Kara Nothnagel
Simple Authentic Living


Simple. Authentic. Grace.


The great unknown. Sounds beautifully enigmatic doesn’t it? Wide open space with no boundaries, no time constraint, no systems or agendas. Um… Yes. Until you are living smack. Bang. In the middle of it. And the only thing you have to hang onto is a word or a promise and of course, everyone’s questions.

Recently this is exactly where I have found myself thanks to the loooooooong and ongoing wait for an international visa. It has been an interesting year of going with the flow and embracing the unknown, while holding on in faith to what we feel is the right thing. There have been moments of rock solid faith, crippling fear, irrational panic and elation at the feeling of not being bound to house, country or even the passing of time.

In my experience it is always easier to get 20/20 clarity on what was happening in and through your waiting when you are on the other side, so I decided to write about what I have experienced while I am still in the middle, before I have the chance to tie this all up with a nice red bow bow of reason and nostalgia.

So... what am I learning as I wait at the edge of the unknown?

As you step out my friend, you will face many a giant. All of them big. None of them friendly. This is whom I have encountered so far:


Disappointment attempts to be a lethal poison pill. Proverbs 13: 12 says “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Hope deferred inevitably goes hand in hand with disappointment. And heart sickness due to dashed hopes tries to strangle one’s ability to dream and hope for something else again.

This is a noose I have had to fight free from and too often fall back into the grips of. Every time I miss an event that I “should have” been there for - a friend’s birthday party, a baby being born, a mentoring meeting, an inspirational talk, a job opportunity… Those moments when the FOMO is almost too much to bear…

Disappointment and dashed hopes give way to a small question that if left unchecked can eat away at even the most hardy mind. It opens up the ‘What if?’  I do not believe that everything happens for a reason, I think that is a dangerous thought pattern to follow. But I have experienced that God, in His kindness causes reason to come out of even the most un-understandable circumstances so that nothing is wasted in the Kingdom; and there is nothing you can give up for Him or lose for Him, because He is a faithful Father. I have found this to be true throughout this strange season of waiting. Reason, purpose and divine appointments have emerged in the middle of the unforeseen and unknown, and every time this happens it acts as balm on the wound of disappointment.






There have been days of crippling fear. Fear of the unknown and worse fear of the know. Finances, friendships, future opportunities- where will we find these things now? How is it all going to work out? Fear is tormenting and relentlessly stands on the bank of the unknown trying to harass you into surrender. The lesson I am learning is to use fear. Humbly use it as a locater of the state of your heart and rather than giving into it then turn the other way and allow love to wash the hard and weary areas that fear has been pulling at.


Caution dear heart. This one is tough. Ours has been an unconventional journey but the fruit of our somewhat “crazy” decision to follow God’s voice and leading has clearly spoken. The waiting season tests your pride because suddenly all those voices, with all their questions begin to pipe up again. And I have too often felt the weight of having to provide people with answers that I don’t have myself. The truth is, I don’t know how it is going to work out, I just know that it will work out because the word promises as much. So the unknown is the killing ground for pride, because there is no room or way to justify yourself and you might look crazy, or be misunderstood, or even see the faithfulness of your God come into question. And so pride comes into the presence of the unknown to die.

So, what do I hold on to?

Firstly, I hold on to promises that are constant, proved and faithful.


That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

// Romans 8:22-25

P E R F E C T  &  C O N S T A N T

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

// Isaiah 26:3

K N O W N   &  U N D E R S T O O D

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

// Romans 8:15-17

Secondly, I take comfort and challenge from people who have gone before me and keep my life open, accountable and aligned with them. This has been a lifeline. Psalm 145:3 tells us that ‘Generation after generation stands in awe of your work each one tells stories of your mighty acts.’ (MSG)

I have been fortunate that in moments of despair, where I have felt I am paddling against the tide, the mothers and fathers in my life have comforted me by telling stories of the mighty acts shown in their lives, many of them in seasons just like we have faced. And I am comforted releasing that even when I feel lonely, I am not alone, because the path has been paved for me by them, so I am not walking an untrodden path, but am covered by them and the wisdom that is found in the counsel of many.

I am unsure as to how this season is going to unfold, but I am thankful for a kind God who causes reason, expansion and growth to emerge. And I have finally settled that no matter what it looks like He is faithful and I am not diminished. So take courage, dear friend as you stand on that great divide, I am learning that there is hidden treasure along the way and breakthrough on the other side.

Images borrowed from Pinterest.