Last month we threw a Christmas Party for the Volunteers in our Children’s Ministry. These are great people who serve all year long mentoring kids in our community. They work hard and do what they do on top of their jobs, families, and other commitments.

We were going to meet up at the church and bus everyone down to Alto Loma, which is about 40 minutes from where we’re at in Victorville. Alto Loma has a few neighborhoods with Main Street Electrical Parade style Christmas lights covering the landscape. It’s like stepping into another dimension. The people who live there spend half the year getting ready for Christmas.

Our staff was excited to take out volunteers and their families to experience this. We put together a great event, filled with games and prizes to give away on the bus ride down, snacks and drinks while they toured the sights, and a few short Christmas movies to watch on the ride back. Everything we wanted to do was coming together, except for one thing.

It was scheduled to rain, with a chance of snow, all day Monday when we were planning to go down the pass to Alto Loma.

We had charter buses already chartered. We had games, prizes, and refreshments ready to go for hundreds of people. The linchpin to our plan, visiting Alto Loma, now stood a really good chance of falling through.

When I saw the weather report Saturday morning I started making calls to my staff immediately. We still wanted to do something for our volunteers but how in the world were we supposed to throw something together so soon? We already had weekend services to get ready for leaving only a couple of hours on Monday to really work on it. So we made a bold decision.

We told our volunteers, who were also worried about the weather report, that we would still have something for them and their families at the church on Monday, rain, shine or snow, even though we had no idea what it would be.

We met Monday morning and started working on Plan B. By the end of our meeting I think we ended up with Plan G.

We decided to have everyone meet in the chapel. We set up all of our food and drinks there, along with a few last-minute Christmas decorations (thankfully it was already pretty decorated for Christmas as it was, so we didn’t have a lot to do there). Everyone had some time to mingle and hang out with some Christmas music playing in the background. Then we loaded everyone up on our buses (did I mention that our deposit was non-refundable?) and, instead of going down to Alto Loma, we simply bused around our local community and enjoyed some of the lights there.

We did some of our bus games and gave away some cool prizes along the way. The lights around our area weren’t half as good as the ones we would have seen in Alto Loma, but some of them were pretty cool. When we got back to church we watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and called it a night. Even thought things didn’t go the way we wanted them to, everyone still seemed to have a good time.

This little snafu was a great reminder to me of two assets that everything in our lives need:

1. Planning
Our staff had a great plan in place. We used this planning form that has taken me years to perfect. It’s got spots for pretty much everything you’ll need to think through for an event. It even has a spot to help you think through what to do if it gets rained out which, ironically, I overlooked. But sometimes a good plan, no matter how good it is, is not enough. Every good plan needs…

2. Flexibility
I hadn’t planned on rain. That’s a detail I definitely should have thought more about with our outdoor winter event. No question there. Truth be told, though, no matter how well you plan for something there’s always something else that will happen, requiring some kind of change in what you want to do. Always. It seems to be an immutable law of life that none of us can ever fully escape.

And that’s OK. As hard as it was for us going through it, we still had fun and came out of it better on the other side. It wasn’t easy, but great things in life never are.

As you think about what you have going on in your life right now, it’s always good to go into it with a plan. It would be irresponsible not to. But leave some space for something to go wrong, because it probably will.

Being willing to flex when life happens to your plans will help you relax and have more fun during the process.

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