What’s in a Life Plan Anyway?

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I remember the first time I heard the words “Life Plan.” I was visiting my best friend in Chicago in what felt like the dead of winter (It was December 1) of last year. My life had taken a drastic turn. Things were falling apart. More specifically, I was falling apart. Just two months prior I had suffered my second miscarriage, gone through infertility testing and then out of the blue was delivered shattering news. Friends, whom I will always be grateful for, flew me to visit them in Louisville and then I made a 2 day stop in Chicago before returning home to the Dominican Republic.

It was there in Chicago that my friend spoke those words “Life Plan” into my vocabulary. We weren’t even talking about the state of my own life, but I couldn’t help but apply them to the house of cards were toppling and I was questioning… everything, those two words “Life Plan” would stay with me.

In February of 2017 as I was showering one day (don’t all good ideas happen in the bathroom? No? Just me?), those words came back to my mind. I had recently confessed to the Leadership of our ministry that I was struggling terribly and could no longer manage my area. I was incredibly broken, but as I look back, it was also an incredibly brave moment. I asked for time away. I asked for a sabbatical and my prayer had been answered. Our family would return to the states for four months to heal, repair, restore, and figure a few things out.

Shortly after we moved into a short-term rental in Las Vegas, I began getting up and journaling in the morning (this is where this blog was born) and reading the Word voraciously. One day, as I was asking God to reveal what he was doing in my life, and what all of it was for, a friend of the ministry posted on Facebook about his wife’s new journey as a Life Plan Coach. I knew this guy, but I had never met his wife. Within an hour, I had sent her an email, revealing all of my mess and hoping she would meet with me. We went back and forth and finally near the end of July, we would meet for the first time. Our family was taking a Nor. Cal to So. Cal road trip and the part I was most looking forward to was our time in Huntington Beach with Rene Clark.

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After we announced to our family at Disneyland that we were pregnant and enjoyed all the magic and wonder of my favorite place on Earth, my parents took the girls back to Vegas and Alan and I continued to Huntington Beach. We arrived not at all prepared for what the two days would entail. **Spoiler alert: By the end, I was revived, refreshed, purposed, and I felt understood. Rene helped me understand how God has wired me, and how the events and chapters of my life would guide and shape who I am and who I am to be. Also, Alan was a part of my life plan. He sat with me and Rene for two days, listening to my heart, my past, my convictions, dreams, and ultimately would help inform and affirm my life plan.

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While many people who seek out a Life Plan are truly at a cross road, this wasn’t entirely my case. I had certain decisions already made and some were made for me. Alan and I were about 75% decided that we would not be returning to the mission field (another blog another day), I was 13 weeks pregnant and we decided I would be homeschooling our 7 year olds. So, I wasn’t at a crossroads in the sense that I was professionally looking for work immediately. I was seeking out wisdom, Holy Spirit leading and guidance. I had become burned out in my work. I wasn’t sure I was using my gifts, I wasn’t even sure what my gifts were anymore. And starting over. What about the day when my kids are grown? What about when I do want to work again? What about volunteering? Do I just volunteer anywhere in church? I don’t really like to hold babies (other than my own), I mean, if I am being honest.

What I discovered about myself and how God has created me was truly empowering. The definition of empowering is to help someone “dare” to do something they didn’t think they could do on their own. I left my time at the “Clark Cottage” as Todd and Rene call it, soaring.

The Patterson Life Plan uses a spiral technique of starting big picture- at a 35,000 foot level, and as you spiral and wind down, the focus grows tighter and tighter as does the wisdom and insight gained. We began by charting out the major turning points in my life. A turning point is something that literally makes you turn another direction. It’s not just something that happens in your life. It changes you. After charting these points in my life, we would come back to it many times, breaking it into “chapters” and then titling them. My life chapters were titled “abandoned”, “accepted”, “on mission”, “broken”, and “restored”  I am currently in the restoration chapter. Apart from naming these parts of my life we would calculate the highs and lows of these turning points. It was clear that a drastic change was needed and God was indeed moving us off of the mission field.

Rene would help me work through the Life Domains: personal, family, vocation, church, and community while asking 4 questions:
What is right? (optimize)
What is wrong? (change)
What is confused? (clarify)
What is missing? (add)

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Somewhere close to 20 charts were completed by the end of 2 days. We mapped out my core values, strengths, passions, a replenishment cycle, vocational gating, and ultimately what God has wired me to do: Care, Create, and Connect. These three things born through unique wiring paired with life events- both challenges and highlights have brought me to where I am.

Caring: enough to take the extra step for someone to feel known

Creating: environments where others can come as they are and feel safe

Connecting: others to seeing themselves as Jesus does. 

In the drastic reordering of my life that God was orchestrating, it was clear that these gifts were to first be used inside our home, both in mothering and as a wife. In time, I know he will use these gifts elsewhere, and when the time comes professionally to take on something, I know where my heart longs to be, and more importantly I know why.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the time that the Clark’s invested in us during our brief time. The thoughtfulness, the care, the generousness and love we received will forever be something I carry with me.

Rene is a beautiful person inside and out and I could not recommend going through this process with anyone other than her. Rene’s attention to your words, details, and what God has put inside you is filled with wisdom, reflective prayer and true love to see your passions and dreams discovered. I could not have dared to step out in faith and make decisions that our family made that have affected EVERYTHING without this discovery process. Without a doubt it has been the best thing that happened this year in my personal development.

If you guys are interested in a Life Plan, you can contact Rene at: rene@eat-art.org

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