by - January 14, 2014

I'm making spreadsheets.  For any of you who have worked with me on projects you know I like spreadsheets.  I like to make them with colors and borders.  The color may have specific meaning or it may just be to differentiate from cells of other colors.  The borders may vary in thickness to separate groups of columns or rows.  I like to find the right font and font size to make the page fit within the margins upon printing.  Making spreadsheets is an itch I can scratch.  Making a spreadsheet is a way to organize what I cannot control, but can prepare for...can visualize through cells, rows and columns in an excel document what is to come.  I will be prepared.  I will use a lot of "Haley math", as it was named in a previous life.  I will be confused if one cannot easily see the vision the spreadsheet paints.  Spreadsheets are my battle plans.  The event is laid out before me considering all variables known to me.  "Here is how this will go," I tell myself.  "It's on the spreadsheet." 

On prior occasions I've really needed strict adherence to spreadsheet plans.  My security relied on others participation in adopting the spreadsheet and it's plots.  (Hey Youth Labbers!)  I still like the use of spreadsheets, because they do help me see what is to come.  They bring the vision down to an 8 1/2 x 11, or 11x17 page that I can hold in my hands.  But, I have learned the key to the success of any well-planned, colored, bolded, bordered and sorted spreadsheet...is not obedience, but flexibility.  Obedience can make the spreadsheet happen, flexibility can make an event happen. A lovely moment happen.  One is bound by the law, one leaves room for Grace.  Plan, but understand I can't know until I get there.  My hope isn't in a well facilitated spreadsheet.  (Wow, is my hope not in that anymore.)  I don't want to miss a beautiful forest, because I'm looking at a map of the trees..to borrow and change up someone else's well coined phrase. Again, if only a life lesson in there somewhere...  "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."  Proverbs 16:4  So, a spreadsheet (a plan) is only as good as my willingness to throw it out the airplane window.  But, if I can throw anything out the airplane window something has gone terribly wrong and someone will need to come get me.  Let's say let the plans fly behind me out the back of a top-down convertible on a sunny day...in Ponca, just for a cherry on the top.

Today's spreadsheets are filled with training conferences, session plans, tea breaks and layovers in countries I had never even considered going, with hearts I never dreamed of serving alongside, but now am excited to do so.  My never ending sanctification process has gone from fear to freedom.  With freedom comes the letting go of perceived plans, perceived control, perceived value, perceived weakness, perceived strength, perceived success; and just hold on to the Word of Life and my yes to Him. Putting my relationship with Jesus Christ above all others, and seeing myself as God sees me, instead of how others perceive me based on either their concept of "good" or "bad" allows me great freedom to go where he leads, laugh at the days to come, love unconditionally, trust Him through my insecurities and sometimes tears, and rest in the assurance that He is faithful, and His promises sure. Even if He goes all rogue from my spreadsheet.  2014 is already a year I never dreamed of.  That's either terrifying OR exciting.  It all depends on what I believe about who God is.  I think I've mentioned Beth Moore's book Believing God before, but inserting that plug here again is appropriate.  Believing IN God and believing God's character are both equally important.  One comes pretty easily to many of us...the other is constantly assaulted by suppositions and gets worked out as we practice faith.  If you ever get anything from my stories I hope it is a witness that practicing faith can be difficult, but always worth it.  Where God will lead you, is better than whatever you try to hold onto.  Lay down your comparisons, your "shoulds", your "but, I wants," and let Him establish the steps He has planned for you.   

I've got a ticket for a window seat this Friday, and will be traveling back to a land of sweet familiar faces and voices that speak more languages than me.  It's a long trip.  No doubt about it.  But, it is a trip worth taking.  I will start my malaria medication tomorrow.  I've downloaded National Treasure and Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows for my viewing pleasure, A couple of Tim Keller's books to read.  I've been packed since Saturday.  My spreadsheets are almost done.  It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark...and we're wearing sunglasses... (Anyone?)

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