to do lists and hamster wheels.

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This is my huddle of gorgeous young women, or most of them.  My serrogate teenager isnt in the picture because she was having a teen ‘moment’, ha!  I seriously love them all.  I’m torn in a maternal struggle of wanting them to dream big dreams, chasing after those dreams with everything they have – and wanting to wrap them all in cotton wool, trying to protect them from any pain.  But when I step back and tell myself to get a grip (I have to do that a lot) I know that I could never do that and all I can do is try and equip them for the challenging but thrilling reaity of life and the awesome plans their creator has for them.

As I sat down with these girls yesterday, we started to look at the book of James in the Bible.  Its a letter written, most probably, by Jesu’s half-brother to the Jews during the time of the early church, after Jesus had smashed death and went back up to heaven.  Right at the beginning of the letter he approaches the innevitability of having troubles in life.  Cheerful start.

No one’s immune from having a rough time every so often.  Not me, not my pastor, not my baby girls and not my young people.  It’s part of life.

Our impulse with anything less than pleasant is to want out.  And fast.  I’m completely target minded and I have been known to do a little dance when I’ve crossed something off on a list, particularly if it was something I had been avoiding.  I love that feeling of phew I’ve done it, I dont need to think about that again.  It’s done.  Only with me, as soon as I’m done with one thing, something replaces it straight away (been there??) – so you find yourself on a hamster wheel always chasing being done.  But as a mum, and a mum that likes to be in control, I have become familiar with frustration for six years because I never seem to reach the end of ‘the list’ of what needs doing.

But this morning, listening to this podcast (Steven Furtick from Elevation Church) I just got it.  A lot of what Im writing is coming from a middle-of-the-night session of insomnia and this podcast.  You might have got it a long time ago and I’m just being slow.  But he was talking all about it being a process not a project.  ‘life’ isn’t supposed to be ‘done’ and polished off.  When I’m on that hamster wheel (I’d use a treadmill as an analogy but to be quite honest, a hamster wheel is probably more believable) and I’m trying to get to the end, to finish ‘it’, I’m just going to exhaust myself trying and become dejected with hopelessness.

exhausted

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We can miss a lot of growth within the journey when we’re just trying to get it over with.  Even the hard and painful stuff.  Especially the hard and painful stuff.

Steven furtick talks about a Prison of war in Vietnam – Admiral Jim Stockade – who was held captive for over 8 years and regularly tortured.  He got out alive – and so its a happy ending.  It’s easy to see hope in something when you know the ending, right?  He was interviewed and asked how he held onto his faith when he didnt know what the ending was going to be.  His answer was this;

“I never lost my faith in the end of the story.  I never doubted not only that I would get out but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into a defining event of my life which in retrospect I would not trade.”

Impressed, the interviewer asked Jim who didnt make it out.  Jim answered “oh thats easy, the optimists“.

Completeley confused the interviewed told Jim he didn’t understand, after that what he’d just said about faith, and so Jim continued:

“They were the ones who said ‘we’ll be home by christmas’ but christmas would come and go and then they’d say ‘we’ll be out by easter’ but easter would come and go. Then it would be thanksgiving and then christmas again.  They died of a broken heart.  This is an important lesson: You must never confuse faith that you WILL prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront even the most brutal facts of your reality, whatever they might be.”

I found that staggering.  A beautiful balance of faith and the courage we need to face our realities.  Denial just pretends to be our friend.

Our situations sometimes really suck.  It’s not easy.  But there’s promise of growth and goodness in this process we call life and there’s someone who can walk with you through it.  He’s called Jesus.

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Tv diet.

I’m always blathering on about being intentional. With what we do, in what we think and what we decide. Life can pass us by with us stuck in neutral. Maybe it’s just the control freak in me.

It’s way too easy to flop onto the sofa in the evenings and watch whatever is on tv whether we wanted to watch it or not. I don’t want to even try and guess how many hours I’ve wasted doing that. So we try not to do that in our home anymore. We watch what we want to watch, guilt free, via Netflix, sky plus and online demand tv. I may be slightly too addicted to Vampire Diaries but it does mean that when we’re not watching something the Tv Is actually off. Novel, right?!

Tonight is one of those rare nights that The Husband and I will be staring at the big silver box in the corner of our living room. We have a date with corrie. I don’t even really watch it anymore but we both wanted to see what crazy Kirsty does on her wedding day. Don’t say we don’t live on the edge!

six months.

It’s the 6 January.  That means that I in six months it’ll be my birthday.  And I’ll be thirty.  And this means that I don’t have long to get through my challenge-30 list.  Eek.  I’ve just looked through and I’ve found that I’ve ticked off twelve of the thirty challenges.  Eighteen to go.  The odds are not in my favour.  In my defense these eighteen do include visit a Disney World and a day spa – neither of which seem very likely, ha! A lot of them, though, seem pretty do-able and so I’ll endeavour to finish the lot before the clock strikes twelve.

There’s nothing magical about this list.  I don’t turn into a pillar of salt if I don’t complete the challenge.  I doubt I’ll even be disappointed.  The whole purpose of it is not in the result but rather the process.  Sometimes we need to give ourselves a kick up the bum; to break out of the mundane, to widen our horizons, to reflect and discover that there is much joy in life if only it were grabbed with two hands.  Some of the things of my challenge-30 list are ridiculously trivial.  They are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  But they are stuff that I’ve either wanted to do for a long while or at least know I’d have a load of fun trying it out.  Plus, I’m a goal orientated person, I do enjoy the satisfaction of ticking something of a to-do list.

Girls back to school tomorrow and so the new year really kickes into gear.

It actually sends real emails!

So The Husband and are creeping back into work mode and the anticipation of Christmas seems so long ago.  The Husband got double brownie points on New Years Day because he let me sleep late AND he took down all the decorations all by himself so I woke up to a reasonably normal looking house again.  I’d have been sad to do it any earlier but once its January it’s time to look to whats in store for the year ahead.

For me, January will hopefully be a month of:

  • Finally finishing the kitchen.  All thats left to do is painting the cupboard units and putting up a long shelf for my beloved Kilner Jars.  These are the kind of jobs that can easily be left undone for months.  So there was only one thing for it – Shift everything from some of the units so they HAD to be done – and soon.  The Husband LOVES it when he comes home to already-started-and-can’t-be-ignored house projects.  I think its why he loves me so much…

empty cupboards

  • Stengthening my ridiculously pathetic body.  My back is been so great over Christmas and I’ll hopefully be getting more active.  Hurray!  Ironically I never enjoyed the gym until just before I hurt my back, and I really was loving it – it’ll be a while before I get back there but any kind of active gets the feel-good hormones flowing!

 

  • Eating healthy.  December was a serious chocolate splurge for the whole family.  The girls had chocolate for breakfast more than once.  I know, I know, shoot me now.  It’s seriously a habitual thing – I woke up this morning, had a great breakfast to start off the day and before lunch I was reaching up for the hobnobs without even thinking.  I realised it was not a good idea but by that point the packet of lovely chocolatey oaty goodness was in my hands and there was no going back.  I’m never going to be someone who can completely walk away from chocolate – I don’t like the look of a world without sugar.  But it’s about conscious choices and there needs to be more healthy choices in this house.  And even if my girls choose chocolate, mummy’s choices trump theirs, so ha!

 

  • Trying not to become obsessed with my new phone.  While the rest of the world were keeping up with modern technology over the past two years, The Husband and I were oblivious to the countless possibilities that a phone can bring.  We thought text messages were cutting edge.  So now we’re a little attached to these little devices that actually let us send emails – I mean whats that all about?! Its like a mini computer in the palm of your hands! Blimey.  I’m using Intsgram for my photo 365 and I LOVE the fact that I can do it all from my phone.  So I’m a little aware that I’m probably showing my mobile more care and attention than I am The husband, and as much as my phone can do…we’re yet to find a one that will do the vacuuming for you.  Joke! Kinda.