Tag: plan b

Thriving in a Plan B Life

The other day I wanted to throw something.  Or have a pity party that would involve eating lots of Patticake (from YUM!) with Cookie Dough ice cream.

And I couldn’t figure out why.

Until the late afternoon when it hit me.  I was cranky because I felt out of control.

Can you relate?  Maybe just a little bit?

You’ve had days like this when you were planning an outside activity and it’s minus seventy billion degrees,

and a friend who’s made a commitment to be somewhere backs out,

and a kid gets sick, and that thing that was promised is late,

and people don’t realize how lucky they are to have you around.

Big stuff and little stuff can throw us.

A lost job.

A freak accident.

Public criticism

Bottom line?  You feel powerless and you feel like you’re living a Plan B life, and you don’t like it.

Not one bit.

It feels like everyone else in the universe has power and they’re using it to wreck your day.  Can I get an “Amen!”?

But what if…

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Worst. Parents. Ever.

Do you ever feel this way? Like you must be the worst parents ever?

Do you feel like you’re perpetually living a Plan B Christmas? Like NOTHING is going right?

Amazon was out of the Syma S107 Remote Control Helicopter so your child will probably have to be in therapy because they will be warped – devastated by disappointment, and labeled with a huge L.

You ran out of time, so instead of homemade cookies for the Christmas pageant reception you ran through Target to scoop up some store-bought ones, which actually took you an hour and 17 minutes (almost as long as it would have taken you to bake them).

Decorating the Christmas tree was supposed to be a fun family activity, but your 4-year-old swooped around the tree in his superman costume and knocked off two of the heirloom ornaments from your mother, breaking them into tiny pieces which the dog immediately ate. You’re still cleaning up glittery dog vomit.

You’re not alone.

Have you ever thought that maybe Mary and Joseph felt like the worst parents ever?

Trying to adapt to a Plan B life, they’ve absorbed the loss of a traditional wedding and “It’s a Wonderful Life” family.

Now they’ve had 9 months to adjust to the news that Mary is growing, you know… GOD in her womb, and like any expectant parents they’re probably nervous but preparing to do their best.

Maybe Joseph has made a cradle. Maybe Mary’s mom is ready to come and help out when the baby arrives. They probably have a PLAN for Pete’s sake!

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I’m guessing that walking 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census was not part of their plan.

What do you think they felt as they traveled? Did their fear of the unknown come out sideways in anger or impatience with each other? Did their out-of-controlness in the big things cause them to be controlling with each other in the little things?

Maybe Mary figured that since she was carrying royalty, God would alert others in Bethlehem and someone would put her up in a beautiful home. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Did they hope that at least Plan B would include a modest room and a little privacy?  No luck there either.

In the stable – stinky, dirty, crowded, what were they thinking? Were they feeling like the worst parents ever?

We can’t know the anguished labor pains that may have come from Mary, or the desperate pleas that Joseph may have given for help because they aren’t recorded.

Did they felt confidently carried in the will of God, or did they felt panicky, like when company shows up early and you’re not ready?

What we do know is this. They did what they could. They accepted the unexpected with commitment and creativity. And that’s all we can do as parents.

“Help” is a prayer that is always answered. It doesn’t matter how you pray–with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing. Churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors. Years ago I wrote an essay that began, “Some people think that God is in the details, but I have come to believe that God is in the bathroom.” – Anne Lamott

God is with you. In the dirty stable, or the bathroom or when you think you’re going to lose it with your mother-in-law.

You aren’t the worst parent ever. But you’re not the best parent ever either, because He is.

 

The Lyrics to a Plan B Christmas

It was a Plan B Christmas moment. And an emotional one. Our church staff and spouses gathered around the piano singing Christmas carols.

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I was transported back to my childhood when every year we had the tradition of gathering at my aunt and uncle’s house with relatives young and old. After dinner at the looooong table stretched with many leaves and augmented with card tables attached, we’d move to the piano.

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Today, at least four people are missing from this picture including my brother. Maybe your pictures are missing some people this year too. It’s a Plan B Christmas.

Now here’s the thing. I come from a musical family. We had cousins and uncles playing french horn, trumpet, trombone. My grandfather played the violin. Aunts and cousins played the piano. I think for a few years there was a flute thrown in. Maybe an oboe.

I had nothing to add but my barely adequate voice added to those who were able to actually, you know… harmonize. (That’s me in the middle back in holiday pigtails 🙂 )

But I didn’t need a song sheet. I know virtually every word of every carol in the book. (Yes, even Angels From the Realms of Glory). The Christmas lyrics are part of my faith vocabulary, because my family sang them over me, and into me, and with me.

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When we’re tempted to get caught up in our Plan B story, Christmas lyrics remind us of THE Story – the bigger one we’re a part of. Continue reading

How do we Live a Plan B Christmas?

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at a women’s event in the Chicago area. As I prepared, I felt prompted to speak on kind of a strange topic for Christmas: Fear.

AKA worry, anxiety, angst, hot messiness…

The shepherds, Mary, Joseph, Zechariah… To each of them an angel says, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. Don’t. be. afraid.”

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It’s the most often repeated command in the Bible so I’m thinking there must be a lot of people dealing with it, right?

Fear is a weird emotion to associate with Christmas, but as I reflect on the shepherds, Mary, Zechariah and Joseph, it isn’t “CHRISTMAS” they are experiencing; it’s just LIFE – their ordinary, everyday walking around life.

And they lose any illusion of control, any illusion of “life as we know it” the moment an angel shows up, right?!!

LIFE isn’t going according to their plans.

They are living a life interrupted.

They are forced to adapt to a Plan B life.

The Plan B life may not be as safe, or predictable, or comfortable, or boring as they’d like, because there are new circumstances. But more than that, there’s a new character in their story. The main character has arrived; the messiah cleverly disguised as a baby in the muck and mess of a manger.

How many of us are living our Plan A life? Really.

  • You thought you’d have your dream job by now and you don’t.
  • You thought you’d be pregnant and you’re not.
  • You thought you’d he’d live and but he died.
  • You thought you’d be married by now and you’re not.

Plan B. Life is not going as we thought. Or hoped. Or dreamed.

But the main character, a baby has entered our Plan B life to be with us; to redeem and restore and make the story come out right in the end. 

Aaaannnd…spoiler alert: Love wins.

But how do we get from the fear or anxiety that comes with Plan B to the joy promised to all of us? Continue reading

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