When You Have to Go With Plan B

Seven swimsuit-clad children (and their parents) were filled with great anticipation on this unofficial last day of summer. The weather was fully cooperating as the kids woke from their “cousin sleepover”. We had celebrated Caleb’s birthday the night before and the guys had spent about an hour making extensive and detailed plans for the following day at the beach–including rendezvous times and places for those in the boat, those in the kayaks, and those arriving by car.

Papa, Sam, Uncle Kevin, and Uncle Gus had left for the ocean at the crack of dawn (almost) to kayak and fish. The girls and children had arranged to meet them later at Cranes Beach, one of New England’s pristine beaches. We figured, given the Labor Day holiday and hot summer day, that we would arrive mid morning before the beach got too busy. At least that was the plan.

During the fifty minute car ride to the beach we all anticipated the sand, the water, the lunch and all the fun that lay ahead. That is, until we were about a half  mile from the parking lot and were met by a police officer facing a long line of cars. He informed us that the lot for the beach had been closed since early morning and there was no longer beach access. As we explained our situation, the officer added that it would be absolutely impossible for us to meet anyone who was already on the ocean in a boat, and we would need to turn back.LOT FULL (4)

Carefully contrived Plan A was no longer an option. We had been so detailed with the whole thing but didn’t anticipate this obstacle. Disappointment began to hover over the three cars filled with  moms, Nana, and the children.

Fortunately, Uncle Kevin was reachable by phone and suggested Plan B. He advised us to go to a particular street and wait for the boat. Amazingly, this remote little boat launch lot had free parking places (compared to the pricey parking at our planned spot.) Kevin was able to reach Captain Papa, slip out of the kayak onto the boat and direct him to this new arrival spot where seven sweaty but eager children and their moms (perhaps also a little sweaty) waited.20150907_102816

We traveled (taking two trips) to a remote spot which was sparsely populated as it was not able to be reached by land. It was the perfect place to spend the day. We played in the sand, swam, ate and had such a fun family day together. The guys kayaked by our Plan A site, which was wall to wall (or grain of sand to grain of sand) with people. Plan B far surpassed our foiled Plan A.IMG_3337

Isn’t that the way life often happens?  We carefully make our plans, yet unforeseen circumstances thwart those plans and force us in a different direction. We have dreams, and they don’t get fulfilled the way we “dreamed” they would happen. When these obstacles happen we have a choice. We can become disappointed and disoriented, which is normal. We can then inquire of God for “new plans and dreams” and trust that the places he takes us (Plan B, C, D…or ?) are where we need to be. Or, we can choose to become angry and embittered that “our” plans and dreams are no longer possible.

I’m particularly inspired of late by my husband’s attitude. Having been an active and athletic man throughout his life, a recently developed neuropathy has affected his balance, making many things he was once able to do difficult if not impossible. While it’s not our plan, unless God decides to change this situation it brings us to many Plan B’s.Throughout our lives circumstantial and relational changes often bring about plan changes.

When confronted with a “lot full–turn back”message on our journey, trust is of utmost importance. God does not forget us, and in his plans for us always acts out of love–even when it does not feel that way. Ultimately, we can decide to trust God’s plans–or trust ourselves more while trying to force our wills. When we surrender to God’s plans, we can be confident that God’s plan is much better than our own, even if we can’t fully see it within our lifetime.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD‘s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.  Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. Psalm 31:14-16 (NIV)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

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  1. abbasshoulders

    Love this! We live by the beach and we have learned about these plan B places as well! Cute pictures! Love this post!!

  2. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    Oh, Jeanie! This affirms so much of what my family has been walking through. I just posted the following to social media:
    “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD‘s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
    I spent the past year learning this afresh, and despite how hard it was to let go of my own plans at times, I can see the footsteps of God when I yield. Little Man (my 9 year old with anxiety and other disabilities) is doing unbelievably well right now. I’ve walked with God when he was, and I’ve kept walking with Him when he wasn’t doing well. But His footsteps have led us out of a dark place, and I would never want to put my foot anywhere else but in the already tread footprint of My Father Who Art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name.

    Tweeting and pinning! Thank you! Your fellow Bostoner.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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