Friday, September 17, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

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Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (ESV)

In Mid-August, as the school year got under way and life started to take on something that bore a resemblance to a routine, my little brain went to work.

In order to submit my novel to the Operation First Novel contest sponsored by the Christian Writers Guild, I needed to devote all my free time, and some of my already committed time, to my manuscript.

I’m one of those Type-A, overachiever types and there’s nothing quite like setting a goal to help me rise to the challenge.

But I’m also a wife and mother. I have responsibilities other than writing. And devoting a significant portion of time to my manuscript wasn’t something to undertake without serious consideration. Because, again, as the overachieving type, once I committed, I planned to see it through.

No matter what.

So, I prayed. When I felt like it was the right thing to do, I sent out an email to a handful of friends and family, asking them to pray.

And I went to work.

The next day (I am NOT making this up) my mother-in-law broke her leg. And came to live on my couch for the next two weeks.

This was not part of my plan. Obviously, this was not part of her plan either.

I love my mother-in-law. She’s a trooper. She didn’t complain. She was less whiny than some men I know (who will remain nameless) when they have a sinus infection. And, at one point, she was wheeling around in her wheelchair as she mopped my floors (can't make that up either). She did her very best to be as helpful as possible, because, after all, she was in on the plan.

(She might not have been aware of the part of "my plan" that had included her taking my son for some quality "grandma & me" time every so often during the month of September. Which, as she can't put any weight on her leg for at least a few more weeks, obviously won't be happening.)

And this wasn’t the only thing that went “wrong”. I won’t bore you with the details but, trust me when I say several things went "wrong" within a fairly short period of time.

I hit a wall.

Why was this happening? I had prayed about this. Other people were praying. This was the right thing to do.

My sweet husband tried to settle me down with the astute observation that I could just give up on my plan. (He’s a bit of a master at reverse psychology). I let him know that despite the fact that I was, at that moment, reduced to a sobbing puddle of misery, I had no intention of bailing on the plan.

Remember, overachiever here.

I sent an email to a friend and told her that God would either have to stop the sun—hey, He’s done it before—or give me supernatural strength because there was NO WAY I would be able to finish this revision in time unless He did it.

You can already see where I’m going with this, can’t you.

The next Sunday in church, one of our pastors made the comment that sometimes God lets us run out of gas so when we get where we’re going, we have no choice but to give Him the glory.

Now, you might be expecting me to tell you I finished the revision in record time—but I’m not done. I still have 102 pages to revise/edit/rewrite.

But, here’s what God’s been teaching me.

My plan for September was to finish the revision and submit the manuscript to the contest.

God’s plan for September was for me to lean on Him. All day. Every day.

Sadly, I’m a slow learner.

My mother-in-law went home on Saturday.

Sometime on Sunday, I might have started thinking about “my plan” again. Might have even written down a little schedule that would prove that it’s possible for me to finish in time.

The school called at 10:30 on Monday morning. Once again, my plan went down the drain as I rushed to the school, then the pediatrician and then brought both my munchkins home for the day.

Very little writing goes on when both the munchkins are at home.

We’ve been in the pediatrician’s office (or at his house – it’s very handy when your pediatrician is also a friend and you have his cell number) three out of five days this week.

I’m giving up on my plan.

I know. I should have done this three weeks ago.

The new plan?

I don’t have one.

I’m taking it a day at a time. I’m staying up late to write after the house is quiet. I’m being faithful to write when I have time during the day.

Mostly, I’m trying to remember that God’s storyline is always better than anything I can come up with.

And that no matter what I plan, His purposes will stand.

Psalm 138:8 – The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (ESV)


Jeanne Doyon said...

Oh, Lynn, how perfectly you know the saga we deal with on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing your words in vulnerable style for me to relate to :)

Many of my "plans" have been thrown out the window but always, God tucks a little something in my pocket for later.



Carolyn K Knefely said...

Love your wrting style. Clear, straight forward and right out of your heart. Holding on to Psa.m 138:8 has been my life line.

But as for you,be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2Chronicles 15:7.

Uplifting blessings.

Vonda Skelton said...

Yes, I know that sometimes God must laugh at us and all the great plans we make...and then He sets into motion the things that really will happen!

You're right--we have to make our plans, but then we have to remember who is truly in control.

Thanks for sharing!