Fifteen years ago, I was going to be a missionary teacher somewhere far away, outside of the Nifty Fifty. To me, this notion was as certain as the sun rising in the east. Teaching at an all-girls school, that's what I imagined, for at least two or three years.
Then, I would return home to my beloved U.S.A. and seek out a teaching job in the heart and soul of a big city. My weekends would be spent traveling, running marathons, eating Thai food and volunteering.
Marriage and babies were chapters to be written in the novel of life later on down the road. Much later.
And this was what was going through my head last week, on a misty, overcast morning as I trekked a pathway through the knee-high weeds and wild grasses, following my sons out to the corrals to watch them feed their bucket calves.
With Charlie cooing cheerfully from the heights of the pack on my back, I reached up to touch his soft, chubby hands and wondered why, all of the sudden, I was remembering plans I had made for my life B.C. (before children) and B.S. (before Steve - I know what you're thinking, but the answer is no, I can't come up with anything better than B.S. -this is goin' nowhere, so I'll just get to the point!).
Plans. Aren't they perfectly imperfect??
The missionary pathway plan. Well, that worked. I might as well have written my manifesto in Swahili on a napkin and pasted it to a tree during a tornado with a variety of glittery "Awesome Job!" and "Way to Go!" stickers from my stash of teacher supplies.
As I look back at the many well thought-out, perfectly formed plans of life, from birth plans to vacations to financial ventures, if I could go back and tune my ears in a little more closely, I'm sure that I could almost hear God laughing.
I imagine that he saves his big, jovial belly laughs for little souls such as mine, because I'm the planner, a bit of an idealist, a closet control addict. I think I can hear Him now, His loving little chuckle winding up, almost audible over the slurping of milking and playful moos and grunts of our nursing trio.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not being even the least bit sarcastic here. I'm just being honest. Our Father doesn't laugh at us, He laughs in spite of us. (And, he hopes we will laugh with Him!) In spite of all the dreams and plans that we believe are bigger than the ones He has for us.
Those pathways we pave to "Happy Land." Those can be really funny. Just when we think our vision of perfection is coming together - it's right about then that He scoops us up (if we let Him) into His merciful arms and gently sets us down somewhere unexpected. Somewhere we really need to be.
Like in the arms of a farmer, and at the edge of a fence with a camera in my hand, and the beautiful expressive eyes of my mini-men and their pure-bred ensemble staring back at me.
I don't dream of being a missionary anymore - I dream of our entire family going on mission trips together!
Thoughts of Thai food still makes my mouth water, but for now I'm content to have six hungry tummies arrive at my table heaped high with pot roast and apple pie.
I may not have time to train for marathons, but chasing five energetic boys around a farm will keep any girl in shape!
As for teaching at an all-girls academy?? Actually, homeschooling all of the boys has proven to be a providential adventure. Although, they know that girls are welcome at any time (no, that is not an announcement!).
Well, that's probably enough reflection on the 7:00 a.m., one cup of coffee, random thoughts, calf-feeding morning. Would you like to meet our new friends?
Benedict and Blake
Don't even get me started on animal names. I'm such a dramatic romantic. I tried to impose my ideas, my plans rather, on the boys. I suggested that they give their calves names with true meaning, such as names of valiant or hilarious characters from books they had read, or maybe Roman or Greek Gods or even biblical figures. This is how my plan went down (in flames):
"So, Ben, why did you name your calf Blake?"
"Just 'cuz. I like the name Blake."
Okay, well, I've got two more tries.
"Yep. It's the perfect name for him. Do you like it, Mom?"
"Mmm-Hmm, sure do!" (Strike 2)
C'mon George, give me anything. Aristotle, Babe Ruth, E.T.???...
George and Blaze
"So, you like Blaze, eh?"
"Did you name him after any Blaze in particular?"
"Nope, the other boys gave their calves "B" names, so I came up with Blaze."
"Oh, okay. Well, then, Blaze it is!"
Then, walking away, I stepped in poo. Poo seems to go perfectly with my plans.
Then I heard it: Big. Fat. Belly. Laugh.
For I know the plans I have for you,
says the LORD,
plans for GOOD and not for evil,
to give you a FUTURE and a HOPE.