When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan: Guest Blog with Author Cynthia Ruchti

Beth Vogt Faith, Life, When Life Doesn't Go According to Plan 72 Comments

My novel, Catch a Falling Star, asks the question: Is life about accomplishing plans … or wishes coming true … or something more? 


Today starts the “When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan” Wednesday blog series, 11 guest posts by authors and writers, including Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, and  Susan May Warren,  who explore the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Today’s post is by my friend, author Cynthia Ruchti.



One of the pieces of “sage” wisdom—which is different from hunter green or celadon, as we all know, and not even close to kiwi—that I give young moms is “Write your schedule on your calendar in pencil. That way it won’t be so annoying when you have to erase it because of the kids’ flu/ear infection/pink eye/head lice/field trip/allergy appointment/soccer tournament/snow day.”

I usually say it in fewer words, but the point is that I got in the habit early: Consider everything written in pencil, because it rarely stays the way you thought it would.

We planned for our first much-needed week-long vacation with our one-year-old daughter at a family-friendly but rustic resort on a northwoods lake that had enough beach for me and enough fish for my husband. The darling one-year-old developed a fever so high that we spent the first night of the vacation in the northwoods emergency room, packed up the cabin the second day, drove home sponging the still-fevered child, visited our hometown emergency room, and gave up anything that looked remotely like rest or sleep until her dangerously high fever finally broke and the virus wandered off.

As any work-at-home mom will tell you, when a husband leaves for work asking, “What do you plan to do today, honey?” the woman is tempted to answer, “What does it matter? Something will come up to change those plans. I can tell you what I hope to get done today. Check in later to see how that went.”

After a way too long battle with Lyme disease and a ten-day hospitalization for high-powered antibiotics every four hours around the clock, I came home prepared to restart my life. Lyme disease had stolen so much of it for the previous three years. At my post-hospitalization check-up, the doctor asked how I was feeling. “Strange,” I said, swallowing hard. “I think I’m pregnant.” Many of the Lyme disease symptoms remained and were now joined by tell-tale morning sickness.

Eight and a half months later, our third child was born…nine years after our second child. At one point we had two teens and a toddler in the same house. Pencil. Write everything in pencil.

I’m logging my schedule in my smartphone these days. For some reason, hitting delete isn’t as painful as wearing out an eraser. But over time I came to see that the unplanned can be as huggable as a newborn with my artistic side and my husband’s dreamy eyes.

There’s almost always something to embrace in the unplanned. A new adventure. A soul-challenge that turns out to be soul-strengthening. A story to tell. A reason to cling all the harder to the God who is never surprised.

 What have you found to embrace in the unplanned? 

Cynthia Ruchti’s newest release, When the Morning Glory Blooms, is a novel of three eras of stories born from the unplanned, and embraceable grace found in the tangles. You can connect with her and learn about her other books and upcoming projects at www.cynthiaruchti.com or www.facebook.com/cynthiaruchtireaderpage .


When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan Goodie Basket Rafflecopter Giveaway: I’m putting together a collection of goodies — including books by Rachel Hauck, Deb Raney, and Cynthia Ruchti — & the reader-suggested chocolates, a journal, a Starbucks card … and more. Click on the Rafflecopter link to enter. 


Comments 72

  1. Girl, you had me at ‘celadon’.
    Unplanned? I had a baby at 39 and now he’s 10,and our oldest is 22. DO I feel 49 11/12ths? Nope.
    Which is a blessing in disguise. And so is he.

  2. Jennifer, you made me laugh so hard with “celadon”! Thanks for the morning chuckle. And did you notice the color of Beth’s background? I did NOT know that ahead of writing the post. Anyway, yes, those phases of motherhood keep us young and keep us on our knees, don’t they?

  3. Cynthia, at the part about your third child being born, I couldn’t help but think of my parents. After they’d had three kids, my mom apparently told my dad she either wanted to have a fourth kid or go back to college. They prayed about it for quite awhile and decided on college. And then, about a semester into it, my mom found out she was pregnant. Guess it was an “and” instead of an “or.” 🙂

    I’m not all that great at “unplanned.” I like schedules. But I feel like God has been teaching me to be a little more flexible…and one of the blessings I’ve found in the middle of the unplanned or unexpected is having my eyes opened to the people around me rather than just my to-dos.

  4. Cynthia and Jennifer, I’m right there with you in that “oops” baby journey! When our 3 were 14, 10 and 8, the Lord blessed us with a huge surprise (especially since I wasn’t supposed to be able to conceive at all!) Our “baby” is 22 now, got married last summer, and continues to be such a joy in our lives. She really helped us learn to see everything as a gift from God’s hand, whether it was a gift to teach us something we needed to grow, or just a pure blessing we couldn’t have imagined before. Great post, Cynthia!

    1. So many of us would say, “I wish I’d learned earlier that God doesn’t operate under the Plan B policy. Every plan in His genius mind is a Plan A. We just don’t know it at the time.” 🙂

      1. Post

        I am part of the “Caboose Baby Club” too (as I like to call it). My kiddos were 17, 14, & 12 1/2 when God surprised us (astonished? stunned?) with a fourth child. She is such an unexpected blessing — and I had to let go of all my penned-in plans to embrace her.

  5. Love the celadon. One of our wedding colors. 🙂

    We’re all about unplanned these days. We homeschool, my husband commutes for work, baseball season just began, and my son is having strange – and fortunately mild – nosebleeds in the middle of the night – EVERY night. We’ll be heading to the doc soon if they don’t stop – but after three nights of up-and-down sleep, I feel as if I have an infant again, and I’ve given up on trying to script our days.

  6. Cynthia, I so appreciate your story. And I love green, so I was right there with you as you described their shades. 🙂

    My plans for babies went the opposite way as yours. We were unable to conceive. So, God decided to bless us with two boys via adoption. I lost track of how many things on my calendar I had to change due to illness, asthma and unexpected happenings. I’m embracing the way the Lord is teaching me to let go of my plan and adjusting to His. This is a good lesson, and your examples are beautiful reminders of the good God can bring from the unexpected.

    1. Jeanne, what a beautiful story, and a beautiful reminder that for every woman whose jaw drops when the pregnancy test reads positive is a woman whose heart aches to see results like that. Bless you for your gift of love (adoption)!

  7. I have been “blessed” with a number of UNPLANNED events in my life, as Cynthia well knows. I am her real-life sister and a “contributor” to many of her books!!! (You’re welcome, Cynthia!) I have found that the greatest thing I have learned by these unplanned events is that there is ONE who understands that there IS a plan. The trials will ultimately provide rewards and blessings as long as we can embrace the opportunities to see HIS face through each one. Unplanned pregnancy = most awesome daughter/friend; spouses death = amazing love story realized; seven year separation due to prison sentence of my beloved = Father God’s arms holding us together. The attitude of “expecting the Joy of the Lord” to shine through each trial sets you up to embrace the challenges with excitement rather than dread. Loved the post, sweet sister!

  8. Cynthia, your post made me think of my early parenting years. Everything color coded, nap times right at 2:00 pm, kids in bed by 7 pm and Dave and I collapsing on the couch. As much as I desire to have my life look like a Containers and More store, I have finally realized that life is happening in the runny noses that need to be wiped (yeah, I get to look right into my kids eyes and tell them they’ll be better soon), it’s in the trips to the ER (who else can comfort their child with just a touch and a gentle whisper), and it’s even in the E.P.T. test I took at age 41 that said positive before I could even slow my heart rate down enough to process that “+” sign (really, God, really? Our quiver was not full at 7?)

    So, even though I desire more of a straight line trajectory, one that is marked by colors that give me a clear picture of how my day or week will take shape, I am trying to look for God’s hand guiding the twists and turns of my life and trying not to miss Him and the kaleidoscope of colors that make up this thing called life. And, honestly, I’ll have time to visit Containers and More when the kids are gone, right? Oh, wait, that won’t be for another 14 years….

  9. Post

    It’s a delight to have Cynthia here this morning, starting off the When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan blog series. I met her last September at the ACFW conference and truly, she had me as a friend from “Hello.” She’s delightful and caring — and a talented writer.

    1. Thank you, Beth. But seriously, in that anything-but-chance encounter, I came out of it feeling as if the Lord had just opened a storehouse of treasures and let them spill all over me. Thank you for your faithful and sensitive prayers and friendship. And for this opportunity to chime in on a topic that I know is dear to your heart…and key to your books.

  10. Love your words of wisdom and encouragement this morning.
    Great perspective and great advice. A great reminder that the “unplanned” is exactly what Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is talking about.

      1. Only in the last few years did the context of this verse reveal to me what Paul was talking about. He was talking about ENDURING his circumstances of poverty and affliction – his unplanned. While there are verses like Matthew 19:26 that address DOING the impossible with God, the Philippians verse has been more helpful and hopeful in the unplanned.

  11. And we wonder if God has a sense of humor? Talk about life not going as planned…I am not supposed to be home today. I’m supposed to be on the road to a beautiful bed & breakfast inn with my two sisters, enjoying one another, and with me trying to pull myself away from them long enough to work on much-needed proposals for three exciting new books. A spring ice/snow/sleet/wind blizzard forced us to cancel “our” plans. Disappointment lingered long enough for us to pout. Then we settled back into, “Okay, God. What do you have for us instead?” He’s already begun to answer.

    1. Post
  12. I don’t have an unplanned pregnancy story to share, but I’ve had plenty of unexpected life moments such as foregoing my dream wedding to elope with my husband–celebrating 24 years in October–to going back to school as a non-traditional student and graduating at 40. Life’s unexpected moments have opened doors of blessings. Thank you for sharing yours, Cynthia!

  13. As an ‘older’ single, never married girl I pretty much live my life according to ‘my’ plans. I’m afraid if I ever get married it will be a rough adjustment in the terms of having someone else to consider!

  14. Cynthia:

    We met in Hershey this past January at the book retailers show. How fun to discover we have a mutual friend in Beth!

    The unexpected is not so unexpected, when it comes to life in Christ. I have marveled over the years at how superior God’s plans are to mine. When I would have settled for less, he gave me more. The path is usually a bit rough, a few bumps and ruts along the way, but the destination reached always worth the trip.

    Our latest unexpected event was having a little grandson born 7 weeks premature and Down Syndrome. This was a tough one. But he is thriving and finally home after 9 weeks in the ICU. Already we are seeing people blessed through his little life. God will use him to reveal himself to the world, just like he will our other 5 grandchildren, maybe just a bit differently. We look forward to seeing Him at work in all our lives through little Joseph. I’m determined to embrace the unexpected, because God does not give us these things in spite of his goodness, but because of it.

  15. Getting a little uncomfortable around all this talk about surprise babies. I think my husband and I are way beyond the baby-making age, but so did Abraham. I’m mentioning to God right now that I don’t need another post to write for Beth. 😉

    Cynthia, love the idea of writing our plans in pencil. The quote reminds me flexibility is a good practice throughout life. Thanks for a fun post with a practical message. Beth, thanks for hosting this blog series. Can’t wait to hear everyone’s stories.

    1. Kim, I heard about a celebrity who at 47 is expecting her second child. My first thought was to calculate that when the baby is 13, she’ll be 60…and I know what 60 feels like. Praying for that woman!

  16. Cynthia, I love this! Sometimes I feel like my entire life has been unplanned… which is hilarious coming from a type-A, control-freak personality like me. I’m learning, though. My highest compliment to a friend is that I’m writing our date in my planner… IN PEN.

    God could have given me two well-behaved little girls who do everything they’re supposed to and fit nicely into my orderly world. Instead he gave me two rambunctious boys who do everything backwards (and upside down and loudly!) and remind me of the need for grace–both given and received. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    It’s fun to see how God uses the unexpected to teach us lessons and make us grow… and it’s comforting to know that we can just hold on and enjoy the ride.

    1. You’ve brought up an interesting point, Carla. Do Type B personalities not wrestle with those moments when plans–our plans–fall apart? (If they don’t, I imagine they have other issues!) How many of us have listened to Laura Story’s “Blessings” lyrics and thought, “That’s IT exactly!”?

  17. My life was swimming along. 3 book contracts signed, the advances spent and the books waiting to be written. Children 11,13 and 15 and then … ‘why would you offer to the Lord somethig that costs you nothing’ resulting in a 3 and 4 year old joining us for three months, and then … staying to become part of our forever family! [The books got written too – somehow!]

    1. Marion, you quoted one of my favorite verses of Scripture! And the fact that the books got written, too, proves how eager God is to rush in to rescue when we surrender our plans to Him!

  18. Thank you for being so candid about how your life hasn’t always gone as planned. It’s helpful for that reminder that I’m not alone in experiencing this.

    1. Katie, I don’t know what your situation is, but I was just thinking about all those whose “not as planned” upheaval is devastating. Not just a change of plans but a complete, knee-rattling, gut-wrenching, “Please, Lord, not THIS!” kind of trauma. In my own life and the lives of those I care about, I’m grateful there’s grace for those upheavals. In addition to the ways When the Morning Glory Blooms addresses those, and Beth’s book–Catch a Falling Star–wrestles with heart-tugging questions, I have a nonfiction releasing in a few months called Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices. My prayer is that as we authors come at the topic from all kinds of angles, no matter the issue, readers will find all kinds of grace and hope.

  19. Beth, thanks so much for hosting Cynthia! Cynthia, I loved your wise words: “There’s almost always something to embrace in the unplanned.” Your positive outlook regardless of such a long illness is such an inspiration. Congratulations on your new release!!

    1. Thank you, Donna. In addition to all the unplanned pregnancies in When the Morning Glory Blooms, many other “unplanned” events complicate the plot lines. Some of them surprised even me!

  20. Cynthia, Sorry I was away when you spoke at our MN Chris. Writers Guild about 2 years ago. I’ve heard (& know) I missed a treasure. I’m learning to love disrupted plans/schedules. Having the 2 youngest grandkids home 3 days now, w/ their dad, all of us sick but probably recovering, has sweet shared bonding times that might not have happened any other way.

  21. Great article, Cynthia! I enjoy reading guest posts on my favorite blogs. It adds a fresh viewpoint that keeps us all hopping. 🙂

    Beth, I was glad to see a couple comments from you. Even though I enjoy guest posts, I always miss the hostess when she steps aside.

    My childhood dream was to become an actress, but I was too shy and introverted to pursue lessons. So, when I was 16, I began writing a screenplay (my dad had already written a few). That story I wrote then was just the beginning of my pursuit of writing. Now, I’ve also begun writing novels (and learning a different format that script writing!) and recently completed the first draft of one. Little did I know when I was a Kindergartener dreaming of being Ariel in a live-action version of The Little Mermaid that God’s plan for me would be on the other side of the camera, as a writer.

    The thing that sticks out the most about this unplanned journey is, when my plans fall to pieces or simply don’t work out, the first thing I should do is take a step back and see what God is doing. He’s the one with the blueprints in hand. Obviously, He’s got the best plan. And He’s always busy behind the scenes, even when I can’t see it until much later.



  22. I have a few things scheduled on my calendar but tend to just take things one day at a time. I don’t plan long-term or set big goals. It’s less disappointing when things have to change. I find I’m also more open to God’s leading.

  23. As a work-from-home Grandma (Mimi to my sweet grandsons) I can relate to how plans always seem to get changed, but how blessed I am to be able to have a flexible job where at a moment’s notice I can drop everything and do whatever needs to be done for Connor and Grant. I cherish every moment…planned and unplanned…that I have with them.

  24. Cynthia, My entire writing career was unseen and unplanned–at least, by me! Isn’t it great that God’s ink pen is bigger than our pencils? And the indelible faith He’s given you is obviously writing great stories 🙂

  25. It’s so funny how this keeps getting thrown in my face of late – our church’s new sermon series is titled “Plan B,” and our worship department devotion last week was on the subject (from a totally unrelated study we’re doing) and now this! My husband and I have talked about how nothing is how we’d planned out before we were married – we live in a different state, with different jobs, and a different lifestyle than the one we were anticipating. But somehow, God has been in the middle of it all! I’m just waiting to see which plan He brings out next.

  26. Since I’m in the middle of an unplanned pregnancy right now, this was a timely post for me to read! Working hard at seeing the blessings in this very unexpected life change.

    1. Sweet Emily, I wish I could be there when you first hold that little one in your arms. The challenges won’t end, but you’ll be fortified with a smile meant just for you, arms that wrap around your heart, and a personality that will one day make you say, “What would we have done without this precious child in our lives?” Wish I could be there to witness those beautiful moments.

    1. The other day, it dawned on me that in order for my husband to start receiving Social Security in the nick of time, financially, God had determined the moment my husband was conceived more than six decades ago! A Plan A, indeed! Made me chuckle, and made me grateful in the same breath.

  27. Cynthia, I saw this book before and tried to win it, or was wishing I could. I love this cover. Sure want to read it. Beth, I’m sure hoping to win your new book also. This is going to be fun. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  28. As to plans changing, here issss one of my first ones. I got married a week after my 16th birthday. I lived in a small town where my parents lived. I love my friends and school and church. Then, before school was out in late May, in my Sophomore year, I got pregnant (unplanned) for I planned to graduate from there with my classmates. Well, I could still do it because my mom could watch my baby until I got home. Well, I had Asthma and it kept getting worse and more often. Had to take meds all time, and still very sick. The doctor requested we move back into the Houston area(Baytown) to see if I would get better. It worked, but broke my heart to leave my parents(12 hours away). Well, there went my plan to graduate. My husband did not make enough money for a baby sitter, I did have a sister across town, but we didn’t have 2 cars, and she couldn’t come to my house. So,, no more school for me. I learned real quick that life’s plans could change very quickly. Of course, I realized later that I should have waited until after I graduated. But, as my mom always said, no use crying over spilled milk. So, I went on with life and had 3 more children and a happy life. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

    1. What a beautiful testimony, Maxie! A young life that seemed to be derailing, but by God’s grace you were able to be courageous and stronger than you thought, endured so much, and now are enjoying those amazing children and the wonder that God brings beauty from events that don’t look that way in the beginning. Thanks for sharing your incredible story.

  29. Right now I only have time to skim this posting and discussion, but I plan to return tonight and savor everyone’s comments. During my career planning and schedules ran my life, or so it seemed. Being a secondary school teacher and then a school librarian, 45 minutes periods, 30 minute lunch breaks, and constantly ringing bells segmented everything. And anything unexpected threw everyone into ‘replanning mode .’ Life in retirement still has many responsibilities that require schedules and plans, but interruptions can be more easily handled. And hopefully, we are more sensitive to others’ needs and God’s plan for us in what we see around us.

  30. enjoyed your post and the morning glories, I have a trellis my son built that we plant morning glories each year on and they are so pretty in a heavenly blue color, wish I could put the pic from one year on here for you to see.
    thanks for sharing
    Paula O

  31. Some of those unexpected things are real life changers, a lot of times for the better. Thanks for sharing.

    1. “Life Changers.” Doesn’t that describe so many turning points? They alter life, but so many times in ways we would never choose, but afterward find ourselves grateful for.

  32. Those little surprises (late pregnancies) are amazing. My mother had my sister when she was 40. My oldest brother was 19.
    I am retired (because of health problems), and our only son is 26 and married living in IL. So right now I can pretty much plan things (around how I feel). Our daughter-in-law if expecting our first grandchild. When my husband decides to stop working, and we move to be closer to them, I am sure those grandchildren will keep us busy. Looking forward to those un-planned moments in our later years.

  33. Pingback: When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan Blog Series (& a Winner!) » Beth Vogt: Christian Author, Speaker, Editor

Leave a Reply

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