One Toe Ring, Three Crosses and the Truth About Our Plans

June 19, 2012 | 41 comments

crosses toe ring

I’ve worn one silver band around my toe for seven years straight. A friend gave me the toe ring as a gift, with a note that said: “God loves you from your head, all the way down to your toes.”

I slipped that toe ring on seven years ago, and took it off only once, under the orders of an MRI nurse.  

Toe rings used to annoy me — like the way it felt the first time I wore contact lenses.

But after awhile, that toe ring became a part of me. Seamless. Like I might just forget that it’s there, unless I purposely fixed my eyes on it.

And this is the way with my God, I tell you.

He’s been with me every step, but the thing is, I’ve got these really big blind-spots. If I’m not fixing my eyes on Christ, I will focus on the things I think I have some control over. Things like, oh … my whole entire life. 

For the better part of my life — even parts of my Christian life — I have made detailed plans, scheduling hours tightly, wearing them like a noose around the neck of a day. One misstep, and the rope cinches tighter. It’s a suffocating life, the life of someone who wants to control what happens next.

I know what it says in Proverbs,  how a person may plan her own journey, but the Lord directs these steps.


But if I get honest, I have been stubborn after my own plans, writing them down like I knew what was coming around the next corner.

Silly mama … plans are for rookies.

Here’s the thing about plans: They ought to be made in sand, not concrete. Life has a way of making plans of its own.

John Lennon sang it out: that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. 

Looking back, I can see it now. I’ve stepped through a lot of unplanned, unscripted life with that one silver band, etched with three crosses. These toes have found their way to the edges of hospital beds, hospice rooms, and the gaping mouths of open graves. None of that was planned.

These toes have also stepped straight into incomparable joy: in the labor-and-delivery room, on the dance floor, inside mud huts of Haiti. They’ve pirouetted through a thousand God-incidences.

And these toes have marched right up to the table of grace — that holy place where hungry, forgetful beggars are reminded, once again, to “do this in remembrance.”

Just now, I twirl that ring around my toe, between my fingers, like a bead on a prayer necklace. It’s a prayer for me and for anyone with blind-spots or a penchant for wanting her own way.

It’s also a prayer for anyone who has seen her best-laid plans fall straight out the bottom;

whose plans (or whole lives) were cut short;

whose plans got so rearranged, they don’t think life is worth living.

It’s a prayer for the people whose plans got really messy once upon a time, and they’re not sure they can forgive themselves. And it’s a prayer for the person who thinks God can never forgive her.

It’s a prayer for all of us — broken and battered and falling before the One who knows the plans He has for us.  The only plans that really matter.

 

The thing is this: God knew we could never be left to our our plans, or our own devices. He knew our plans ought to make their way to just one place: Calvary.

I twist the toe ring, between my fingers, and I say Amen. And Amen.

Have you come by to share your story of a God-incidence? Or perhaps to tell us about a moment that gave you God-Bumps? Oh good. We’ve been waiting for here.

Here’s how to participate:

1 — Take your pick of a button, below.
2 — Add that button to your post.
3 — Come back and add your post’s DIRECT URL to the link-up!


 

 

by | June 19, 2012 | 41 comments

41 Comments

  1. Diana Trautwein

    Beautifully put, jennifer – and love the lavender polish!

    It’s true, there are some things we can never plan for – like death/illness/accident. But there are other plans that we do make (and sometimes WAY over-make) that God seems to say, “Okay, go for it. See how it comes out.” What’s good for me to remember is to seek God’s input when I make those plans in the first place! There is this mysterious and wonderful partnership that’s in effect somehow – I like the open-endedness of that. God invites us in on the ground floor for parts of our story and then walks with us and works with us as we tell it.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I really like what you say here, and what a great way to begin the comment chain.

      I wanted to say somehow that plans are OK, but didn’t really do that very well. Plans really ARE necessary, and I think it’s unwise to move through life without at least SOME good plans. In a way, I think you’ve said that here, when you speak of partnership. And you said it much better than I could have, Diana. This is why all of your online friends call you the Internet Chaplain. Thank you for bringing more sense to this post … You’re the best. Love you.

      Reply
  2. kelli

    I really like all your pics here and the verses with them . . . but that last one. Oh, that is one of MY verses. Love that promise.

    And the feet do tell a tale, don’t they? All the places His grace takes us.

    Great post, Jennifer.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m so glad that the photo (and especially the Scripture) spoke to you in a personal way. This makes me smile.

      Yes, the feet do tell a tale. Mine are pretty calloused.

      Reply
  3. Lori

    Jennifer, As usual, you say God’s truth so well. I struggle with this, here is what I do: I learn it, I forget it, I relearn it, and forget it, I relearn it,… You get the idea. I swear God just smiles and shakes His head watching me do this weekly. For years.

    I have not been keeping up with my blog reading, and I am so glad to now follow you on twitter and FB so I can catch your posts almost as soon as you write them! You are such a blessing.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      We are kindred spirits, my friend! I am in need of continued relearning as well. Which is why these toes continue to march up toward that table of grace on Sunday mornings. And why these toes curl up under my kneeled-down body every morning.

      Reply
  4. David Rupert

    Okay. You lost me at toe ring. But you found me at truth.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      LOL! David. I kid you not: I thought about you when I wrote this post, because it was so exceptionally girly with the toe rings and purple polish. Thanks for sticking it out. You’re a great friend. And you still have your man card, even though you dropped by tonight.

      Reply
      • Diana Trautwein

        Yeah, but did you know he fixates on oatmeal cookies? I still think he can have his man card, though. :>)

        Reply
        • Jennifer@GDWJ

          I did NOT know this about Mr. Rupert. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

          Reply
  5. r.ellott

    “The thing is this: God knew we could never be left to our our plans, or our own devices. He knew our plans ought to make their way to just one place: Calvary” I love this…oh how I have had to learn these lessons…I try to make plans with soft edges and not ridged immovable ones. I know if we could see where He would lead us to walk…we would have run the other way…but I am so thankful His Grace always accompanies His voice that whispers this is the way to walk… great post…love the toe rings.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Soft edges… What a gift you’ve given here in the comment box with those “just-right” words. Yes, that. Soft edges. Thank you, friend.

      Reply
  6. Robert Moon

    Your Post reminds me of the scripture, “how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel.

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Mmmm. Yes, Mr. Moon. I thought of the same Scripture while writing. 🙂 Thank you for having the sense to mention it here.

      Reply
  7. Joe Pote

    “Here’s the thing about plans: They ought to be made in sand, not concrete. Life has a way of making plans of its own.”

    I love how you put this, Jennifer! Very true!

    Plans are a necessity to accomplishing anything. But we must always keep in mind that He knows the plans He has for us…and those are the only plans that really matter…

    Thanks for sharing!

    Love the toe ring…glad it’s on your foot not mine! 😉

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      I perhaps need to make my writing, metaphors, photos and pronoun usage more gender-neutral. 🙂 … Thank you for sticking with me, kind sir, even past the purple nail polish to make your way to the comment box. 😛

      Reply
      • Joe Pote

        Don’t change a thing, Jennifer! It’s the transparency of your individuality that makes your writing so powerful.

        Just allow me the grace to tease you from time to time…

        Reply
  8. Laura

    The balance of planning and holding onto those plans loosely is challenging because disappointment is so powerful. I hope someday I will be wise enough to know how to dwell in the sandy plans.

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Laura,

      I’m with you. I’m preaching to myself with this one … preaching from that self-pulpit. Martin Luther says to preach the Gospel to yourself every day, and so I do a whole lot of that here. Let’s stick to the sand. The view from the beach is better anyway.

      Reply
  9. Christina

    You are brave, putting your feet out there for all to see:) I love this reminder that while we may make plans, God directs our steps. He knows exactly what we need and when. My own life is full of paths I never thought I’d take. Beautiful as always!

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      I know, Christina. (blushing…) I was a bit anxious posting these photos of my crazy little toes with sparkly nail polish. Thanks for standing with me this morning. I love when your feet bring you here. 🙂

      Reply
  10. michelle derusha

    I’m a big-time, obsessive planner (you know that already, right?), and I’ve been thrown for a loop these days of late. I’ve been praying hard, harder than ever perhaps, and handing it over. Yet I read those verses about plans and paths, and I don’t know if I believe them in my heart.

    Reply
  11. Amy Hunt

    This is so great! The toe ring and what it represents. (the color of your polish!) and, how He breaks us in time.

    Reply
  12. Leanne

    Oh, you spoke deep to my heart today. Thank you for the reminder. I’ve been working from setting up a schedule so that I am free of distraction (like do not spend all your time in front of the computer, tv, or even art table) to recognizing — ok, this is just a guideline. What if God has something else in mind? When does He get a say? (Ok, so this kind of ironically funny because right now my life is turned over to him and I’m trying not to wrest it back — I’d give more details but I have to wait but I promise to come back here next week and link to the whole what’s going down story)

    Anywho, so thank you. And is it okay to use one of your images on my blog as part of telling my story? Just credit it back to you?

    Reply
  13. Lyli@3dLessons4Life

    Beautiful. Love the pictures — and the purple! Great Scriptures to encourage a weary heart. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Alecia

    I think we’ve all had the best laid plans at some point fall apart. Even sometimes when we were walking with God and thought they were a part of His plan for us. We just have to keep pushing through and trusting that His ways are better and that He can see what we cannot. Love the pictures and the encouragement!

    Reply
  15. Kay

    What sweet feet and what a sweet post. And I mean that word “sweet” in the new, hip kind of way. Sweet!

    Reply
  16. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    There is some sweet irony here. I came to read this post after concluding a 30 minute phone call with my sister. We were making plans! My niece from Tahiti is coming to visit and we were planning how to “share” her between the households (and my dad’s household) so she can spend time with everyone.

    I love this post like I love you, Jennifer. It gives from a deep place, just like you do.

    Reply
  17. laura

    I just love that sparkly polish! I hear this loud and clear, my friend. I’m trying to “plan” on being open to His plan! Though some days are better than others 🙂

    Reply
  18. Jillie

    Hey Jennifer…I feel so honoured to know that I, in my accidental way, helped to inspire this ‘toe-ring’ post. I wasn’t sure how you would use it, but you have, as usual, done a God-honouring thing here. And to think that I was told, “toe-rings are for harlots!”:( Your ring points to the Cross–how could that ever be a bad thing? I have never been one to stress over my changed plans. I stress over other things. :] God’s thoughts and ways are always higher (and better) than our plans anyway. Thank you Jennifer for your wisdom. I was excited to read this today.

    Reply
  19. Lynn Morrissey

    I love this post, Jennifer. First, I love your toes! I have always thought that feet are so ugly, but yours are tres jazzy. And really, as one of your readers pointed out, how beautiful are those feet which bring Good News and tidings of peace, as you have done in your life. Jennifer, you decidedly have beautiful, good-news-peace-and-purple-bearing toes! Ah “plans”…the curious thing is that Scripture is replete with that word, and sometimes the counsel seems opposite. People plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps, as you point out. The plans of the diligent lead to profit, but haste leads to poverty. Those who plan what is good find faithfulness and love. I think of how God gave David detailed plans, in writing, for the construction of the temple. Sadly, sometimes my planning can be tantamount to scheming, taking control, pushing and prodding to make something happen, when I’ve not asked God’s counsel. On the other hand, I can know God’s will and not end up doing it, because I have lived cavalierly. I’ve not prepared my provisions. I’ve made no plan, no preparation for completion. *Completion* is His Word to me this year. I’m asking Him to help me plan for it and the strength to commit (I have fallen so short, so often). I love this counsel from Pr. 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” I pray that He will give me *His* plans and that I will be obedient to carry them out. Do you think He plans for me to get a purple pedicure? I hope so! I’d love to follow in your footsteps.

    Reply
  20. Joanne Norton

    Good description. A number of times the Lord has spoken so clearly that I am to “go” someplace… usually walking. That’s how I got involved with the Bhutanese, First Responders, and even prayer walking in Morocco, spiritual study in Costa Rica, and various ins and outs with family. My feet ain’t as happy as they used to be … this “age” thing kicking my tail a bit … but, happy or not, I will go wherever and whenever the Lord tells me to. [I’m hoping that it won’t be long before He tells me to go north and meet a new friend…face to face… instead of blog to blog. — and I hope the “northerner” is willing and able to receive a “southerner”.]

    Reply
  21. Kathleen

    What a great post – So thought provoking. Amazing how we make plans and God changes them isn’t it? But He knows what is best for us to be sure. Oh, that toe ring is so awesome! Love it!

    Reply
  22. Becky Lee

    …was just talking about the wonderful toe ring I got as a gift from a wonderful sissy and/or a “frassy” friend…just trying to figure out what God’s plan is for it/me as my chubby little toe seems to get pinched when I wear it…but I will keep trying—maybe the “pinch” is like a little “thorn” that keeps me focused on those crosses around my toe!! Ha, ha! Great post!

    Reply
  23. Susan

    Sweet thoughts, Jennifer. What a great comfort to know that His plan is always about redemption, restoration and drawing us close.

    Thanks for sharing your heart AND your toe ring!
    Hugs from VA,
    Susan

    Reply
  24. Sandra Heska King

    To walk seamlessly out of my plans and into His day in and day out. That’s my plan. My hope.

    I’d wear a toe ring and purple polish, but then that would draw attention to my bunions…

    Reply
  25. Laurie Collett

    Wonderful post, Jennifer! I tend to get overstressed when things are not going according to (my) plan, then I try to remember Romans 8:28, and realize that He is working ALL things together for my good, according to HIS purpose. May we always be sensitive to His leading.
    God bless,
    Laurie

    Reply
  26. Dolly@Soulstops

    to be open to His plans- especially when they differ from mine…so I keep reminding myself…love your pictures with the verse, and that purple sparkly toe nail polish 🙂

    Reply
  27. Alicia

    Oh, I need those toe rings- such a beautiful reminder that He will guide my feet down the path HE has PLANNED. That’s a hard walk for this recovering plan-a-holic! But a thrill, no doubt!

    Reply
  28. SimplyDarlene

    silly mama… plans are for rookies

    My favorite part.

    Blessings.

    Reply

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