Awhile ago, my little Soleil (now seven) came to me with a very cute invitation.
Come to my club today at 12:30!
How adorable is that?
She had planned crafts in her own free-spirit designer way, and set up our art table. We talked and laughed and made unidentifiable sparkly objects.
A month or so later, another club was planned. This time she had snacks.
How sweet is she?
We made some more sparkly messes, ate some raisins and pretzels, and I complimented the decorations she’d taped up all over her room. Then I asked her not to tape things to the walls, please.
Soon, another meeting was planned. Another craft. A tea party followed. A movie party wasn’t far behind.
Now, before you think my child is starved for attention, let me tell you this. She got this party planning gene from me. Not to mention a living example I set day after day when I try to bring a sense of occasion to every day routines. It’s in her blood, man.
I started to remind her to ask me before she made these plans, because I could see the road we were headed down. What started as a cute little thing was going to end up with me spending every day in a six year old’s fantasy if I didn’t nip this bud quick.
Then it happened. I was rushing around the house getting ready for a double whammy day. Doctor’s appointment for me and dentist check-ups for the girls. Then a book club meeting after at our house.
Just as I was putting the final batch of cookies in the oven for guests later and hollering at my girls to make sure and floss extra-good, Soleil came in with one of her cute invitations.
“Not now, sweetie, I have to finish getting ready, and so do you. Let’s go!”
“You mean I wasted my time for nothing?” She threw up her hands and her eyes started to water.
Soleil asked me to come see her room, and swallowing a sigh, I followed her. She had set up the ultimate crafts table and had a full schedule written out for us. And I mean full. It’d take us three days to do everything on that list. Games, crafts, movies. She’d made signs, decorations. Was fully dressed as a Disney princess/hula dancer/cheerleader in a way that only she could pull off.
How annoying is that?
I sat Soleil down and told her that while I appreciated all the work she’d done, she should have asked me first because we had a full day and Mommy needed to start getting ready Right Now or else I’d have hairy legs when her friends came over. She giggled a little and we moved on. But she gave me plenty of sad glances as we packed all the games back up.
Later in the car, I reminded her again to please ask me if I have plans before she plans my day. It was for her own good, I reminded her, because if she’d done what I asked and gotten dressed and ready instead of planning a party for us, she wouldn’t have wasted her time setting all that stuff up. I also told her that when she got home she was just going to have to finish picking up her mess before everyone came over and that if she’d asked me first, none of it would have happened.
I threw in, “You can’t plan our days for me, honey,” as many times as I could, trying to drive that point home. And yes, I battled with feeling like a mean mommy and squelching her desire to make nice surprises for people. I came to the conclusion that she’d get over it.
As I sat later, reveling in the rare quiet while I watched the girls get their teeth cleaned, I came to another conclusion, too and it’s this: Soleil and I don’t just share a party-planning, love-to –surprise people thing. I, like her, get ahead of myself and make plans without consulting my Father.
How many times have I spun my wheels on some project only to find that if I’d bothered to pray about it first, I wouldn’t have wasted my time? How many times have I made lists, plans, signs, put everything into place, only to find it wasn’t the right time?
A few months ago, my plans for this summer were extensive and quite specific. In addition to finishing my novel, I’d spend a couple hours a day building my blog, taking advantage of the days off school.
I made reservations, planned weekly link-ups, committed to writing regularly for other sites, sold advertising, committed to partnerships, studied and learned web stuff, committed to giveaways, planned series of posts, committed, committed, committed, until I was drowning in commitments.
I should have been committed. Ba-dum-bump.
Had I prayed and waited for a Yes, No, or even a Wait, I would have saved myself some serious headaches and even a few bucks. But, no, I charged ahead and planned my days and weeks without checking.
Then, I got sick. I was in constant pain and suddenly when they were telling me they were checking for blood cancers and tumors, nothing mattered more than family. I shared in May that God used that time to turn my heart back to my family and to give up the blogging biz thing. To just write from my heart and forget all that other junk for now. So I did.
And summer. Ah… Instead of lounging by the pool with my laptop, I spent the majority of one month in bed in pain awaiting surgery, and the next in bed recovering from surgery. (No cancer, yahoo!)
Sometimes these things just happen. Even prayerfully made plans can go differently than we ever expected. Sometimes God leads us down a path only to bend the course at the last minute. Getting a Yes, or No, or a Hold on a second doesn’t ensure a smooth path where everything goes according to plan.
The difference is, I know when I’m walking in God’s plan. I have a peace and contentment knowing that whatever happens, I’ll be good.
And I know when I’m walking in my plan. I’m stressed, overly busy, never quite finishing anything, and before I know it I’m standing there with a tear-streaked face dressed as a Disney princess/hula dancer/cheerleader. And I so cannot pull that look off.
Thankfully, we serve a God of Grace. He doesn’t lecture me or leave me alone to clean up my messes. He gently reminds me through scripture and others that I need to pray over all my plans. Friends galore sent me scriptures and encouragement for my surgery. People came along side me and helped me get through plan B. My email inbox flooded and when I took weeks to get back to people only to break commitments, most were kind and gracious. When I was picking up my mess, I had plenty of help.
Sitting in that dentist’s office, seeing my little girl lying down with her little hands crossed on her tummy, just like the dentist tells her to, a lump formed in my throat. When we got home, I helped her pick up her mess real quick before her friends arrived and I asked her if we could leave her decorations up for the book club. A little grace never hurt anyone, did it?
Of course, a couple weeks later she’d planned another 3 day “meeting.” I scanned her ridiculously long list with a raised eyebrow and told her we’d do the puzzle after dinner and that was that. I had to admit to myself that I still had a very long list of blogging “ideas” for when I got back to it all.
I’m happy to report neither of us ever got through our lists.
Proverbs 19: 21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails