What To Do When the Unexpected Happens


Have you ever made plans only to have them unexpectedly and forever altered? Me too. I didn’t think I was alone. One of my favorite Christmas movies is Christmas Vacation. And one of my favorite scenes is when Clark Griswold has been expecting a big, fat bonus and then when it finally comes…it’s a jelly of the month club. He falls apart and loses some sanity for a few moments. 

That’s happened to me before. I’ve been making plans. Good ones. Nothing over the top. Working toward them. You probably have too. I mean after all, putting in a pool for the fam isn’t exactly a bad idea for summer fun, and that’s what Clark was planning.



“The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:1

I can think of several occasions I’ve felt like I’ve been given jelly when what I was expecting was a nice big fat bonus–to bless me with putting that “pool” in. I love what Clark’s cousin, Eddie, says. “That’s the gift that keeps on giving…”



Even unexpected good gifts, promises, dreams can feel like jelly because they still come with some cost.

It reminds me of Mary. A young girl, and by young I mean she could have been 13 or 14 when she was betrothed. Nowadays we put men in prison for asking the hand of a girl that young. But then, it was customary.



Imagine the great, and unexpected news she was given. I imagine she was filling up her hope chest and preparing for Joseph to come, like a thief in the night–since that’s how the bridegroom came. I wonder if she was thinking about children, teaching them how to bake bread, sew, whatever it was they taught them…preparing her heart for life. All good plans.

And the angel Gabriel came and interrupted her preparations, her plans. Oh, it was wonderful news, but I think it may have felt a little like having jelly at times. It came with a price, like anything God conceives in us. A beautiful promise, gift, dream…it grows….

And with that we have to grow, stretch, and feel things move inside us. Pain comes as we move closer to that fulfillment. 

No doubt Mary was the talk of the town/s. 

“Did you hear Mary was pregnant?”

“Mmm…hmmmm, you know who the baby daddy is?”

“She says, God, but…I saw her with that guy down by the watering well.”




Her own husband was going to divorce her quietly. No one probably believed, except her cousin Elizabeth…because she had her own miracle growing inside her! Thank God when we have a wonderful gift growing inside us, that He planted, He always makes sure to supply us with at least one person to encourage us, to believe in us.

Mary believed. She had child-like faith, probably because she was a child, really.


“Blessed is she who believed for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45
Even when it came time to give birth to that dream, to labor through and deliver it, it came with pain, sweat, tears, and a price. They couldn’t even get a room! There in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, in the stable, Mary’s unexpected gift,–one she didn’t deserve–but was given to her by simple, beautiful grace, was born. And they laid the Bread of Heaven in a sheep trough, another glorious picture, and the heavenly army that had followed Him–the Angel of the Lord– the Commander of the LORD’s Army–sang Him His first lullaby. 
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Luke 2:14
I don’t know what your dream is, what God has conceived inside of you, but without faith it is impossible to please God. I know if He’s planted it, He will grow it. It won’t be easy. You’ll stretch, you’ll endure those around you who won’t believe with you and maybe some of those people will be loved ones, friends, co-workers. You’ll adjust, even your walk will change as you carry a growing dream or promise inside you.

The stretching will be painful, the labor–strenuous. At times, you might not even be able to catch your breath. Pant if you need to. It won’t come without sweat, fatigue, and some grunting. It takes time. The time may seem to tick by slowly. But it will be born. God will see it to fulfillment.

“And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You….” Psalm 9:10
What stage are you in? Conception, growing, labor? Have you birthed your promise or dream? Have you given up?
*This is a portion of what I’m speaking on this weekend at a Women’s Christmas Banquet, so if you go to Central Christian Church, you’re going to hear this again!


27 thoughts on “What To Do When the Unexpected Happens

  1. Great post! I think I'm laboring. Every new story is a new baby that comes with pains and love. I can't imagine being in Mary's shoes and I wish I took change better. I saw a good quote just the other day about interruptions being God taking over? I thought it was interesting.

  2. Growing, always growing. Wow, I can honestly say I've never seen Christmas Vacation (melekalikilacki is the thing to say) paired up with Mary's birth story before. What a trip! Love it!

    ~ Wendy

  3. I'm definitely laboring. And I have a feeling I'm in for a long night.

    I can't get something akin to an epidural, can I?

  4. Growing. Still growing…

    Always growing… 🙂

  5. I love your blog. Only you can start with Clark and Eddie (one of my favorite Christmas movies, by the way) and end up with a beautiful, challenging post about faith. Now I want to stand up and sing the National Anthem like Aunt Bethany 🙂

  6. This hits me on so many levels!! Wonderful blog today, Jess! <3 thx for letting the Lord use you …

  7. Hey, everyone! Love reading about all your stages!

    Christmas Vacation is one of my favs! Julie, "the blesssssingggg…." LOL

  8. Love this post. I'm definitely in the growing part with occasional labor pains. 🙂 Can't wait to one day hold my baby (my book), but then the real work begins, just like with kids.

  9. Growing…I have grown and stretched in ways I could not have imagined this year. What a beautiful word picture you paint!

  10. Great post, Jessica, and a timely word for me. I'm definately still growing, stretching, and enduring the pain that comes with it. Don't know if I'm in labor yet, but soon. I know its coming 😉

  11. Awesome post, Jess. I'm nearing labor. I feel a few contractions every now and then.

  12. Jessica, this was wonderful!

    I think I'm in the growth stage. And definitely lots of preparation along the way…

  13. I'm with Katie Ganshert; I'm not into pain! Love your imagery. As a mom of twins, I'm thankful I only had one waiting period, labor, and birth for the both of them. Maybe it will work the same way with my writing? One can hope!

  14. Love the way your mind works, Jessica. Beautiful piece. I've been inert for some time so far as a manuscript goes, but I'm starting to overcome that inertia. Maybe labor won't be too far down the road.

  15. Oh, my, how I loveth this posteth! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    "Who's the baby daddy??"

    I love how you point out that if God conceives something in us, he'll see it through. It may come at a high cost, and our faith may be tested, but we should still stay true to that faith.

  16. Fabulous words. I've delivered mine, but haven't really been feeding it… Good reminder.

    Why do you think Mary and Joseph were like the last ones to get to Bethlehem? I mean, there was no more room for them in the Inn. Clearly they were slow travelers… Just pondering.

  17. Such an awesome post, Jessica! I'm definitely laboring…and it's way longer than your average 18-hour labor, LOL.

  18. Great post! Honestly, most of my life has been a total surprise! My sister and I were just talking about this today. So many of His answers and the doors He's opened have been so not what I've expected, what I often never imagined, and for some reason, I usually receive His guidance at near the last minute. I like to say He keeps me on a need-to-know basis. I believe this is because He wants me looking to Him, ever dependent on Him.

  19. Awesome post, Jessica! May I confess that I've never seen Christmas Vacation? I know, I know…

  20. Love your posts! I think so often of Mary and what she agreed to when she agreed to carry the Messiah. It could not have been an easy thing, and we gloss that over so often.

    Me? I'm in labor. This whole work-full-time-write-a-book-do-social-media thing is labor for sure… but I love it.

  21. Hello my dear friend! Really appreciate your time writing this post to share with us…Congrats! ! I wish a fantastic day for you, with very smiles and peace! Greetings from Rio de Janeiro/Brasil! Visit me back, please.

  22. Giggling b/c we just watched that movie ~ an annual tradition for Hubby and I. Love it!

    I'm growing, for sure. Wondering when the labor pains will start.

  23. LOL! I LOVE that movie! We watch it every year and I can't watch it without my mom, since she laughs at everything. 🙂

    And I believe I'm laboring. 😉

  24. I just love your voice, Jessica. Christmas Vacation is one of my faves! And I could relate to everything you said here. Thanks for uplifting me this morning!

  25. Nice analogy! I have to admit I've never seen that movie. Just wrong, huh? ;o)

  26. Love this, Jess. Needed to read it today! 🙂

  27. Very powerful post. I needed this with being bogged down in the query process and trying to get back into writing.

    Thank you:)


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