Family: Overplanners Anonymous

When my children and grandbabies arrived the house was clean. The Precious Moments nativity set was all in place with Mary and Joseph looking over their newborn son and the shepherds watching over their sheep.

Food was prepared and in the refrigerator, and beds had fresh sheets ready for a refreshed sleep.

When my family stumbled out on Christmas Eve morning to go to their other families or to their own home, Joseph and Mary were under the couch, and baby Jesus was nowhere to be found.

Food was scattered under the high chair, and fresh sheets were on the floor. Baby toys were in the tub, and a bucket of dirty diapers in the garage.

The night before eight strong adults were whipped as one baby cried, waking a second, who woke the third in increments throughout the night. Somehow one grandbaby slept through it all. In the morning we all emerged bleary eyed, looking for coffee, but excited for the day.

Perhaps nothing went as planned, but it was the unplanned moments that made Christmas the most fun.

If you joined me from Encouragement for Today, welcome! If you read today’s devo, you’ll understand how overplanning can make a special memory dim as our plans go awry.

There’s nothing wrong with planning. Because I was hosting 12 (four of them babies), planning had to be involved. There was food to prep. Special foods to buy for the little ones. Sheets to wash. Gifts to wrap. Pack and Plays to set up.

Taking a family pic at my children’s grandparent’s home.









But I couldn’t plan the outcome.

If I had held tight to a rigid set of expectations, I would have missed those special unplanned, messy moments. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate 18-month old Luke holding my face in his and kissing me one time, ten times, twenty times over. Or 13-month old Jane waking up crying in an unfamiliar bed, but ready to snuggle with me in mine. I would have missed how amazing it was for these tired moms and dads (once my sweet babies, all grown up) to wake up ready to enjoy the day when everything had gone awry the night before.

How does overplanning limit us?

There was a time when the messy moments would have been less fun because I would have planned it, but worried if my to-do list didn’t all get checked off.

It’s surprising where overplanning shows up. It can show up in our ministries. In our relationships. Even in our faith.

Perhaps after the holidays is where it’s so glaringly clear. You struggle because someone or something didn’t live up to your expectations. It can show up in our need to have everything perfect (though perfection is rarely all it’s cracked up to be). It can show up in our inflexibility when people or things don’t do what we think they should, or when your well-laid plans disintigrate.

What might happen if we set aside our planning from time to time to enjoy the moment? To build in flexibility and a heart to find the surprises and miracles in the unplanned moments of our day?

One of my miracles came as I sat in a chair with one-month old Audrey asleep in my arms. My children sat around the table, laughing, sharing old memories, telling stories. Little ones in all states of undress played throughout the living room. Blocks and toys were scattered from one end of the livingroom to the other.

It felt good.

I was wrapped in family. Cocooned in memories in the making.

What if we learned to simply do what we can, and let the rest play out as it will? Would we find treasures just waiting to be discovered. . .whether in us or all around us?

In today’s devo I shared a quote from Sarah Young’s devotional that stopped me in my tracks, reminding me that overplanning can be less about being Martha Stewartish, and more about a lack of trust in God.

Share one way that you overplan, or what God has shown you in this area for a chance to win a copy of Jesus Calling, my gift to one of you today.



  1. Hi thanks for the devotion on the overplanning! It was a very good reminder for me as it caused me to think about if I was overplanning and worried or trusting the Lord in my plans. I do have some queries do, how then is planning considered appropriate and not “over”-planning? Any recommendations? Thanks in advance to whoever replies! 😀

  2. CarolAnne says:

    I am a worry-er, and tend to “catastro-phize” very easily! So, I am trying to break myself of this habit. Thank you for the tips! Looking forward to winning the book! 😉

  3. as i read the devotional it reminded me of recently my daughter and my two grand kids were staying for a couple of days, i have always been a neat and organized everything in its place. durning that short time,between my picking up after my grand kids, my daughter, doing laundry , vacuming, and just on the move, one day my daughter stoped me with, mom,why cant you just stop, for a moment take a break, rest leave things alone, just relax. i told her i cant, i need to keep moving theres always something i need to clean or pick up off the floor, she said sit ,relax enjoy yourself ,at that moment i heard my grandson laughing with my husband, so i peaked into the room and saw my husband being silly and laughing with our grandson, i wanted to enjoy that to and i shared in the sillyness with them both, from that moment i let my focus be on the here and now, and not worry about the mess, or i have to do this or that those memories are what its about, they left the next day, and my grandson was so sad he hugged my husband saying goodbye with sadness and hugging so tight, that nite there was an emptyness we felt, god had shown us to enjoy the moments with our loved ones not to worry about the lists of things that call to us.blessings of moments with family is what its about.

  4. It is sooooo hard! Yet it is also so essential. I retired a year ago as a result of having to sell our bookshop because of money problems. We really felt that God had called us to do that work and it was great: hard but so fulfilling. Now I am just flapping in the wind. I cannot get my head around life. Too much space, too many decisions and no idea at all of what God wants me to do. I know, I do know that He is asking me to rest and stop making plans and being efficient, to wait on Him and all the rest but who am I if I don’t. I thought I knew the answer to this and if it was anyone else, I’d be right there with the relevant scriptures and prayers and encouragement. Please do a devotional that takes the unplanning and just ‘being’ a stage or two further.
    Bless you.

  5. I overplan in everything. It leaves me upset when something doesn’t work out the way I want it to. Most especially I get frustrated when my family doesn’t leave up to my expectations. It’s really hard. I need to throw away my need to be in control. I need to open my eyes to the beauty of my life, and the good heart of my family. I will appreciate your prayer. Thank you.

  6. I tend to overplan/overthink my future. I get myself started…so if my husband gets a raise by
    This month, then we can pay this off and save for this; Then I can finally relax, etc. It ends up being
    Exhausting, but also disappointing when it doesn’t go as expected. And I knOw I’m missing out on what’s
    Really going on around me.

  7. During my morning prayers I have learned to ask God for Him to plan out my day. I still make lists and often refer to my calendar, but I know God will decide what is most important, and ask Him to remind me of that fact. Living in His will is not just about the big life picture, but about each precious moment throughout the day.

  8. I like to plan my days and when things go unexpectedly instead of trusting God, like I know I should, I have a tendency to get very agitated with everything and everyone around me. I am trying to be better about this and this devotional is helping me even more, thank you!!!


  9. I know that I frequently make plans without asking God for His direction. When I do that I am running ahead of Him and in doing so I veer from His plan for my life.

  10. Elise Daly Parker says:

    O striking a balance is such a challenge. I err on the side of not being organized enough. And that’s not pleasing to God either. Your post reminds me of how important it is to know ourselves and our tendencies and let God speak into them…to give space to God so He can speak to each one of us– whether it’s within an organized planner of a day or a floaty journey from one task to the next. He’s always speaking!

  11. I find now that I have a family to take care of that if I overload myself even with information that I become anxious and so I have to be purposeful every day about what information I allow in.

    I also need to declutter in 2013.

  12. Thanks so much for this post! When I was a child I often would ask my dad, “What if…” concerning plans, circumstances, etc. What if we get there and it’s canceled? What if we’re late? What if I can’t do it? What if…? what if… what if… what if… He would try to answer one or two but often would then get annoyed with me.
    It is really only today that I made the link to that concern about the ‘what if’s’ being anxiety and worry!
    I am still by nature a planner, organizer, scheduler… some might say ‘manipulator.’ I have tried hard to ease up and change this.
    Mostly I have learned that when I am in the midst of managing the ‘event’ to perfection (and getting all the perfect photos of it at the same time!) I am missing out on enjoying right now!
    Simplifying has freed me. Some of my co-operation has only come as a result of aging and disability forcing me to stick to just the essentials and not the extra perfection, but also I have slowly learned that we are all happier when allowed the flexibility of ‘going with the flow.’
    Thanks again for your perspective on this and the new insight it has given me.
    Just curious… does this blog require much planning, and/or polishing for you? hehehe

  13. This Christmas I decided that it was going to be one that I focused more on memory making then the hustle around me. We took time to visit the city all decorated and take a long walk on the pier in the evening. We went to local Christmas activities and Christmas Eve service. While there were a few minor disappointments of things we missed the time was sweet and full of memories. We were able to spend time with family and that was the best gift this year. With one college age daughter and one headed to college next year I couldn’t have asked for more. Life is in the little moments and memories that we make along the way. God is good and taught this Mom that life even when messy is good when lived his way.

  14. Vonnie Kronk says:

    Over planning Has to be something I let go of. I am now disabled & that was totally not planned & I have to rely on others to get things done OR to help me.

  15. This devotional has revealed to me that I need to do less writing lists and more “list”ening to God. Instead, I should use my pen to make a list of his blessings that he’s so lovingly poured over me and my family.

  16. Cindy Gomez says:

    BTW my 16 year old daughter had me print out your devotion 2day Thank you for sharing, may God bless

  17. Cindy Gomez says:

    I hav been married 24 years this December and I hav 5 kids and let me tell u nothing never goes as planned some1 will loose a shoe or a sweater and then were all going crazy looking for it and we end up eating junk playing a board game watching a movie making fun on whos going to loose in the game and telling late night stories or talking about God’s word. Like I wanted to hav a well planned out anniversary go somewhere special was planning on it all year but considering on that day that we hav kids we decided get eclairs from the market bakery an $2 subs from subway and getting cozy on the couch watchin a movie and u know, it was wonderful : )

  18. One thing I came across recently that I loved is aabout choosing the important over the urgent. When I overplan or get caught up in my details, I end up doing the urgent but its not always important! Ex. Can that email reply wait until my child falls asleep? Its based on priorities really.



  20. I, too, am a planner and list maker. I feel good when I can look

    back at what I have accomplished at the end of a day. But I find myself more convicted of late to set aside my lists of to do’s and spend quality time with my growing kids, aged 7 and 9. I want to play with them when they ask instead of replying that I have to do this or that from my “list.”

    On a different note, we have this devotional, but for kids. I love it!!!

  21. Jill Davis-Haussler says:

    This devotion really spoke to me. I am struggling with health problems and unable to work at this time. I keep telling myself to “Give It To God” but realize while I am thinking it, I am not doing it! Thank you for the reminder!

  22. Paula Green says:

    Suzie, thank you so much for your devotion today. It really hit home. I am a “list person” and a good planner. This is not a bad thing and has generally served me well, but there are are drawbacks, as your message reminded me. Lists become an issue for me when they turn into paralysis of analysis (fear of doing something instead of just talking about it) and attempts to forsee (aka control) every possible circumstance in my life. Over the last few years, I have become very aware of this and have made some improvements, but there is still much work to be done. Making lists for really difficult tasks makes me somehow feel like I’m doing something, but if action doesn’t follow, there’s no benefit. A number of years ago I participated in a Bible study during a really difficult season and was fervently praying for God to “come and change my life”. It was a revelation to discover that God wouldn’t change my heart if I wasn’t willing to do so. That sounds very simple, but it was a huge eye opener. I have also come to realize that the overuse of lists and organizing shows disobedience to God by not trusting Him in ALL things. As I contemplate what 2012 has brought to my life and what lies ahead, I am reminded to rely on God’s Word even more in 2013 and not in my lists!

  23. I plan everything I eat. Everything. It’s stressful, but I think I care more about staying thin than I do about trusting God. {sigh}. I count calories, carbs, fat and food in excruciating detail, and I plan my entire day around exercise. My whole life is about calories. It takes the joy out of living some days, because I’m so anxious about it. And I don’t know how to let it go. So I plan and plan some more. A plan helps me feel more in control!

  24. I’m a list maker, and learned through scripture, what a taskmaster I had become, in my judgement of others, when expectations weren’t met. I still make lists, as I’m a recovering type-A… 🙂 …but, I now have the checkpoint of remembering and relinquishing to Him, ALL expectation. My lists are my work, my expectation is HIS. ‘Makes it all SO much more peace-filled.

  25. This devotional has great timing for me. My sister and her family were driving from CO down to NM yesterday to see me, my husband, and our five week old son when their car broke down and they had to spend the night in Trinidad. They couldn’t talk to a mechanic until this morning and found out that the car couldn’t be fixed until after the date they were planning to be back in CO (next week). We were all very frustrated that their plans were upset, and this devo was a great reminder to commit our plans to God. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂

  26. Beth Williams says:

    I am a list person. I do lists for everything from how much I walk daily toa thankful journal. If I’m off for a period of time there is a list of items to accompolish daily.

    Doing spreadsheets is another biggie of mine. I track expenses, car payments, home renovation costs & savings build up. You name it I will do a spreadsheet or list for it.

    Loved your post on trusting God more and plan just a wee bit less!

  27. Planning is one of the things I do best! I’ve been planning on my husband getting a job for a long time now (7 mos out of work). He is trusting God with timing and I’m sitting here planning on how to help him find a job! I obviously am not experiencing God’s peace when I do this. Blah.

  28. Planning–I have so many plans and so many do not get done. I really liked your encouragement to start the day trusting God and letting Him guide your plan. I need to do this more!

  29. This was so very convicting! Thank you for pointing out that the over planning stems from worry. That is my biggest struggle! Thank you for the encouragement today!!

  30. Guilty!! I plan everything, what bills to pay, how much to pay, what the week and weekend will be like. I get frazzled sometimes when they don’t go as I planned (and they often do NOT) – Trying to go with the flow and trust God more each day and with each incident. He is working on me, still in progress!! ha ha

  31. This was perfect for today. So frustrated at my mom for leaving my sister’s 1.5 hours late, which means we will be late getting to my brother’s & then my uncle & cousin’s b-day party. However there is nothing I can do about it. Instead need to make the most of extra time I will have at home, & be thankful for the opportunity to spend time with my brother & uncle’s families.

  32. Thank you so much for making me realize I definitely overplan and expect such a perfect world to develop as a result. I am so very wrong. Speaking from a mother’s heart, I always wish for my children and grandchildren to enjoy a better life than I ever had. Disappointment and hurt is not want I desire for their lives. Now I must turn this over to God as He directs our live in 2013.

  33. I too could be a card carrying member of “Overplanners Anonymous” especially during the holiday season. However, several years ago God pricked my heart that in all my striving to plan the “perfect” tree, pick out the “perfect” gift, decorate a “perfect” home, host a “perfect” party and bake a zillion “perfect” cookies that I was missing the most important thing of all…His perfect son, Jesus. My husband and I prayed about how God would have us celebrate and He answered that prayer by showing me that it was okay to let go of all the planning and perfectionism and just focus on Him during the holiday season and every other day of the year.

  34. Lisa Huisingh Neely says:

    Overplanning and overcommitting myself has been a real issue with me in the past. I do see where I was excessive about it and the stress (undue of course) it caused, not only me, but those around me. I know God’s timing is perfect and though I can still plan my day to make good use of my resources, I don’t have to be compulsive and overreaching.

  35. I tend to overplan…everything. I think planning is good, but only to an extent. Unfortunately I tend to plan everything out to the T and when things don’t go according to my plans, or don’t live up to my expectations, I let it ruin my entire day. And in turn, everyone else’s day. I struggle with this a lot and am slowly changing my attitude. I’ve made some progress, but have a long way to go! I am confident I’ll get there eventually, especially when God speaks to me through devotions and blog posts like yours. Thank you!

  36. I’ve been subscribed to Proverbs 31 Ministries for a few months now and I can relate to everything everyone has been saying. Thank you for letting me know that I am not the only one. I do overplan but I have convinced myself that this weas for the good of my husband and 9 year old daughter. I planned for us to move an hour away from work to provide a stable environment for my daughter with emotional disturbance. I felt that if we had a real home instead of a rent home that this would make some difference in her behavior. I had been working on a mortgage since June! We were denyed the mortgage and I felt that I had failed my family. I gave all this worry, stree etc over to God this morning and then this wonderful e-mail from you appeared in my in box. Thank you! You make a difference!

  37. God showed me in this area that God’s timing isn’t mine, and how important it is to “Lay down ALL the worry about how things will work out.” The PROMISE in 1 Peter 5:6-7 that GOD IS IN CONTROL encouraged me immensely today to simply TRUST GOD, and to STOP letting the enemy discourage and distract me. The Power Verses: Luke 12:25-26 and Proverbs 16:3 was also a great reminder to KEEP the truth (God’s Word) above all else.

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