On Lists and God’s Plan B

When plans get interrupted and we have to put our tasks on DIVINE HOLD. Encouragement from KarenEhman.com

Last week we talked here about making a list; actually about splitting your list in three so as not to frustrate yourself.

However, what about those times that you are frustrated trying to get even the very basic “must dos” of your day? After all, making a list and following it is such an effective time management, “get-it-done” tool, right?


What I want to caution you against again is letting that list be your master, and allowing it to dictate your mood as you see each day what you have and have not crossed off.

And remember, although the list serves as a guide, there are times when God will be diverting you from the tasks on paper and asking you to perform something more important for him. The key is recognizing when the interruptions in your day were sent by God for you to respond too.

Perhaps he wants you to walk away from your list and tend to something he feels is more important. When I have had days like that myself, I have trained myself to do the following. (Hang with me on this one!)

When I have not gotten to the items there in black and white on my list because God sent a sick child, a wounded friend or lonely neighbor to my side, I have actually, at the end of the day, taken a red pen and in large letters written “Hold a sick child, comforting him and supplying him with Popsicles  ALL OTHER TASKS TEMPORARILY ON DIVINE HOLD.”

I try to imagine it as the hand of God. He is diverting me from my lowly plan A to his perfect plan B for my day. I trust that the time to finish what I wanted to do (or thought I needed to do) will be given later. More often than not, I am actually pleased with the way things turn out.

Perhaps I had set aside and entire six hour block to write while my boys go to their friend’s farm for the day to hunt. Instead, Spencer wakes up with a spiked temp and the coughing, creepin’ crud.

Now, I could fume and fuss and let it entirely ruin my day.

Or I could choose instead to say, “Thank you Lord!! Must be you knew I’d have writers block today. What time I almost wasted! Even though I planned to write and had really looked forward to it—just me, my laptop, a Weight Watcher’s pizza and a pumpkin spice cappuccino—, I’ll trust that for today, you have reason for me to care for my child.”

Now please, sometimes the above sentence is not uttered in the sweetest of tones. But I have learned over the years that it does no good to stew all day about the loss of my time. As my husband will say, “It didn’t surprise God!” He knew what interruption would come, what delay I’d experience and truth be told, he allowed it for my good.

So the answer to the question, “Should I make out a list and follow it carefully?” is yes and no. Use it as a guide, but know when to set it aside. (No, I didn’t mean to rhyme!)

We have our lists, but God sometimes has a better “Plan B” for our days.

Watch for those divine interruptions.

Then, quiet your heart, and willingly embrace them.

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  1. You must be reading my blog or sitting as a fly on my wall today. :) Instead of stewing over my list, I’m writing on it with a giant red marker right now!

    Thank you for speaking truth to us in this area, Karen. I’m so glad I’m not alone.


  2. Thank you for this! I always have very long to-do lists, and can feel frustrated when they are not completed. Last Tuesday, my kindergartener came home from school sick, which required canceling piano lesson for the middle child. I was okay with that – b/c it was for my child. But yesterday I came down with an awful cold (yes, probably her germs that she shared with me, bless her heart!) and today I am down to doing the bare minimum for work and parenting. With my job, I am the only one who can do it, and no money if I don’t, so that is a no brainer. If at all possible, the work goes on. But I will not be doing any household chores today. And I will delegate the shopping. It is my goal to not overextend myself so much that I can’t be open to the main thing that God requires of me on a given day.

  3. Oh, you always have a way to write what I feel and have felt but can’t verbalize as well. I, too, had to learn that holding a sick child was all I really had to do that day. It took a while to get to that point in my mothering, but what peace I have now when it happens. I also think God puts v-e-r-y slow drivers in front of my when I am in a hurry. I tell the kids, oops, that is our guardian angel, keeping us from an accident. It is all in your perspective!

  4. Karen,
    Thank you for sharing this today, and thanks to the ladies who have posted before me. I can see my self in all of these. It all really hits home for me. I also will pray for a more cheerful and giving spirit, no matter what comes my way.

  5. Great reminder Karen! It goes along with something I read in my devotional this morning (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young – fantastic stuff!). It talked about letting go of the little disruptions in our life instead of stewing and wasting energy on them. She suggested saying out “Oh Well” when God takes our schedule or life in a different way than we had planned. Just like when he reorganizes our To Do List for the day. This happened to me just last week when I rescued my friends kids after school when she was delayed at an important appointment. Not what I had planned – but my kids had a fun and unexpected play date with their friends. I pray that God will keep my attitude cheerful when these changes come my way!

  6. Thank you Karen. I actually put aside my normal list this morning and am home instead of exercising. A senior boy at my first grader’s school was killed over the weekend in a car crash. Perspective is everything, isn’t it? And those to do lists that seem so important suddenly seem silly and small. Maybe we need to put Watch for the Lord at the top of our lists. I don’t know. But thank you this morning for fresh words and breathing life into the women who read your posts.

  7. Karen:
    I first heard you speak at She Speaks this past July. Your message was very timely for me. I also was part of the conference call last week and I must tell you that God has used your words in mighty ways to feed my spirit. My children are all grown now ages 21 – 30 and I have a 5 year old grandson. The youngest 2 are my children by my first marriage and the oldes 2 are my step children that became mine at ages 12 & 16. They are all still in our town and we get to interact with them often. I’ve always worked full time outside the home and have had those days that I feel like I failed them in some way by not being available to them as often or as much as I should have been. I know that I failed them spiritually, I didn’t pray with them often enough, I wasn’t bold enough to talk to them about God as often as I should have. God has been showing me that it is not to late to do those things I wish I had always done. I have a new opportunity everyday to show my kids how to live for Him.

    Today’s post is a gentle reminder that I did take the time to comfort my children when they were sick. Fortunately, I had a job that I could work from home when I need to. Or work through the night if it meant being at the band tournaments or baseball tournaments the next day.

    It is so important that we don’t box ourselves in to our “do to list” or as a working parent think that our job is more important than anything we could ever to for our children.

    Thank you for speaking truth in to the lives of women.


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