Making Plans—Lessons Learned from a Big Box

As with many of you, I make plans. It is part of my attempt to have an organized life. It makes me think I am in control. (I know I am really not but I handle life better living with some delusions.) Some of my past life plans were:

Plan A: in 1973, I got married imagining that one day I would be sitting at a table celebrating my 50th wedding anniversary with my husband and family and friends.

Plan B: in 2010, post my divorce (so much for Plan A) I bought the perfect mid-size condo; renovated it and planned that I would live there until I moved to Shady Rest Nursing Home.

Plan C: in 2015, I retired from Cobb County government so that I could spend more time with my grandchildren and travel with Don and then that plan grew even grander when we got engaged and purchased a large home (so much for Plan B and the condo) where I was going to live happily ever after.

Then November came and he ended the engagement and that plan bit the dust.


All these thoughts about making plans came to my mind recently as I stood in my family room….. looking at a new chair. Per previous blog posts, I have been purchasing furniture and other items due the ramifications of my engagement imploding. I had made a lot of progress but still needed a chair for my family room.

I finally found a suitable chair at Pier One. It was a sage-green color and looked perfect to me. The Pier One staff ordered the chair and a week later it arrived at the store from the warehouse. As I had a Jeep Grand Cherokee, they suggested I pick it up at the store and transport it in the Jeep to save delivery fees. Since I have been “bleeding money” I quickly agreed, thinking I could get it home and into the house.

Actually, that is not quite true….I did not think.  That is part of my problem with making plans. I have this “I can do it” attitude and I often find myself in situations where, if I had thought about it for just 3 or 4 seconds, I would have not taken that course of action.

So, one week later, I show up at Pier One and they tell me to go around back to the loading dock. A very nice employee brings out a very BIG and heavy box and I realize we have to fit this very BIG box into the back of my not-so-big Jeep.

He grunts and groans and tries to shove it into my Jeep and finally tells me that the only way to do this is to take out my grandson’s car seat and set it in the front seat so that we can flatten down the back seat.

My grandson’s car seat was put into my car 2 years ago by the wonderful folks at the Cobb County Public Safety department—and that is because the very FIRST story in this blog is about my trying to put my granddaughter’s car seat into my car…and how I could not do it. I had vowed, once they got his car seat into my car, that it would not be removed until he went to college.

Unfortunately, there was no choice so with heavy heart, I removed the car seat; we got the box into the car; and I drove home….. very carefully and slowly. My rear view mirror was useless as all I could see was a big box.

You do not realize how often you look in your rear view mirror until you are looking in it and a big box is staring back at you.


Once I got home, I had to get the big box out of the car. I started tugging at it and augugghgh…it was wedged and I do mean wedged in the car and would not move. So, I crawled into the small space between the front seats and the box; pulled my knees up to my chest; put my feet on the box and pushed. It took a few pushes but I finally got it un-wedged.

I then carefully dropped the box out of the trunk onto my rolling dolly and rolled the box along my sidewalk to the front door. Of course, I have a two inch “step” and had to tug and lift to get it into the house and I was hoping that none of my neighbors (who I don’t know yet) would be walking or driving by.

There was nothing graceful about getting that big box into my home.

I then rolled it down my hallway and into the family room where I turned the box on its side; cut open the bottom of the box; slid the chair out very carefully; took off the tons of plastic wrap; righted the chair up and looked at it.

And I was stunned to see that this was NOT a sage-green chair but it was gray… my father was in the Navy and he would have said this was Battleship Gray.

Aughghgh—I looked at the packing slip and for color it listed “Mineral” and yes, this could be a mineral color (I guess) but where was my sage-green chair???  And, there was NO WAY I could get this chair back into the box and back into my car so I decided to drive back to Pier One and look at the chair in the store to see what could be done.

Grumble Grumble Grumble….I drove back to Pier One (at least this time I could see in my rear view mirror); walked into the store; found the chair—and little alarm bells started going off in my brain.

It turns out that in the store, under the VERY BRIGHT LIGHTS and with a greenish pillow, the chair had a sage-green hue to it but when I moved it out of the bright lights and into a darker area and removed the pillow, it turned into a mineral, battleship gray color.

Plan A for the Sage-Green (aka Battleship Gray) chair was not working out.

I drove back home and tried to convince myself that I would like to have a Battleship Gray chair in my family room. But there were two problems with this plan—1.) the color did not go with the other furniture and 2.) The chair really was too big for the space.

It was now time for Plan B.

As luck would have it, I also needed one more chair for my living room. I put the Battleship Gray chair on my floor sliders and slid that chair into my living room. I moved some furniture around and lo and behold… was a good size and color for that room.

I was greatly relieved to know that I would not have to repack the chair and shove it back into my car.

Of course, there was the issue of the BIG box and all the plastic wrap. I gathered up the plastic wrap and put it in my trash can and was trying to figure out how to cut the box down to size when some random thoughts came to my mind (always dangerous for me.)

It was, after all, a very BIG box and it seemed like such a waste to cut it up……… Plan C begin forming in my brain.


Which is why a few weeks later, if any of my neighbors had been walking by my home and looked at my front yard, they would have thought the Jed Clampett family from Beverly Hillbillies had moved in.

You see, it appears if you give two grandchildren a BIG box as well as a mid-size box, a folding chair, two beach towels, chalk and duct tape……well, what happens next can be pure magic.

As I watched them play with their “fort” and listened to their laughter, I thought about the lessons I have learned these past 5 months. Making plans is good. It gives us structure. It helps us prepare for the future.

But sometimes, we have to be flexible. We have to change those plans or, someone else may change the plans for us. Going from “Plan A” to “Plan B” to “Plan-Whatever” can create situations that surprise us—and give us the opportunity for choices that we never thought we would have to make.

My Sunday School class recently studied Hebrews 11 in which the stories of many famous Bible characters were outlined. What they seemed to have in common is that their plans did not exactly work out.

For example, Moses led a bunch of whiny Israelites around for 40 years and he did not get to go into the Promised Land—he just got to see it. I bet that was not part of his Plan A or B. The disciples probably thought they would be living the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous instead of the challenges they faced being followers of Christ.

Probably the most striking to me is the Apostle Paul—a man who went from being the Osama bin Laden of his time—a man who killed Christians—to having an encounter with Christ where he was blinded and then had his sight returned. Paul spent the rest of his life spreading the gospel.

But he did not stay in resorts on his mission trips. He was jailed more than once and shipwrecked and eventually died for his faith. In the midst of his Plan A to Plan B to Plan Whatever, he found himself in a small and damp prison cell and while there, he wrote a few letters to encourage others.

Those random letters, which should have been destroyed over time, instead survived and now form the core writings of our New Testament. Who would have ever thought that would have happened?

Hebrews 11 states that by faith all of these people kept going on even when they did not see the outcomes they wanted—even when their Plan A had been changed and they were on Plan Q or Plan R—they kept trusting God. They kept their faith and God continued to work through them.

I am no Apostle Paul nor a great leader like Moses. My decisions are small and insignificant. But that does not diminish in any way the importance of being willing, when Plan A does not work, to look for another plan—and to be willing, just as they did with much greater issues, to still trust God.

The truth is…. from the debris left by imploding plans—you can reassemble the pieces—you can create something that still has worth—something perhaps practical or good. Or, in the case of a sage-green/battleship gray chair and a BIG box…… you can create a few magical moments.

Not too bad for Plan C.


The Life-Cycle of a Big Box—from the common everyday box to a fort built with love and laughter

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