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Keeping An Open Heart


Over the past few weeks, my toddler son and I have had the opportunity to extend our vacation and visit with my mother who lives in Southern California. Thanks to my husband’s suggestion to stay, my son Noah and I have shared bright, happy mornings with my mom for three additional weeks. As this final week wraps up and I prepare for the voyage back to Charlotte, I’ve taken some moments to reflect on the original hopes I had for this extended visit and the reality of how everything actually went. In this reflecting, I am able to see the Lord gently teaching, reminding, and extending his wonderful grace to me in spite of my blinders.


Many friends and acquaintances know I keep myself busy, which has resulted in a highly structured schedule. In hopes of maximizing my time, I plan everything: I strategize when I’m the most productive, put it all on a calendar, build in cushion times, create spreadsheets, think about plan B’s, etc. It goes on and on. Although this time management has been a contributing factor to my successes in finishing up my master’s degree, working, studying for CPA exams, and coordinating life with my family, there have been blinders.


Once the decision was made for me to extend my stay at my mom’s, my mind began racing through the possibilities that could unfold. Although one week would be dedicated to studying for the 2nd portion of my CPA exam, the remaining two weeks would involve long lazy mornings at the beach with my son and mother. I would take my mom to fun lunch spots and we’d share awesome moments at the finest kid spots.  We’d maybe squeeze in an additional visit to Disneyland and try LEGOLAND. I would listen to sermons and books on Audible each day on my run, and I would hit up a barre studio at least five times each week. My time would be fully maximized.


Instead, Noah and I caught the stomach flu, and my mother, a recovering cancer patient, came down with a cold virus, so it was severe. In addition to the illnesses, my mother and step-dad had to attend to an emergency concerning their rental property, which previous tenants had trashed. My time was spent taking my mother to doctor visits, helping her pick up new tile, and squeezing in time with her between plumbing, cabinet, and carpet appointments for the rental property. I found myself growing more and more frustrated with the time that was being lost with my precious mother. These days were not unfolding as planned.


During this time, I also found myself purposefully choosing patience and flexibility toward the situation, knowing God’s ultimate control over our lives. In seeking God, I came across an interview answering questions about God’s sovereignty on DesiringGod.org. In this article, I was reminded of Proverbs 16:9, which states,


“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."


I also remembered Proverbs 19:21:


“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”


Looking back on the days spent doing less-than-ideal activities, I cannot help but come to the realization that the Lord used this time to change my perspective and help me keep an open heart to His plans.


In the back and forth of each day, my mom and I have had deep conversations and worked through some things we had never discussed – from a Jesus perspective. Also, I learned something new about my mother: She has a habit of helping single mothers in need. The way God’s perfect timing has played into it is so inspiring. In the waiting for my mom to become available, I spent more time with my son on a one-on-one basis, looking straight into his beautiful eyes, thanking God for this amazing gift.  I am so grateful for these intimate moments.


The Lord has been super gracious to me in helping me to see my tendency towards wanting to take control over my schedule. I am thankful for His teaching and gentle reminders that draw me closer to Him. A song that comes to mind that relates well is “King of the World” by Natalie Grant. A few lyrics are:


I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I've designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye


When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world


Although I do try to take charge of my life, my God is so good to me in showing me what’s best, according to His plan.


- Jeanette


Jeanette is married to Alex Serena, and they have been attending Redemption for three years. Jeanette serves in Kids Ministry, is a Pod Leader, and is a member of the South Park East Community Group.