"Derailed for a Reason"

It’s so amazing how life goes in cycles of change. We develop a rhythm in our life that we begin to enjoy and if something alters this we can get frustrated. We can get to a place where we are striving purposefully moving towards our dreams then things change. Something happens that completely alters everything. Something happens that derails us that is completely out of our control...

2007 was an incredible year of personal growth and listening and obeying God’s calls for my life. 4 months ago we got exciting news that my wife Angie was pregnant with our fifth child. This was something we were wrestling over whether we should stop having kids by our control or let God be in control. God answered with news of her pregnancy, that alone is a life altering experience but one we are very used to, having gone through it 4 other times.

Then something extremely challenging happened. Angie threw her back out with a herniated bulging disk in her lower back after only 2 months into the pregnancy.

The chiropractor said that if she did exactly what he said for the next 2 months that she would have a chance of healing it and avoiding back surgery.

We found out that she can’t pick anything up heavier then 5 pounds or so, she can’t drive and needs to put no strain on her back at all.

This prevents her from doing almost everything she usually does to take care of our children and home. We are used to challenges and when one comes no matter what it is we tend to immediately accept it and go to work on what needs to be done.

I had no idea what was really in store. I had deep respect and appreciation for my wife being a stay at home mom but once I tried to fill her shoes I began to get a taste of the truly hard work involved in running a home full of children. It’s much different then doing it for a day or a weekend like most fathers have experienced. It’s easy to conquer it and make it look easy for a couple days…doing it day in and out is a taxing job that never ends.

Like anything it’s so important to see the meaning behind the ordinary to lead effectively. That’s why my wife is so good at what she does, she sees the meaning behind doing laundry, cooking meals, time with the kids, teaching them, discipline…..when we see the long term it makes these ordinary tasks extraordinary. She does extraordinary work that will “echo in eternity”.

I’m used to facing challenge daily from running a business and leading all kinds of people but it is a whole different kind of challenge running a home. It takes immense selflessness, patience, and a see the big picture perspective to do it right. It’s much more then doing all the tasks, while getting all that needs to be done we’ve got to spend the day on purpose…coaching, loving, guiding, and teaching the children to be extraordinary contributors to society. From recent experience this can get completely put aside with how much other stuff there is to do. It takes deliberate focus to lead in this way. It takes being off ourselves and on purpose by remembering the long-term significance.

It’s hard to stay off yourself because in this job, everything seems to be about everyone else and you can’t leave your work to go home. Work is your home…I finally get why my wife acts the way she does when I don’t give her breaks to do things for herself.

So as I’m filling her shoes the laundry piles up faster then I’m washing it, to try and catch up I washed 11 loads in one day…but then there’s folding and putting away….our living room had a mound of dirty clothes on the floor and our couch’s had mounds of clean…and it never never ends. grocery shopping takes me forever and once I go there’s no food again a couple days later. Constant diaper changes, bathes, battles with kids fighting and discipline then there’s cooking. I never make things right like mommy does. Then there’s cleaning the house..I figured out we almost do 3 loads of dishes per day.

I start to think….I wish we had room for two dishwashers and I’m going to make room for another set of washer and dryers. I truly see the need for two sets to get twice as much done in the same amount of time. That will be our next major purchase.

Then on top of that my wife is usually home schooling….and of course Im not even mentioning everything involved.

So during this situation I hadn’t been working for 3 weeks in a row, I realize this can't go on, if I don’t work things will fall apart.

Here is where the great miracle happens, the miracle of the family of Christ. Angie and I are fiercely independent people that at all costs work to prevent being needy. We are very self-reliant and until now haven’t needed major help with anything.

I now realize that we were missing an experience that's very important to have.

Pretty soon people start arriving daily with full meals for our family. Some people we know and more people we don’t know. They seem so happy to help and this blessing overjoys us.

There were days where we didn’t think anyone was bringing anything so we start to try and figure out dinner then a meal shows up.

Then people start offering to help Angie during the day so I can work, it has meant so much to Angie and I to receive this help. Church all of a sudden became so much more meaningful to me.

Church isn’t only about the building, the pastoral staff, the service, and programs or even spiritual growth…it is also about serving each other…it is about loving each other and being there in each other’s time of need. Church is about people helping people, it is about loving others so they see Christ and are attracted to the Holy Spirit in His people so they hunger to have that, to find out about that and ultimately to accept Him.

No wonder Jesus talks about helping your neighbor and treating your neighbor as you would treat yourself. Who are our neighbors? Everyone we come in contact with, everyone around us wherever we are.

So Angie and I became derailed by our circumstances out of our control but God has taught us that it’s okay to rely on others when in need and have been deeply touched by the body of Christ.

Another challenge is having to give up for a time the important projects and activities in order to attend to what’s most important.

I will say there were times both Angie and I became frustrated with our situation, depressed, and tired. But when we get derailed I think it’s so important to see what God is doing in this. To be able to slow down and shift our priorities when we are called to do so. To stop doing what we want and do what He wants us to do with joy in our hearts no matter how challenging we may think it is.

I think when derailed it’s important to look at it as a test God is putting us through. Then we can focus on passing the test!! The test here for me was slowing down and being willing to give up things I feel called to do in order to do what’s most important. Often we are called to do things but can misunderstand God's timing. Sometimes we have to slow down and let God make the path before us.

I think it’s when we are derailed in life that we learn the most. Our response to the challenge is what’s most important. Unfortunately many don’t respond how God probably wants us to. I didn’t in this situation part of the time…but as soon as I did the scales fell from my eyes and I could start to see how many blessings came from this…how much I’m learning and how much more I understand my wife and what she does.

This journey isn’t over as we have 5 months left of her being pregnant with a bad back but what a great journey to be on with my wife. What a great growth experience, what a great learning experience. I read 30 books last year, which was exhilarating. I learned so much. I started getting depressed since my reading has halted but really I’ve learned so much through this challenge. Learning comes in all different forms and our best learning comes from the challenges that come our way and figuring out how to respond best and work through it relying on Christ.

I’m getting my joy back, which is what God calls us to have despite any and all challenges.

My marriage and my kids will be stronger for this experience. “Thank you God for allowing challenge in our lives to grow my family and I in new ways...Thank you for using your people to minister to us in practical ways...I pray that we honor you Lord no matter what comes our way"


  1. Your post reminded me how important church community is. It is so easy to tell people "everything is alright" and things are "just fine" meanwhile you're scrambling and stressed trying to handle the weight yourself.

    Our pastor once said Jesus acts through His people. Sometimes we pray for an intangible miracle to pop out of the sky but He already has real people ready to help you.

    My wife and I were able to help a family recently and there was no quesion that God had provided the time an money specifically to be there for them. I can not explain the feeling, but we both knew we were 100% in His pupose that day.

    Blessings are interesting. We either need them or we are blessed to be a blessing.

  2. Reminds me of how our whole church pitched in and cared for us 24/7 after our accident in 1984. Not only were we blessed, but so were our helpers. In fact, one woman ran into me nearly 20 years later and thanked me for the privilege of allowing her to minister to our family. How cool is that?

  3. To the Tolpin family.EPHESIANS 3:14-21 Lots of love and blessings in Jesus. POD.