Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Imperfect Progress

I am a door-slammer.  Big doors, small doors, car doors, cabinet doors (a personal favorite).  It is my favorite way to say "Back. Off." or "I'm MAD" without actually having to say it.  Very little room for misinterpretation.

I just returned home from Kroger where I bumped into a dear friend who asked me how I managed to be there alone.  I said that I just kind of ran screaming from the house.  I think maybe she thought I was joking. I wasn't.

Retracing the events of the day to see where I began coming unglued, my thoughts zeroed in on the first door slam.  It happened after my son's baseball game, where I had done my very best to maintain control of two very busy preschoolers, which is about the equivalent of trying to contain two squirrels.  A little stressful.  I walked into the house to find my husband and 2 boys laying around, watching tv, and relaxing.  Which was not a problem until I walked into the kitchen to find the mess they had left, presumably for me to clean up. Empty juice bottles, pan on the stove, dishes on the counter and sink, and then (gasp) trash on the floor???  I held up the piece of trash to my husband like he had somehow desecrated a holy temple by allowing this to happen.  I proceed to rinse out the empty juice bottle, march to the door to take it to the recycling bin, and that's when it happened.  SLAM.  I wish I could say that I stopped, took my thoughts captive, and allowed the peace of God to rule in my heart and home.  I did not.

I made the twins a snack, and began washing the dishes and wiping the counter tops when I heard the splash of juice hit the floor. It was V8 Splash, to be specific.  A very aptly named beverage.  And this was the kind of spill that defies gravity and goes up the wall as well as all over the floor.   As I am getting towels out of the cabinet to clean up the sticky mess, another kid shoves a pair of athletic shorts at me and says "Can you wash these tonight?"  Friends, it is 8:30pm. Those are dangerous words to say to a mama at 8:30pm.  And so it happens again.  SLAM #2. Timing can mean the difference between life and death, people. Seriously.

Juice is cleaned up, with a little help from the dog, and I go back to the dishes.  Glad, really, to have something to do with all the negative energy.  But I can feel the pressure and heat rising.  And I know I am about to blow.  So, I decide that now is the perfect time to go Krogering.  And I might have made it out the door without slamming it if my dear husband had not chosen that moment to call me out.  Again, TIMING.  Never mind that he may have been totally right.  I was over-reacting.  We both knew it.  But that is WHY I needed to get out of here.  To calm down, gain some perspective, and really take my thoughts captive.  It is hard to think straight with so many demands being thrown at you at the speed of light.  But, that is life for moms.  It is messy and relentless.

So now I am back at home, calm(er) now that kids are tucked in bed and the kitchen is somewhat clean.  But still there is the regret... I might not have done any screaming out loud, but all those slamming doors can be pretty noisy.

In her book, Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst says that "Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace... imperfect progress."  And the only way to make progress at all is to retrain myself to think differently... to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

I actually won a bracelet at a women's event last weekend that is engraved with the words "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy."  (Coincidence?  I think not.)  And I am discovering that it's not enough to just try to not dwell on things that do not meet these qualifications.... I must think on things that do measure up to this standard.  Lysa says it this way, "We won't develop new responses until we develop new thoughts.  That's why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial.  New thoughts come from new perspectives."  I need a new perspective.  How about you?

Progress, not perfection.  I have said it to myself so many times.  I don't have to get it right every time.  You don't have to get it right every time.  But we can train our minds to respond and not react.  We can allow Christ to transform our thinking.  It is a process, not a one-time fix.

I'm gonna watch out for that urge to slam doors.  That is an "unglued" indicator, for sure!  I'm sure I have others, but I like to start out nice and slow.  Imperfect progress, remember?

I'd love it if you would share your "unglued indicators" with me! Leave a comment here, or on facebook and we can encourage one another. Good night, girlfriends. You are loved.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meltdown Mama

"Do what you can do, and God will do what we can't do." I read this Joyce Meyer quote on Facebook this morning.  (Yes, I do my own reading, but sometimes I just copy and paste someone else's. Don't hate.)  And it was kind of neat because I was already on the verge of a meltdown this morning, even AFTER spending some time studying real joy and where it comes from.  The reason for my anxiety?  A packed schedule for this weekend, a house full of kids with various activities to go to, and every room has at least a half inch of dust collecting on the surfaces.  Not to mention, a three-yr-old on a prescription laxative, another who is having nosebleeds every half hour, and a teenager who neglected to tell me he would be staying at a friend's house last night, nearly causing me a heart attack when I awoke to find him gone. Sometimes I look around and think to myself  "This is too much for anybody."

The word "meltdown" takes on a whole new meaning after age 35, ladies.  The minute a situation starts to get a little bit stressful, I feel the heatwave rising up and all of a sudden, I am sweating as if I were in gym class.  (Not that I ever did much sweating in gym class, mind you.  I somehow managed to avoid anything that might cause me to do anything more than glisten.)  So meltdowns are actually just as literal as they are figurative for me these days.  Melting makeup, melting mascara, melting hairdo.  You get the picture.  My vanity rages against this post, I should probably admit.  It is like hanging out a sign over my head that says "Old lady.  Right here." with arrows pointing down at my melting face.

While being a "hot-flash mama" (in the words of a friend) is bad enough in itself, it is nothing compared to the herculean task of trying to muster up enough self-control to not explode in those moments.  I mean spew like a volcano.  All over this precious family who probably wonders where the heck their mommy/wife/stepmom is and who is this crazy alien being who has taken over.  In fact, I have proof they are wondering.  This is a conversation from the van (where all the best conversations happen) yesterday afternoon:

Going to get the big kids from school, I was singing to Gracie, "I love Gracie, yes I do" when she stopped me and said "No. But you like me a little bit." Ouch.  Then Hudson chimed in and said "I love the real you, Mommy.  But I like you too." What??  The"Real Me"??  Then who the heck is driving this van? I tried not to let it bother me too much, but it kind of lingered in the back of my mind all day.

Truth is, I don't like me some days either.  And I wonder where the "Real Me" has gone to and whether she plans to return. And that is depressing enough to make me forget a few things. Things like the fact that I have  a really blessed life.  A husband who loves me even when I'm not so lovable, kids who are quick to give me grace... I went to bed early last night because I was sick of myself.  I fell asleep with the light on and my book on the bed.  Lexi came in to say good night, she put my book away, kissed my cheek and turned off the light.  I don't want to forget that sweet moment, or trample on it by exploding on her today.  So I pray.  And I pray.  And I pray some more.  And I often don't feel that it does any good in the moment.  But I know it is changing me.  Teaching me to be a little less independent, a little more dependent on His Spirit at work in me, Christ in me, the hope of glory...

I have high hopes for the hormone balancing meds I start this week. But, if they fail, and I have to live with myself just like this, I pray that God will use even this to make me a little more mature, a little more complete in Him.  What a comfort to know He can redeem anything.  Let me say that again in case you missed it.  He can redeem anything.  The hard things that happen to us, the painful consequences of our own choices, and even the mutiny of our own bodies against us.  I believe that. More than believe, I know firsthand.  This is just another opportunity to find Him at work, if I will seek Him with my whole heart.

Can I just say, for the sake of whining to you gals, that getting older really stinks?? My friend BobiAnn says that if we say it once, it isn't complaining, it is simply stating a fact.  If we keep on saying it then we are complaining.  So I guess this post is my one chance to state the fact without being guilty of complaining and grumbling.  That is NOT in any way a promise that I won't bring it up again.

Stay cool, all my "meltdown mamas". You are loved. :)