This post comes on a Saturday because today is my baby brother’s 21st birthday.

And last night was his first-ever surprise party.

For nearly two weeks, my mom and I have been scheming, planning, conspiring with his friends, (mostly) without Daniel’s knowledge. Behind his back, we got all the details in place: the pizza, the balloons, the RSVPs, the secret instructions. Then, yesterday afternoon, while he was out, friends trickled in one by one, parking around the corner, dashing through the door with nervous glances over their shoulders.

All for the pleasure of this face when he walked in the door.

He was certainly taken off-guard. His plans for Friday night probably didn’t include playing Telephone Pictionary with a crazy mob of wonderful friends. But he was smiling all night and on into this morning.

When it comes to life, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I am a natural-born control freak. I like to know what’s coming around the corner. Ducks in a row. Two by two, actually. Surprises throw off my groove. I don’t like having to recalculate my life direction like a human GPS.

But sometimes, I think, surprises are good for us. Whether they come in the form of a new job that requires a speedy and complete overhaul of my skills, or involve rearranging your entire schedule to have impromptu tea with an old friend, they keep us flexible. I think they also tell us that there’s Someone Else scheming for our good, even when that wasn’t part of our plans. He is capable of “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

And yes, they can be so full of joy we never even anticipated–both for the surpriser and the surprisee.

What surprises has God sprung on your life lately? I’d love to hear your “recalculating” stories! 

Also, several of you have mentioned that you’d like to post comments, but don’t know how. I’ve tweaked the blog machinery, so hopefully now it’s a bit less confusing. At the bottom of each post, there’s a link saying “X number of comments.” Click on it, and you should be able to read others’ comments as well as post your own. Type your message, then select an option from the drop-down list. You can use a Blogger, WordPress, or Google ID, or just leave your name, or even choose to remain Anonymous (hat-tip to the new Shakespeare movie coming out).

One last thing: at the bottom of each post, there’s a new icon that looks like an envelope with an arrow on it. That means you can now send a post you like directly to your friends by e-mail! This technology and I are slowly becoming friends.