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Posts Tagged ‘plans’

I knew how when I was nine.  I couldn’t whistle; I’d just learned to blow bubbles with my gum; I was well on my way to writing in cursive.  And I knew how to make plans with friends.  Maybe I picked it up from my older-and-wiser-at-age-ten friend, Esther.  After church we would make arrangements to spend the afternoon together.  We agreed on the idea.  We figured out whose house would host and whose car would carry.  Parental permissions gained, we would join up for a splendid afternoon, and maybe even a sleepover! 

 

Maybe it is because I learned when I was only in the third grade, that I assumed everyone knew how to plan a get-together with a friend.  (This is not to be confused with giving an invitation, which is rather more independent and usually requires more notice or more familiarity.) But after years of experience, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe people need to be taught these things, and maybe many people around me have never learned.

 

So here it is.  A how-to (a composition skill acquired about the same time of life) on making plans.  

 

There are generally two ways that people can agree that an appointment must be made: either an authority tells them to spend time together or the people themselves express a desire for the company.  The first step is to reach agreement on this point.  After that it is necessary to establish a few of the essentials: the purpose of the meeting and who all is to be involved.

 

Sometimes the purpose of the meeting determines the location and limits the times.  If I am attending a concert, the time and place are set.  If we’re meeting for Chick-fil-a, we’ll have to meet there, and at a time when the restaurant is open.  Take this information into the next step.

 

Take initiative and tell your friend which of the times and days (inside of limitations if applicable) you are available.  I find it is less of a hassle to give a list of possible dates and times, so that my friends don’t feel like they’re rejecting me if they can’t make the first time I suggest.  They get to select from my list which time is best for them.

 

For most occasions, there will be some overlap of availability.  The procedure should be fairly simple: one person lists availability and the other person selects one.  It is not necessary for the second person to respond with a list of times that might work for them; it is their turn to make the decision.  The exception to this rule is if there are more people whose schedules are being coordinated.  In those situations, usually everyone supplies their schedules and one person (usually the instigator of communication) tries to find one good time for everyone.

 

One more exception is when schedules conflict.  Here is where things get tricky, depending on how busy you and your friends are.  If your friend does not have any overlapping availability, they can proceed in a few ways.  Either they can cancel altogether, or they can appeal your list of dates – suggesting an alternative time you hadn’t mentioned.  At this point hopefully they have already evaluated whether their schedule is flexible.  So they may also offer to change something in their schedule, but say that they prefer to see if something else will work with you.  You decide which things on your calendar might be moved, and respond to your friend’s alternative.

 

If a meeting location hasn’t been predetermined, now is the time to do that.  You might want to include your suggestions with the initial communication.  Again, it is usually the job of the second friend to make the decision.  With close friends, it is acceptable for the second friend to admit that they prefer some place not listed, and then to get the first friend’s consent or to discuss together the reasons, pros, and cons of the various options.  If a discussion needs to happen, you may want to do this in person or talking on the phone.  Otherwise, it usually works well to write schedules if you are not in the same place when you’re planning.

 

Wrap up with a few details.  Will one of you be picking up the other one?  Where?  What time?  Should you bring anything (money, for example) or dress in a particular way?

 

An oft-overlooked important detail is to make a plan in case something changes at the last minute.  Usually this can be done with a simple statement: “We can call each other if anything comes up.  Do you have my number?” It is popular now to text as well.  Email, Facebook, and the Postal Service are less useful for improvisations.  Another option is to tell each other at the point of making plans, what you will do if you don’t do what you have agreed on: for example, in case of rain, meet at the gazebo instead of the park bench.

 

I don’t think it is usually required, but if the plans are made much in advance, sometimes it is nice to arrange a confirmation call or text.

 

Do you have any special tips, or good things to keep in mind when making plans?

 

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn

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In a couple weeks I am planning to go on a weekend roadtrip with a friend.  This being January, and living in the blizzard-prone midwest, I am praying already for good weather.  (You can join me praying for good weather, too.)  My excitement over this trip is such that I’m rather worried about the disappointment a weather cancellation could bring. 
While pondering these facts in church this morning (not because I was distracted, no-o, but because church is relevant to real life), I decided that if the weather changed my plans, I would delight in what God does have for me that weekend.  See, the weather is quite out of my control or yours, and it is my belief that whatever not in my control is particularly in God’s.  (This is only a way to look at the world, because I believe that God is in control of everything; but I must take responsibility for my stewardship of the things over which I have “control.”)  So weather is a gift from God.  Every gift that comes down from above is good.  God works all things together for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. 
So weather is God’s good gift to me.  I often feel that way.  I could lie back on the ground and watch wisps of fine vapor float over a few stars at a time, contrasting the sharp clarity of the uncovered stars with the pearly veiled stars.  Or there is the brilliantly blue sky deepened and darkened by scattered enormously tall cumulous, filtering out the sunlight to let us glimpse the midnight color of the sky by the light of day.  While out sledding over the Christmas holidays, I lay back in the foot-deep snow, crossed my arms beneath my head, and watched the currents blow geese across the wind-swept sky. 
If the weather alters my plans, I can only conclude that is because God’s plans were so much better.  Whenever God doesn’t give me something I deeply want, I’m almost excited, because it means He has something else – some other course for me.  His ways are always better than my ways. 
Weather.  Lightning.  Rain.  Snowflakes.  Clouds.  Fog.  Wind.  Sunshine.  God’s gifts. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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It’s January, and the only reason I’m bringing this up is to immediately draw some relevance to your life.  In January the custom is to make at least one New Year’s resolution, something you’re intending to accomplish or change in the upcoming twelve months.  Have you ever made a resolution that was not fulfilled, through no fault of your own?  

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9 

“There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” ~ Proverbs 19:21 

About eight weeks ago I saw the movie Bella.   “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 That day I had a list of things to do a mile long.  The theater I chose was across town, the one offering the cheapest tickets. (Even though we only broke even for gas, I like to exercise my rights as a capitalist and boycott expensive movie tickets.) By the time we got across the city, we were about ten minutes early. But being out of our neighborhood, we didn’t know where the theater was. I saw one on the left side of the street; Mom turned right.

Finally I explained I saw the sign across the street, so we made it over there. Like a theater ashamed of its existence there was no marquis. We parked and went in, but did not see Bella listed. Sighing, I asked the cashier, “There’s another theater across the street in the mall, isn’t there?”

Back in the car, we returned to the exact spot we had accidentally visited earlier, but still there was no theater in sight. You know how malls work, though; you can start anywhere and get anywhere, especially in this one, which has a shortcut through the food court. So we parked. I hurried in and analyzed the map while Mom followed. At this point the listed start time of the movie was already upon us. I found the theater on the directory and took off in the direction, hoping my recent venture into map-reading would pay off.

The whole race I was coaching myself, “God knows what He’s doing, Lisa. This is for a reason. Relax.” Finally through the mall and across a little drive, we entered the theater, bought our tickets, and were at last standing just inside the door for screen 12. And everything was pitch black. The movie was just starting. Once there was a little more light, we found our seats and heard the line, “…tell God your plans.”

Hang with me, I’m not done. About twenty minutes into the movie the entire screen went black. Small fluorescent emergency lights began to flash and a calm voice informed us that an emergency had been reported in the building; everyone should move toward the exit. Outside we moved back across the little drive.

My brother has this laugh and dance he does when life is so unbelievable. Rosalee on Win a Date with Tad Hamilton says, “Yikesabee.” I sit down and watch with a smile ready to burst into a laugh. Some people say, “You just can’t make stuff like this up.”

In the end we got free movie passes for anytime, any in the family of theaters, with no expiration date or restriction – and we got to finish our movie after a mere 15 minute intermission. I would have been fine if they carried sodas and popcorn to us on trays, but then they were already over the top on customer service.

That day God was driving home a point.  Maybe I needed to lighten up, to laugh at surprises, to recognize that He is in control and I’m not, to trust that He is in control, and to be at rest with that.  In fact, that is pretty much the way I’ve learned to live life.  I learned because the Bible teaches all those things; in fact I’d say it emphasizes the need to submit our plans to God.     

Look at the parable Jesus told in Luke 12:16-33.  Remember, it’s a story.  Pretend you’re reading what happened to your uncle last week.  What reactions do you have to the word “fool”?   

Mark Schultz wrote in a song, “I’ve dreamed my dreams; I made my plans.  But all I’ve built here is an empty man.”  The word fool, that God used in the parable, makes me think of emptiness.  The rich man was only an empty man.  Jesus called His disciples to something better.  What was it?   

How many of your decisions are made based on the concerns Jesus said to give no thought?  Do you encourage your husband, or your kids, or your friends and family to gauge their decisions by those things?  What does Jesus teach about God in this passage?  

Next time you find yourself thinking about those things, ask yourself what part of God’s character you’re doubting.  Is He unable to take care of you?  Does He love sparrows and lilies more than you?  Does He not know your needs?  Does He not want to take care of you?  Does He want you to make those decisions?  Now?   

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” ~ Psalm 32:8-11  

Psalm 32:8-11 compares the kind of faith God is looking for with a life of utter dependency.  God is not expecting us to never think of the future; He wants us to make decisions.  But He wants them made by His wisdom, even when we have ideas of our own.  What is possible when we trust God?   

James brings up a twin aspect of the foolishness from which Jesus taught about faith: James talks about pride, assuming like the foolish man that we know what will happen and can control our futures.   

“Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” ~ James 4:13-17  

What happens when we spend so much time planning our future?  Is there something else we should be doing?  

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing this lesson everywhere I look.  God’s plans, not our plans.  Again and again.  Not only am I seeing the truth of this; I’m seeing the vastness of God’s plans.   

“Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” ~ Psalms 33:1-22 

Also these past few weeks I’ve been reading a book on chess.  Do we have any math geniuses in the room?  Has anyone heard the legend of the chess board and the rice grains?  Does anyone know how many board positions are possible on the 64-square, 32-piece chess board?  I guessed you wouldn’t.  I’m not sure I can even read it properly, but I’m going to try.  This is from The Immortal Game p.68-70:

“It all starts out so simply: in the first move, White is limited to twenty options…  Black has the same twenty possible moves with his first response…  there ar eactually 400 possible board positions in herent in those moves.  That’s because for every one of White’s twenty moves, Black’s response can lead to twenty separate positions…

“…the total number of distinct board positions after the second complete move (two moves per player) is – you’ll have to trust the number crunchers o nthis – 71,852.  

“…After three moves each, the players have settled on one of approximately nine million possible board positions.

“Four moves each raises it to more than 315 billion…

“The total number of unique chess games is… in scientific notation, 10120 

“… In conversational English, it is a thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion games.”   

I read that passage and something struck me.  God is working on a board the size of the universe, and He has billions of pieces at any given moment.  I don’t think we have numbers to express all the possible combinations that entails.  But God knows when each sparrow falls; He has a plan for every individual.  Out of all the possibilities, there is one that will happen.  Wow.  How great is our indescribable God!   

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-11 

God doesn’t give us problems in which there is insufficient information to find an answer or make a decision.  He likes us to know how the world works.  One good Law of the Universe to keep in mind is in Isaiah 55:6-11.  What is the difference, according to this passage, between our thoughts/plans/ways, and God’s?  I would say the difference is that God’s plans always happen  

Jeremiah 29:11 was preached originally to the Israelites.  What does it tell us about God’s plans?  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11  

Is God out to get us?   

We all remember Romans 8:28, that all things will work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.  Again: God works things out.  God wants good.  God called us.  God will accomplish His purposes.  When God makes a resolution, it cannot fail to be kept.   

So how should we live?  Luke and James warn us against worrying about and planning over our futures.  Psalms forbids us from being like animals, which are so dumb that they need to be dragged wherever their master wants them to go.  There must be another way to live.  All of the books mentioned it.   

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”  ~ Proverbs 16:3 

John records Jesus’ words to Nicodemus about this different sort of life.  Chapter 3 verse 8 says, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”   

2 Corinthians 5 is not alone when it commands Christians to walk by faith.   

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:6-9  

What is the motivating factor of the life Paul describes?  Where does a Christian’s confidence come from, if he never knows where he is going (as in John 3)?  Did Paul plan to live his life walking by faith?  What did Paul plan as a young man?   

What did you plan?   

By the end of Paul’s life, he had discipled successors, spread the gospel, led churches, written part of the Bible, and stood before kings.  How did Paul get from what he planned to those things?   

When Paul was saved after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, did he understand: we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians), or God works all things together for good (Romans), or God shall supply all your need (Philippians)?  

Philippians, perhaps one of Paul’s most personal and mature letters, contains Paul’s confessions that he learned.  (Philippians 4:11) He didn’t hit perfection and run on through life without any problems.  But he pressed forward.  (Philippians 3:12-13)  He learned in whatever state he was, to be content.  And because he knew who God was, and believed those things, Paul could rejoice.   

How has God taught you to walk by faith?   

Are you empty?   

I am overwhelmed by the possibilities for my life, for one piece, and the implications for those around me.  No wonder people go crazy.  No wonder humans end their own lives, especially if they don’t acknowledge that God is directing this world.  A philosopher once said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe, or we are not.  Both are equally terrifying.”  The terrifying God of power and wrath and holiness relates to us in grace proportional to His awesome understanding and might.  He is a God worth trusting in a life that cannot be peacefully lived any other way.  

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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