Seven Serious Game Changers When Your Plans Are a Bust

The New Year’s ball barely landed before our plans were busted. On January 1, 2018, at 5:00 in the morning, I walked my pale and feverish husband right into the emergency room.

(Image from Unsplash)

The sun wasn’t even up. My thought was, If the sun isn’t awake, no one else should be either. No one has gotten the memo on that yet.

My son Jon was home most of December with fevers, seizure recovery, and flu-like symptoms. I counted down the days to New Year’s with a thermometer in my hand. Surely, by New Year’s Day everyone would be well. Right?


On New Year’s Day we were expecting friends whom I hadn’t seen in 32 years, but sitting in an ER at 5:00 that morning, it was evident the only entertaining we would be doing was inside a quarantined home.

But wait . . . the story’s just getting started!

Dog Days

My middle son, Austin, who’d recently graduated from college, was home too. He and our German shepherd, Sherman, have all the energy of Japan’s bullet train and both needed to get outside.

With my husband resting, I curled up by the fire to read. Before finishing the first page of my new book, I heard the door open. In walked Austin followed by a very sad dog.

Austin proceeded to tell us that Sherman had seen a scampering rabbit and just HAD to chase it. However, in his dogged excitement, Sherman bounded upon the icy driveway between him and the rabbit.

Sherman isn’t a little dude; he’s big and heavy. Big and heavy things hit harder on ice than small and light things like feathers or leaves. As expected, he hit the ice full speed and his hind leg slipped, twisted, and he went down.

The day ended with a moaning dog and a motionless husband. So much for Happy New Year’s.

Hang on, There’s More

Two days later, I started running a fever. Now, this is quite humbling. Since my New Year’s expectations were thoroughly ditched, my attitude hadn’t been at its best.

Regardless, humble pie was served to me in the form of a bad case of the flu. With my husband and me down for the count, my son took the dog to the vet for X-rays. Who would have thought it . . . the dog, THE DOG, needed surgery.

By January 5, my husband’s flu had expanded into a secondary bacterial infection throughout the soft tissue of his neck. The doctor said he may need surgery.

I Googled to see if doctors and vets ever work together . . . if they offer 2-for-1 specials for surgeries.

My husband isn’t one to stay down, so he decided he’d work, in spite of this massive bacterial infection. He promised to come home if he felt ill.

Well, he sort of forgot that promise. The phone rang at noon. His work said he was not well at all and was off to the hospital in an ambulance. Literally, at the same time we got the news about Sherman’s surgery. THE SAME DAY!


(Image from Unsplash)

Bubbling Over

The hospital emergency room was loaded with hacking people wearing germ masks. Partly mad as a hornet and partly terrified for my husband, I walked the halls of the hospital to gather my thoughts.

When one is forced to sit in circumstances she never expected, a lot comes bubbling up from inside. Most of the time, we avoid facing this because we don’t like admitting what’s coming to the surface.

We don’t like facing our anger, selfishness, or the fact that we’ve been harsh with others because we didn’t get what we wanted or expected. We don’t want to admit we’ve been passive-aggressive with our family. We don’t like to fess up. Who ever said my plan or your plan is GOD’s plan anyway?

God’s memo to us is the Bible; maybe it’s best that we stick to reading that Book first. We’re still healing, which is much easier to do with a soft heart than an angry one.

And I’m certain of this one fact: this year will not unfold exactly as we planned. Something will disrupt our lives, causing the ugly parts of us to surface. What will you do? How will you respond? Here are some tips for when that happens:

  • Face with honesty and truth the feelings and emotions that surface.
  • Apologize for the times you have hurt others for not getting your way.
  • Choose to serve as if you are serving Christ, because the truth is, you are serving Christ when you serve others unselfishly.
  • If you can’t speak nicely, don’t say anything . . . you’ll regret it if you do. Ask Christ to help you reframe your thoughts and purify your desires.
  • Thank the Lord for all the ways He provides when tough times hit. Find three things of beauty in each day and thank the Lord for them—even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Be aware of your emotions; live anchored to the truth. Like thermometers, emotions reveal things stirring in us. However, we need to examine them before acting on them. When angry, don’t make an immediate choice; go for a walk, talk with a friend, journal, do something that releases the surge of energy so you can focus on truth and what is the best choice to make when you have calmed down.
  • Remember that every day of every year, God’s way is right and best; welcome it and watch Him work in and through you because of it.

Let Me Hear from You

How did your year begin? Not quite as you expected? I get it!

Which one of the seven thoughts above are you struggling with?

Will you connect with me?

I would love to walk with you in the days to come.

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26 thoughts on “Seven Serious Game Changers When Your Plans Are a Bust

  1. OMG!!! We have had the same here, only Mike and I slipped, Rosie (Mike’s sister) had a heart attack, bad kidneys and pneumonia. She needs a valve replacement, but not until the kidneys and pneumonia are better. They finally were able to do a cardiac catheter yesterday. My daughter is still using, but talking to me now! I believe she wants to detox, but she has a bad kidney infection. We rarely get to see my precious grandson and he doesn’t understand and misses us. Lots of praying going on!!

    • Jill, It is SOOOO great to hear from you! WOW-you get it and are going through it. I’m so sorry for the challenges that have continued; yet your voice sounds strong and encouraged. I can’t imagine the sadness at times over not seeing your grandson! That is beyond heartbreaking. However, God’s still writing our stories and his is part of a bigger story in you and Mike’s life. How wonderful to hear about your daughter. There is no perfect or straight path in this world; there is God who directs us in ways we would never imagine. To know there is some hope of her recovery is fantastic. Please tell Mike we said hello and would love to catch up soon. Bless you dear friend! Colleen

  2. Oh my goodness. I am thankful that I am not the only one!! I keep doing spiritual inventory like God what are you trying to teach me?
    The day after Christmas our 16 year old disappeared leaving behind a heart wrenching letter. Very long story…..helped by an atheist activist of every wicked cause wanting our very naive girl to be her trophy of a pastors daughter. For 9 days this continues and she had gotten a no contact order in court. So no communication. Thankful her brother was home from college because he began to talk to her. Through miraculous events, truly, the order was recinded by a judge who threw it out. Her brother drove her here. But our lives have forever been changed we don’t know what each day has in store. We have been on suicide watch and runaway for the last week. (That’s how our new year began)
    We seemed to have a break yesterday so we are holding on. In the midst Tabytha who is special needs along with schizophrenia has been coming back to herself. Which is the complete miracle in the midst of such tragedy.
    Sunday Jeff preached on 3 portions of scripture. I will paraphrase-Isaiah 45 who are we to question the creator the potter who sees the finished design with all the pounding and reshaping and water he adds to the clay.
    Gen 50 You meant it for evil but God intended it for good. The enemy trys to make us look at the circumstances and blame ourselves, others, the hand we are dealt, but that is all he has, the power to make us think other than God intends. He has no power to destroy or change the sovereign will of God in out lives God is over it all and allowing it. So we have victory through that knowledge. Satan and all his schemes are already defeated by a resurrected Savior.
    Romans 8 (And God) causes (All) things to work together for our good, becasue we are called according to His purpose.
    It is producing glory in our lives if we are able to grasp hold of that and hang on for dear life.
    I have had to remind myself more than once when the anger becasue of fear and disappointment and uncertainty come to the surface and they do trust me; And one of the main reasons is selfish, I don’t want this suffering to be in vain. Please Lord get as much glory as you can from all the humanness and brokenness. It has driven me to deep interceding prayer. God use the words of Jim Cymbals, like a birthing room kind of prayer. But I have had to let down my guard and allow others to pray when I didn’t even know the words just groaning quietly in sorrow. We need each other and that is not just some flippant phrase. It’s so true and when we tend to be independent, headstrong and I’ll just pull up my boots straps myself, God has to gently remind us, we need others and they need us for him to be able to get glory and others to find hope from what we are walking through. Thank u again for being transparent. I tend to want to hide.

    • Lurlene,
      OH MY GOSH….what an update. In every word, you clearly were shining in God’s presence…He is getting the glory as you tread through this heartbreaking struggle. I’m so, so sorry you had to endure the “schemes of the enemy”; you sound incredibly resolved and steadfast in the midst of it all. In fact, I’m going to pray right here… “Lord, you are a God of peace and hope; I ask you to do a miraculous work in this precious family’s life. I don’t know what that looks like but you do. I pray the powers of the enemy would be thrown into the sea, that clarity would return, that your presence would surround their home from corner to corner. Lord, the battle is real, we are not equipped to fight it alone. I ask that you invade their home with the armies of heaven, providing protection and peace; Lord, we lay surrendered at the foot of your throne knowing you know the beginning and end. Since we are human, please help us in our times of unbelief and doubt. You are so good, Lord; ;thank you for watching over them and for helping Lurlene endure. Please comfort her broken heart, allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for her, and may you be honored in and through these hard, difficult days. In the name and power of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.”
      Lurlene, God’s got you. Romans 5:3-5 comes to mind…through our problems and trials we can rejoice because we know our Lord is developing in us a spirit that endures, is strengthened, cultivates our character which leads to eternal hope. May He walk you through these muddy waters, providing you strength and hope. Please let me know how things are going-I will be praying. Colleen

      • Today this came. It’s like God saying it’s ok to rejoice even when you are grieving. He’s a Sophmore studying to be a Pastor. Greek was among his classes.

        • Lurlene,
          You are absolutely spot on! Our faith is the only reason we can rejoice in seasons of loss…we know God is writing our stories and He is to be praised. I’ve also found that when I choose to praise and worship Him in the midst of the storm, my heart is calmed and my hope is refreshed. I certainly will continue to pray and believe there’s something/someone ahead that you will minister to in an incredible way. He keeps refining us and as we praise Him, He clarifies our walk and opens doors we couldn’t ever imagine. So glad you wrote back! It’s a delight to hear how the chapter is continuing! Hang in there friend. Colleen

  3. This was a word in perfect timing and season. Having MS with cognitive impairment, it can sometimes seem a five year old is running my ‘adult’ life. I am not excused to follow the whims of the selfish nature that often bubbles up. I can try to paint it in many colors, but it is sin and selfishness that seem more exposed and apparent from the disease. Even this can be a blessing, if I allow God to teach me, discipline me, disciple me through the pain. Pain sure is an effective teaching tool that God can use…because He LOVES me. How’s that for reframing? Praise God for your ministry!

    • Oh Becky,
      What a precious note! I’m so, so sorry you are in pain! Yes, I’ve found pain to be a most effective teacher. When it continues, it can be hard to endure. I just read in Proverbs 3 these words… “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, for the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” There are times when I know Jonathan will never understand why I have him do/no do certain things like go to bed when he needs to but doesn’t always want to, or do his chores, or what have you. His response is often just like mine is to the Lord… “it’s not fair, I don’t like/want that, why…”. All the while, our Father knows what He is doing and we are to embrace what he allows even if we will never understand. That’s one of the biggest challenges I think in the Christian life. So much of our culture is bound to ‘feeling good’ rather than ‘thinking right’; you clearly have an awesome “Reframing” mentality! I love it!
      If there’s anything I can do to encourage you on tough days, please let me know. Or, on just typical days, it’s great to know someone cares-I do so never hesitate to reach out.
      Thanks so much for your wonderful comment. Have a super afternoon! Colleen

      • Oh, what a blessing to hear from you (made my day). God seems to encourage me at just the right time. FYI, “reframing” is my new favorite word. With anxiety, options disappear and I lock into one thing that won’t work. Reframing busts that up and tells me, maybe i can’t do it the same, but I can do it a new normal way . My spin on walking and other aids I need: I am way ahead of most of the baby boomers on the adaptation, and they make ask ME to coach and instruct them. Lemonade out of lemons! Ha!

        • Becky,
          Ok, you just made my day! Girl, you are on a roll. When we start practicing the “Reframing” mindset, it becomes second nature after a while. You will find more opportunities, little “God” gifts come your way because you are choosing to embrace His will and ways in the midst of challenges. God is so close to us, Becky; how wonderful to hear He is using you in such a magnificent way. Keep “Reframing” and stay in touch! Can’t wait to hear more stories. Colleen

  4. So appreciate your honesty and also for providing some ‘tips’ to remember when life does not go as we planned (because it never does and we’d be better off accepting that) Pray that everyone is healing and will soon be back to whatever ‘normal’ looks like. Blessings

    • Hey there AnneMarie,
      So good to hear from you. We are on the mend…Jon had his first full week of school last week since end of November. It was great to see him plug back in. You’re right, we do so much better letting go of expectations and rollin’ with what God allows. He promises to keep us, I just run ahead sometimes and that doesn’t work out well! HA! I know you’ve been there. Would love to hear how life has been since we rolled into 2018.
      Have a super day! Colleen

      • Gina,
        It IS so difficult to accept life’s disruptions at first. What I’m learning (and will probably learn for the rest of my life) is that when I look back and reflect over the issues that have disrupted life the most, they have also been the most influential, life-changing, growth-giving issues God allowed. We don’t like them because we naturally resist change. However, by welcoming them, I find I’m more open to the growth and looking for opportunities in the midst of it all. I am pretty confident you have a wonderful grasp on this mindset! You are so encouraging! Great to connect! Colleen

        • Colleen, I was asked during an ‘intentional conversation’ with someone (in conjunction with my pastor at the time), what it was that had made me grow. I remember responding without hesitation, “Pain! Hard stuff.” I do so hate that this is true though.

          • Gina,
            I totally get it. In fact, we have a saying around our place…well, there must not be enough pain for them to change. I also read in a passage the other day that some of the references to scripture on pain carry different meanings in the original. There is one specific word used…ours in English referring to all pain…but in the original language, the Lord tells us pain is necessary for transformation. Sometimes we are so blinded to our sinfulness or places that need God’s hand for change, a lot of pain is needed. What a wakeup call that is every time. I’m so with you on this…pain is what brings us to our end most thoroughly.
            How are you otherwise? Would love to hear how your year is going. Blessings, Colleen

  5. Colleen thank you for reminding me to be thankful. I’ve been grumbling because my child has been out of school since before Christmas with the weather and school being called off . Your post reminded me of times that were so hard in our lives and I’m thankful we are not sick at this time or in the hospital or seizure land. Yeah so it gets to be routine and kinda of mutinous but I am thankful for it .

    • Missy,
      It’s always a delight to hear from you! Thank you for connecting, I love the updates. So glad you are out of the woods on some things…other stuff pops up but remembering how far we’ve come sure makes today more beautiful.
      How’s your family’s health these days? December was a whopper for us too; better days ahead. Have you done any transitioning work? Not sure of his age but we’re knee deep in it and it’s quite a ride.
      Any thoughts would be great. Have a super day, great to hear from you!

  6. Something from my reading this morning struck a note… guys take care and give my best to 007! Blessings 🙏🏻🙏🏻

    “The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God.”

    Oswald Chambers

    “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    • Scotty,
      I love the Chambers quote…thank you.
      We just traveled to see my daughter a couple weekends ago and I thought of you. Couldn’t pull the windows down but we sure enjoyed getting out of the city.
      Thanks for all you sent here…I love the verses as well. Makes me think of what is in store for Jon in heaven. Can’t wait.
      Have a great day! Colleen