Even The Best of Plans Go Awry


Joy found the tub in the hotel to be the best place to escape from the noise of the rest of us! (She looks so young!)

As we’re about to wrap up our final weekend of conferences, the engagements and travels of many years come to mind. One I shared in The Mom Walk, and I thought you might enjoy this story of a time my own ideals proved impossible to reach!

Several years ago, the girls and I were given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Australia for several days of speaking and travel. The plans called for eighteen days of speaking–twenty-nine times total, in five different cities! Obviously we were very excited about the trip. We were dreaming of kangaroos and koalas, exploring places we’d only seen in pictures, and having an adventure together.

Little did we know the adventures would begin before we left the driveway!

I had high ideals for all I could accomplish before we left. Plans to stock the freezer with homemade food, leave the house in tip-top condition, and spend a lot of quality time with the boys (who would remain behind this time) were on my agenda. However, it seems my agenda went unnoticed by several key players.

One morning just before our trip, there was grocery shopping to be done. Opening my car door after an evening of freezing temperatures, I was puzzled by the brown freckles that had apparently appeared overnight–all over every surface of the car! Puzzled, I searched for the source–and found it in an empty Diet Dr. Pepper can. One of the children (names withheld to protect the guilty!) had left an unopened can in the car and the freezing temperatures had caused it to explode!

The very next morning, we returned from church ready to enjoy our usual relaxing Sunday afternoon routine. Heading upstairs to change clothes, I stepped into my bathroom … and a puddle of water! The entire closet, bathroom, and half my bedroom were sopping wet. Clay shut off the under-sink water valve and ran to the garage to discover that the cold weather had wreaked havoc on our pipes, and there was water spewing all over the furniture, books, and pictures stored there–all precious things in storage between moves, including my library.

So much for a quiet, relaxing afternoon! Ripping up carpet, moving furniture, and frantically moving books and clothing to other rooms became the activity of the day.

By the time we left for our trip, we had eaten fast food for almost every meal, I wracked up a big library fine, got into a useless argument–about clothing!–with one of my teenage sons, and missed a child’s piano lesson (which had to be paid for, regardless.) I put my credit card into the receipt outlet at a gas station and had to use my fingernails and a screwdriver to get it out–a little distracted, you say?! There were no meals lovingly stacked in the freezer, and as we drove to the airport, Clay suddenly asked, “What happened in here? This car is filthy! What is that junk all over the dashboard and seats? Good grief, it smells in here.”

When I finally settled into my seat, thrilled to just be sitting after the previous several weeks of craziness, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. We were off!

And then, it began. The voice of the enemy and my own inner accusations …

How can I speak to all these women? We have been in full-time ministry for over thirty years, and I can’t even keep the car clean! Why don’t I have my act together? What a failure these two weeks have been!

I leaned back into my chair, taking my concerns to my Heavenly Father. What did He think? I opened my Bible, and there was His answer–a comfort to my hear …

Just as a father has compassion on His children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.”  ~ Psalm 103:13-14

How I needed that reminder that day! The One who created man and woman from dust knows–remembers!– that we are dust. Whew!

Now if only I would remember that more often! Now, I wonder, what will this week of conferences hold?! Can’t wait to see so many of you this weekend. I so loved being with such precious ones in Dallas.

Checking to be sure there are no unopened soft drinks sitting in the car……..

Related posts:


  1. Bekah furches says

    Thank you for this. I am headed to the conference tomorrow afternoon. As far as I can remember, in almost 12 years of parenting, this is my first getaway for me. And I too had grand plans of all that would be accomplished for the house and meals and budget and cleaning…etc…as well as getting extra sleep to be fully rested and maybe even fasting and praying for an open heart. As I sit here with 24 hours or so left and soooo much left on “the list” I am encouraged by your words. Can’t wait to be refreshed!

  2. Judy says

    Ah yes – it’s a mercy that a clean car is not the measure of our success as mothers! Thank you for the good humour expressed here; for helping us to lighten up.

  3. Stacey says

    Oh my, if my husband ever said anything about the condition of my/our car, I think he’d still be standing on the side of the road after I kicked him out! lol You have to know that I only wash the exterior of my car twice (yes, I said twice) a year and that is being generous. Somehow, I still function and manage my 5 children even with a dirty car. :)

  4. Samantha Bryan says

    I am not surprised all that happened. The enemy loves to try to wreak havoc on those who are serving him. I was at one of those Australian conferences and know how much I and others were blessed. Be assured that whatever happened in the lead-up, that by not giving up, by not staying home to be a “perfect” mum with a “perfect” car, you were used of God to minister to us mightily. We valued your authenticity and the fact that life goes awry for you and yet you continue to press on with idealistic, joy-filled (or joy-aimed, at least) motherhood, inspired us to do the same. Bless you, Sally. You have accomplished more in your life of giving hope and inspiration and strategies than you will ever know. Oh, and thank Clay and the boys for dealing with the waterpipes and meals and Dr Pepper stains on their own so that you and the girls could come. We appreciate them too.

  5. Nanette says

    Oh, Sally,
    Thank you for this. I’m sitting here, still in my exercise clothes (which didn’t happen). My son is laying on the sofa, taking a nap, with a humidifier to ease his 9 days of bronchitis. I was so frustrated with him this morning because he didn’t get the new multiplication concept I was teaching him. I was so afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of what would happen if he never learns to read well (he struggles). Now, removed from the heat of the moment and having read your post, I’m reminded that the poor little guy needs grace. His papa has had to work out of state for 18 months, now. His grandparents moved away last week and I recently spent a weekend at the hospital with a loved one. Thank you for reminding me that God remembers that we are dust. I needed to remember that as I clean the straw out of my car from our latest farm project…

  6. says

    Wow what a story, strangely made me feel better. See I’m a single mother of 3 daughter ( 5,4 and 2) so needless to say things can get pretty chaotic.

    So today while I was filling the tub for bath time I noticed that I was missing the youngest little one (she likes to play Hide-and-go poop on me, isn’t potty training fun!) so of course I started looking and smelling for her, and there she was in a pile of freshly washed closed still warm from the dryer, waiting to be folded, and there she use my laundry hamper to go potty. And those clothes instead of being folded returned to the laundry machine!

    I can now write this down, with a little smile, cause the laundry is now in the dryer and the girls are clean and in bed and, here I am, reading your post and thinking. Life isn’t so bad after all.

    Have a lovely blessed evening

  7. says

    How timely that you would share this story. I’m in Canada and boarding a plane tomorrow to come to Mom Heart in NC. I can’t wait. That being said, nothing about my preparation has gone as smoothly in real life as it did in my head weeks ago as I began to plan.
    But regardless, I’ll be there and look forward to hearing you speak.

  8. says

    Hey Sally, I just wanted to hop on to tell you that 10 women just left my house for our weekly Bible study/book club get together.

    We are reading Desperate and tonight we talked about what our soul-filling spaces were. They all chimed in and said THIS is our soul-filling space…coming to your house each week to eat dessert and drink coffee and talk through books.

    For someone who cried herself to sleep last night because yesterday was such a hard day, the Lord used their words to bless me and remind me that He does have a purpose for me and He is using me. It amazes me that opening my home and inviting other Moms in would be so refreshing for them. It is bringing all of us life.

    I just wanted to say thank you for your work. Oh, how the Lord is using you to mentor us via your books and we are becoming more purposeful women because of it. We’re getting together to eat cake. The room is filled with laughter and relief as we talk about how we’re all in the same boat. Tonight I’m so humbled and filled that God is allowing me to be used to just open my house and let them come.

  9. Keri says

    Dear Sally,

    Since I couldn’t find an email address to use directly to you, I’m commenting on the post that has most resonated with me recently.

    I’m writing to thank you for (among countless other things) providing a strategy for me to tackle my day today…

    Last week was a busier one than usual, full of schoolwork, doctor’s appointments, preparation for a history fair on Saturday, and attempts to squeeze a little bit of fun out of life while my husband had the week off from work. Saturday was consumed by the history fair itself (a rousing success), and then we came home exhausted only to learn of the sudden death of someone in our family who was far too young to die. This added the elements of grief in our hearts, a scrambling to fill the needs of his immediate family members, and an uncertainty in our schedules.

    Today – Monday – it seems best to me to put my life in order again after the busyness and chaos of the past 7 days. I canceled all plans for schooling for the day and looked around me to see what to do next…

    Piles of clutter everywhere…dirty laundry crying out for help…realizing the sheets on the beds haven’t been changed in far too long….bathrooms in dire need of attention…visible dust…a needy friend to call and check on…lab results to call and inquire about…and so on and so forth. You know these circumstances well.

    And as the feelings of drowning in tasks began to wash over me, I suddenly thought, “I’m going to borrow a move from the Sally Clarkson Playbook!”

    As soon as I get up from the computer, I will sit at the kitchen table with a candle lit, some nice music playing, and some pretty paper on which to make a to-do list. I’ll add some civilization, as you say, to what feels like a chaotic setting. I’ll do my best to ignore shouts and shrieks coming from the kids playing in the basement unless I hear the words “I’m bleeding” or “It’s a humongous spider.”

    I’ll whisper a prayer of thanksgiving and a request for an extra measure of grace and strength. And I have no doubt that I’ll get up from the table with a renewed sense of order and purpose, and I’ll tackle my day with a better perspective.

    Thank you, dear, dear Sally, for allowing God to use you to inspire and instruct young(ish) moms like me in the dailiness of the work He has given us to do. You are appreciated, admired, and loved.

    Many blessings on YOUR Monday….

    Keri Brown

  10. says

    I am no longer certain the place you are getting your information,
    however good topic. I needs to spend a while learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  11. says

    Notwithstanding, one the arrangement of fare and import was
    generally created, the following variable was “expense”.
    On the other hand, if you pay close attention to the lounging areas of many individuals,
    you can find a key to their personalities therein, as a natural tones indicate a hardworking persons desire to
    relax. ‘ Colors can be added to the textiles in many different ways, adding colours is one of the main way that helps in enhancing the touch,
    design and patterns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>