When it comes to arranging life's little affairs -- especially those that I don't have complete control over -- I've found that God usually doesn't take my advice. Not that I blame Him, as a general rule, although I still don't see why it would have been such a difficult thing to give me long red hair. But I'm perfectly aware that God knows all, sees all, and understands all. In short, He's just as wise and powerful as I usually think I am.

"OK, God," I said before I got married. "Darren and I want to have several children and enjoy being parents. So I think the best time to start would be at least a year after we get married."

I repeated this scheme to Him frequently, for Darren and I had it all worked out. Get married, set up household, go to England and Scotland in the summer, and sometime around our first anniversary start thinking about a baby. Obviously, it was the best way to go about things, and surely God agreed with us. Darren and I both tend to assume that God agrees with us; we figure that if He doesn't, He'll mention it.

So we got married, started setting up the household, and ... it wasn't two months into the marriage before we realized, to our surprise, that God wasn't following the script. England and Scotland became distant dreams again, and by our first anniversary we're going to be thinking of a baby-sitter. I am pregnant.

This, I declared, was not fair. Hadn't God been listening at all? Well, yes, just as well as He'd been listening when I'd told Him I never wanted to live where it snows, or just as well as He'd listened back when Darren said that he'd never marry a Southerner. It took a lot of sorting through the remains of our carefully arranged plans to come to terms with the fact that God has different ideas for us.

Fortunately, the early stage of pregnancy was easy, which was as much of a mercy to a newlywed husband as to me. I didn't have to worry about much sickness, and I wasn't working then so I could get all the sleep I needed (put simply, a lot). The only problem I had was the moods.

"What would you like to do this evening?"

"I don't know."

"Do you want to watch a video?"

"Maybe."

"All right, which one?"

"I don't know."

"Well, do you want to go somewhere?"

"Maybe."

"Where would you like to go?"

"I don't know."

Patiently, Darren would suggest and accommodate until it got to be 10 a.m., at which point I'd fall asleep on the couch if Darren didn't make me go to bed first. If the routine got a little old, Darren didn't mention it.

And then there were the "teary days." I could walk past the same boxes in the same room 55 times without thinking about them. The 56th time through, I'd suddenly notice the boxes, realize that the world was overwhelming, and dash back to the bedroom in tears. Once, I think I scorched supper, but as it was a teary day I couldn't smell or taste anything. If it tasted a little odd, Darren didn't mention it.

After the first few weeks, my moods became nearly normal again. (I'm looking forward to the day when Darren will get to know the non-wedding-planning and non-baby-building Sara.) That's when the appetite took over.

One afternoon, Darren picked me up from my morning tutoring job. I couldn't make up my mind where to eat and I didn't feel very well, a problem Darren finally diagnosed as, "You need something to eat." He learns quickly, does Darren. We ended up at the same restaurant we'd gone to the day before, because it was the only restaurant I could think of. Once there, I ordered the same thing I'd gotten the day before, because it was the only thing I and my appetite agreed on. I tried reasoning with myself: "How about this roast beef?" "Spaghetti!" "Or a soup and salad?" "Spaghetti!" "Let me look over here and see what they have." "Spaghetti!" So I got spaghetti. If it seemed a little strange, Darren didn't mention it.

We quickly got used to having Baby dictate my opinions. But we were all surprised to find that Baby has views on a wide range of topics.

"All that garlic sauce on your pizza is gross, Ryan. Baby doesn't like that."

"Baby doesn't want to wash dishes right now."

"Baby says 'hi' and is glad to see you."

"Baby thinks you should share that fudge with me."

I was impressed that Baby already has such force of character. Others hinted that Baby takes a little too much after Mommy to be believable. If Baby paid any attention to such remarks, it didn't mention it.

As my pregnancy progressed and the baby and I slowly got larger (Darren says I'm not exactly "great with child," merely "good with child,"), we settled down to the task of deciding on names. Our families contributed enthusiastically. My sisters, Lauren and Rosemary, sent me several suggestions designed to spruce up the ordinary name Jones, such as Sydney Russia, Keightlyn Jonquil, Camden Parliament, and Alabama Philharmonic (in case we wanted to name him after Darren's dad, Phil). Meanwhile, Darren's sister, Lindsay, sent a list of first names of "actual Joneses who made these names work." The list included Ceasar, Zebney, Juan ("just to add a little cultural spice"), Lezette, Elvita, and Cleopatra. I found the suggestions wildly unhelpful, which I mentioned.

Rosemary exclaimed over a Welsh name on our list spelled "Rice" (actually pronounced "Reese"). Inspired, Darren and I came up with an Agricultural Theme for our children: Rice, Hweat, Xorne, Otze, Barleigh, and Rhigh. "When they get haircuts, we can say we're going in for a threshing," Darren explained.

We currently have top-ranking boy and girl names, but the final result won't be revealed until Baby makes its debut at the beginning of July.

Setting up the baby room, buying baby clothes, looking at sonogram pictures of a tiny little profile, and feeling Baby kick in the mornings when the alarm wakes it up... the postponed trip to England and Scotland isn't such an acute disappointment anymore. In fact, the more we anticipate Baby's arrival, the happier we are that things have worked out this way.

So I shuffled back to God and thanked Him for not taking our advice.

"Oh," He answered, "don't mention it."