Learning to Plan with Open Hands

I once read that “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I couldn’t have described it any better this week.

Wednesday I worked from home. That’s my normal routine so I can combine homemaking with P31 computer work and get more done in both areas. I had planned to do laundry, take down Christmas decorations, check emails, make a few calls, review some of my messages for next month and order groceries on-line.

After dropping the kids off at school, I headed home, threw a load of laundry in, folded some clothes, and turned on my laptop to check on our new website. Some links weren’t working from our radio and devotions blogs so I worked on those. Then the office called. Emails came. My focus was redirected, new questions needed to be answered, new decisions needed to be made and somewhere in there I lost track of time. I remember a few trips to the laundry room but I never made it out of the kitchen area.

Hours later I glanced at the clock and noticed is was 2:30pm. Andrew would be home in 30 minutes and I hadn’t had lunch, nor breakfast for that matter. The microwave was beeping from my last coffee warm-up, and I was still in my sweats/pajamas. The day was done and I hadn’t gotten much done. Well, at least not what I had planned.

Christmas decorations were still hung, we still needed groceries and the messages I planned to work on hadn’t been touched. Although some very important and time-sensitive things were now taken care of, I felt anxiety coming upon me. I decided to call JJ and let him know we were having leftovers and I’d need his help enlisting the boys to take down Christmas with me that night. He agreed and all was well with my soul. I assured myself that Thursday would go as planned.

But it didn’t. Instead of a being part of an important conference-call for She Speaks on Thursday, my head was in a notebook for two hours looking for 22 radio shows to re-air in our next volume (that was due last week) . It took much longer than I expected but I had to get it done because we didn’t have enough new shows to run since we couldn’t do full recording sessions in December due to holiday schedules. The stress must have been apparent for my co-workers kept asking me if I was okay. It ended up being a longer day than planned.

Then Friday came and instead of my plans, I once again discovered God’s. He assigned me with the sweet companionship of a sweet little 4 year-old named Matthew whose mom (my next door neighbor) just started chemo and felt really sick. A friend called to tell me how sick she was and I got the blessing of being there for her. I had been praying for ways to serve Kim. So, instead of returning calls and volunteering in Andrew’s classroom that morning, I got to play with moon sand and trucks, watch Thomas the Train videos and search my attic for forgotten little-boy toys. I loved every minute of it.

Although I really like it when my days go as planned, I want my life to be defined by what God has planned. I’ve begun to see the unexpected not as interruptions but as divine invitations to go where He is.

God’s teaching me to make my plans, but leave room for His. On days like the ones I have had, I can trust that He has my best and His best in mind. And when I wonder how I’ll get it all done, I think about these three verses in Psalm 139:

1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

I especially love verse three in the amplified version. The word discern is translated “to sift and search out”. I wonder if God sifts my plans and searches out who and what will come along in my day. I can see how He might have redirected my path according to the plans He had for me and others. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows what’s coming tomorrow, next week and even next month, so He knows when I need to rise (from the kitchen table) or stay (at home) or go (to the office) and even when I need to do some lying down. Which is right about now.

It’s late and we’ve got big plans for tomorrow. Yet I’ll just wait to see how He determines just how those will go. My hands and my plans are wide open!

So, how are your plans going this week?

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Susanne Scheppmann says:

    Renee,how I understand the “unplanned–planned days”. Thank you for all you do not only for Proverbs 31 Ministries, but for all the people who the Lord places in your life on a daily basis.

    Susanne

  2. I’m so proud of you for spending time with Matthew and being open to changes in your plans that you had not anticipated! Keep up the good work, girlfriend!

  3. Heather@Mommymonk says:

    What a great attitude to have – I’m usually just frustrated when things don’t go as I planned! It’s much easier to be open to God’s plans!

  4. Playing with moon sand and trucks with a little boy so that a woman battling cancer can rest- you made a difference for sure. You chose well.

    “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

  5. As a mother to a 3yo recovering from back surgery 3 weeks ago, my days stay “unplanned”. My back pretty much rules what I do for the day. I know that twice a week, I go to PT, beyond that … each day brings plans of its own. And those plans might change from morning to afternoon. Even something as simple as taking a shower can exhaust me for hours. I went to church this morning, which is a great undertaking since my husband has to be there at 730 … by the time I got there at 11 (Someone came to get me), I was ready to come back home and sleep for many hours, which i actually did.

    So this whole “unplanned-planned” days thing … yeah, completely understand and completely frustrated by it all! But I know God is teaching me to lay back and relax … He has plans in store for me … I just need to be patient in waiting for healing and for his plans to come to fruition.

    Thanks for your posts Renee … I really can’t tell you enough how much reading your posts since early Fall have changed my life, both spiritual and emotional!

  6. LAUREN at Faith Fuel- says:

    Playing with moon sand and trucks with a little boy so that a woman battling cancer can rest- you made a difference for sure. You chose well.

    “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom”

  7. As a mother to a 3yo recovering from back surgery 3 weeks ago, my days stay “unplanned”. My back pretty much rules what I do for the day. I know that twice a week, I go to PT, beyond that … each day brings plans of its own. And those plans might change from morning to afternoon. Even something as simple as taking a shower can exhaust me for hours. I went to church this morning, which is a great undertaking since my husband has to be there at 730 … by the time I got there at 11 (Someone came to get me), I was ready to come back home and sleep for many hours, which i actually did.

    So this whole “unplanned-planned” days thing … yeah, completely understand and completely frustrated by it all! But I know God is teaching me to lay back and relax … He has plans in store for me … I just need to be patient in waiting for healing and for his plans to come to fruition.

    Thanks for your posts Renee … I really can’t tell you enough how much reading your posts since early Fall have changed my life, both spiritual and emotional!

  8. Charlene Kidd says:

    Renee, I was so excited to see you had stopped by my blog. Thank you for your encouragement. I really enjoyed your post on the unplanned. You are so right about the need to make ourselves available for God’s plans. I am so glad you could be there for your neighbor. We have a friend going through chemo again (third time), and I have prayed for ways to help her too.
    Have a blessed day,
    Charlene

  9. I think it was John Linnen (don’t know if I spelled his name right or not) wrote that. I used that quote shortly after Porter died in my communications class. Life is what happens while you’re in the middle of planning it.
    I find comfort in knowing that God’s plans stand alone. And His plans, though they are not always in line with mine, are always good plans. In fact, they’re better. They are best. Thanks for the reminder.
    hugs,
    Micca

  10. I had a good start to getting my stuff put away from xmas, cleaning, etc on Saturday. There were 2 young Labs running around the neighborhood. I saw them a few times run past my front door–I was keeping an eye out because I had the front door opened and I didn’t want my dog getting stupid on me.

    I have a perfect view of the road looking through my bay and the half circle–I can see up and down the street rather well. All of the sudden I heard the largest thud and the most ungodly crying—all I had to do was look up. It was the most horrible sight I have ever seen. I panicked, called 911 and by then the neighbors ran out. I ran out in my slippers as well. The other dog was being quite protective naturally. I ran back in the house to get shoes and a coat. It was sooooo sad and it looked just like mine which made it worse. The other dog ran about 5 houses down and was just peering. They were obviously someones pets because they had been groomed and well taken care of–maybe a year old. The neighbors had thrown a towel over the bottom half and just a bit of blood from its nose, but quickly going into shock. Police came right away. The poor man that hit it, surely was not his fault and I felt just as bad for him. He had a little one in the van but he was visibly shaken. This dog had no hair or skin on it’s skull for the most part. It was clearly visible on the road for about 8 feet. When animal control came they removed the towel and the rear legs looked like legs but a tangled mess. The lady turned me around with her and we sobbed and the husband just gasped and said oh my god….I knew it was horribly bad. I am sure they euthanized the dog shortly after taking it away…what I dont know is if they caught the other one. I was a mess…..my other neighbor came out after the ordeal and asked if it was my dog and I briefly explained. I could hear and see it all in my head and it wouldn’t stop and to top it off Jake knew something was up….he wanted in my lap….I just couldn’t stop….I had to get out of the house….I just cannot understand why these things happen sometimes….

  11. Thank you for your post. I can so easily identify with the whole thing of planned/unplanned.It’s so good to remember that although we have plans it is God who is in charge and He sees things so differently from us.Really enjoyed your blog….thank you.

    Rachel.

  12. Digging for Pearls says:

    What a reassurance that God has our time in His hands. So often things don’t go the way we “plan”, but when we give our day to Him we can know that He will only give us what we can handle for the day, with His strenth! 🙂

  13. Editor and Publisher Shelly Burke says:

    I don’t know who said it originally, but I’ve heard it many times–“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your “plans.”

    I was supposed to take my husband to his doctor, about 100 miles away, this afternoon. The dr. was sick and canceled his appointments, so instead I got a haircut, eye exam . . . and returned MY doctor’s call in which the nurse informed me I had ANOTHER abnormal pap smear, so I’ve also now scheduled an appointment with a GYN and learned more about abnormal pap smears and a procedure called a colposcopy, than I ever wanted to know . . .

    God bless YOU, Renee’, for taking your changes in plans in stride and being willing to bless the people that God put into your life, even unexpectedly.

    Shelly Burke
    http://www.shellyburke.net

  14. I don’t know who said it originally, but I’ve heard it many times–“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your “plans.”

    I was supposed to take my husband to his doctor, about 100 miles away, this afternoon. The dr. was sick and canceled his appointments, so instead I got a haircut, eye exam . . . and returned MY doctor’s call in which the nurse informed me I had ANOTHER abnormal pap smear, so I’ve also now scheduled an appointment with a GYN and learned more about abnormal pap smears and a procedure called a colposcopy, than I ever wanted to know . . .

    God bless YOU, Renee’, for taking your changes in plans in stride and being willing to bless the people that God put into your life, even unexpectedly.

    Shelly Burke
    http://www.shellyburke.net

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