better than a plan

I'll start this blog with a very true confession.... I'm a planner. Even if I have no "plans"... I have plans. From the time I turned 13 I carried a calendar in my purse and when I went to college that got upgraded to a day-to-day planner and then the quota went up to 2 after the first year (1 for plans and 1 for homework). When I'm going on a trip, I want to have a plan. If I'm staying home all day, I want to have a plan. I fooled myself for years into thinking this planning was necessary to keep my head above water and then, even worse, justified it as being intentional with my time. The last two years God has flipped all of that upside down but still it's a struggle to know when to plan and when just enjoy...
This past weekend Joel and I celebrated 6 months of marriage! When we had looked ahead at the schedule, we decided to do a day date to DC. It seemed as if all odds were against us going but my selfless and persistent husband made sure it was going to happen. I was SO excited on Sunday night as we were preparing... 1- Just to have a day away with Joel and 2- I had never been to DC before. So being the planner that I am, I naturally wanted to plan every stop with a timed out itinerary... but for many reasons I stopped myself when urge arose. Joel had been to DC on more than one occasion and I knew he knew the area better than I did; plus we both wanted a laid back day.
The plan was to leave at 7am to maximize museum and monument time because we knew it was calling for evening rainfall. Plan #1.... mission failed. We both slept through the alarm and by the time we got up it was 8.30! I thought to myself "Oh great...2 hours behind already." Part of me wanted to through out the option of not going and waiting until we had more time. But my thought process was quickly changed as soon as Joel popped up out of bed in his chipper, loving voice and said, "Get up sleepy head! We're going on a date today!" Once again I was snapped out of planner mode and reminded of why we doing the day trip in the first place. It was about spending a day away together....
After picking up breakfast and finding parking, we actually started making our journey around DC at around 11.30. As we looked at the map and decided where to go my only "plan" was to see at least 1 art museum. We were right at the Museum of Natural History when we started so we began our discoveries there.... Dead animals presented with tons of information about them is not really my thing. I thought it was something that Joel really wanted to see so we stayed for over an hour... this is when I realize that he too was disappointed and didn't care for being there any longer. As our journey went on, we saw the Museum of American History (which was my favorite of the day) and grabbed lunch in the "Stars and Stripes Cafeteria." When I looked at my phone and saw that it was already 2.45, I wanted to get moving as fast as possible. Besides we had 2.5 hrs until most of the museums closed and roughly an hour before the rain was due to arrive. We still had hopes of 1 art museum, the Holocaust Museum, and the monuments. In efforts to see some kind of art we went to the closest art museum to us... which just my luck turned out being the one filled with Asian art (no offense, not my style). But we left with information about one that stayed open until 7 (new plan). On our way to the monuments the rain started to come and we opted to go in the Hollocaust Museum before it closed. As awesome as it was, it was crazy time consuming. We were trying to read every panel to keep up with the story but about half way through we realized it was the museums closing time. By the time we exited the building it was 6pm and we stepped outside to find a torrential downpour. We bought some ponchos, bypassed the monuments, and started the 2 mile path to our car. We grabbed Starbucks for warmth on the way and arrived to our car right about 6:50. With no hope of making it to the other art museum, we drove by the monuments as slow as we could (allowing for my few touristy pictures) and headed out of the city. 
Joel over and over apologized because we didn't get to see a good art museum, because I didn't get to see the monuments, because our day got cut short by rain... but all I could think was "what a great day."  
With soaked Toms and tennis shoes,  frizzy hair, and empty stomachs we headed towards home and topped off our "perfect day" with Olive Garden, my favorite.
I think even I was slightly surprised at how much fun I had going with the flow (literally) and not planning out the whole day.
Even though the few plans I had weren't executed, the goal of the day was accomplished... a day away together.
It's something God teaches me over and over...
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand"
- Proverbs 19.21-
I don't think being a planner is a bad thing... And I definitely think being intentional with your time is a responsibility we all have. However I think the problem comes in when we think we have enough control to plan our day, week, month, year... Not only do we not have the control, but there's no fun in that. I'm sure I could have planned out some detailed schedule of our trip to DC and sure we might have made it to more museums, successfully seen all the monuments, and got a little art viewing in... but I'm certain that wouldn't have made a memory like the one I have now.
It was a good reminder that most times when the plan goes awry, it turns out more beautiful anyways. Looking back on our first 6 months of marriage, they definitely didn't go "as planned". If you would have asked in October where we'd be come May, recovering from a car accident with me getting shoulder surgery would have been nowhere in the picture. God's taught us a lot in this 6 months and I'm not sure what else is to come, but I'm certain that it will be more beautiful then my cookie cutter plan. The motto I will forever be working on: Plan... only when necessary, really neccessary.
Psalm 18.30: This God-- His way is perfect.




  1. In my life, plans almost always go awry. The good news about your trip to DC is that you are only two hours away and can easily go again. In fact, we never try to see it all, because (a) you just can't and enjoy it, (b) you can always go back, and (c) many exhibits stay the same, but some are ever changing so it makes a return more fun. Parking is a little steep, but we have a tried and true lot that is centrally located and conveniently under a Starbucks. Always pack an umbrella (for rain or shade from the beating sun) and a sense of humor. I, too, used to get wrapped up in making the most of time, dealing with the city traffic, and finding somewhere to eat, but we have been to DC about three times now and I can't wait to go again. In fact, we should all go together some time!


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