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Extreme Planning

So, a couple weeks ago something sad happened to me. I bought a planner... during the summer. The sadder thing? I actually use it.

I thought summer was a time to be free and not plan and just fly "by the seat of my pants" as I usually do. If you knew me in high school you would remember the planner that I kept that planned out my day down to the very hour from 6 or 7 am to at least 6 or 7 pm.

If you knew me in college you'd say, "Sarah? What planner?" Or as my friend once put it kindly, "Sarah, sometimes getting you to plan stuff is harder than pulling teeth."

What very few people know is that despite my lack of immediate planning (especially this past year), I am great at extreme planning. Sure, I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow, or even in an hour or two. But if you ask me what I'm going to do when I'm exactly 25, I'd have an answer for you. Because I did have my life planned out for the next 10 years. Yup, 10 years.

As of the beginning of this summer I had my life planned out from exactly 18 to 28. Not details of course, but the general idea of the big things I wanted to happen.

18-22 I would be at UCCS finishing my undergraduate degree in nursing. 23 and 24 I would be working as a nurse, preferably spending at least one of those years overseas with an organization like Doctors Without Borders. 25 and 26 I would go back to graduate school to earn my Master's degree so I could become a family nurse practitioner. 27 and 28 I would work as a nurse practitioner, kind of get in a little bit of my career in before having kids. And somewhere during that time I'd meet the man of my dreams and get married at 28 or 29.

Yep, so that was the plan.

Which I told my Dad at the beginning of this past summer. And he just started laughing, a reaction that may be a little similar to my Heavenly Father's reaction. He asked me "Sarah, do you really think your life is going to go exactly like that? Exactly how you've planned it?" And well, no, I realize that my 10 year plan is probably not realistic. I have everything planned out, but who knows what God has planned for me in the next 10 years? Who will I meet? Where will I go? What will I do?

And that feeling of uncertainty drives me nuts. I panicked a little bit at the beginning of this summer when I was talking to my (earthly) Dad. Sometimes, I just wish that everything would go my way, because even though it may not be a great plan, at least I'd know what's coming up next. But then again, if I'm so focused on my own idea of how my life should go, how many great things am I going to miss out on that God has planned for me?

And this is where the take home message comes in. I was praying about this whole situation at the beginning of the summer- you know, planning my life for the next 10 years. What I call "extreme planning". And one morning, God just told it to me straight- the answer that I'd needed.

He said:

"Sarah, the only plan you need to have for the next 10 years, or even the rest of your life, is to love me with all your heart , soul, and mind, and to search after me with everything in you.

Be prepared for the moments to come, but live and enjoy the moments you are now given."

Sure, it's still hard for me to be completely at peace about what's going on in the next 10 years because, despite popular belief, I am a planner and I don't like uncertainty. But now I'm focusing on one thing at a time. If I get to be nurse practitioner by the age of 26, great, if not, well that's okay too. If i get married earlier than 28 or 29, well that'll be wonderful as well. If I get to go overseas at 23 or 24, awesome, if I don't well I hope one day I'll get to. In the meantime, I'm focusing on living my life and loving my Lord... one day at a time.

So go out and love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Search for His face with everything in you. And remember...

Be prepared for the moments to come, but live and enjoy the moments you are now given.

Summer 2010

“For Such A Time As This”- Esther 4:14

This passage in the Bible is spoken by Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, telling her to be brave and stand up for her people (the Jews, because God has placed her in her position of Queen “for such a time as this.” God placed Esther in her position at exactly the right time, because if she hadn’t have been there, her entire people would have been wiped out.

This verse was first introduced me through the song “For Such a Time as This” by Wayne Watson and it has become my true desire to seek the place where my heavenly Father wants me “for such a time as this.”

After realizing that Sudan was placed on my heart, but not for this summer, I struggled. I asked God why so many months of seeming preparation to go to Sudan had turned out fruitless because once again I was stuck in my little hippy hometown. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my summer; all I knew is that I didn’t want to waste it. I struggled as I saw many of my friends embarking on their own missions trips to all corners of the world, and I asked, “Why not me, Lord?” After awhile, I decided to begin focusing on who God is (something that theMILL in Colorado Springs had been talking about before I left for home), instead of searching for specific answers as to what to do with my summer. In doing this, my answer came.

I was praying for God’s will for my summer and on my 19th birthday my heavenly Father told me (as written down in my journal for that day):

Instead of always just looking for answers, just get to know me. In knowing me, my will, will become evident.

And as I have sought the face of my Lord exploring qualities from faithfulness to patience to creativity, He has revealed precisely why I was meant to be in Durango, Colorado instead of Yei, Sudan for summer of 2010. After a long summer I clearly see that God’s answer for my summer was not a denial, rather it was a delay. A delay in which God has taught me that he has placed me in the perfect spot… for such a time as this.

~For such a time as this… The Lord has made me the caretaker for my 92-year old Grandmother while my family tries to find a new caretaker for when I leave (her previous caretaker had a stroke right before I moved back to Durango). Being her caretaker has been incredibly difficult, but also very rewarding. Each day I pray for the patience and compassion that my heavenly Father has shown me. But this is hard when my Grandma won’t eat anything I feed her—and I mean anything. I watch as she lost 8 pounds in two weeks, and struggled with the frustration I had in knowing it wasn’t my fault, but at the same time wishing I could do something about it. Taking care of her has made me question my career plans—am I really cut out to be a nurse? Sometimes I don’t think I have what it takes to be a compassionate and caring nurse, but it has also taught me to be easier on myself—there will be times I lose my patience, but at the heart of the matter I love my Grandma dearly and realize I only get frustrated because I care so much about her. She was one of the best nurses this part of the world has ever seen—I take her to her doctor’s appointments only to have the current nurse respond, “Oh that’s Blanche?! She was a great nurse!”

 She is my hero, and one of the main reasons I am studying to be a nurse. I have realized that this summer I was given the opportunity to take care of an incredibly needy soul right here in my hometown; a soul that has taken care of others her whole life. I have been given the incredible privilege to be the one spending the most time with her in her last days, and I know that when it comes time to say goodbye, memories of this summer will stay with me for the rest of my life.

~For such a time as this… the Lord has led me to go back to my old youth group, The Well, to be a youth leader for the summer. It was incredibly difficult at first—the pastor was new, the atmosphere was new, and I only knew a small fraction of the kids. I’m fairly outgoing when I get to know people, my overall shy nature makes it a little difficult for me to adjust in new situations. About 3 weeks after I’d been leading, there was a bonfire and this was a true turning point. It gave me the opportunity to go up and introduce myself to kids and interact with them in a more relaxed atmosphere. From then on, youth group was something I looked forward to (as I always had), and I even began meeting one-on-one with one of the young girls I’d met. Being given the privilege to go to youth group and just worship with teenagers and people in places that I had once been, was just amazing. I had the opportunity to work with them as we cleaned up the local skate park, play with them on game nights, but most importantly pray for them. I only have a couple weeks left, and I will be sad to go, but I am incredibly thankful for Jesus allowing me to still be a part of a place that so dearly helped me in my walk with God in high school.

~For such a time as this… the Lord has given me two young girls, Carly and Angela, to teach piano lessons to. This will be my 3rd year teaching lessons and it never gets old. Teaching others something you’re passionate about (like the piano), and sharing the gift of music is something I hope to be able to do forever. The smiles of these 6-year old girls and their enthusiasm to learn a new instrument has renewed the childlike spirit within me, and once again reminded me to live life as though everything is a miracle.

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~For such a time as this… the Lord has given me a summer to learn more about what has been placed on my heart—Sudan. I realize now, how uneducated and unprepared I would have been if I had gone to Sudan this summer. After reading book after book and novel after novel and watching report after report on the conflicts going on in Sudan, I have, at best, a rudimentary knowledge of what is going on in this African country. In my reading I have realized that there are so many unsettled vengeances, and underlying religious and political conflicts that it will take a true miracle of God for there to be even a semblance of peace in that nation. An old Sudanese proverb says, “When he made Sudan, God laughed.” This expresses the hopelessness that people in the country feel, and I realize that when I do go, it won’t be to change their circumstances. I will go instead to give them their health and hope to deal with the circumstances they have been born into. I don’t know if I realized this at the beginning of the summer, and once again the Lord knew what he was doing when he told me to stay in Durango.

~For such a time as this… I am given the opportunity to write to troops fighting overseas. I am finally able to do something for my heroes who lay down their lives for me each and every day just so I can sit here and write this in freedom.

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~For such a time as this… I’ve been given experiences that show me the beauty of being in a relationship, but also the joy and happiness found in this season of singleness.

~For such a time as this... I have been reminded to treasure my family for their unconditional love and support, and I truly have learned that those who mind don't matter, and that those who matter don't mind.

Isaiah, Jacob, me, my mom, my dad

For such a time as this… God has placed me in my hometown to do small works and experience seemingly small things. But through these small things his will has been shown, and I have never been more in love with a loving, forgiving, compassionate, and faithful god.

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