When Plans Go Amiss

Flowers on My Deck

I never planned to be living where I am at this point in my life. When I moved to the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St Paul Minnesota in 2002, I had visions of returning to the  beautiful river valley area when I had lived the previous eight years. I purchased a home knowing that with the 10+ years that I would be living in it, it would appreciate in value.  The increased value would  give me a sizable down payment on a house in my planned retirement home.  When grandchildren started arriving, my plans solidified.  I would be close to most of my grandchildren. I would be living among people I had come to know and love. The plan was working beautifully until the recession hit in 2008. Suddenly, the value of my twin home plummeted. At first it was only the equity which was disappearing, but soon its value intruded into what was left of my mortgage.

With each new bankruptcy in my development, the value of my home went down. At first I was convinced, I still had enough time for the value to rebound. But rebound was not available in 2009, or 10, or 11, or 12. By the time I retired in 2013 – what was left on my mortgage and my home’s actual value, were still a considerable distance apart. There would be no sale, no move and suddenly, I had to figure out how to live where I was at.

Retirement is on the list of major stressors in life . . . The change where meaning and purpose needs to come from something else. I discovered I wasn’t nearly as much in control of my life as I thought I was. Instead, I had an underwater house and a planned move that didn’t happen. The 2008 bust altered my pension plan, which added another layer of restrictions to my options. My plans had crashed. It would seem to be a little thing, if I had really thought it through. I didn’t expect to find myself in a wilderness place at retirement. But then my retirement plans went askew.

On my refrigerator I have a magnet that reminds me to “Bloom where you are planted.” We don’t always end up in the places we intend to be. It was the experience of a group of exiles in the years of Jeremiah who were taken to Babylon, instead of living out their lives in the places they loved. The prophet Jeremiah offered direction to the exiled Israelites telling them to “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:5-7

I’m not living at all where I planned to be at this stage of my life. As it turns out there have been many gifts, blessing and opportunities in staying put.   I’ve been reminded again that  God is always working to bring good in our lives and in our situations, wherever we find ourselves.