness and honesty in your words as you share publicly your journey through your grief.

  12. Thank you for sharing your soul with us. You are helping the rest of us who grieve. Thank you God.

  13. Oh Carson, your message makes me cry. I can’t remember when that’s last happened. I am so sorry that your plans will not be realized as hoped. Thank you for vulnerably letting us into your reality and struggles. It is a gift to all of us.

    1. Linda I pray for you and David more than I let on. Your names come up frequently with people who love you and care for you.

  14. Carson, I am thankful that you have words from the places that most of us don’t. Today those who dreamed with you, mourn with you. Love is our foundation. May you rest in His presence.

  15. Carson, I can’t tell you how much your journey, particularly of late, has moved my heart. Your willingness to be so transparent about what has transpired in your life over the last several weeks and months speaks volumes about the work of God’s grace in your life. I am inspired and am grateful that your story has become a resource for me. Your resilience and God’s faithfulness are testimonies that I will keep with me as perpetual teachers. I don’t know when our paths will cross again, but when they do, I look forward to giving you a big hug. Blessings to you man of God!

    Joshua Smith

  16. Carson,
    I stand as one young leader, one of countless who thrives thanks to your introducing me to the reality, God’s reality for me, that the only identity which matters and is lasting is that if being a child of the King. Your reference to that identity being a Sure thing and all others being less then sure has amazing meaning for me.
    You have my commitment to pray for God to clearly reveal to you His unimaginable love He has for you in ways which are private, unquestioned and meaningful. He loves you so much – especially when it’s harder for us to accept that truth.

    My identity is in Christ alone … may it be forever so for you.


  17. Again, so beautifully written, Carson. Just know that we have been thinking of you and yours during these very difficult days and especially today. Blessings as you seek to follow God’s leading even when, to us, things don’t make sense. Hugs, Dave and Shirley Kennedy

  18. Carson
    Thanks for your heartfelt post today. These past 24 hours must have been very hard. Thanks for taking time to share with us all, on this day, and for reminding us that we don’t get to be in control. So often I want to control everything. Yet, in this world this is not possible. Life is more mystery than I want to admit. But, like you, I want to keep trusting God, even when my days don’t go as I planned.
    With love and prayers,
    Your friend,

  19. Hi Carson,

    We have never met, but we must have somehow gotten connected through mutual friends on Facebook. I followed your grief through the loss of your first wife and then was taken back with the sudden passing of Ruth. I prayed for God’s healing as really wanted Him to do a great miracle. She passed the next day and l regretted my prayer.

    I know God’s ways are not our ways so it is difficult to understand why things happen as they do. We lost my husband business, then our home, and a year later, a job that l loved. I trusted God to save our home but to no avail – we suffered greatly through this time.

    Good did come out of the darkness, however. I was part of EFC’s National Evangelistic Roundtables with Murray Moerman and others for several years. God took a shy person and opened doors for ministry. The journey has been full of twists and turns but l know God is leading the way. After our disappointments, we were given a book from a member of our church called “Faith in the Night Seasons” by Nancy Messner. It helped me get through with some understanding of God’s ways. Every so often, l pick it up as a reminder, when my faith is tested.

    Your journey has been followed by many, and you have been a blessing through your grief and openness to express your love so freely. You indeed have a beautiful gift expressings your feelings with such depth.

    No advice. Just know you have been in a fellow follower of Christ’s prayers.

    Warmest Blessings,
    Marg Pollon
    Bridges of Love Ministry, Calgary

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