Yesterday did not go the way I’d planned.

On the first day of the new year, I flipped through my new 2011 wall calendar and wrote in all the important dates – birthdays, anniversaries, special events. In the box marked October 11th, I wrote two things:

Liv – 37 (because that’s my birthday) and, in all caps, BOOK RELEASE DATE!!! 

Well, it was still my birthday yesterday – that didn’t change. But the book deal crumbled just before going to press (you can read about that here). I’d worked for two years with my publisher on every little detail, so it knocked the wind out of my sails when they suddenly stopped publishing new books – including mine. Still, I trusted there was a reason it was not meant to be. Now I know what it was.

Had I been planning a big release party, traveling on a book tour or worried about details surrounding the launch, I couldn’t have been fully present these past couple of weeks, during one of the most important and sacred times of my life. I doubt I could have sat with my dad day and night at the hospital or been with my family, distraction-free, in these difficult days of planning his memorial service. And I’m sure I couldn’t have felt overjoyed about my first book coming out while wading through grief.

I believe everything happens (or doesn’t happen) for a reason. That includes, hard as it is to swallow, my dad’s passing at such a young age and with so much work left to do. All I can figure is God must have had a really good reason for plucking him up from the earth and taking him home. It sucks that I may never know why. But when I step back to see the big picture, I am reminded there’s a master plan that’s so much grander than what’s written on my calendar.

Yesterday, I spent my birthday with dozens of family members who had come to town to celebrate my dad’s life and support us through this hailstorm of shock and sadness. I blew out candles on a birthday cake (albeit through some tears) and got lots of hugs from people I adore. It had not been part of my original plan, but it was exactly where I was supposed to be – focused on family, wrapped in love.

The book will happen someday, when the time is right. Because that’s how everything happens – good and bad, beautiful and sad, right on time. Much to my chagrin, I can’t control any of it. But I do have a choice: I can curse and detest the master plan or recognize the magic of how it all unfolds. I know for sure which one my always-optimistic dad would want me to choose. So that’s my plan – to keep finding beauty in each day. Even on the sad ones.