Monday, August 18, 2014


When I was much younger - a schoolgirl living at home - I wanted to grow up to be a veterinarian and a writer. Hey, James Herriot did it, right? I loved animals, I loved reading and writing, and I thought I could weave those two interests together into a career that provided personal satisfaction and financial security.

That was Plan A.

Two years into a Chemistry/Pre-Vet degree, I married a young Marine and began a life of bouncing from duty station to duty station. Nix Plan A. But that was okay, because my red-headed Jarhead and I were madly in love. We were embarking on Plan B:  happily ever after.

Thirty something years and countless twists, turns, and adjustments later, I can't remember what plan we're on - Plan W? Plan Z? This journey has been a great deal of "happily" and also a great deal of "not-so-happily." As best as I can tell, we're only half-way to "ever after," so we still have yet to see how that plays out.

I had intended to be financially secure well before my present age of 50. Instead, we're still struggling to scrape together enough money for this week's groceries. I had intended to be a best-selling author, writing books that made people all over the world laugh and cry, books that challenged and encouraged readers. Instead, I'm writing books about menopausal women who burst into tears for no apparent reason and who talk to an invisible friend. I intended to be madly and passionately in love with my husband, planning romantic trysts and sharing new adventures together. Instead, we are just barely hanging on, hoping sweet memories from the past will sustain us through this present desert until we reach a new season of refreshment.

What happened to all those plans?!

At a women's ministry workshop back in the spring, something Connie Miller shared with the group struck me in a powerful way. Connie commented that - God has no Plan B. With God, it is all Plan A.

We have a Plan A, of course, and we get frustrated when our Plan A is forced to give way to Plan B, and then Plan C, and then Plan D. We become frustrated, disappointed, weary. But, Connie explained, all of this...this life... is part of God's Plan A for us.

Yes, it is hard to let go of our own dreams and plans and expectations, but we can rest in the confidence that God is indeed accomplishing in us and in our lives just exactly what He set out to do. He really is orchestrating every single event in my life for my good. God is all-wise, He is sovereign, and He loves me very much - I can be assured that His Plan A is the very best plan of all, far better than my own Plan A/B/C...

Plan A.

Leaving the workshop where Connie spoke, I started thinking backward, thinking about all the failures, all the hurts and disappointments, all the dreams - realized and unrealized, all the unexpected twists and turns in my life. I tried to think of each event and circumstance with the new perspective of "Oh! So this was Plan A."

Never finishing college because of all the moves we made? That was God's Plan A for me. Six babies in seven years? I was so exhausted, so overwhelmed! It was God's Plan A. The broken relationship, all the tears and heartache? That wasn't some sad, unfortunate accident. It was Plan A.

And in all of these things - things I would never have chosen for myself, things I could have never predicted - in all of these situations, God has taught me so much about himself, about myself, about how much he loves me. He has broken me and he has made me stronger. He has given me assurance and security and hope.

Yes, God's Plan A is sometimes hard, and sometimes it hurts, and often it doesn't line up with our own plans. But it is a good plan - the best plan! - and it absolutely never fails.

Helen and I were driving to a meeting a couple of weeks ago. We left the house a little later than I had intended (circumstances beyond our control), and then we got stuck behind a farm truck that drove 40 miles per hour all the way in to Troy...putt, putt, putt. Then, between Troy and the middle of nowhere, I realized that the gas tank was dangerously close to empty - no gas stations anywhere close, no money to pay for gas if there had been, and no cell phone reception to call for help. I was definitely feeling a bit stressed.

When I noticed that the gas tank was on empty, I groaned. "Oh, great!" I commented sarcastically.

Sitting next to me in the passenger seat, Helen just looked at me and said calmly, "Plan A, Mom."

Helen was at the workshop with Connie, too. And we - Helen and I - have adopted this new code word: "Plan A." Translation:  "God has got this. This isn't what you were planning/expecting, but God has totally got this under control."

"Plan A, Mom." It's a challenge to step back, take a deep breath, let go of my own expectations, and think, "Oh, so this is Plan A! What does God have for me in this? What is he teaching me? How will he use this to grow me or to encourage someone else?"

"Plan A, Mom." With God, there is no Plan B. God only has Plan A. And that, my friends, comforts me greatly.

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