Finding Our Purpose through God’s Eyes

by Lori Vober

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

My dad was a businessman, and I wanted a career in a corporate setting like his from an early age. After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in business administration, my first job was in marketing with the petroleum industry in Oklahoma. Because I was so career focused, I was promoted six months later and transferred to the very cold state of Minnesota. It was January 1997, and I had never seen that much snow, never mind drive or live in it!

I grew up attending church as a child, but we moved every few years with my dad’s career. In my senior year in high school, my friend invited me to her church. It was the first time I heard a message on having a personal relationship with God. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior that summer and was baptized. Once I was on my own, I knew church was my best source for friends, and that is where I met my husband, Dainis. I didn’t know it at the time, but God had moved me there to meet the godly man He planned for me to marry.

Dainis’ mom had recently passed away from hormonal cancer, which she had battled for sixteen years. We didn’t know it then, but one day I would have my own medical challenges and need a mate that understood what it meant to take care of a wife in those circumstances. After we were married, I continued my corporate career.

We had a wonderful first few years of marriage, traveling quite a bit and practicing parenting skills with our new puppy. Unfortunately, we were having difficulty starting our family. I made the decision to change careers and began to work as the office manager at our church. We were hopeful that less stress and travel would help our family planning.

I now know that job change was God’s way of protecting me, and I believe it saved my life. Three weeks later, I suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke caused by a malformation of blood vessels on the right side of my brain. I was rushed to the hospital, underwent emergency brain surgery was kept in a drug induced coma for seventeen days. I awoke having lost the use of my left side. I had a second ten-hour brain surgery to remove the malformation, and then my world of rehabilitation began.

Soon after I was discharged, my husband lost his job, and we moved to Arizona. Life was a combination of seizure management and rehab for many years. In 2011, we decided to start our family through adoption. We adopted a sibling group of three children from Colombia, South America.

Over the years, God has taught us the importance of keeping our focus on His plans and purpose for us. Without that, we could miss some amazing opportunities. Proverbs 19:21 NIV says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” We all have our tentative plans mapped out for our life, but God has the bigger picture.

It is His mission and purpose that can make all the difference.

About the author: Lori Vober suffered an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke at age twenty-nine, and then developed epilepsy due to the stroke. She is a walking miracle, and felt called to share her story and journey of faith and perseverance to encourage others. Lori believes God has a plan for each of us, but life is about our choices! Even with her difficulties, she was able to become an adoptive Mom of a sibling group of three.

Lori’s first book will release on March 11, titled CHOICES: When You Are Faced with a Challenge, What Choice Will You Make? Life rarely turns out exactly as you pictured it, and we all face challenges along the way. God always has a plan. But He leaves it up to you whether you follow His plan or not. Life is about choices.

Join the conversation: Do you remember a time God moved you differently than what you had planned? How did that turn out? Can you see the wisdom in his plan now?

A Change in Plans

by Christina Rose

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  Proverbs 19:21 ESV

After leaving California a few years ago I was excited to return home for a visit. I looked forward to driving down the coast to see my daughter and old friends, to visiting the redwood forests and all my favorite places. I had been desperately homesick for California since I left and had planned this trip for a year.

And then in the early hours of my prayer time, I heard, “Go to Maryland.”  

 I pouted.  I didn’t want to go to Maryland.  I wanted to go to California. “God is that you?” I asked. “Or is that the devil trying to steal my joy?”

Again, I heard God speak to me, “Go to Maryland.”

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, but he didn’t want to. God had a purpose for Jonah in Nineveh and chased after him until he went to Nineveh where he preached to the people and saved them from destruction.  We can run but can’t hide from God and his purpose for us, so I postponed my trip to California and paid the $80 fee to change my ticket to go to Maryland.

Many years ago, I had left Maryland after my father’s suicide. It had created dark times for our family, and my youngest sister never truly recovered. While she was now living in Denver, her 7 adult children and 12 grandchildren now lived in Maryland near their fathers.

When I arrived in Maryland, I was blessed to visit my nieces and their beautiful young families. I recalled many years prior when I was a young mother and needed my mother’s help, but she was far away and absent, just as their mother was. I had felt lonely and abandoned. I then vowed to spend more time with my nieces and their families. After I left, I got a text, “So good to see you, come back soon.”

I called another young niece who was just a year old when my sister lost custody of her. She grew up many miles away from her mother who was absent for most of her young life. She shared she wished her mother would return her calls and asked if she could call me if she needed me. “I would be honored,” I answered, “Please call me any time.”

My cousin Susan and I visited her mother in the hospital. As I was about to leave I realized this would be the last time on earth I would see my beautiful aunt Becky. I kissed her on the cheek and said, “I love you.”  She smiled and her big blue eyes looked into mine as she whispered, “Forever.”

Later that night Susan appeared at my door, “I can’t sleep thinking about my mother – I’m so glad you’re here.” We spent hours talking about life till the early hours of dawn as we had done since we were little cousins.

Anita was now 103 and had been like a mother to me. As I held her frail hand she said, “Honey, I wish you were closer, I worry so much about my family.”  

I said “God  hears your prayers and he will take care of you and your family. I promise I will come when they call me.”

She looked into my eyes and said, “I love you.”  I answered, “I love you too, forever.”

While the trip to California would have been a blessing, I was sent to Maryland for blessings that were far greater than I could have ever imagined.  When I changed my plans for God’s plan, his purpose for me was filled with such grace and favor that I am forever humbled and grateful.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Christina Rose is an author, trainer and speaker certified by the John Maxwell Team of Leadership.  She is a DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) whose ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. She is a world traveler, surfer, foodie, cappuccino loving chocoholic and a devoted mom to kids and dogs and auntie to many nieces and nephews who live around the world.

Christina’s book, My Appeal to Heaven, is her story. With her young family on the verge of falling apart, Christina finds herself in a desperate situation with no resources other than herself.  After appealing to heaven, the Lord takes her on a journey of awakening and miraculous empowerment. That power is available to us all, especially those who need hope and freedom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever given you a change of plans? Please share!

Traffic, Walmart, and Wedding Planning with God

By Carol Ogle McCracken

I hate sitting in traffic. In fact, I even don’t like any cars ahead of me that I can’t see around when I drive. If you are in the left lane and another car comes up behind you, move over. Don’t bottleneck traffic.

I think I just petted my pet peeves. Where I live in a condo on the beautiful Gulf Coast, the population is growing. It’s a whole different world than when I was a young and could go where I wanted without aggravation.

I just got back from Walmart. Due to the lack of food in my condo, I had been forced to go shopping. No one would get out of my way. I had planned to go straight in and straight out, since I really didn’t even want to be there. I had other things to do.

Sometimes all that planning gets in the way of what God has for me. I can get out in front of God and subconsciously wait for Him to catch up. It’s almost like I have made plans and now look for Him to bless them. While these plans may not be bad in themselves, they may not be the exact things God wants me to do.

I really can’t help it sometimes. Owning a wedding planning company has me planning for a living. So it’s easy to slide into the routine of timelining a project and preparing for any contingency I can think of.  What if it rains?  What if the divorced parents of the groom come together and fight? What if the bride cries her make up off, and she hasn’t done her pictures yet?  I plan how to use both my time and others’.

God doesn’t necessarily have a problem with planning, but He wants to be involved from the beginning. “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT).  That interruption may be His provision, a divinely appointed opportunity to minister or be ministered to. Yes, He might want us to accept an interruption from our plans, because He has something different in mind.

God alone is the sovereign king who sees the big picture and how we fit into it. He wants us to be open to his leading and not do the leading ourselves.

How can we be open to God’s leading? By investing in our relationship with Him. Just like any other relationship, we must make the effort to get to know the other person. Trust comes with that. It may seem hard to get to know an invisible being. God knew that and sent his Son to earth to show us what God is like, so we could relate to Him and learn about Him. Jesus did exactly what God told Him to do. Even to the point of death on the cross.

So, pray for God to make you aware of Him. Be open to His leading. (Maybe there is someone at Walmart He wants you to talk to!) God wants a relationship with you. He loves you so much that He gave His Son to make that relationship with Him possible. Clear the distractions of your plans, share some time with Him, and get to know His voice.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,  but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Traffic, Walmart, and Wedding Planning with God – insight from Carol McCracken on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

carol mccrackinAbout the author: Carol McCracken has been a Bible teacher for over twenty years.  She has been on church staff in Leadership Development and Women’s ministry for over 30.  Her passion is to make the Bible come alive for women and connect it to a real relationship with Jesus Christ in today’s busy and demanding world.  She is a contributor to and is currently working with an editor on a women’s Bible study.

Join the conversation: Has God ever interrupted your plans? What happened?