Ideal vs. Real

Yesterday, we started a new series on "remodeling" the areas in our lives that are needing some repair or improvement. The first thing we talked about is spending time with God and getting a big picture of what changes you would like to see. For example, one area in my own life was my meal preparation routine. I wanted a no-stress plan that allowed me to quickly know what we are having for dinner by 9 a.m. every morning. I knew I didn't want 5:00 to come around and not have a clue what's going to be on the table. I also wanted something that was flexible. I had tried putting my meals on a calendar before and then something came up, I had a lot of leftovers or my husband surprised us with dinner. I didn't like having to plan meals but then not follow the plan. That just bugged me. (Type A, remember?)

Another area that's a little more weighty was in the way I related to my teen daughter. I envisioned a relationship and friendship that was based on mutual respect. Even though I didn't enjoy that kind of relationship with my own mother, I knew that I wanted things to be different with my daughter. I wanted to be able to enjoy doing girly things with her and be a confidante that she can trust.

The next step in a remodeling project usually involves going from the ideal to the real. When we were remodeling our family room space, we had to face several limitations. Originally, we wanted to add some square footage to the house and extend it, creating two smaller rooms off the end of our family room. However, when my husband did some research and asking around, he found that this plan would involve messing around with our roof, which would increase the cost of the project beyond our budget. In decidin on what to do, we had to figure out what really had to change and what we could do without.

Ultimately, we needed to know what we really wanted to change and the limitations to us getting there. We knew we needed to move out of our current office space to make room for the baby. There was no way we could do everything we wanted with our budget. We had to pick and choose what was the highest priority and focus on that first. Little steps in your desired direction is better than just giving up completely because you cannot do what you envision.

I had to go through the same process with my meal preparation routine. I wanted a plan that would be low-maintenance, but the ideas I had read about didn't sound like things I could do on my schedule. I wanted to know what we were having for dinner, but I didn't want to be stuck with it, just in case something came up and my original plans didn't work. I wanted to be able to purchase ingredients when they were on sale, but sometimes that didn't work. Eventually, I boiled it down to a few essentials: easy to maintain, flexible and has options for trying new recipes. I designed a meal planner that would work for me and my time limitations. (If you'd like a copy of it, please sign up on my mailing list to the right! It's one of the thank you gifts I have for you!)

With my daughter, I realized that our relationship had slowly been degenerating. There were things that bugged me about myself and there were things that irritated me about her. However, I knew that I would need to work through my own obstacles as well as work out a way to help her to grow in her own character. This would require 1) time for us to sit down and have some heart-to-heart talks, 2) a willingness to listen to some of her frustrations she had about me, and 3) a willingness to swallow my pride and seek forgiveness in the areas I had wronged her. The vision of a solid relationship with her was worth the price I had to pay. So, last week, we went out to lunch and took the first step towards this remodeling project in my life. While it is hard to predict what will happen, I think that this is far better than letting things keep going the way it is. Even though I have a long way to go and it is better to let the Lord start moving me forward in little steps.

Our God is in the remodeling business. When we follow Him, we are in good hands.