One Pink Toothbrush

Welcome to One Pink Toothbrush, where I will be posting moments from my days as a mum and as a wife. Funny moments, messy moments, thoughtful moments, teary moments.... and hopefully using each moment to see what God might be saying.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Eyebrow Testing

Tomorrow, one of my sons will start a week of SATs tests. This hasn’t been an easy ride for him. He was worried he might not get a job if he fails them. He called himself stupid, compared himself with others and there have been some tears along the way.

It’s hard, watching someone you love doubt themselves. You just want to fix everything and make it all right. But I know I can’t protect him from all that life throws at him along the way. And I simply shouldn’t. We all grow through the tougher seasons. I can teach him, and comfort him. I can encourage him and build him up. But ultimately he needs to find his security in who God has made him to be, the purposes God has for His life, and to trust God with what lies ahead.

God has made this son of mine to be wonderfully creative. If the SATs paper was on cartoon drawing he would ace it. But it’s not. And the journey over the last few months has been to let him know that that is okay. Maybe he will ace his SATs, and maybe he won’t. But my love for him won’t change. God’s plans for his life won’t change either.

This son of mine doesn’t worry what people think of him, a brilliant quality a lot of adults would like. He is selfless and sensitive. He is a good friend, an excellent swimmer, and has intricate design ideas when it comes to Lego. None of these things are tested on a SATs paper. The SATs will test one eyebrow, rather than the whole of him. The last few months have been teaching him that SATs do not define him. Tests do not define him. School does not define him, and actually I do not define him either. God has designed him, and the cross defines him. He is a forgiven sinner, saved by grace. A creative, sensitive forgiven sinner, saved by grace.

The challenge for me is to know that I too am a forgiven sinner, saved by grace. What do I allow to define me? My abilities, my roles, my responsibilities, what I’m good at or bad at, what I should or shouldn’t do, or do I allow the cross to define me? Do I base God’s love for me on what I’m acing at or what I'm failing at? Or do I base God’s love for me on His actual unconditional love for me? Am I free to be who He has called me to be? It’s one thing teaching your child it, it’s another thing living in the truth of it for myself.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”. Psalm 139v13-14

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Woman On A Mission

There are four different versions to the Asda shop for me. There's the on line version, which takes a bit of prep and you don't get to see or feel stuff, so that usually rules that one out for me.

There's the usual one where I have one or two of the girls with me. I am a Woman on a Mission, and this shopping success rate is based on the tiredness of the girls and how well they cope with the trolley seating arrangement. (Being in close proximity to a sibling can cause one's child to simply overload and explode it seems). It also depends on whether I have brought a dummy with me, whether anyone needs a wee or does a poo, and where along the route I give into the many requests of "Can I have...?" If I peak too early, then they think they can ask for everything and get it. If I peak too late, there is potential for another overload and explosion, resulting in screams at the checkout. And they're not fun for anyone. We've all see or heard these in action, where Wasabi peas or chewing gum is flung at the child in a desperate plea for peace. 

The rarer, and less preferred option, is when for some reason I have to take all six kids with me. Crazy Woman on a Mission! Yeah. Rock and Roll. Move out the way. Clear the aisles. This shopping success rate is based on two questions towards the end of the excursion; 'Have I still got the right six kids with me?' and 'Is there some food, any food in the trolley?' 
If the answer is yes, then it is a win.

I've worked at this one, because otherwise I'm setting us all up to fail. I add £5 to the budget. They all have £1 each to spend. Call it 'Positive Reinforcement' or bribery, I don't care. It works. It can't all be spent on sweets and it can't be spent on alcohol. Me and the oldest take a list each, split the fighting pairs up and start the mission. This one has come to an abrupt standstill before, because some lady's 'bus load of kids' opened the Fire Escape doors and set all the alarms off! 

The third beautiful option, is where I go alone. Ah it's always a success, right from the start even as I drive there. I listen in the van; nothing. I wander aimlessly up to George clothing, and look at clothes which aren't even on the sale rail. Might even choose an item. (After all, what comes out of the Asda budget, stays in the Asda budget). I plan the week's meals as I go along; What looks tasty? What's on offer? I wander down each aisle I choose. I usually buy myself a treat somewhere along the unplanned route. I eat it right there and then, in public, not rustling away in secret. There's no one to hide it from, and no one to share it with. Mwahahahahaha! I usually buy wine. Seems a fitting finish to this Spa type excursion. I cannot use the wine as the 'treat along the way' though.
 (My mission is to time this particular shop so the kids are already in bed before I get home). 

I added a new mission in my head this last time. I put everything through the Self Scan. I pretended I wasn't playing shops, and carefully bagged it all. My mission was to have no 'unidentified items in the bagging area'. I hate unidentified items in the bagging area so much. And I did it. Go me. I didn't have the Asda person come over, with their special lanyard, not even once. This mumma was winning on her mission. 

With parenting, and maybe just with life, I've come to accept that there are days, or hours, maybe just minutes when you're a woman on a mission, and you're just winning at it. And there's days where you don't even know where your hairbrush is, let alone what mission you're on. 

The thing is with the word mission, it's actually as much about the trip, the commission, the journey, the expedition as it is about an end goal as such. And if it's a journey, then you can rest along the way, you can take different routes, you can stock up in the different aisles, you can have others walk alongside you, you can slow your pace down, or pick it up even. You may even gather some unidentified baggage along the way, but you can ask someone to carry the load for you. I'm pretty secure of my Final Destination, I know I'm going to my Father's House, where He has many rooms and a great feast waiting for me. And I know that because of Jesus, I'm always winning, no matter what the mission.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". John 16v33

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Because My Baby Cried

I'm squashed inside a toddler bed
Because my baby cried.
I didn't want her to be alone,
So in this space, I climbed.

I'm weeping inside this toddler bed
Because my baby cried.
Tears are rolling down my cheek,
Another friend's baby has died.

I'm thinking inside this toddler bed
Because my baby cried,
Of the grief and of the heartache,
My friend is carrying inside.

As I lay inside this toddler bed
Because my baby cried,
I can't not cry for my friend
In sisterhood, come alongside.

It's not comfortable inside this bed
Because my baby cried.
I remember my own lost child.
In my Heavenly Father, I confide.

Still tearful inside this bed
Because my baby cried.
I name each baby who I know,
In Heaven, now abides.

I hold my squirmer in her bed
Because my baby cried.
I find myself asking why,
To my comforter and my guide.

My heart it wrestles inside this bed
Because my baby cried.
No answer comes But I know I'm heard.
In Him I can abide.

I smile from inside this bed.
My baby no longer cries.
I'm just grateful she woke me up,
So I can lay by her side.

"The Lord is close to the broken hearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit".
Psalm 34v18

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Happily Ever After

Today is World Book Day. So a lot of mums, (and dads) plan in advance, bringing their child's favourite book character to life, carefully sewing an outfit together. Other mums scramble around the night before (or even the morning of), whipping up a costume based on what face paint colours they have, or what is in the dressing up box, hoping there is a character in a book which loosely relates. Then the kids get sent off to school or nursery and the photo gets uploaded to Facebook. I love it.

There's always that parent who has dressed their kid up as a character that no one else has heard of. 
And there's usually some princesses and a Batman close by. We had a reluctant Cinderella, in the dress the mice made, because I found a pink dress this morning, not a blue one! My favourites this year were a Pink crayon and Katniss Everdeen, as well as every teacher and teaching assistant that goes all out. 

It seemed fitting to read some books to the reluctant Cinderella, so I started with Superworm. I got about one sentence in and her questions and observations started. Why this? Why that? Look at this. Look at that. I answered her questions as quickly as possible and carried on with the story, especially when she broke in mid rhyme. The husband had to remind me that I may not even get to the end of the story and that what she was doing was the best way to do it. I know all children's authors everywhere would shudder at me just pushing on, rather than using the book as the tool it was designed for. A tool for quality time together, a tool for learning and asking, a tool to start the love of books. So we sat and chatted about the worm, and the beetle, and the frog, and the bug, and the soil and so much more. It was of course lovely, as reading a story to a child just is. 

I was reminded how we are all a different character in one big story, Jesus' story. 
I sometimes think He is part of my story. How it's all about when I became a Christian, and when I need Him. But the truth is that we are part of His story. His story of rescue and love. His story of adventure and risk. His story of Good overcoming evil. His story of a battle which provided hope. His story of Redemption, with of course, a Happily Ever After. 

How wonderfully patient He is when I stop to look at something or ask a question or get distracted. He knows I'm learning along the way. He doesn't rush me on because He already knows how the story ends.

 "He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen." Revelation 22v20-21

Monday, 8 February 2016

Dragon Warrior

Some days the kids make film choices, which literally hurt my soul. Either I have seen it one too many (hundred) times, or it's just a terrible film. 'Back to the Future II' has been played so frequently, that they have ruined one of the classics for me, and as for 'Shark Boy & Lava Girl', I just can't even find the words.
Today, one of the boys chose to watch Kung Fu Panda II; always a welcome favourite of mine. I'm hoping they never over play it. 

I love Jack Black as Po, the panda. He is just so funny. And I feel our humour is of similar a standard. I love that his great enemy is the stairs. I hear him on that one. I love that when he is finally determined to win a battle, he says "I am Po, and I'm going to need a hat". Classic. But the thing I love best about the tubby little panda is how completely incompetent he is for the job of Dragon Warrior. He's out of shape. He uses humour as a defence mechanism (not sure why I relate to that). He's not focused. He trips over. He makes huge mistakes, he comfort eats, and people are constantly raising their eyes at him.

As my son watched it today, we laughed at the same old bits together. I asked him if he knew why I liked Po so much, and as I gave the above reasons, I said that Po reminded me of a lot of people in the Bible, who had great destiny on their lives, but mucked things up. Moses was called upon to 'free the captives', and he was all like "Mmmm, me? I don't think I'm up to it. Can I call a friend?" There's Joseph who had the fancy coloured coat, and did wonders for the people, and the banking system in his generation. But he did also kill a man. There's Peter, who Jesus 'built His church upon', who did deny there even was a Jesus, of course. Rahab bravely helped God's spies escape, and she was a prostitute. 

Why would God use such people? Weak people who got it wrong and messed up? Because that's you and me. That's all of us. God uses the incompetent, out of shape, unfocused mistake makers. Po and the great characters of the Bible, encourage me to keep going, to live my life for Jesus, to do what He has called me to do, knowing that I'll probably mess up. God is well aware of my weaknesses. He's expectant of me to fall into them. And that is so releasing, to know that I am going to get it wrong, but that there is grace and love for me when I come and say sorry to Him. Grace and love for me to 'have another go'. What's the worst that could happen? Honestly, that would be to lose God's love, and He has promised me that will never happen. So, I may as well go for it, whatever it is... whatever His will is, even if I'm to be the next Dragon Warrior.

I always find it amusing when some of my kids' friends, and mine say "Oh you're not allowed to do that, cos you're a Christian". We've never said we're perfect and couldn't profess to be so, even if we wanted to. Too many people know us, to know that we are by no means perfect. We're nowhere near perfect parents. They thankfully don't exist, so there's no point even comparing. And our kids are little bundles of mess and trouble, because they have sinful hearts like every last person on this planet. 

But of course, there is a perfect Heavenly Father. He perfectly loves us and still uses us no matter how wrong we get it, no matter how lacking in faith we are, no matter how imperfect we are. He has great things for each of us to do. I know God has called me to biblically raise six children, who will hopefully all love and follow Him. I know he has called me to biblically love my husband, selflessly. I know He has called me to worship Him and bring others to know Him. Am I doing it perfectly? No. Does He know that? Yes. Does He still love me? Yes. Is there more for me to do? Yes. Am I a dragon warrior? Not so much. Am I an out of shape, comical panda, with great destiny? Yes I believe I am.

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;  though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37v23-24

Monday, 11 January 2016

Out With The Old, In With The New

It's a new year. A 'New' year; A year for fresh starts and change, a year of innovative ideas and renewed energy. A year to go for it and look ahead to what could be. A year full of the unknown, with huge potential.

Or... I'm a mum, so pretty much the same old stuff really. There's washing to be done and beds to be made. There's school shoes to buy and lunches to make. There's stories to read and hair to wash. There's bums to wipe and noses to blow. There's nits to search for and dog poo to clean off.  There's towers to make and laces to tie. There's questions to answer and tears to wipe. There's homework to do and discipline to give. It's the same, year in and year out.

Sometimes at the end of the year, it's easy to forget what has happened the year before. It can blur from yesterday's dried on Weetabix to today's dried on Shreddies, from last week's grocery shop to this week's identical one, (with maybe the added excitement of dishwasher tablets on offer).

So, on New Year's Eve, we sat and looked through a montage of the year's photos. We had a box of Celebrations, (another one) and we highlighted our best bits, chatted about the memories created from the photos, and we celebrated the year gone by. It is always good to celebrate what has been, and what God has done.
(Equally, what He hasn't done, but what He's taught us in the process). It does something good to the soul, when you stop and remember, and give thanks and eat chocolate. The Old Testament is full of moments where someone does this. They realize what God has done, they build an alter or a pile of stones and they name it 'whatever God has done here'.

So, for our family, there were many piles of stones to look back and be thankful for. (There was some rubble along the way too, you know the bits which trip you up, cause some pain or slow you down a bit. But they're not for today).
There were new arrivals to celebrate; our second beautiful daughter, a longed for nephew, and of course a shiny new motorbike. There were weddings to enjoy, and the life of a legendary Great Grandad to remember. There was the epic drive to Spain and the fun we had there. There was a motor bike tour of Europe and of course, the day he came home.
There were crazy birthday parties and wonderful baptisms. There was a 'GOOD' Ofsted report and the day we met Olaf. There were Lego days in and 'Out Out' nights out. And that's the things we could see and photograph, not to mention our Heavenly Father's provision, forgiveness and constant grace.

So, as I look to the year ahead, I am reminded to stir up my soul, to be expectant of the year ahead and what God will do.  I am reminded to indeed see it as a year for fresh starts and change. A year full of the unknown, with huge potential. Because even in the mundane, in the day to day 'sameness', He wonderfully remains the same. He is steady and unchanging, and I know that living for Him, saying Yes to all He asks of me, will be the best thing I can do on a day to day, year to year basis.

Thank you God, for the bountiful blessing of my children. Thank you that there's washing to be done and beds to be made, school shoes to buy and lunches to make, stories to read and hair to wash, bums to wipe and noses to blow, nits to search for and dog poo to clean off, towers to make and laces to tie, questions to answer and tears to wipe, homework to do and discipline to give.

Because that means I have a little tribe to teach and reveal more of God to. That means I get to prepare the next generation to be expectant of all God can do for them. I must never be lacking in zeal for that. I must keep my spiritual fervor, when serving the Lord, as their mum, in every new day! Gulp. God please help me. I cannot do this alone. I am indeed lacking in zeal. But you have yet to let me down, so here I go again. (Romans 12v11)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dear Princess Catherine... #myhero

Your Royal Highness,

I'm writing to tell you I think you're pretty fab. Always nice to get fan mail I'm sure. (Well, for me it is). I'm also writing to ask you if I can interview you for my blog; One Pink Toothbrush?
The blog is about being a mum; the fun and frustration involved, and how our mothering journeys are all different, but as mums, we can relate to one another and cheer each other along.

The title would be 'Mothering a Royal'. And that's where you come in, as not many of my other friends are members of the Royal Family.

I have so far interviewed a Mother of Many, a Mother of a Special Needs Child, and a Young Mother, to name a few. I'd love to hear how similar and how different it is, to mother a Royal.

Now, I'm also aware that you're busy, very busy. Not only are you a mum, but also a public figure, and a member of the Royal Family, so it may not be the done thing to be interviewed for a blog. However, there is also no harm in asking. So this is my ask.

The reason behind OnePinkToothbrush, (which has no sponsorship or advertising), was that I used to just be a mum of four boys, so mine was the only pink toothbrush. However, I have now added two princesses into the mix. (Princess in the loosest term of course).

My questions would be; 
* What is the best bit about being a mum?
* And the hardest?
* What does it take to raise a Royal? A Prince? A Princess?
* And what colour is your toothbrush? 

I hope you'll consider it. You seem such fun. I understand you may not be able to, and that is fine too. Of course I'd be sad for a week or two, and would write a blog post about it. I would carry on mothering mine, and you will carry on mothering yours. I'd see you in 'Hello' magazine from time to time, and no doubt you'd follow my blog.

Biggest thanks to you or your staff for reading this. I'm looking forward to hearing from you or them. Keep loving your man and your beautiful children, in the private places of home, as well as in the public arena.

Yours Sincerely.....