Busted plans

I got up yesterday morning intending for it to be another typical day -- me and my husband off to work and the girls off to school. That plan was interrupted by the knock on my bathroom door as I was taking my shower. A wan little face appeared in the crack of the door, followed by the dreaded words, "My tummy hurts."

A month ago I would have greeted those words with dismay but would have taken them in stride. But five weeks into my seven-week temporary job, I didn't really want to hear those words. My perfectly ordered day where I would go to work, pick up my girls and two of their friends after school, supervise homework, eat dinner and take my oldest to soccer practice imploded before my eyes.

This was also our first experience with a sick kid and two jobs. We had to quickly figure out who was staying home for how long, inform the neighbor that I coudn't watch her kids after school like I had promised and work out who would take my oldest to soccer practice so the sick child didn't have to go out. It all worked out, but it got me to thinking about planning.

Plans are a good thing. They give us direction and organization in our lives. Some people like plans more than others. We all know people who have a hard time coping when their plans have to change. Maybe you're one of those people who have a panic attack when plans go awry. Then there are those people who never have a plan and seem to fly through life by the seat of their pants. These people drive the planners crazy, and the planners drive the non-planners crazy, as well.

Whether you are a planner or not, you need to keep in mind that we can make plans but we always need to be open to God changing those plans. If we become so stuck in our plans that we refuse to change course when God asks us to, we will miss opportunities to serve God and be blessed by Him. Sometimes God will ask you to make a big change -- like selling everything you own and bringing clean water to the people of Belize. Other times He might ask you to make a small change -- like cancelling your plans for the evening to spend time with a broken-hearted child. Whatever He asks you to do, don't be so tied to your plans that you can't make a detour when God asks. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us of this as it says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." And Proverbs 19:21 states "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

Help your kids to be open to God's leading in their lives:

  • Talk with your kids about what they have planned for their day. Start asking them how they would change their plans if their friend got hurt or someone in their class needed help. Point out that having a plan for the day is a good idea, but God sometimes puts people in our paths that need our help and that requires a change in plans.
  • Give your child a task to plan -- it can be a party, an activity or just the schedule for the day. After they have it all planned, throw a kink in the works -- you're double-booked, you can't afford the event, you need to add extra people. See how your child handles the change. Talk with her about alternative options and point out the benefits of those options. Help your child understand that just because her plans got messed up doesn't mean it's the end of the world -- there are blessing to be had in all the options.

Children who can adapt to a changing situation are much more likely to be able to see where God is working and join Him there. They won't be so tied to their own plans that they can't change what they are doing to join God in His work. God's plan is always better than our own plans, even though it may not seem that way at first.

And the blessing in yesterday's busted plans? I got to spend the afternoon and evening with my youngest watching TV and snuggling -- and that's worth way more than three hours of missed work.