Faithfully Thinking: This Isn’t What I Pictured

This weekend I heard a sermon entitled “This Isn’t What I Pictured” and, boy, was it spot on for where I am in my life right now. I certainly did not picture my life where it currently is, which sounds entirely negative, but isn’t. There are definitely some negative places I’ve found myself, but there have also been some positive surprises along the way.

This sermon brought home for me that sometimes God wants to use us, bless us or grow us in a way we didn’t picture. The problem is not, as the pastor said this weekend, our situation, but that we pictured it differently and because our imagination of what life would be does not line up with what we see, we are stressed. Sometimes we must have faith in what we do not see, which, for me, is the hardest thing to do.

Maybe we thought we’d be a missionary to a faraway country, but instead, our mission field is at home, teaching our children. Maybe we thought God would use as to minister to recovering addicts, but instead, we are ministering to recovering perfectionists.

I know I didn’t picture being 42 and staying at home with my children, homeschooling, without a career to call my own, but it’s where I am and where I am trying to bloom (though I see myself as wilting). And, actually, I’m enjoying this one, even though I didn’t picture it.

I also didn’t picture being 42 with almost no close friends. I thought that I’d be comparing notes with a good friend about our now teenagers, but instead, I’m out on my own, so to speak. I’m not on my own really, of course, because God is still directing and guiding me even during what I see as unexpected turns in my life.

Even Christian often don’t see God in the negatives of life. I know I don’t and I was raised in the church. I rarely that what appears negative to me as something God is leading me through for a greater purpose. Honestly, there have been a couple of situations that were thrust on me that I felt, and still feel, were completely unnecessary.


I still have trouble seeing why certain situations were allowed by God. The key for me has been realizing it’s not all about me. When I was asking God years ago “why did you let this happen to me,” I would sometimes hear in my heart “It’s not about you.” Even though it wasn’t “about me” it affected me, though, and I often wonder if the same outcomes could have been reached or lessons learned without all the unsolicited pain. 

Often we see pain, loss, or change as a punishment from God, instead of protection. Sometimes God takes away to protect us and sometimes that removal causes pain we did not ask for or expect.

God is always there whether we feel him or not. He’s there in the pain, the hurt, the life lessons.

The worship song, “Here Again” says: “Not for a minute was I forsaken. The Lord is in this place.”

When we feel like God is not in our situation, that’s where faith comes in.


Do you know how hard it is for me to write that? I am at the worst at feeling like God is in a situation when the situation does not feel right or good to me.

The worship song “Waymaker” says: “Even when I don’t feel it you’re working. Even when I don’t see it, you’re working.”

Even when we don’t think God is in our situation, he is and he’s working and he’s changing things and he is for us. Even when we don’t see him, we can hear his voice. That’s a hard thing to trust in, isn’t it? The unseen.

Sometimes we can’t trust because we can’t hear him through all the noise in our lives – social media, other people’s opinions of us, or our own perceptions of what life was supposed to be at this point.

God is there for us even when our friends are no longer our friends.

God is there for us even when the texts or calls go unanswered.

God is there when we don’t get the job.

God is there when the bank account is dry.

God is there for us when those closest to us reject us, betray us, turn us away.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever and that is a picture that will never change, even when our lives are not what we pictured.

To see the sermon which inspired this post:

To hear the songs that I quoted here:

Lisa R. Howeler is a writer and photographer from the “boondocks” who writes a little bit about a lot of things on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She’s published a fiction novel ‘A Story to Tell’ on Kindle and also provides stock images for bloggers and others at and

When you are in the darkness keep your mouth shut.


Here is some advice I could have used before I rambled too much on my blog about this period of loneliness I’ve been in.

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet…When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light. — Oswald Chambers

My favorite line of this quote, which I first saw in the Jan Karon book I’m currently reading, is “Watch where God puts you into darkness and when you are there keep your mouth shut.”

Keep your mouth shut.


That one hurt because I know I haven’t done it.

I certainly plan to read this quote over a few hundred times and chew on it for a bit. It was very timely for me and interesting because I almost didn’t read from that book due to being too tired.

If you feel so moved, tell me what you think of this quote. Does it fit where you are now or where you once were? Let me know in the comments.


Why do the Jehovah Witnesses only come when I’m not wearing a bra?

My son came down the stairs with his English book as soon as I closed the front door and tossed their propaganda on to the couch.

“Jehovahs , huh?”

“Yeah. I thought we had got rid of them when I told them that our beliefs on who Jesus and the Holy Spirit are are vastly different than theirs but they’re back.”

“I knew it,” my kid said with a slight eye roll. “I was up there thinking ‘it’s probably the Jehovahs because my mom isn’t wearing a bra again.'”

That pretty much describes my life and I could say lately but that’s my life always – weird.

It’s true that I was wearing the stay-at-home-homeschooling- mom uniform when they knocked on the door and I knew it was them because, sadly, they are about the only people who ever stop at my house. Christian churches I have attended don’t believe in visiting people in person anymore it seems. They think they’ll only win souls by posting a clip on their social media account of a hipster pastor preaching or opening a hipster coffee shop. I like the word hipster and I am fully aware it makes me sound older than dirt. God forbid Christians today knock on a door or two, but then again I wouldn’t be a big fan of that either. I was an introvert before Facebook made everyone else one.

This weekend I realized, not without disappointment, that my friends are merely acquaintances, which means they never knock on my door either. I came to this conclusion about my pseudo-friends when I realized not one of those friends knows anything about me. Not one knows my favorite food, favorite color , what music I listen to, movies I watch, books I read or even what I think about many issues. I thought about what would happen if one of these acquaintances got sick and I realized I would have no problem helping them until they got well again, but it hit me, pretty full force , that they wouldn’t do the same for me.

How do I know this? Maybe because none of the people who used to be in a group I called friends almost never ask how I am. In fact only one person I’ve known for more than a few years as a friend has asked me this. It is what it is so don’t pity me. It is the natural evolution of friendships, though it took me a long time to actually except the demise of all my Nike friendships.

Other friends from high school or college never text, call, email or even send a carrier pigeon. (Getting a carrier pigeon would be so cool, though, wouldn’t it? Open up your front door and a pigeon is just sitting there with a message in its’ mouth, tilting its’ little head back and forth so its’ beady eyes can look at you while it coos ? That would be hilarious.)

Am I trying to paint a picture here that I’m a victim? No. Does it sound like I am trying to convince you I am a victim? Probably. But I don’t mean to.

What I am doing is realizing that for years I have sat wishing my friends were remotely interested in spending time with me (yes, I have asked and their response is usually “we will have to do that sometime,” but sometime never comes.) and wasting my time by getting my hopes up only to have those hopes ignored. I wasted way too much time looking at a phone to see if my message was returned or waiting for the phone to ring.

What I should have been doing instead is letting go of the past and that means letting go of people who used to be my friends and accepting they’re merely acquaintances now, which is fine and simply a part of life.

Maybe then I’ll look toward my future, instead of wallowing in, and moaning over, the past. And maybe then I’ll have enough gumption to change my daily uniform so that the Jehovah Witnesses don’t catch me braless again.