Journal entry by Vicki Bunke
Last weekend, I was scheduled to travel to Seattle for swim #11 of The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour on Saturday, September 11th. Swim #12 was scheduled in Baltimore for this coming Sunday – September 19th. That was Plan A.
However, late last week I learned that the open water event in Baltimore was cancelled. But with Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher’s help, we came up with a Plan B. The Swim Across America – Baltimore team had a pool swim scheduled for this past Sunday, September 12th. I just needed to find a way to get from Seattle to Baltimore after my Saturday swim, and then from Baltimore back to Atlanta after my Sunday morning swim in time for Caroline’s Sunday evening soccer game. And I did!
This past weekend reminded me that life does not always go as planned. Not just because my swim and travel plans changed, but because I spent the entire weekend with people who have had to embrace the Plan Bs in their lives. On Saturday, I met the Benoit family. A family whose story was featured in the sixth episode of WaveMakers, the docu-series about Swim Across America that was produced earlier this year. The Benoit family lost their wife and mother, Kalany, to cancer in 2013. Three years later, their son and brother Matt, died from cancer. They swim each year at the Swim Across America-Seattle event to raise money for cancer research in honor of both Kalany and Matt.
On Sunday morning, I swam alongside Paralympic swimmer and friend to Grace, McClain Hermes. Although McClain lost her eyesight at the age of 8-years-old, she has a strong vision for her future and lives a productive and fulfilled life.
And then on Sunday evening, I stood along the sidelines and watched Caroline play in her soccer game. At the age of 9, Caroline learned firsthand that life doesn’t always go as planned. Caroline has intimate knowledge of the pain that accompanies a Plan B.
As I reflected on my weekend, I realized that it happens to everyone sooner or later. None of us are immune or protected. Our Plan A comes to a shrieking halt, and we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a Plan B. Plan Bs can look different. Sometimes they come in the form of an unwelcomed diagnosis, the sudden loss of a family member or close friend, or some other type of tragedy. Maybe it comes in the shape of a disillusioned church experience, a financial misfortune, or divorce papers on your kitchen counter.
So, what do you do with a shattered life? A prayer answered in a manner you don’t like? How do you find hope in the midst of a Plan B?
Standing on the sidelines watching this past Sunday evening’s soccer game, I realized that to find answers to those questions, I need not look any further than to my youngest daughter. In that regard, Caroline has been my greatest teacher. By watching her over the past 3 years, I have been a witness to the fact that it’s not easy and requires conscious and often constant effort, but Plan Bs have good sides if you are willing to look for them. From my parental perspective, they certainly grant us opportunities to stretch ourselves and draw closer to God if we so choose. I have learned that those who have suffered through a Plan B in life are uniquely empowered to be missionaries of hope to others. I am so grateful to Caroline and other Plan B professionals like her who have taught me that it is possible to choose faith over doubt, light over darkness, and hope over despair.
I have only 2 swims left. Swim #13 is in Dallas on September 25th, and the final swim takes place in Atlanta on October 2nd. Thank you again for all of your love and support as I live out this part of our Plan B one swim at a time.
Here is a video of this past weekend: Amazing Grace Tour – Seattle and Baltimore
It’s funny, that life I designed
Never played out like I had in mind
Had some highs hit the ground
Some ups that went down
But one thing that I’ve figured out
I’m learning there is beauty in it all
It’s not hard to find it
You just have to look
Oh, God is good
(“God is Good” – Francesca Battistelli)