When Your “I Will Never” Becomes Your Actual Life

June 11, 2012 | 74 comments

Twenty years ago, I wanted to be an award-winning news reporter in the big city.

Twelve years ago, I vowed (publicly, in an opinion essay) that I would never return to rural Iowa.

This morning, I slipped on work boots, carried a chore bucket, and leaned over the farm gate, while teary-eyed over the way that two baby calves eat grain straight out of my hand.

 

“When God is involved,
anything can happen.
Be open. Stay that way.
God has a beautiful way of bringing
good vibrations out of broken chords.”
~ Charles Swindoll

“Every experience God gives us,
every person he brings into our lives,
is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.”
~ Corrie Ten Boom

(Good news: The calves, sick last week, are getting better.)
 
Writing in community with Michelle and Jen this week

 

***

So friend,
tell me about your “I’ll Never.”

by | June 11, 2012 | 74 comments

74 Comments

  1. Erin

    I said I would never homeschool . . . We just finished our second year.

    And before I had kids I had a whole laundry list of things on my Never and Always list. I think God just laughs when we say those things. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Great example, Erin. How did the second year go? Enjoy your summer.

      Yep. I think you’re right. God probably gets a kick out of our to-do lists.

      Reply
  2. David Rupert

    I said I would never write a poem. And now….
    I said I would never be in debt. And now…
    I said I would never doubt my Lord. And now…

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      Hey David …

      Mmm. Yes, our “I’ll nevers” can go both ways. I’ve experienced your #3 before, vowing NEVER ever to doubt God after doubting his very existence in my 20s. Yet, I do. In the end, all of my “I will nevers” keep me close to the cross.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      David …

      Coming back to yours again, and thinking about the I’ll Nevers of the Bible. I think of Peter saying, I’ll never deny you. But what happened?

      Yet, even when we fail on our most well-intentioned I’ll Nevers, Christ loves and graces. I think about Jesus and Peter after that breakfast on the shore.

      Reply
  3. Lindy

    Our “I will nevers” changed a lot during seminary. Always amazing to see how God works.

    Reply
    • Jennifer@GDWJ

      I would imagine so, Lindy. It’s nice to look back in the rear-view mirror and see God’s provision and faithfulness along the way, I suspect.

      Reply
  4. Terry Grahl

    I will never close my decorating business and turn it into a non profit that serves women and children living in shelters. When your called to do something you must listen… ox

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Ah Terry … That is beautiful. God bless you as you respond to His call on your life.

      Reply
  5. Thelma Nienhuis

    I said ‘I will never be okay if we never have children.’ Thank God he had other plans. Grateful everyday for the miracle of joy and peace in our life as two.

    So happy to hear Sherbert is getting better!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Thelma, This is wonderful. You reflect your Maker — with all that joy and peace wrapped around your soul.

      Thanks for the well-wishes on Sherbert. She’s definitely on the mend!

      Reply
  6. kd sullivan

    I said that I would never fly in an airplane again…I leave in a couple of weeks…pray!!

    I said that I would never give my heart to another man…we’ve been married for 12 years now.

    I said that I would never marry a man with children…he has two.

    I said that I would never work in an office again…I started last Monday.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Isn’t that amazing? A vivid testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision, and the way He’s paved out a life for you — right through the middle of your “I’ll Nevers.” Only God.

      Praying for you, right now, as you prepare to fly. You soar, friend!

      Reply
  7. Michele-Lyn

    I said I’d never have a Facebook — post pictures of myself — or let anyone it to the private episodes of my life and the Word has arrested my heart,

    “God is not a secret to be kept… Keep open house; be generous with your lives. BY OPENING UP WITH OTHERS, YOU’LL PROMPT OTHERS TO OPEN UP WITH GOD….” Matthew 5:16 (MSG)

    I love seeing you with corn in your hand and in your red sweats — makes me smile big! My littlest one would love to be right next to you, or maybe on top of one of those cows 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Michele-Lyn … I’m glad you share. Yours is a beautiful life, reflecting your Creator. Keep shining.

      Yes, the red sweats and old T-shirt — that’s my daily “real”… versus the fancy pink photograph at left here. 🙂

      Oh, and don’t be scared off by the determined look on my face. It looks like a scowl, doesn’t it? 🙂

      Reply
      • Michele-Lyn

        Oh no, not a scowl… More like “Please don’t slobber on me. I can’t believe how strong your sucking, cow. This stuff smells nasty.” Which is what I would say, with the same face as I bottle fed our baby cows for months 🙂 ahah…

        Reply
        • dukeslee

          LOL! You *do* totally get that. I thought the exact same thing the first time they took that bottle. I couldn’t believe how strong they were!

          Reply
    • dukeslee

      Kelly,

      Thank you for sharing your “I’ll Never.” I’ll pop over and read more at your blog.

      Reply
  8. Christina

    Live in Florida, be a stay at home mom, homeschool, teach Sunday School, enjoy Disney World,and so much more!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You have a blessed life, Christina.

      Reply
  9. Francine

    Back in the 90s I was taking a computer programming course as part of an overall general technology program (networking, printers, etc). I had completed one of the programming assignments to meet the assignment specs, but I thought it would have been better to do this one last little thing. I was having difficulty getting that to work so I called up my brother (who is a programmer) to help me out. When we were done he asked me if I was sure I didn’t want to be a computer programmer. I told him I would NEVER want to be a programmer. Here I sit today as web developer in a job that God has blessed me with.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Francine,

      What a delightful story. What’s that saying? Oh, yes. … God doesn’t always call the qualified, but qualifies the called. And you have been called to good work at a web developer. Fantastic.

      Reply
  10. Lynn Morrissey

    Yours today is a short, yet earthshattering post. I would love to use “I will never…” as a journaling prompt sometime. I think it would give women incredible insights. It’s a really deep thought, Jennifer. You always share deep thoughts. If, as Christians, we declare, “I will never…,” we don’t leave room for the guidance of God. Doesn’t He often lead us to those “I will never” situations so that He can break us of fear and stubbornness and cause us to cast ourselves completely on Him, trusting His wisdom, goodness, mercy, and enabling? I said that I would never become a mother. I made a horrible decision as a young, brand-new Christian out of irrational (yet real) panic over childbirth and the long-haul of motherhood and had an abortion. Imagine my horror a couple years later to read for the first time in Psalm 139 that God knits together our children in our wombs and that it is really He who is the author of life. He means for all babies to be born. Then in deep pain and sorrow, I thought, “I will never be forgiven.” Yet, as soon as I confessed my heinous sin, intellectually I knew that God gave me grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Yet I suffered mental and emotional anguish and thought I’d never *feel* forgiven. Then eighteen years later, in a miraculous, dramatic way, God healed me completely. Still, I thought, “I will never be a mother.” I certainly never thought I’d become one at forty! I was panic-stricken. But with God, all things are possible, and our “nevers” become His “evers”… “I will ever be with you. I will ever uphold you with my righteous right hand. I will ever give you all the strength you will ever need to do what I am asking.” I was petrified with my “I will never” — especially, when at forty, I thought of all the things that could go wrong with me and my baby and when I considered that “I will never know how to raise a child in this evil society.” But God is truly ever faithful, and our daughter, now nearly twenty, is one of the most beautiful, God-honoring young women I know. She loves Jesus and she serves Him with her whole heart. God has given my husband and me great grace in helping us to nurture and raise her in His ways. Sheridan is the joy of our lives. My “I will never” was really my declaration that “I will never trust God.” It was irrational and sinful, because God *never* fails us. He is *ever* faithful. He will *never* leave us or forsake us. Jennifer, thank you so much for this incredible reminder not to say no to God. Oh, all the wonders we miss when we do. So happy that little Sherbet is on the mend!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Lynn,

      I’m so moved by your testimony of evers and nevers here. Thank ((YOU)) for being here, and for sharing your story of forgiveness, healing, and faithfulness. What a gift…

      Reply
      • Lynn Morrissey

        What a blessing for you to permit me to share and for your loving response. Thank you, Jennifer.

        And BTW, I love those jazzy red shorts! =]

        Reply
  11. Kathie

    So glad to find your Blog, Jennifer.

    The concise version is I will NEVER leave Baldwin County again! Never say never. A grievous divorce took me away from my ‘beloved’ Baldwin County; I financially fought my way back and that is when I vowed I’m NEVER leaving again. BUT my Gracious and Glorious ABBA Father had a whole new life for me — and not in Baldwin County. We tell a fuller version here: http://revelation217.com/about-us/our-story/ if interested.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Kathie,

      Thank you for sharing your “never.” The only good “never” to know is this one: God will never leave us nor forsake us. Headed over to read your story, Kathie. It’s a joy to cross paths with you.

      Reply
  12. Kelly Sauer

    Jennifer, thank you. I needed exactly this today. And I quoted your quotes at my blog. You will see why.

    Love you.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I always love sharing life with you, Kelly. I’m headed over now.

      Reply
  13. Sandra Heska King

    Never say never…

    I love your seeing you in your work clothes. And that Corrie ten Boom quote has come to me several times this week. I’m glad you’re one of the persons he brought into my life.

    I’d never meet up with someone off the Internet. Yeah, we know where that went.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh no. All of a sudden I’m singing Justin Beiber.

      I like my comfy work clothes, too. How about that scowl though? I don’t look like a very nice farmer. 🙂

      Yeah. That last line of yours. Smiling here!

      Reply
  14. Leanne

    Yay! so glad the calfs are getting better!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I know! Exciting. They have been doing great.

      Reply
  15. Megan Willome

    After reading these comments, I am done with “never.”

    (That doesn’t count, does it?)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I’m with you, Megan. I’m just smiling, at the way that God stepped right in the middle of all these I’ll Nevers.

      Reply
  16. SimplyDarlene

    “I don’t ever wanna live in the armpit of Washington (state)” — aka the Tri-Cities. Then my husband took a job there during our relocation saga.

    I don’t like the word “never.” I try not to use it, especially after meeting the Lord it’s not really a good word, aye?

    Blessings.

    (BTW, I wanted those same journalistic things too, and I was gonna live in a warehouse apartment in NYC. Imagine! I haven’t even been on an airplane, let alone to the Big Apple. Once at college I found out I was country-fied beyond repair.)

    Reply
  17. Susan DiMickele

    I said I would never stay at an “evil” big law firm and I’d do something meaningful with my life.

    Here I am 17 years later….

    Reply
  18. floyd

    I know it’s getting crowded in here, but that’s Sherbs isn’t it? Hope she or he is doing well.

    God has a way of making us eat our words. To be honest, I’m so full of eating the words with forks and spoons I can’t even respond… But, God’s will is always better than anything I could conjure up on my own…

    You look good on the farm city girl…

    My wife? I’m not sure even God was up for the fight… (totally kidding)

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      The calves are doing great, Floyd. We even put halters on them and took them for a long walk this morning.

      Reply
  19. Leah Adams

    I had my own “I will never” about 15 years ago. I said I would NEVER move back to my hometown. I vowed to always be a city girl. But, God……knew that my Daddy would walk the road of cancer that would take him home to Jesus. He knew I would be needed by my parents during that time and that I would need to be near them. Praise God, He moved us back to our hometown 3 years before Daddy developed metastatic colon cancer that took him home to Jesus in2004.

    Never say never!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      That’s a beautiful testimony of God’s provision and sovereignty. We had the same kind of experience here. Scott and I had moved here, just long enough for him to know how to operate this farm. And then, in 2009, his father passed away.

      Reply
  20. michelle derusha

    When Brad was applying for professor jobs nationwide, I announced my top 5 most dreaded places to live. #2 on my list (after poor North Dakota): Nebraska. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. God knew he needed to unmoor me completely so that I would come back to him!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Just nodding my head here, at the crazy-cool ways of God. Love this one, Michelle. And I’m proud to call you a fellow Midwesterner! (Wish I could have sat at your table today. Jealous!)

      Reply
  21. Jennifer

    I said I would never be a submissive wife. I was strong, able, and independent! I would never let a man tell me what to do. I would be a police officer wielding a gun and taking down the bad guys. Now I am a homeschooling mother, and wife that understands my place and role in this life, a “submissive” help-meet to my wonderful husband. AND it feels so good to know that I am NOT in control of everything…HE is!!!! God is great!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      You have a blessed life, and I’m so glad that God stepped right in the middle of your “I’ll Never.”

      Reply
  22. Jennifer

    oops forgot to mention how beautiful those pictures are. My dream life…and the pic of you in sweats…you are gorgeous. I prefer you that way over the “made-up” look. Real people doing real things are works of art:) So glad the calves are doing better!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh, Thank you, Jennifer! Yes, that is the real me — with paint-spattered red sweats and a T-shirt that doesn’t match. Though, I do like to get gussied up from time to time. 🙂

      Reply
  23. Brandee Shafer

    I don’t know that I said “never,” but I surely didn’t imagine being a mother of 4, and I don’t even have words for how badly I want them all here.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Wonderful. Your love for those kiddos radiates.

      Reply
  24. veronica sirois

    I will never give up, because he re-stores my faith!!
    I will never use his name in vain, because he reminds me of his cross.
    I will never give up on my family,he is my co-pilot!!
    I will never give up on writing my book, he is my author!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Beautiful, Veronica. Keep writing that book. Love you.

      Reply
  25. Tiffany Stuart

    🙂 I’m so glad God grabbed your heart. I vowed lots of I’ll nevers when I was younger, but I wasn’t walking with God then. One thing I was never going to do was public speaking. I dropped out of community college because speech was required for a counseling degree. Now speaking is one of my favorite ways to experience God.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh wow! Tiffany. That’s HUGE! And you do so well speaking. Laughing now, thinking about your zebra butt speech. 🙂

      Reply
  26. Tracy Werner

    I will never pray over my patients but now…I do it everytime I work~

    I will never forgive my mother for walking away from me when I was a child…I was mistaken, He stepped in & performed a miracle~

    I will never feel complete unless I am a mother but then He stepped in & made me a FABULOUS Auntie & for that…I AM FOREVER BLESSED~

    I will never say outloud “I am saved & worth something!” but now by the GRACE of HIM…I say it loud & proud~

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      LOVE these, Tracy. And I.love.you. You are a great auntie, a wonderful friend, a beautiful person, a talented nurse, and a faithful follower of Christ.

      Reply
  27. Daniel Farrow

    I told the Lord that I would never ever live in the inner city. Then God proceeded to arrange for me to live in the inner city around gangs for four years. Never ever tell the Lord you will never do something He arranges. 😀

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I have a profound respect for people like you, Daniel. Stay strong, friend. You’re doing a great thing.

      Reply
  28. Audra Krell

    I said I’d never live in Arizona, going on 15 years for this Colorado girl!
    Said I’d never go on a mission trip, but with the generous support of Floyd and his wife Diane, I leave in 32 days.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Audra! Tell me more!

      Reply
    • Audra Krell

      I’ve been known to be quite squeamish in my day, a real girly girl. Yet, I know God is calling me to not only a mission trip, but a medical mission trip. I’ll be working in the hospital in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico. When He called, I knew he would provide the money. Floyd and Diane and another friend have financially and prayerfully supported me in significant ways. I’m still $400 short from full funding, but know God is going to continue to work it out. My oldest son is going too, he is playing with the band, they will do open air concerts for the Mayan people as well as work with the children. My middle son will be on a mission trip to Wales, building a young life camp at the same time. Praise God for He is doing great things.

      Reply
  29. elizabeth

    This is so profound it leaves me a little speechless and that is no small feat. I will think on this so that I am honest with Him and myself on my answer. But for now I am finding inspiration in the testimonies of the beautiful women who have shared here in the comments. You could write a book…. really. Bless you, tweeted it too.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      If you think of your own I’ll Never, come back later and tell us, Elizabeth. … Yes, the testmonies are an incredible gift here. God is faithful over and over and over again.

      Reply
  30. ro elliott

    Oh…this blog world…this reaching out to an online community… leaving comments…never…never. God does lead us to never neverland…He is a good shepard:) So glad to see sherbet doing better…and I love the pictures.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I love that … Never-Neverland. And God will NEVER, EVER, EVER leave or forsake us. … Yes, Sherbert is doing awesome.

      Reply
  31. Shelly Miller

    I said I would never live in the south again and hear I am, smack dab in the middle of it for the past nine years.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      And you’re a light right there, Shelly. Shine on, sister.

      Reply
  32. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    I’ll never marry a farmer who loves green tractors as much as me. I’ll never take allergy shots. I’ll never let my kids watch a 30 minute TV show just so I can get a half hour of silence. Hmmm…don’t I look sheepish.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Snickering here over your 30 minute TV show comment. I soooo get that one. 🙂

      Reply
  33. Bob G

    Catching up around your site Jennifer. Great reads and yes, the comments on this one are pretty spectacular as well.

    I’ll never drive a van, sing at church, have many kids, etc, etc, etc. (there are lots of them)!

    Reply
  34. Christine

    Beautiful testimonies here. So blessed that the calves are on the mend. And so excited to hear about the book. You have a gift, that’s for sure. Can’t wait to hear more. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. When You Need a Little Fixing « Sandra Heska King - [...] her husband always says, “God’s got [...]

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