4 Things to Do When Life Throws You a Curveball: Trusting God in the Process

4 Things to Do When Life Throws You a Curveball

[This is the start of my newest article for RELEVANT Magazine.]

One year ago, my husband and I had solid jobs, a great community and a church that we loved.

At this moment, we are living with my parents, we are unemployed and we are moving to a new city in a week. My husband will be attending graduate school next month.

Talk about a curveball.

This is not what I expected. I never pictured that we would be walking away from steady jobs and our group of friends to start all over again.

Our lives don’t always go the way we want—or expect—them to go. We get let go from the job we love (and need). We come up short trying to pay the bills. Our hearts get broken. Relationships end. Accidents happen. Bodies don’t heal. Death comes too soon.

So how to we continue to walk with God in seasons when life throws us a curveball?

During the last 12 months, my husband and I haven’t done things perfectly (by any stretch!), but we have met Jesus in the challenges of change and unexpected circumstances—and we love Christ more now than we did last year. Here are four things we’ve learned in the process of catching a life curveball—and moving forward.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

The worst thing we can do with feelings of disappointment and frustration is bottle them up and pretend like everything is fine, especially with God.

If we are angry about a curveball in our lives, or hurt by it, or confused by it, we need to acknowledge those emotions. God already knows how we feel, and when we refuse to own those emotions, we’re only hurting ourselves.

Whether it means writing things down, talking out loud to God or writing a song about it, we need to unfold the places of pain and tension in our hearts to Jesus. He can handle it; He gets it. The prophet Isaiah tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He understands what we feel when life doesn’t go the way we had hoped.

Read the Bible

In a world that is continuously changing, the truth of the Scripture remains constant. Reading the Bible is not just a rote exercise—it actually changes us, comforts us and challenges us.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that “the Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). While the words on the page stay the same, the Holy Spirit is always ministering to our hearts, and the same Bible verse can impact us differently in new seasons of life.

Consistently reading the Word of God when life throws us a curveball is one of the clearest ways to stay grounded—and even hopeful—in confusing times.

Read the rest of the article here, at RELEVANT Magazine!

Picking Raspberries: A Summer of Abundance

Have you ever picked raspberries? We don’t live close to any wild raspberry bushes, but when we visited friends in the UK years back, they had raspberries growing in their backyard. The home they were renting had been built on land that was previously been part of a co-op garden, and although they didn’t tend the plants, raspberries still grew by the hundreds every summer.

Receiving God's Abundance with thankfulness! www.annswindell.com

We woke up on those first jet-lagged days of our time in England and found the kids in the backyard on a mini-trampoline. They begged us to help ourselves to the raspberries weighing the bushes down; there were too many to pick and the fruit often went bad before all could be picked or even eaten. We happily obliged.

Picking raspberries is a delicate process. The berries are often tucked in the bushes, and it easy to be pricked by the plant, a member of the rose family and full of tiny thorns. But picking the berries is ultimately a delicate process because the raspberries themselves are fragile. Pull too hard on a berry and the tiny cluster of drupelets–those little pods of juice–crush under the weight of your fingers and stain them a cherry red. Pull too gently and the berry refuses to part from its core.

The raspberries we picked in England tasted like sunshine and petals, like honeycombs and perfume. They were misshapen and lumpy, but their flavor was sweet and heady and full. And they came in a seemingly endless supply; every morning there were new berries big enough to be picked. We never bothered to wash them; they went into our mouths or a bowl on the table. I remember the richness I felt that summer, waking to a backyard full of raspberries I had never labored to plant. They were a profuse bounty to us, free and abundant. They were a gift.

This summer has felt like that–like a summer of picking raspberries we never planted. It has been a summer full of change for our family; we left a stable life in Chicagoland last month, and in a handful of days, we are moving to our new city and staring a whole new season of life. We have traveled this summer, we have lived with family, we have talked and dreamed and waited and prayed. And miraculously–I use that word intentionally and gratefully–God has provided for us in every way imaginable.

Because so many things this summer have felt fragile–and not just financially. The change of leaving our community and home, the tenderness of starting over again, the risk of saying yes to something totally new and unknown–these are fragile, breakable things. And I have felt my own flesh–those thorns of fear and anxiety and frustration–popping up in the midst of the fruit God is seeking to grow in me. 

But God is a master gardener. And he has gently blossomed the fruitfulness of his kindness and provision in our lives this summer, bringing the best out of what is difficult without crushing me in the process.

And although he didn’t have to do any of these things for us, as he has been asking me to trust him more, God has also taken care of us in abundant, beautiful ways. Our house sold without issue or hiccup. Our church sent us out graciously and generously. An unexpected bill was waived. A writing project came in. My husband was offered a wonderful job. Our apartment in our new city is wonderful and affordable–and close to family. We got to go on a wonderful vacation that we hardly had to pay for. Gifts and gifts and gifts, one piled atop another, generous abundance from a Father who sees us and knows our needs–and our hearts. I have been blown away and humbled by His provision in our lives this summer. At the start of it, we didn’t know where the money we needed would come from. Now, I’m looking back at the past three months, amazed by God’s generosity toward us. I shouldn’t be surprised, I know. This summer has been not a whisper but a shout from the Lord–it has been a reminder that He is in control, and that He is good.

God is good and He does good. And had all of these things not come to pass this summer, God would ever remain good. Still, I am grateful–so deeply grateful–for this summer of provision. He is changing me, softening my edges and bearing fruit in me that I can’t bear on my own. He has carried us and cared for us in every imaginable way.

I woke up to a garden full of raspberries this summer, unexpected gifts given by his hand. I am so thankful.

Saying No to Being Busy, Saying Yes to Resting in God

Saying No to Being Busy, Saying Yes to Trusting God.  www.annswindell.com

The river here is humming. Steady, even, strong. We are in the mountains of Colorado on a family vacation, and in my hours on the back deck, I am attending to that hum. I am not just hearing, I am listening. And in the quiet of listening to the … [Continue reading]

My Daughter, the Mirror, and Me: Healthy Body Image for Both of Us

Developing a Healthy Body image in my daughter. So important!

My newest piece is up at Today's Christian Woman today; I would love for you to read the entire article here! My daughter loves seeing herself in the mirror, drawn to her parallel image like a magnet. Ever since she has been old enough to … [Continue reading]

Meeting My Hero: Elisabeth Elliot

Meeting Elisabeth Elliot-Grace Unfolded

After my freshman year in college, I went to England for seven weeks through a study abroad program. Our first week during the trip was spent in London, and on Sunday most of us went to a small church that one of our professors recommended. It was a … [Continue reading]

The Art of the Goodbye: 5 Meaningful Ways to Say Goodbye

5 Meaningful ways to say goodbye

Today, I'm writing for Darling Magazine about something that's been on my mind a lot lately--how to say goodbye well. You can start the article here and then read the other two points over at Darling! In less than a month, our little family will … [Continue reading]