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Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are Plans Making Me?

The other day my granddaughter said to me, “Mima, did you know I have a boyfriend at school?” I blinked the astonishment out of my eyes and cocked my head with interested confusion. She’s five. I hadn’t planned this conversation until well into the future.

Her words flooded my mind with questions. The one that screamed its way to the front was “How do you know about boyfriends?” but I decided not to verbalize it just yet.

Instead, I went with “No, I didn’t know that. What’s his name?”

“I don’t know”, she responded.

“You have a boyfriend, and you don’t know his name?” I was beginning to relax.

“No, I don’t actually have him yet”, she said. “That is just what I plan to do.”

“Oh, do you have anyone in particular in mind?” I wondered.

“Not yet. But I do know a lot of boys.”

I was relieved and a bit distraught, but more than anything, I was amused. This precious child was making plans for something she knows very little about and talking as if she had already accomplished it.

“Silly girl!” I thought. But then I quickly realized, “Oh dear, I’ll bet she gets that compulsiveness from me.”

I think that way. I decide on something for my future and it’s pretty much a done deal in my head. And when I tell God my plans, His face probably looks a lot like mine did; astonished eyes, head cocked in playful dispute.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Woody Allen

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21

I really do like to have settled plans and a direction to be heading. I do not enjoy that feeling when things are ‘up in the air’. But it is one thing to make plans, and quite another to allow the plans to make me. Sometimes I get in a hurry for the future and rush out in front of the Lord. I make decisions and begin acting upon them with tunnel vision as if they were in charge.

Weekly planner: Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are the Plans Making Me?
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs

I’m working on it. God is working in me. He spoke to me about it a few years back and I wrote this little rhyme in response. It helps to read it every now and then to remind myself to ‘stay in my lane’ so to speak.

Ask Instead of Tell

I wake up in the morning, the "list" commands my day.
I quickly show it to the Lord and ask He bless my way.
He wraps His arms around me and brings me to my knees,
And lovingly requests I "let go of my plans, please".
He says "Thank you for inviting Me to join with you today,
But things will go much smoother, if we live this day My way."
Its important to remember, with my schedule I'd do well,
To take it all before the Lord and ask instead of tell!

I do believe it is ok with God – I’d even go so far as to say it is wise before God – to have direction for my future. But the key is to hold it loosely. I can make plans as long as my plans don’t make me. They are not in charge. I don’t want to be so invested that I can’t be flexible when God’s plans require a different direction than the one in which I was heading.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Corrie Ten Boom

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”

Psalm 33:11
Planner and flowers on desk: Who is in Charge of My Future? Am I Making Plans or are the Plans Making Me?
Photo by Kaboompics.com

Right now, I have 1-year, 5-year, and ‘down the line’ plans for which I am consistently laying ground work. But honestly, I don’t know if I’ll live that long or whether God has different priorities for me. If the past is any indication, He’s chuckling at what I envision, knowing how different it is from His perfect vision.

And that’s pretty exciting when I stop and think about it. The Christian life is definitely an adventure. I need to relax a bit and enjoy it more.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ 

James 4:13-15

 “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Benjamin Franklin

So far, Benjamin Franklin has been correct, but I’d narrow my declaration a bit further. The only thing I can say about my future with absolute certainty is that I’m going to see Jesus face to face. That is the joy of my salvation. I’m thankful that the one thing I know for sure is such a glorious thing.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

I want to live in such a way as to influence my granddaughter to say, “Mima, did you know I’m planning to have a boyfriend at school?”

To which I can reply, “I hope this is at least a 10-year plan! Let’s pray about it.” I’m sure boys will come and go from her life, but I consistently pray that Jesus will always have her heart.

I would love to help her make plans, but I don’t want to see plans make her – unless they are God’s plans. If He is in charge of her life, that is the best I can ask for. His plans give her the future she was created to live!

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Oh Lord, please guide me to be the example you want me to be. I desire that my plans for the future always bend to yours, and for you to always have charge over me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.”

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How to Distinguish Between Urgent and Important

The primary purpose of this blog is to douse you guys, my precious and appreciated readers, with maternal love. One way I know to do that is to share valuable things that simply make life easier. Today’s post falls along those lines. It is about time management and how to distinguish between urgent and important things in your daily schedule. If you’ve never heard this before, hold on. It could be life-changing! It has been for me.

I don’t know where I first saw this graph, or if it was presented exactly like this, but here is the concept as it has morphed over the years of use in my life:

Urgent / Important Graph
Urgent / Important Graph

There are 2 main categories on this graph,
“Urgent” and Important.

There are quotes around the word urgent on the left side because urgent things bombard us and feel time sensitive. But just because they feel “urgent” does not necessarily mean they are. So many things can seem urgent – appointments, errands, favors people ask of us, and most of all, answering the chimes and whistles of our technology.

Important items on a to-do list are, well, important. They are priority items. These are not typically the things which pop up suddenly to take your time. These are the things for which you intentionally set time aside.

Here is an example of how one of my recent days started:

Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks
Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks

The difference between “Urgent”/Important and “Urgent”/Not Important is whether the sense of urgency is based on real need.

  • For me, getting to work on a workday is both urgent (mandatory, time sensitive) and important. I also had to make sure to buy diapers, or my granddaughter would be going to sleep without that night. Yep – urgent and important!
  • On days when work is urgent/important, I list my Bible reading and exercise time as important/not urgent. I prioritize the important things on my list without concern about them being done at a certain time. Some people really are committed to do these things in the morning, and if that is you, they might be Urgent/Important.
  • Wondering about my WordPress stats and hearing junk mail ‘ding’ into my email inbox can make me antsy and therefore feel like I need to urgently attend to them. But they are not important in the grand scheme of my day. If I can get to them, I will.
  • And then there are those things which will get done eventually. I want to look for my high school yearbook because I recently reconnected with an old friend and the conversation sparked my interest. I also have a winter jacket with ink on it. But it has already gotten so warm where I live that I won’t need it cleaned for months. Not Urgent/Not Important items are things I’d like to get to during the day, but not at the expense of completing the other tasks.

The correct priority order looks like this:

Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks and priority order
Urgent / Important Graph with sample tasks and priority order

The priority order is set by the Important items, not the “Urgent” ones.

Of course, an agenda is full of moving parts, and stuff comes up – especially “urgent” things – and pieces will need to be added, moved, or removed from the list. The plan I keep at home is primarily in my head unless it gets so complicated in a day that I need to write it down. But I have recently introduced this graph to my team at work, and we keep it on a white board. We fill it out in the morning and use it as a guide all day. The white board is nice, because there are always tweaks to be made as the hours roll on.

The quickest way I’ve seen to get distracted from a plan is to let the “Urgent”/Not Important things crowd in front of the Important/Not Urgent tasks. Remember, those items give a false sense of urgency! When I visualize and/or write it down this way, I can keep it all straight. I really hope this is helpful to you! Please feel free to take it and make it your own. I didn’t make it up and I take no credit for it. But I sure am thankful for what it has helped me to accomplish. Happy productivity!