The Plans I Didn't Plan

footprints in sand
footprints in sand

Did you ever plan something and it didn’t turn out the way you planned?

I plan a lot of things. I’m sort of a “Can do, get ‘er done” type of gal. I can plan a church fellowship, a big event, or just a fun night of Mexican Train Dominoes that goes well into the next morning with my dearest friends.

This week I planned a dinner for sixteen at our home Christmas Day following what was sure to be a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service in our new church with my family and friends.

The calories were nestled all snug in my fridge. I’d shopped and baked for days to make it special for my family. The decorations were up. The presents took their place all wrapped and matching my beach-themed Christmas trees. I had planned for a special Christmas and it was special, but not special in the way I’d imagined.

Just as I stepped out of the tub to get ready for Christmas Eve, Dad called and said Mom was not doing well at all. It’s amazing how quickly you can throw it into high gear with the sound of those words. I got to their house just after the ambulance, my hair still dripping wet, and was soon headed for the hospital. Of course my makeup was done at stoplights… some things like Mary Kay training just don’t change!

As I followed the ambulance, my mind raced with how to plan for this - the what ifs, the brevity of life, the reality of aging parents, who to call, how to pray. And in that moment of crisis I returned to surrender: that prayer of relinquishment, that placing of my fear in God’s hands, that knowing that in the midst of all I can plan, it is God who directs our steps.

I love this verse about how we plan, but He directs. “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NAS

So Christmas Day was not at all how I planned. The calories await, the packages remain, but the joy of family and the feeling of special togetherness were as strong as ever. We were thankful that Mom’s mind returned and her symptoms began to subside, but with some new uncertainties in her future - some new potential risks for which our family will diligently plan. And plan as we may, we will trust in a loving God to direct our steps.

Speaking of plans. My plan was to not write a blog this week. It’s Christmas after all. Who would even read it?

But as I thought of my precious families who plan for their holidays with high-risk kiddos, I wondered how many of you had Christmases that didn’t turn out like you’d planned?

The food may have gotten cold because you were taming a sibling explosion. The present you poured so much into was met with an ungrateful comment from a child who doesn’t know how to be thankful and content. The sensory overload caused you to have to leave long before you were ready to say goodbye to those you love. Or that “oh-so-helpful” remark about your parenting stung quite deep.

Much on the journey with a child from a hard place does not go as planned. Maybe your whole adoption has not gone as planned. Mine certainly didn’t, yet as I look back over the hard years God has clearly directed our steps, taught us amazing life lessons, healed us of wounds, and led us to more quickly trust in Him.

And on a day like a Christmas spent in a hospital room - which is still tough for a young adult child who came from a hard place - I can rest in the certainty that whatever I have planned I can entrust to God, even when things don’t turn out at all like I’d envisioned. It is He who directs our steps. It is He whose love is certain. It is He who brings peace in the midst of chaos.

May your plans unfold in a well-directed path and may God hold you in the palm of His hand this Christmas season.

P.S. Don’t forget to thank Him even in the things you never planned.