My plans, Your plans

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

This is my favorite Bible verse, which is interesting because I am a person who loves to plan. I use 2 apps on my smart phone to create multiple task lists. I often stop mid-task to add something to a list, in an effort to not forget anything. I also am known to print and purchase multiple calendars. In addition to the calendar on my phone, I have a calendar on our bedroom wall, a mini one in my purse, and a printed one in my budget binder. Oh that brings me to my budget spreadsheet. I drive myself crazy updating it, trying to track planned and unexpected purchases, bills, and payments. I have always been proud of my organizing skills and ability to come up with a plan and stick to it, and come up with a new plan if necessary.

As you know we moved back to the US 6 months ago. Nothing has gone as planned, and though I realize that I am very blessed, my husband and I find it frustrating that we do not feel settled yet. Silly us, thinking we could make such a huge life decision and have everything flow smoothly in a short frame of time. There are so many things for us to do to establish our little family here. We have had many conversations about what our goals are, in the next month, next 6 months, in the next year.  We check 2 things off the to-do list and add 4 more. Some days, I don’t even want to talk because I think “What is the point?” the plan is just going to change.

I’ve been stuck in the house for a few days, because it’s apparently the coldest it has ever been in Michigan and schools have not resumed since the Christmas break. It has been nice to spend the extra time with family, and as everyone else went back to work today, it was just Izzy and I at home today. I was in a contemplative mood today. I just didn’t feel like doing anything important. So other than paying a bill, I just spent time watching TV, reading, cooking, and playing with Isabelle. As she was playing with a game she got for Christmas, I had a thought: Maybe I plan too much.

My daughter will wake up tomorrow and I can only predict a few of the things she will do (e.g., eat, nap, ask me to chase her). That’s all I know though. She has no plans and as she sleeps peacefully as I type, I know she isn’t even thinking about what activities she will participate in on January 8, 2014. She also won’t think about her plans this weekend or better yet, what she would like to do for her 3rd birthday. She will wake up and just be the happy sweet child I love and adore.

I really do love making plans, but today I’m tired of planning, because in all that planning I become so focused on my plans that even when I recite my favorite verse in a stressful moment, it does little to alleviate my racing mind and heart. I wave my white flag. I have to focus more energy on trusting God and less energy on creating a plan. Life is NOT going to go according to my plan. Am I ok with that? Well, today I will try to be. And I’ll try some more tomorrow and the day after that. Will I still make my lists? Oh definitely, that’s just part of who I am. However, I am hoping to have a different mindset as I make them. That each and every detail on that list is not up to me.  I think I have often used my favorite verse to apply to big situations in my life. Now, I will try to use it daily. I will hear the Lord saying this to me after I wake: Toula, I know the plans I have for you TODAY. That sounds more reassuring than stressing about whether my plan for the day will pan out or not:)

My cousin pointed out I have been a slacker and have not included my Izzy moments, so here they are!

  • Recent highlights:  She is a little person now. It’s the weirdest thing. I find myself just staring at her, in awe of how much she has changed. I would dare to say that “two” must be one of the greatest ages of all.
  • Recent funny moment: She loves to sing, dance, play music (she got quite a few instruments for Christmas). We took her to a party on New Year’s eve. I was worried that she would be overtired and have a meltdown. Instead, she danced from the moment she walked through the door. Her personality amazes me.
  • Recent crazy parent moment: We are trying to encourage her to go on the potty so I purchased her underwear. Well she won’t pee on the potty (that’s another story), but she sure loves wearing her new underwear. Whenever she sees one she proceeds to take off her diaper and ALL her clothes and insists on putting them on immediately.
  • Recent milestones:  She jumps now. On her bed, the dog’s bed, our bed. Why is jumping so fun to children?
  • Bellelesson of the week: God has a daily, weekly, yearly, lifelong plan for you. Spend time asking Him to show you what it is.

Beauty Lessons


That’s what I have been. I started writing a post in October…and well now it’s November:) Here’s what you’ve missed:

  • We traveled to Michigan and spent a week with my family. My mother quickly realized her house wasn’t baby-proof.
  • She turned 1 ! We had a fun celebration at Gymboree with some friends and she had a blast.
  • My year-long maternity leave ended…hence, why I have been so busy. Today was the start of my 5th week back at work.

I remember my first post. I wrote ” I seriously need to start writing down our experiences with our little pumpkin, or before I know it she will be a year old, I’ll be back at work, and I won’t be able to remember her being this small”. Well here we are.  How we got here so quickly, I’m not sure. However, it has been one of the greatest years of my life. I recently read an article that joked about the annoying things we experience as parents of a baby. The spit-ups, the sleepless nights, the fact you can no longer just pick up your purse and leave the house to run a quick errand (leaving the house sometimes takes longer than the errand itself!) I tell my friends who are currently expecting that no amount of advice can prepare you for the experience. Will you cry? Yes. Will you get frustrated? Yes. Will you longingly think of the days before you became a parent? Yes. Nevertheless, through all the crazy experiences, I feel incredibly blessed. One of the reasons I actually started writing this blog (other than to capture moments I’d otherwise forget) was to remember that there is a blessing, a lesson to be learned, with every frustrating situation that occurs in my life. If I just take a moment and step back, and ask myself “What can I learn from this?” I’ll be a much better, wiser, and faithful person.

My daughter has taught me over the past year that I’m not nearly as patient as I thought I was and then again I can be the most patient person on this earth if it’s for her benefit. I’ve learned that no matter how much planning and preparation I put into something, she’ll make sure to remind me that my plans are just that…plans. I’ve surprisingly learned to just go with the flow, something I didn’t know how to do before. I’ve learned how to enjoy sitting in bed with my family every Sunday morning and let the laundry, dishes, and errands wait a few more hours to be tackled. I’ve learned to appreciate the ability to make friends and maintain friendships, as advice from other new moms has repeatedly reminded me “I’m not the only who…” I’ve learned how to love another human being more than I love myself, which is the best feeling in the whole world. It humbles me to my core when she reminds me that my wants and needs aren’t as important as I thought they were, and I have the opportunity to practice being self-less.

I chose the name bellelessons for my blog because of my daughter Isabelle. Belle means beautiful and I like to think that the lessons she unknowingly  teaches me are making me into a more beautiful person.  I think sometimes we fight so hard for everything to work out perfectly and I’m realizing that makes no sense. Learning develops our character. We experience situations we never would have chosen for ourselves when we allow ourselves to follow the path that contains a lesson in its’  bumps and grooves.  If God knew that giving me my baby girl would be the best way to help me learn these life lessons that I’ve learned to love and appreciate, then He must be a pretty smart guy:)

Seeing that it took me forever to finish this post, I’ll post a milestones update later. However, the most important milestone of all happened yesterday! She called me “mama” yesterday 🙂