It was supposed to be our first Christmas away from home…ever! Our three boys are grown and scattered throughout the country, but we were all going to meet in Chicago and celebrate with family. We lived most of our lives in the Chicago area and were looking forward to connecting with family we hadn’t seen in years. We were going to be there for a week, which was not enough time to see all the family and friends we wanted to see and do everything we wanted to do. We had the entire week planned out. We knew who we would see on which days, where we were staying, and the places we planned to visit. We even made sure to schedule opportunities to get the Chicago pizza I grew up loving. We planned this trip for months and were excited about our Chicago Christmas.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, it is better to say that our plans were obliterated. Winter Storm Elliott (apparently, we name winter storms now) rolled across the Midwest just as we were to leave. We all tried rescheduling our flights several times with Southwest Airlines, but eventually, we needed to come to terms with the fact that we were never going to make it to Chicago. We went from spending Christmas with all our kids and family to not being with any of them. We were heartbroken, to say the least.

To be honest, I felt angry at first. I have traveled in winter storms many times in the past and faced many delays, but I never had to call off a trip completely. I quickly realized that there was really no one to blame. Besides, even if I blamed the airlines, it wasn’t going to change the fact that I wasn’t going to make it. I needed to move on.

So instead of being angry, I quickly shifted to pouting. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite as soothing as I had hoped. I was only left with one other alternative: I needed to realize that this was nobody’s fault, it was out of my control, and most importantly, God was in control.

I thought about how we were all safe and how friends were there for us. One friend was kind enough to drop us off at the airport, even after the initial time changed. Another friend dropped everything and picked us up from the airport when the trip was called off. Another friend came and hung out with us on Christmas Eve, when I am sure she could have easily been somewhere else. Yet another friend invited us over for dinner on Christmas Day. I could go on.

The bottom line is that things don’t always go as we have planned, but our plans do go precisely as God intended. We are planning to try our trip again sometime this year, but who knows? God is in control, which is a much better option than if I was.

We are reminded in Jeremiah 29:11, “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”