This post was sketched out in the early hours of Sunday morning. It was well after midnight and I'd had one of those days. EUGH. You know those kind of days. They creep up on you and catch you off guard. They can really knock you off your feet too, if you let them. Days when you just can't seem to shift a negative spirit off your soul. Days when you feel like you can't even get off the sofa.
Saturday had actually started really well. A slow and sweet morning breakfast with Phoebe, followed by a pre-scheduled Webinar on creative branding. The webinar session was really excellent; incredibly inspirational and motivating. While I watched, I was treated with some takeout coffee and custard buns (my absolute fave!) by daddy and daughter. Phoebe declaring, "Look, I got you coffee mummy!" So, where did it all go wrong?
I had just spent nearly two hours in the morning listening to, and getting enthused by, a pair of creative visionaries, catching some of their vision - raising up daringly intentional individuals, passionate about pursuing their creative callings and stepping out into artistic freedom. Wow. How often, when something positive happens, something negative quickly swoops in to throw doubt, confusion and fear into the mix. Within the hour I was already hit with doubt.
Did God really say?
How could I ever do...?
What would I even know?
Very quickly I began to turn into a Saturday sloth. Phoebe took her afternoon nap while I threw myself on the sofa. I was already wallowing in self-pity mode after listening to the questions of doubt and letting them take hold in my mind. I didn't eat lunch and a 'h-angry' Steph is never a good Steph to be around. I dozed on and off for the next few hours and, not surprisingly, woke up in no better form. Phoebe didn't take as long a sleep as usual, so she wasn't in the greatest form either. Poor Matt.
There was definitely a bit of cabin fever going on by the time we got to tea-time. Those of you with small children understand. Cabin fever is never good. We all needed to get out and get a good dose of Autumn air. The closest we got was Matt heading out for Chinese while I gave myself a good talking to, resolving to enjoy tea and be productive in the evening. This productivity was going to take the form of baking. Phoebe and I have baked before so I knew patience was a must! Baking with a toddler can be ... em ... interesting! I had hoped to get out in the afternoon to get Phoebe an apron but sloth-mode prevented that from happening. Again, my mind was being fed by negative thoughts before even starting to bake. Plus, Matt was hovering around the kitchen this time and it was probably best he wasn't there!
Phoebe and I started to bake a pear crumble and everything began to fall apart. Nothing was going right. I was using a new online recipe and I didn't have a baldy clue what I was doing. Always helpful when baking with a 2 year old.
The screen on my phone kept turning off and my stupid thumb recognition never works, so I had to keep typing in my passcode every few minutes. Again, always helpful when trying to do this with fingers covered in butter and sugar.
You can see exactly where this was going. I was frustrated. And was getting an increasingly irate toddler who couldn't understand why she wasn't allowed to squeeze the mixture into her hands. I am no expert baker, but I'm fairly certain that we were supposed to be making a 'light breadcrumb-type' texture for the crumble topping. Instead, we were making something more resembling sticky, lumpy, dough. Poor Phoebe. She was having a great time up until that point. Getting to rub the mixture through her hands and squeezing it through her fingers. Flipping brilliant for a 2 year old. But, the more she squeezed the ingredients together, the more frustrated I became. What ensued can be best described as some sort of weird comedy sketch where the mother continuously tells the child what not to do and the child does it all the more. The mother gets redder in the face with every squeeze while the husband watches on in amusement. It got to the stage where Phoebe was now clenching the mixture between her fists and simply refusing to let go. My precious hopes of beautiful crumble topping were cruelly crumbling away, along with my patience and sanity. Matt offered some rather ... helpful ... advice. Girls, you know the kind I'm talking about here. Needless to say, my response was less than helpful back.
I demanded that I be left alone, immediately. As you can imagine, Phoebe was less than impressed with this decision and as the wailing faded into the living-room, I was soon left with only my bowl of banjaxed crumble topping and my feelings of guilt and anger for company. Now, the whole family was cross, and that was totally on me. As I continued to seethe in my self-made irritation, things could only continue to go in one direction. The boiling hot 'syrup' concoction of water and sugar ended up all over the kitchen bench after I dropped the wooden spoon into the saucepan. And, as the syrup hit cooler air, it began to harden almost instantly, everywhere it touched. Great. Really improved my mood.
Long story short. I also forgot to put the brown sugar in the crumble topping mixture. The sugar mixture didn't mix properly in the saucepan, leaving hardened sugar that had to be scooped out when the pears went in. I also had to bash the crumble topping with the rolling pin to try and make it actually look like crumble topping!
So where does the cat fit into this scenario?
After a lengthy discussion with Matt about whether or not to put the cooled 'crumble' (I'll use that term loosely) into the fridge. He seemed to think it wouldn't need to. I wasn't convinced. We left it on the bench, covered in tea-towel. A few hours later I went into the kitchen to put the pets to bed, only to discover a continuation of the crumble catastrophe. The tea-towel was pushed into the crumble pie and the mixture was oozing through the towel, in the perfect shape of the crumble culprit ... the cat.
You get it. My reaction was ... well ... less than mature! I went to bed, absolutely drowning in self-pity and shame. I was livid at my choosing to let negativity ruin what should have been a nice, family Saturday. It was all on me.
That is not good enough.
Too often I let the voice of negativity control me. It is never helpful. It never ends well. As I lay in bed that night, I heard the soft whisper of the Lord ... stop stressing. All that ... stuff. Give it to Him. We never need to carry round self-doubt, guilt or shame. Surrender it all and feel the freedom when that weight is lifted from your shoulders. A negative spirit sucks the life out of your soul. Swap it for joy, peace, love and life ... or if all else fails, just trust your gut ... put the flipping crumble in the fridge! At least that way, the cat can't get it!