Wednesday, November 14, 2012

But What About Our Plaa-aa-aa-an ??? - Part I

Plan:  a scheme or program for making, doing, or arranging something; to have in mind as a project or purpose ( Webster's New World Dictionary-Third College Edition)
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Some of us like plans.  Some of us don't.  Some of us like plans, as long as they are our plans.  If it is someone else's plan, then we are not quite so taken with it.

For years the LOC* would say, "If it isn't in Marsha's planner, it isn't going to happen." (I am embarrassed to admit this was often true.)

He referred to my Franklin-Covey Planner.  Much like Mary's little lamb, everywhere that Marsha went, it followed her.  I not only made plans and followed them, I taught various aspects of planning in corporate seminars - project planning and execution, Gannt charts, milestones, benchmarks - you name it.  I was a planning guru.

Generally, I operated on the old axiom of "plan your work and work your plan."  It worked for me.  I could also be, well, how shall I put this, overly attached to the plan, once it was in motion. Once it had been edited, approved, and distributed via the corporate intranet, you were going to have to pry that puppy out of my cold-dead hand before I would let it go.  Flexibility has never been one of my strong suits.  The PowerPoint show would go on.

But despite all the graduate coursework and corporate class sessions in which I was involved, the most dramatic lesson I ever had about becoming too attached to a plan was taught to me by my nine-year old granddaughter, Brynn, earlier this year.

We had attended Brynn's older sister, Simone's, high school choir competition in San Diego that morning, and then we went to Sea World with dozens of other students and parents/grandparents/others for the rest of the day.  The awards ceremony was scheduled to take place around 9:00 p.m. that evening, after which the teen students would board buses to go home; and my daughter, younger granddaughter and I would drive home on our own.

It was a fun day.  But it was a long day.  It rained intermittently, and was by turns chilly, windy, and then inexplicably too warm from hour to hour.  We walked, we talked, we watched animals and fishes do funny things. We ate funny things too (although I think they were called funnel cakes) and we walked some more.

Finally, around 5:00 p.m. my daughter looked at me (I may have been flagging a little by then) and said, "It is still hours until the awards dinner.  If we stay until after that, we are not going to get home until way after midnight.  What do you think about just heading back now?"

Not wanting to be a drag on the party, I said something like, "I think that makes sense."  Inwardly, I wanted to weep with sheer gratitude, as my feet and back were killing me.  I had been trying to keep up with a much young crew for hours and I was pretty much done in.

Thus, it was decided and we steered out of the gargantuan parking lot, and headed up Highway 101 for Los Angeles.  About ten miles up the road, we heard sniffling coming from the regions of the back seat.  My daughter ignored it for several miles and finally said, "Brynn, are you upset that we are going home early?"

As the sniffles turned into piteous sobs, Brynn suddenly wailed, "But what about our plaaaaan?  This wasn't our plaaaaan!  We were going to stay until the dinner and drive home late.  This wasn't the plaaaaaaaaan."
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Isn't it scary when some of our younger family members suddenly remind us of ourselves? Don't get me wrong; Brynn is delightful, funny and whip-smart, and I enjoy her immensely.  But in that moment I didn't know whether to laugh out loud, each time she wailed the drawn out word p-l-a-a-a-n, or cry with her.

She knew the plan for the day.  She agreed with the plan.  She liked the plan.  She bought into the plan.  And now, someone had changed the plaaaan without her consent.  WOW!  She was not a happy camper.

Have you ever been there?  I have.
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As Christians we often make a plan, decide how we are going to implement it, and then pray over our plan and ask God to bless it.  Nothing especially wrong with that, other than that it is backwards.

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting my clothes on backwards.  I bought them and they are mine to wear any way I want. And I can tell myself that all day long; but when I wear them backwards, they do not fit me well.  They are awkward and uncomfortable and downright silly looking.

You might think, why would you do that?  Wear your clothes backwards.  Who does that anyway?

And I might reply that they are my clothes and I just felt like it.  But they still feel uncomfortable because they do not fit right - and they look silly - even when I do not admit it.

In other words, the ability to buy clothing, and the ownership of that same clothing, do not alter the original design and purpose of the clothing, do they?

We can make our plans, devise them well; but if they do not conform with the Divine Planner's purpose for our lives, those plans will be awkward, ill-fitting and ultimately may not turn out well.

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Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."  (James 4:13-14 NIV)

I don't know about you, but there have been times when I have wailed at God, just like my nine year old granddaughter, "But that wasn't the plaaaan.  I had a plaaaan, and this wasn't it!  Now what am I supposed to do?"
                                                   # # # # # Question:  Have you ever made a plan, and you were convinced it was a good plan, and had the whole thing turn out wrong?  How did you react?  I have done that.  And next time I'll share some of that with you.
Next time:  A Change of Plans.  Now what do we do?  Serving on the "Chastened Planning Commmittee". (Part II)
(*Lovable Old Coot)


  1. This reminds me of the saying, "We plan, God laughs." Thanks for the reminder of what's really important.

  2. Your granddaughter Brynn had a beautiful lesson for you. We humans can make all the plans we want, yet sometimes God has other, better plans for us. Great post.

  3. Yep, I have to seriously work on flexibility as I get older. I used to be so spontaneous, and I'm looking for a little of what I used to be since I've become more structured as I age. Great lesson-

  4. I am not a big planner, but I do want to have things in some sort of order...but I just wrote to a friend this week..."it seems the Lord never allows me to make plans"...I was crying over our unemployment and lack of income that has made me not even be able to plan on I am on a journey once again of having manna just for the day. It allows totally dependence on Him, while reminding me that my plans are my plans and not His!

    Great post.

  5. After teaching for 30 years where everyday is planned to the last minute, planning is a natural way of life for me. However, we got used to the daily plan being interrupted by unforeseen circumstances and so we learnt to be flexible or suffer stress. Now that I am retired I still catch myself planning the day but I don't worry if it doesn't go to plan. The only trouble is I am going to run out of time to do all the things I had planned for retirement but in the big picture does it matter? Does anyone else care?

  6. Oh Lord, forgive me?! For much of my life, I had a plan, depended on the plan, fretted over the plan, grew anxious when the plan was tettering. Then, one day, the plan flew apart before my eyes when I sat at the beside of my dying husband. Nothing I could do could stop the plan from flying apart. Oh, how I grieved! My plan was gone, as much dead as was my precious husband. Now, I am quite content to just 'go with the flow' and life is so much more relaxed and precious to me. No plan, just follow where He leads. ~~~sigh~~~ I like this life; I'm so sad that it took me a half century to find it.

  7. I know how to plan, I know I should plan, but for some reason, but when I do plan, they often go south. So through the years, I've gotten fairly good at flying by the seat of my pants. There's value in that skill too :)

  8. What a great and timely post! Yep, I like it when everyone sticks to the plan. It does sometimes seem like God must smile at us and our silly little plans.

    Thanks for the good word and the reminder to follow the Planner rather than my plans!

    Appreciate you...


  9. I have planned myself silly, planned myself into a corner, and make a plan to plan. Sometimes they worked out, many times they did not. Many times when they did not, I reacted like a lunatic.
    The wisdom of old age has taught me flexibility. Now I plan...but with an escape route, not concrete walls.

  10. Don't you think that the older we get - the more flexible we become? We are more able to see what is important and how long is left compared to how long we had? sandie

  11. I plaaaned to have a working computer by now. NOT in the plan so far. Maybe when we are finished purchasing renovation materials we can switch to electronic equipment...that's a new plan!
    Miss catching up with you on a weekly or so basis and will be very busy doing just that once my PLAAAN gets in put in action.
    Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving...