Monday, October 22, 2012

When Your Plan Tanks & the Day Seems Ruined

The email was sent early last week complete with bolded points for travel arrangements, hotel and dinner reservations, and conference details.  Some might call me uber Type A.  I prefer “organized.” J

On Thursday, when the first vehicle for my group left, I was confident they would know where to be, when.  I was a part of the Friday crew with additional personal plans to meet Sheila Walsh Saturday AM.  Everyone’s I’s were dotted and T’s were crossed.  This Women of Faith group leader was prepared.
As I packed my bag, I reviewed the girls’ schedule with my hubby and double checked emails for my staff appreciation PTA co-chair role as well as room mom responsibilities for my two school age girls.  This is what planners do.

After an incredible first night of worship my head hit the pillow late but raring to go for Saturday.  My mom’s cell phone alarm was set.  My girls’ favorite Gigi book was in my purse.  My spirit was eager to absorb the conversations and messages to come.
“Melissa, wake up.  It’s 7:45”

Though still completely groggy, my adrenaline threw me into panic mode and I flew out of bed.  A phone alarm fail plus comatose-like sleep due to the absence of my teething baby left me fighting for time.

Booking it to the Xcel Center at a pace that could seriously have won me Olympic speed walking gold, I hoped against all hope that Sheila would still be there.  But, when I arrived, all I saw was empty space.
I melted down the wall and buried my head in my hands - warm tears of shock, sadness, shame, failure streaming down my face.

HOW could you have done this?  Sheila personally made a plan with you and you didn’t show.  Why did you rely on a phone when you could’ve gotten a wake up call?  How can you effectively plan for others when you can’t even get all your own scheduling right?  You failed yourself, Sheila, and your kids.  Opportunity over.
“Melissa?”  The voice of my friend Jess surprised me and my cheeks pinked up with embarrassment.  I was, after all, a 30-something woman crying by the elevator.  Classy.

My mind raced as I searched for words to explain myself.  After nine years of taking groups to WOF, I've come to describe Sheila like an onion.  Each year she peels back more layers of her story, growing sweeter in the process.  Initially I appreciated the way her powerful messages and unique ability to envelope the broken-hearted in God’s grace resonated with me.  But, since that time, I’ve become a mother to three precious girls, and she’s profoundly touched my children.

Her “Gigi: God’s Little Princess” line is without question their favorite and at an age where many girls believe princesses to be ashen, made up characters requiring a “true love's kiss” they KNOW they ARE princesses because they are daughters of the King. 

Every day (And that's no joke. It started today at 7:40am) I watch them pick up the many books and choose the delightful DVDs, growing in self-confidence as Gigi illustrates God's powerful, unfailing love for them and perfect plans for their life.  The crisis pregnancy counselor in me is thankful for this clear understanding long before mean girls use bullying words and wayward boys try to murmur selfish sweet somethings in their ears.  My girls know they were made with care, are treasured beyond measure, and can be confident that His way will always be the best way largely because of Sheila's kid-friendly stories.  How can a mother fully thank for this priceless positive impact on her child’s present and future?  My sentences weren't yet formed but I was excited to move beyond electronic correspondence and finally meet in person to give it my best shot.

Sheila has been a gift to our family.
Jess, filled with grace, needed no explanation.  She only told me she’d gotten in Sheila’s line, spoken with her, and Sheila said she'd meet with me later in the day.  Eventually, I made my way down to the floor and in a very dignified way walked confidently over to the side hid myself between someone’s stroller and a garbage can along the wall.  The rule follower in me was certain security would haul me off.  This is so not going to happen.  Get back to your seat.  You failed, remember?

The buzz of my phone directed my eyes to a message glowing bright on my phone.  It was Sheila telling me to meet her stage left.  Overwhelmed by her kindness and added effort, the salty tears resurfaced.
Our moment came

And I humbly apologized. 

“I feel like I stood you up for a date.”
Her warm laugh was quickly followed by a hug and conversation about our children, the value of young ones getting such critical messages in their early years, and Barney.  Appreciation for this everyday woman with an amazing gift grew as we continued to chat female to female, mom to mom.

“It’s probably a good thing it turned out this way,” she added before parting ways.  “It gave us more time together.”

She fulfilled my girls’ wish
(Can you tell this book has been well loved on?)
And I gave her one more hug before returning to my assigned seat. J

As I sat down, I silently acknowledged the Lord who'd hit me over the head with a two by four.  I got it.

We women strive to keep our lives, households, school and volunteer obligations, work and ministries in order.  And, when something doesn’t go as planned, the mentally destructive self-talk tape cues with lies that we’ve messed up beyond repair and all will cave in.
But will we continue to plunge ahead in our own energy, devastated by each mis-step and negative thought?  Or, will we loosen our grip, let Him take the lead, and consider it from the Lord’s perspective?

My plan tanked, I thought.  “My plans are better,” He whispered.  “Look at the gift I just gave you.”  


  1. I know I already told you this, but ... that's just what friends do for one another!! I was more than happy to help out - knowing how much you had been looking forward to meeting Sheila and having her sign the book for the girls. And see, you didn't even have to deal with the "crazy-over-the-top-guards-who-by-NO-means-were-to-allow-POSED-pictures"!!!!! Ha!! ;)

    HIS plans, by far, outweigh what ours will ever be able to comprehend! He's a cool God like that! Now, if only I could call him up (I'd even settle for a text or email) and have him just give me a little hint as to what His plan is for my life!!! ;) ;)

  2. So awesome Melissa - sorry you had such the stress that morning...but love how everything came together!! And bonus having Jess around too...what a sweet girl with such a great heart for others!! I told her that some day I should come to SF and we all should hang out and have some girl time!! :)

  3. Oh, Melissa! God does teach us the hard lesons. We have shared in eachothers over the years, I am thinking. But coming from one Type A to another.... I mean "organized." :) I have learned OVER and OVER the plans I have for my life don't even hold a candle to the ones our Father has. Life is hard enough without having to live up to our own expectations, no doubt! And that is why my favorite verse has come to be, "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10. It reminds me that I am not in control, I am not God, and His plans are ALWAYS better. When I sit back and remember that, things ALWAYS turn out right! Glad your wish came true, friend. For both you and your girls!!!

  4. That is awesome!! I'm so glad (and a little jealous) that you got that time with her =) I have a special Sheila story too, and I'm happy that you got yours this year =)

  5. yay! so glad you had that moment. Yes, His plans are always better!


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