We plan. God laughs.

pauseOur plans for the entire weekend fell apart.

A workshop I planned on hosting had to be rescheduled due to dangerous weather conditions. I felt so disappointed. I’d been looking forward to the chance to see old friends and benefit from the shared experience, strength, and hope during the workshop. I was elated that my new friends would have the chance to meet my old friends, too. But since safety was prioritized over excitement (wisely so), we cancelled the night before. At the last minute, I found myself frantically calling people who were planning to attend, letting them know about the cancellation and that the workshop would be rescheduled. In the hubbub of cancelling plans, I forgot to cancel our restaurant reservation and later apologized profusely to the woman who called to be sure they had the right date on their calendar.

The next day, we had plans to attend my sister’s 30th birthday celebration. I made some fabulous hummus and planned on picking up some veggies to go along with it. I picked out a yellow sundress for my baby to wear and my new shirt and khaki pants for myself. I even ensured I’d have plenty of time to bathe and genuinely fix my hair–and that’s rare these days, folks.

But Sunday morning, my niece fell victim to a stomach virus, and vomit was the cancellation culprit. My little sister changed her plans and went on a mini road trip instead. I was bummed that I wouldn’t get to celebrate her birthday with her and sad that I wouldn’t get to spend time with the rest of my family, either, especially on such a beautiful day.

My mentor reminded me over the course of the weekend that, “We plan. God laughs.”

This might be the theme of my life.

I am anal to the nth degree when it comes to planning. I do not like last-minute changes. I certainly do not like guests showing up unannounced. I want to know the date, time, and menu for holiday gatherings at least one month in advance, and preferably two. When I managed the career services department at my alma mater, I created a year-long to-do list, month by month, and my former administrative assistant still uses it to this day to keep herself and others on task and working ahead to avoid scrambling and last-minute chaos.

God knows all of this about me. And He certainly is amused by my inability to give in, flex my schedule, and let go of my plans. I believe this is why He has repeatedly put me in situations that require flexibility, adaptability, and total lack of control. I have made progress. But I’m still a planner by nature.

This weekend, I learned that there are always gifts to be discovered when plans go awry.

Our daughter napping during the rain this weekend

Our daughter napping during the rain this weekend

As my husband, daughter, and I waited for any stragglers who might show up at the cancelled workshop, I brewed a pot of coffee and enjoyed a doughnut we picked up on our way. A friend showed up to post a cancellation notice on the door, handmade by his daughter (and totally adorable). Two of his beautiful and rambunctious daughters accompanied him, and they had the chance to meet our baby and hold her and squish her cheeks for a while. As I nursed my baby in the next room, I heard through the old, thin walls my husband chatting with my friend, discussing landscaping and offering help to one another. The heavy downpour sounded light, steady, and calming to me as I sat right next to a large window, watching the rain cascade onto the shrubs, sipping a hot cup of coffee as my daughter nursed her way to sleep.

Sunday, after the birthday party was cancelled, I found myself with an entire day that required no plans, no schedule, and no need to wear real clothes. So I stayed in my comfy pajamas, wrote my teaching philosophy in preparation for a job interview, and took a much-needed nap that afternoon while my daughter did the same.

Sunset on the porch with my baby

Sunset on the porch with my baby

As I watched the sunset with her on our rickety old porch later that evening, I thanked God for the changes in our plans. I had needed time to breathe, time to write, and time to rest. I just didn’t know it because I hadn’t stopped moving long enough to admit to myself how totally exhausted I felt.

I plan. And sometimes God laughs.

This weekend, I think He just shook His head, orchestrated changes, and smiled as He watched me savor my coffee, gaze at my sleeping baby, cover myself with three blankets at three o’clock in the afternoon, and admire the damp, green life light up in our yard as the sun melted over it.

 

 

Day 22–Ur-ine love

*Thanks to my college buddy, Shannon Dickerson, for writing today’s post as part of the 28 days of love project. Check out her personal blog as well.*

little dogToday I had an appointment with the carpet cleaning people.  I came home from school and waited patiently on the representative to come in and provide an estimate and/or clean the carpet.  Finally, the door bell rang.  I looked through the glass and immediately thought, “This must be the owner’s son.  He can’t be more than 18 years old.”  Regardless of his youthful appearance, he came in and began to walk through the house and ask questions about my expectations and concerns with the carpet.  I kindly answered his questions.  He inquired about a “black light inspection”.  I kind of hesitated because of my knowledge of black lights and the fact that they reveal all of your dirty secrets…literally.  I agreed to the inspection after warning him about the reality of finding dog urine in the carpet.  Yes, I know it is gross, but several months ago I had a moment of temporary insanity that you can read about here.

Turning off the lights and walking through the house with his black light, he said, “Is all this from the same dog?”  I immediately wanted to lie and tell him I had no idea because I was really the neighbor instead of the owner.  Humbled, I decided that I should grow up and address the question.  Using my best teacher voice and attitude, I did answer his question with a question of my own. I said, “Why? Looking at the carpet, would you assume otherwise?”  He kindly responded, “Well, most of the urine spots are tiny.  But, over here I found a large spot.”  I cringed and said, “Most of the urine spots sounds like a lot.  Is it really that bad?”  He recognized my look of panic and explained that he didn’t find as many spots as he has seen in some homes.  However, the ones he found were all quarter size and then he found one spot that was more like basketball size.  Immediately putting the pieces of the puzzle together, I kind of grinned.  I and said, “Oh. Well. We, uh, do only have one tiny dog in the house, but we also potty trained a toddler last summer.”  I truly thought the poor kid was going to choke.  I later found out that he is old enough to be married and has a three month old baby girl.  I assume he hasn’t considered the fact that all the urine he has cleaned in houses might not belong to the four-legged animals.  Now he knows what he has to look forward to as well.

I’m sure by now you are wondering how this relates to gratitude.  It eventually does.

While the living area was drying and waiting for the furniture to be returned to the normal position, I was truly challenged as a mother.  All three girls thought it was incredibly awesome to have the couch in the middle of the kitchen/dining floor.  They actually squealed as they sat on the couch by the table and said, “We really get to eat on the couch today?”  They were into everything.  Blake was insistent that I paint her toenails purple and fingernails pink while Taylor was attempting to eat everything she could get into her mouth.  Kennedy was wandering around in a state of hormonal bliss, anticipating her “date” to church within the hour.  The phone rang about 1.4 million times while that sweet little dog barked and scratched at the back door because she was cold and wet.  If you have a child or have ever been within 10 square miles of one, you know the kind of day I was having.  Oh, and to make it all better, this Diet Coke addict was on hour number 48 without caffeine.  It was a conglomeration of unfortunate events.

Finally, it was bed time for the girls.  As Taylor was saying her prayers (after I yelled at her again for stopping in the kitchen for another bite of food), she prayed, “Dear God, thank you for today and all the things you have given me.  Please help me make better choices tomorrow.  I know I did not make good choices today so please, please help me tomorrow…amen.”

big famWow.  I felt like I had been picked up and shaken.  Although it’s not pleasant to think about, or broadcast online, I realized that my life, especially my mothering, is a lot like our nasty carpet.  On the surface it appears relatively clean, but careful scrutiny reveals some urine spots.  And, all of those spots didn’t necessarily come from the most obvious source.   I am impatient and quick to judge my children’s behavior.  I probably have unrealistic expectations.  I certainly get frustrated at times and say “those things” that only “those parents” might say.  And in typical mom fashion, after a day like today, I begin to doubt my ability to shape emotionally-healthy, responsible young ladies.

Tonight, Taylor’s precious prayer reminded me that just like the kid came in with a special light and saw the spots on our carpet, when I asked him to, he essentially erased them.  I am incredibly grateful that my God can look at me, see my spots, hear my words and erase my blemishes.  I have been a believer for a long time.  However, I’ve struggled with the reality of God erasing and forgetting my sin because I personally have such a hard time with “forgetting”.  Today, God opened my eyes and my heart.  Within minutes of getting the last child to sleep, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s Facebook status.  She said, “You have the exact qualities God knew your kids would need in a mother.  So, each day, hold up your willingness and ask God to make you the best version of you that you can possibly be.”

I never imagined that urine would be involved in my daily walk as a Christian.  I appreciate that my God can use the most unusual circumstances to get my attention.  I am working on feeling at peace with my shortcomings as a mother, and I do cherish those timely words by Lysa TerKeurst.  This daily walk with kids, dogs, jobs, expectations is certainly not always pretty; however, I can now say that I am grateful for what I learned from the stains left behind.