When the Unexpected Is Breaking You

Gold Brush Stroke

God often uses the unexpected and the unwanted to bring about the best in our lives. But it requires us to let go first.

God often uses the unexpected&the unwanted to bring about the best in our lives. But it requires us to let go first. Share on X

Let go of our expectations. Let go of our perceptions. Let go of our perceived control.

And then to open our hearts to receive the fullness of what He has for us.

unexpected breaking comes beautiful rebuilding2

The End or the Beginning?

In my world, many mornings begin like too many others: washing my 17-year-old daughter’s mattress pad and sheets. With significant global developmental delays, Rachel’s independent skills (including hygiene) fall far behind her peers.

As she’s grown, washing my girl’s bedding has become a nearly daily occurrence. Certain mornings I just want to scream, “I’m done! I can’t do this anymore!”

And I mean it. Caring for a forever-toddler can be exhausting. It zaps me of all the strength, patience and understanding I possess.

And then, miraculously, when I have nothing left, God pours into me all His strength, patience and understanding.

That’s the mystery of grace. That’s the miracle of transformation. That’s the God we serve. That’s the love He has for His rebellious and often blind children like me.

Our finite gets replaced with His infinite. Our weakness gets replaced with His strength. Our heart of flesh gets replaced with His heart of spirit.

And we love, we care, we step up, we serve.

Because at our end is really the beginning. The beginning of a life of significance and meaning beyond anything we could imagine.

When we give up our perceived control and give all to God, we discover how to really live. It’s a life, not devoid of suffering and unwanted happenings, but filled with joy and peace and purpose in the midst of those.

When we give up our perceived control and give all to God, we discover how to really live. Share on X

Blessings in the Unexpected and Hard Places

Raising a child with special needs is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s also one of the best.

Raising this special child who pushes me to the end brings me to the beginning of so many amazing and wonderful things.

Serving Rachel teaches me humility, exposing my pride to the cleansing light of Christ.

Ministering to Rachel’s daily needs reminds me of how desperately dependent I am on others too, …

  • on family and friends for daily encouragement and support
  • on God for His daily mercy and grace (I cannot do this without Him!)

 … and this dependence is necessary and good.

Raising Rachel has cultivated patience in a heart that was once sorely lacking. I don’t believe my family would slap me with the label of patient quite yet, but I’ve been stretched far beyond my default in this area.

Watching Rachel age while her abilities lag ever farther behind that of her peers forces me to define success differently than society does.

I now appreciate the capacity to demonstrate love and compassion far more than possessing self-sufficiency and independence.

I now see a successful life as centering on relationships instead of high-paying jobs and owning nice things.

I now look for the beauty in the hard (it’s there), to see gifts otherwise missed.

I now focus more on the eternal than the temporal.

I am now more likely to give thanks for what I do have, than to lament what I lack.

The Breaking and the Beautiful Rebuilding

I didn’t want to change. I tried to do this special need mothering thing on my own, thinking I had enough stamina to go the distance. Then I ran into the end of all I had to offer.

And it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

The thing that most devastated me at first brought the most positive changes in me in the end. Doesn’t that sound like God’s miraculous work?

The thing that most devastated me at first brought the most positive changes in me in the end. Share on X

No doubt about it. Dealing with the unexpected and unwanted breaks us, but in that breaking comes a rebuilding far more beautiful than the original. It produces growth not otherwise possible.

Dealing with the hard breaks us, but in that breaking comes a rebuilding far more beautiful than the original. Share on X

Trust God

In your unexpected and unwanted places, trust the process. Trust your God. Trust that this hard thing will lead into a most treasured gift.

Mine certainly has! 

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 ESV

Reflections: In what unexpected/unwanted place do you find yourself? What lessons can you learn from it? How can I pray for you?

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,852–4,872. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Waking up to 2 more mouths to feed; Discovering a go-to scone recipe that’s rather simple & forgiving; New spring blooms
  • A reason to bake more; Target practicing with a couple of my guys; The Hope and goodness that prevails in the face of the evil and darkness of this world
  • Sweetness of a Rachel hug; Dying Easter eggs; Shelter when the winds howl and the sleet hits
  • More baking to feed those hungry boys: love it, and another one tomorrow!; Experiencing Rachel during worship; His body, broken for me
  • Lovely day for a walk with a few of my guys; Zachary is home: our family is together again!; A moving Good Friday service
  • The love so evident among my children; Cooking a large dinner for my clan = pure joy; Late night board games with my boys = more pure joy
  • Our Lord and Savior’s resurrection from the dead; Wonderful youth led Easter service; Celebrating Easter with lots of family and food and 2 newborn lambs at Mom and Dad’s
By His Grace,



  1. ffpaws on March 29, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I could use prayer for my health it may be my Gall Bladder. I went to my local ER and they sent me home telling me everything was normal. The Ultrasound was read only by a Tech as the Regular Radiologist was on his way to another town stopping to have an hour long lunch. The nurse told me it would take 40 minutes to get the results . They told me the results in 15 minutes. I just called my Gastro Doctor in another town at a larger hospital to see what they think about how I was treated here in this Rural ER and the localized Pain I am still having. The ER here also gave me an antibiotic I am allergic to and I did not catch it until I got home. They never asked me for my Allergies and their computer software system was acting up.

    I am supposed to be making some very hard decisions about some things I have to take care of so please pray for Wisdom for my Doctor and for myself please.

    Thank You.

    P.S. DO You know Rachel Wojo? She has a Special Needs Daughter named Taylor. I think she could be an encouragement to you hun if you do not already know her. She also wrote the book One More Step Finding Str3ength For When You Feel Like Giving Up.

    • Julie Sunne on March 30, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Dear ffpaws, I’m so sorry for your pain and health issues. I have been praying for you. God knows all and will guide your decisions as you rest in His presence.

      Yes, I do know Rachel Wojo, thank you for asking. We are friends; she is a wonderful encourager! I reviewed her vulnerable and inspiring book on this site about a month ago.

      May the Lord provide you peace as you move forward with your treatment options.

  2. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) on March 29, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    A lady at our church had a daughter who had Ceberal Palsy. 14 months ago, the daughter was diagnosed with brain tumors. Last November, the daughter went to be with Jesus. She has all these memories of her daughter. There are special times for all families who have a special needs child. Bless you as you continue your ministry to Rachael.

    • Julie Sunne on March 30, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you, Cecelia! I’m sure so difficult for that dear mama.

      Rachel is a special blessing, and I am incredibly grateful to have her; just a bit weary at times. 🙂

  3. Vickie Fetterman on January 27, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    Julie I once said I would share my story with you. After reading this it seems the perfect time. I love the message of hope you bring. Everything you said in this devotion speaks to my heart. In 2011 I lost my infant granddaughter. My son and her daddy was wrongly convicted and sentenced to a 30 yr prison sentence. We are raising his special needs little boy. There is not a moment of the day I am not relying on my Lord. I cannot do any of this alone. Because of this God has changed my heart in so many ways. He has opened my eyes in ways I could have never imagined. Nothing about this is easy but God remains faithful. I love your honesty and I am blessed by your truthfulness.

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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