Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Broken. Call The Waaaambulance.

I'm going to be spending most all of my summer recuperating from surgery. Now, please don't feel sorry for me. I've been doing enough of that for myself. It's really ridiculous how nervous and pathetic I've been about this. My health is supposed to be perfect forever, ya know. Add to that the fact that our youngest son has just gotten married and it's hit me this week that he's truly out of the nest and no longer "mine" (sniff! sniff!)... and one of his life-long best friends shipped out to Afghanistan for a year ... and our other children are living their lives and doing their "thing" apart from us because they don't "need" us anymore ... and my son is going to take "his" dog (who has adopted me and become MY dog) with him to his new house ... and our money situation is looking scary with all of the upcoming medical bills ... and I've gained a pound and a half (that's really the worst news of all!) ... blah blah blah ... yada yada yada ... somebody call the waaaambulance ... and all of a sudden, I'm feeling very old and very tired.

Of course, that's not true. I'm not VERY old -- although I am very tired. It just all depends upon where I'm looking.

I was talking with a friend the other day and we were talking about how our lives aren't going the way we thought they would be. Not that either one of has a "bad" life because we certainly don't. In fact, we're both really blessed. But, at the same time, we had certain expectations and ideas of where we'd be in this stage of life ... and yeah, we're not experiencing those expectations. And whenever there are unmet expectations, discouragement and feelings of being overwhelmed follow, especially when I'm focusing on myself.

My question is this: Where did those expectations come from? And why do I expect God to meet those expectations and dreams that I'VE planned?

Over and over and over in my life, God has shown me that His plans are different than mine. We've established that. Yet, Diana still clings to her dreams, her fantasies, her ideas of a perfect world, and then gets frustrated when it doesn't turn out according to plan. I've had dreams and goals for my children, for my husband and I, for our extended family, for our friends ... and I can't make everyone do what I want! I can't turn back the hands of time. I can't fix everything for everyone. And I certainly can't turn this life in to a scripted movie where everything goes according to my plan.

Shattered dreams? I don't know if I'd go that far, but definitely different things going on than what I expected. What I'm finding is that oftentimes God allows our dreams to "shatter" so that we see our ultimate dream of knowing Him becomes the one that is most important. He removes the crutches, allows the waves to rise higher than my boat, puts me on a high slippery slope, sets me in a huge dark area where I'm unsure of my surroundings ... are you getting the idea like I am? It's through my disappointments and discouragements (or even just unforeseen circumstances) that bring me face to face with Him. He removes the crutches so He can be the One I lean on. He allows the waves to rise higher than my boat so that I see Him as my Savior. He puts me on the high slippery slope so that I depend upon Him. He sets me in a huge dark area so I'll look to Him as my light and guidance. He allows my dreams to shatter so that He can give me His dreams -- the right and perfect ones.

Shattered dreams? Maybe. But maybe they were dreams that needed to be shattered so God could take His rightful place.

I'm still learning. He's still teaching. It's all a part of Finding Me in Him ...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tug-of-War

Sometimes things happen in life that we don't like and that we can't change. And you know, that really stinks, especially for control freaks like me. When I expressed that exact thought to God the other day, I could hear His voice, "You don't like it because it's not according to YOUR plan." Oh, He knows me so well.

I was the little girl who read the last page of the Nancy Drew mystery novels first because I wanted to know "who done it". I was the adorable child who would pipe up from the back seat every 15 minutes of a 10-hour car ride, "How much further?" (My parents must have been saints because I don't ever remember being thrown out of the moving vehicle for asking the question for the umpteenth time!). I organized the other kids at recess -- we'd play four square first and THEN we'd jump rope. I was the girl who alphabetized all of her books, her dolls according to size, and her stuffed animals according to which ones I thought liked me best (yes, I was a slightly strange girl). And that little girl grew up to organize all of her spices in alphabetical order, still reads the last pages of a mystery novel, and is a horrible passenger on a long car ride. Yes, I tend to have a control problem.

Currently, I'm going through a slight argument with God. Oh, I know I'm not going to win. But I'm struggling with accepting my lack of control graciously. Yes, I'm ridiculous. It's like I've been playing tug-of-war with Him all my life and in each new circumstance, I'm thinking: "This is going to be the time that I win!"

The incredible thing about God the Father is His infinite wisdom and patience with me. I fret and worry about my adult children and their choices (I have no control; He does) ... I get scared and nervous about an upcoming surgery that I'm going to be having (I'll spare you the gory details other than just telling you it's a "woman" surgery -- enough said! Again, I have no control; He does) ... I worry about finances while I'm off work for a month and my poor husband will have to work doubly hard to make up the extra income (I have no control; He does). Do you see the same pattern here that I do?

My God is Sovereign over everything -- our children, my health, our finances. Day in and day out He's in control regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the choices. And day in and day out He's working to do what is the best -- for His glory, for me, for our children, for you! Really, there's an incredible amount of freedom and security in that -- knowing that God is in total control. I just don't quite understand my continual struggle with it. It really doesn't make sense. To my extremely logical mind, I'm pretty illogical! I'd like to chalk it up to the fact that God made me with this personality so He KNEW this would be what I'm like ... and that's true. But, He also made me with the potential to grow, to mature, and to relinquish this freaky control issue that I have.  Because in all actuality, I'll never truly experience the freedom that God intended me to have until I do.

In the meantime, I'll continue to organize and plan. It really IS a good thing. In fact, I think it's a wonderful godly characteristic. After all, He is a God of order and organization, right?! But I have to make sure that my plans are HIS plan ... that my ways are HIS ways ...that my desires are HIS desires. And when there's a conflict, I need to bend my will to His. He's sooooooo much bigger than me ... sooooooo much more capable. And He lovingly waits for me to relinquish my non-existent control. My prayer? That even though it's not my favorite thing to be reminded that I'm not in control, that He'll remind me daily ... and that I'll rejoice in His beautiful sovereignty.

I'd love to say there will be no more tug-of-war with me and God. I'm sure He'd love to hear that, too! I could say it, but it would very probably be untrue. What I CAN say, however, is that I want to totally trust, to totally follow, to totally submit ... and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He'll work with me to get me that way. He's awesome like that ...

Gift Cards Accepted

Imagine my surprise ... and delight ... when I opened my wallet and found three different gift cards that I had totally forgotten about! And the gift cards were all for clothing and shoe places. Woo hoo!! This girl went shopping today and spent every single cent on those gift cards. I came home with a few sacks and they're still sitting on my bed in all of their glory. I've been talking about getting some things, but just kept putting it off because I didn't want to spend the money ... until today when I discovered those wonderful gift cards.

I love shopping!!!!

Let me correct that phrase. I love shopping when I have money. Actually, it's more like this: I love shopping when I have money and I'm not worried about replacing the money with more money to pay the bills. To be totally honest, I should say it like this: I love shopping. Will someone please give me money so I can go? Okay, dang it. Now that I think about it, shopping tends to stress me out a little bit.

But today, it was fun. I was all by myself, wandering around the store trying on different items (in a size smaller than I was wearing just two months ago, by the way. Yay for me!!). I tried on different shoes and walked around in some 4-inch heels without falling and breaking my neck (again, yay for me!!). There wasn't any particular thing I was looking for. I just knew I had some gift cards and those babies were going to be spent today!! And they were ...

Of course, now that I'm done, I thought of some additional items that would be nice for my wardrobe. Yeah, I need to schedule another shopping day. Gift cards will be gladly accepted.





Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Verklempt Momma

We've got another one of our kiddos getting married here in a few weeks. It's an exciting time around the Allen household!! And even though our youngest son doesn't live here anymore, I find myself getting all verklempt at the thought of his leaving the nest. For those of you unfamiliar with Yiddish words (which I learned from Saturday Night Live's "Coffee Talk" skits, by the way!), verklempt simply means someone is emotionally inhibited in a convulsive way. Yes, that's a fairly decent description of Momma right now.

He is our youngest of three boys, our little curly-haired blue-eyed baby. He was the baby that wanted Mommy only to the exclusion of everyone else ... the toddler who refused to talk and just grunted and pointed to what he wanted ... the little one that insisted on wearing an ice cream bucket as a batting helmet ... the little boy that was enamored with Scooby Doo, Batman, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... the tiny guy that ALWAYS had a hat on, even while he slept ... the child that was always sensitive to the feelings of others ... the teen that won All-State honors in football ... the young man who continued liking his family even when it wasn't cool to do so ... the man whose walk with Christ has only continued to deepen through the years. He still laughs hysterically in a high pitched laugh when someone tickles him. He still loves all kinds of movies and music. He still has a quick wit that will keep the rest of us rolling. And to me, he's still my baby boy.

It's this baby boy that is getting married. He's preparing his house for his bride-to-be and together they're getting it ready to be home. His heart is already knit to hers and they're committed ... for better or for worse f-o-r-e-v-e-r!! They're in love and ready for a lifetime together.

And it's all good. As God would say, "Very good."

Momma might be a little emotional, but that's just what Momma does. I have absolutely no worries about our son and his sweet future wife. He's looking to the Lord for guidance and direction ... she's looking to our son for leadership and as a teammate ... and we're thanking our God that He brought the two of them together. We're excited to see what He has in store for the two of them. It is VERY good...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heroes and Smashed Cars

We're shopping for a new car because ours was totaled (NOT MY FAULT!!!). Yes, I just happened to be the driver. And yes, this just happens to be the second car in four years that has been totaled while I've been driving. But neither of the wrecks have been my fault. I promise! Try telling people that you've totaled two cars in four years, and there are quite a lot of snide remarks about women drivers. In fact, some of the remarks are downright rude and if I were one of THOSE women drivers, I would take great offense. But, since I'm not and I'm a pretty darn good driver who has just happens to frequently have car wrecks, I'm not insulted.

I've decided though that I don't like shopping for cars. It's too much pressure. Cars cost too much and my poor little psyche can't handle all of the stress. Personally, I'd like to be able to find what I consider a "perfect" car. I want a small car that gets great gas mileage ... is cute and not a yucky color ... has fancy do-dads ... doesn't scream out Granny Mobile ... has low mileage and is a newer model ... and one that I can get for a screaming bargain (preferably garage sale prices). Try telling THAT description to a used-car salesman! Talk about getting snide remarks!! Fortunately, I'm married to a wonderful man who really likes shopping for vehicles (and who knows NOT to make rude comments about lady drivers). Plus, this man doesn't mind if I don't go shopping with him. In fact, he prefers to leave my whining little self at home while he meanders around kicking tires. I'm just grateful that God put us together ... and not just because he likes to shop for cars.

I like him because he kills the big, icky spiders ... and opens up the pickle jars that seem to be cemented closed ... he watches romantic comedies with me when he'd probably prefer to watch a shoot-'em-up movie ... he laughs at my silly attempts at humor ... he thinks our children are just as wonderful as I do ... he eats all of my cooking experiments without complaining ... he has a quiet yet strong faith ... he never forgets my birthday, or our anniversary, or the anniversary of our first date, or Mother's Day, or Valentine's Day, or any other "holiday" excuse to buy me a card or gift ... yup, he's kind of my hero.

I like him.

And I like the fact that he's shopping for our car ... a car that I'd like to promise I won't wreck, but I can't help it when other people run red lights ... or when other people forget to stop when the car in front of them has stopped. But, to the best of my ability, I'll continue to promise to protect this new car and not smash it up. And he'll continue to be my hero ...