Three years ago, I loved my planner because I could schedule and plan and look forward to things I would do on a certain day. And if things surprised or interrupted or delayed or completely changed my plans I tended to.... freak out. It was stressful and upsetting and was guaranteed to be the fastest way to put me in a bad mood. It's true - ask Kevan, or any of my college roommates!
Moving into full-time international relational ministry has been very good medicine... the kind of medicine that took some time to adjust to, and still threatens to make me wrinkle my nose, squirm, or gag on occasion. But I've noticed that the occasions are getting fewer and farther between. I'm settling more and more comfortably into a new way of looking at my to-do lists: Make a list and have a plan, but write it down in pencil, and have a good eraser handy.
My international friends like to come early, come late, not come at all, come unannounced, come alone, or come with the family. And I've made some dear American friends here who have international hearts and minds, too. So I always start out with a plan for people who will come over or people I will visit, and by the end of the day, it seems I've had entirely different interactions... usually resulting in another soggy bag of tea in an empty teapot and some new homemade international food wrapped in foil in my fridge.
When people casually ask me what I'm doing in the coming week, I've started smiling and shrugging and saying, "Well, we'll find out, won't we!" And you know why I am really ok with this outlook now? Because as I look back on the notes I make in my planner after the day is done, I realize that what happened tended to be more exciting, more interesting, and more beautiful than my original plan - it's even more obvious over longer periods of time. It's like God glances over my to-do list and says, "Well that looks all right, but I have a better idea..." And he always does.
Last night, Hannah and I ended up at the home of some of our Burmese friends. Every other plan we'd tried to make all day had fallen through, and they came to mind, so we called them and they said to come on over, so we just did. When we got there, their dad made us coffee with sweetened condensed milk, and Thet Thet made us dinner - rice, sour bamboo, okra, shrimp, and cabbage. We sat around their table for a couple hours, just talking and laughing and eating, and we got to pray with the kids before we left. On our way home, I thought that, for all the things we had hoped to do that day, I am so glad that God cleared our schedules for some time with this family.
Back to my "planner"... I like it much better, writing down God's plan - the things that actually happened. I'd rather look back on my calendar and see, not all the things I did or didn't do, but all the great things He has done.