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.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tired & Tearful

Mmm...four months without a blog post, that's not very good is it? What have I been doing with my time? Well I guess there is Baby Number six growing in my uterus, and there are those five other time consuming little beings in my life, and there is that house to clean, and those toys to put away, and that washing which needed sorting. Then there's Facebook to look at and that romantic novel which needed reading, about a chocolate shop in Paris. Oh and there was Newday, and I seem to have the distant memories of a family holiday somewhere back there too. 

These answers are all valid of course, but I think somewhere in the midst of it all, I was just tired, too tired to write or think. There was a day on holiday, where me and the husband took it in turns to be semi conscious near the kids. They watched five dvds that day. That's 7.5hours of visual overload, and they mainly ate snacks. They couldn't quite believe that every time they approached us with,
"muuuuuuum, can I eat....?", they got a yes. That was a good day, for all concerned. Praise God for rest!

Going to bed at 9pm, makes you not only feel as old as your grandma, (bring out the warmed milk and Ovaltine) but you feel a little out of touch with the world around you. If you go to sleep as soon as the oldest one is tucked up for the night, there's no head space, or 'me time', or rubbish TV to embrace. Especially if your day consisted of the usual mum fun; answering the million questions on life and of course, the unanswerable 'why?', watching re-runs of The Octonauts and Spider-man, sorting out brotherly love which got too physical, changing a nappy or two, wiping a nose, wiping a bum, wiping the kitchen side...(Different cloths were used for all wiping scenarios).  

And although you're a hormonal, ever-so-slightly tearful mess, you try fighting the husband, who is suggesting sleep as a radical new cure for tiredness. You want to stay up later than your kids. At least 'til 10pm. Yeah...rock & roll. Maybe have a glass of fizzy and something from the snack drawer... You want to exist as you, not just as mum, tired mum. But you end up crying at every TV programme you flick through, from house renovations to hotel inspectors. So you concede that the husband, who puts up with the tears and the hormones, and has done for each and every pregnancy (and there's been a few) is indeed right. You give in and climb once more into bed at 9pm.

And then you remember that wonderful book of encouragement on your bedside table; The Bible... And God reminds you of a couple of verses in it. "Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up". Galations 6v9
I had most definitely grown weary. Weary of the day-to-day mothering. Weary from carrying a baby. Weary of wiping and answering and crowd controlling. And God asks me not to grow weary in doing good. Why? So that I can reap a harvest. Mothering is good, parenting is good; a worthy thing to plough your time and energy in to. 
John Piper puts that verse like this, "Don't lose heart spending yourself through love". 

And just what harvest can I expect? Well, hopefully the security of my kids' eternal destination. Put like that, then yes I will keep on keeping on, even if it means tucking myself under the duvet at 9pm, ready to do it all again tomorrow. I want each one of them to know Jesus for themselves, to have a relationship with God, to know their sins are forgiven and their name is on the VIP list for that great place to be; Heaven. So whether I'm wiping them, disciplining them, feeding them or answering their many questions, I'm reminded that I'm shaping them and getting them ready for much more. And yes it's tiring, but 'spending yourself through love' is the best way to spend yourself surely?! And what's wonderful to know is that God's word, the Bible contains so much more encouragement for me...
  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Philippians 4v13

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Pot Bound

For my birthday last year, a friend of mine brought me a lovely plant, with beautiful white flowers. And I've actually managed to keep it alive! It sits on my kitchen window, soaking up the warmth of the sun and is near enough to a tap that I'm reminded every day to water it. Recently, the leaves from the plant were taking over the pot that they were in, and the roots were starting to circle around the pot inside. There were lots of buds in the middle of the plant, which didn't seem to have room to extend. 

The green fingered husband told me that he thought it was on it's way to being 'pot bound'. So we needed to get fresh compost and re pot my lovely plant into a bigger pot. I read somewhere that, "Allowing root-bound plants to continue to grow in this fashion will not only stunt the plant’s growth, but also it can bring about the plant’s overall demise."  I was determined to not let that happen to the only plant I'd ever kept alive.

Around the same time, we got a letter from the boys' school, saying that our eldest had been chosen as a School Ambassador, and would therefore be going on an activity week in the Lake District, via a 7 hour train journey with a train change in London! As my son read me all the potentially dangerous activities he would be doing, I explained to him that I was very excited and a little bit nervous at the same time.

My mum worried a lot as I was growing up, anxious about what 'might happen', which wasn't always easy to live with. (I've checked with her that it's okay to share that, and she said it's fine because it was true, and she now lives more in the truth that "God has given her not a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and self control". 2Timothy 1v7). I think I made a decision of faith, with prayer not to be an anxious mum myself, but to trust God with the crazy risk-taking warriors he has given me. (In saying that, I recently spoke to a friend whose own mum had never cared about her at all. And humbly came to the realisation that I'd rather a mum that loved too much, than one who didn't love at all). 

I explained to my boy about the plant. And likened him to it. I said I could choose to keep him all to myself, restrict his choices, not let him take any risks, keep him safe at all times and not allow him to branch out or become independent. But in doing this, I would have to also accept that I would then have to watch him become 'pot bound', which would 'stunt his growth and lead to his overall demise'! The other option, if I wanted to see him grow into the man God wants him to be, meant that I would have to allow him to step out of the comfort of his home soil, and flourish on his own, making his own choices, and budding beautifully as a result.

It's hard sometimes to know how to get the balance right. But trusting that my kids are more loved by God than they are loved by me, allows me to trust that He has their best interests at heart. He knows what they will need to go through in order to grow and mature into the men and the woman that He has plans for. My job is to make sure their roots are healthy, that I teach them what they need to know about the gospel of Jesus, and how to live according to His ways, which has eternal consequences, not merely childhood memories. And I need to water them daily with Biblical truth and encourage them to grow in the warmth of the Son.

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." 1 Corinthians 13v11

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

You Stink!

Yesterday, I sat on the sofa with three of my boys. I leant down and then it hit me - what was that smell? My next comment was "Boys, stop what you are doing and smell your own feet. If the smell makes you want to be sick, then you need to take your socks off and put them by the washing machine immediately". 

They were quick to obey. It's always easy to obey when it involves possible amusing gagging. The three amigos, put down their book, iPad and computer and proceeded to smell their own feet. The faces two of them pulled, were priceless. Faces of disgust as the stench made their eyes water. One of them however, just smiled a cheeky grin and said that his were okay. I said that if I smelt them, and I proceeded to feel sick or I was indeed sick on him, then he would have to come off the iPad. He had another whiff and said "they're fine by me, but I don't think you would like them". All socks were quickly put by the washing machine, in the 'pre wash' pile, and the lounge resumed a more neutral smell.

I'm realising that if you are a growing lad, you are unaware of what you smell like until someone points it out to you. Sometimes as adults we are unaware of the aroma we give off, unless a brother or sister in Christ points it out to us.

The old testament talks about the aroma, the smell of sacrifice, being pleasing to God. It isn't necessarily the smell that pleases God, but the reason behind it. God knows when we are living a life which is pleasing to Him; sacrificial and worshipful. And He knows when we are living a life which is pleasing only to our selves. 

My son was happy with the smell of his socks, until I told him it wasn't good. We get used to the things that we let into our life; the sin and the selfish choices, the habits and the comforts. They become the norm. We get comfortable with them, and it's only when someone tells you your feet stink that you notice you may need a wash. 

Have you ever asked a friend to point out when you smell? To point out when your life isn't giving off a pleasing aroma to God? I have a couple of people who will graciously tell me if I stink or if there is a faint whiff, (I mean in the spiritual sense, but I'm sure they would point out any physical issues in this area too). We all need to be able to take it, when a friend points something out to us, and grow from it. And we need to be willing to gently inform a friend whether they stink or if they are a pleasing aroma. 

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love." Proverbs 27:5 

Thankfully, God knew we stank of sin and ungodliness, and so He sent His son Jesus to wash us, to make us right with Him. He even washed his disciples' feet. That's like me actually washing my boy's bare feet after they have played in the park and run through the deposits the dogs leave. Well, when Jesus died on the cross, He took all our sin and grubbiness, and stinkiness with Him. He was the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate pleasing aroma to God. And because He died in our place, we now have that same aroma. No matter how bad our socks smell, God can only smell the 'post wash' version.

"For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2v15

Monday, 9 June 2014

Knock Knock Knocking On The Door

Last week, it was a friend of mine’s hen day. I wanted to spend as much of the celebrations with her as I could. So in order to do this, it took some epic planning on my part. If I was going to be out all day and all evening, then the little people that live with me, needed to be covered all day and all evening too.

I wanted them to have a fun day, and for it not to be too much of a task for the people watching them, so that basically meant splitting them all up. It took me an hour and twenty to drop them all off, to the wonderful willing babysitters (and their unsuspecting husbands/partners).

I got back home and beheld the first joy of the day; the house was quiet. Ahh…I breathed in the silence. The house was also a mess. The husband had left early for the stag equivalent, and I’d had to get five of them ready and out the door by 9am, which isn’t my greatest strength on a weekday, let alone on a Saturday! So a quick tidy up and then I dressed up as Minnie Mouse. I don’t normally dress up when the kids are out, but we were requested to come as Disney characters. 

After a top-quality game of Volleyball with two Pocahontases, (or is it Pocahonti if there is more than one?), and various other characters, I enjoyed a lovely afternoon; eating cake, playing games, guessing who twenty pairs of knickers were from, and I won a Whoopee cushion, a fishing net and an innuendo apron! 

Two babysitters offered a sleepover. Or at least, gave in to the request of one. So I only had three kids to pick up and settle into bed, before the last babysitter for the evening turned up. Quick release of the Minnie Mouse bunches meant I had wavy-ish hair, so a blast of hairspray, a quick outfit change, and some mascara, meant I was ready to leave again.

A lovely evening was had with the hen and the girls. I had a cocktail called Barbara, and she was a beaut! The husband text me to say there was money on the kitchen table to pay for the taxi home at midnight. And I text him back to say I'd like him to bring the money out to me, because I knew I didn't have keys.

As I arrived home in the taxi, I rang the husband. No answer. So I went and knocked on the front door. No answer. So I rang his phone again. No answer. So I knocked on the kitchen window. No answer. I smiled one of those false teethy smiles at the taxi driver. He didn’t really smile back. I knocked on the kitchen window again. No answer. I rang his phone again. No answer. I went back to the taxi driver and said how sorry I was and that I did have a husband somewhere in the house, in a ‘trying to be jokey not stressed’ tone. I did the routine again; front door, phone, window, phone. I went back to the taxi driver and asked him nicely if he could possibly, maybe, perhaps stop clocking up the money and informed him I would try round the back of the house, insisting again that there was a husband in there somewhere.

In the dark, trying to get into our back garden, I couldn’t decide whether the husband was indeed dead or work out just how to kill him. I knocked on our back door. No answer. I knocked on the lounge window. No answer. I rang his phone. No answer. I looked up and saw our bedroom window. And knew it was the only way...  I hoisted up my long dress, tested how slippery my flip flops were, and started to climb the shed up to our bedroom window. I got to the top of the shed slope, held on to the wall and my dress somehow, and knocked on the bedroom window, as loudly as I could - at midnight, after my relaxed cocktail evening, in my dress!

Eventually a man who looked like he had no idea whatsoever why someone would be knocking on his bedroom window, opened it in a startled, sleep deprived way, to a manic woman shouting something about a taxi driver and hyperventilating the words, “ANSWER YOUR PHONE. ANSWER YOUR PHONE”.

Well which Bible verse shall I link with this little gem? 
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you"?
How about "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come and eat with that person, and they with me"?

No, I think I'm going for the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. She wanted justice against her enemy. In other words she was pleading "Help me, Help me" until she got the help she was after. The encouragement here is of course to pray, and to keep on praying. I needed the husband to open the door, (or the window as it turned out), and I had to keep knocking until he heard me. 

Now God hears us the first time we pray, but He does ask us to persist in prayer, to be faithful in prayer, to climb a shed in prayer sometimes. The end goal for me was to pay the taxi driver and get into my house. If I had only knocked once and then given up, I wouldn't have been able to do these things, and I really really needed to. 

What are the things that I really really need to see God answer? And to what lengths am I willing to keep knocking for them? And what am I learning while I have to wait? 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Sit Down Next To Me

The little pink one in my house, is very good at communicating what she wants. I guess she's learnt that survival tactic very quickly living with four older brothers. Lately what she wants, is for people to come and sit next to her. She finds a little place to park herself, uses your name if she can say it, or makes some kind of holler or call, if she can't. And when she has your attention, she pats the spot next to her, gesturing for you to come and join her. It's very cute, or at least it was the first few times. But for me and one of her older brothers, it's a pretty regular occurrence.

It can be on the grass, or on the decking, on the carpet or on the bottom step, in her room or in the porch. The most amusing moments are when she doesn't quite understand spacial awareness, which is fine because she is 18months old. (I'm 36 and I don't have great spacial awareness but I am aware of the spaces where I wont fit!) She has a little spot on the kitchen windowsill, where she parks her little bum and looks for buses. She regularly asks me to join her there on the windowsill, in a space the size of a tea bag. 
The phrase "does my bum look big in this", would have a resounding "yes" from all the people passing by on the bus.

She recently sat down in the middle of the walkway, while out with her granny. She just stopped, sat down and called Granny to come back, patted the area next to her, and waited for granny to respond. And as many of us know, Grannies are wise old owls. They know a good moment that is worth their time and effort, when they see one. So down Granny sat, and looked at the boats in the marina with her.

It got me thinking about the times when I say no to her request. It inconveniences me, or I'm busy, or it's an extra effort. Maybe the washing up needs doing, or a sibling needs entertaining, or I just don't want to do it again. Legitimately there are times when no-one's bottom will fit into the space she requires you to fit in, like in her baby's cot or in her car seat. But often there is a space next to her. But I may not make space for her. 

When I do take a couple of minutes out to sit with her, it's really lovely. It's nice to stop and look at the world from her perspective and sit with her, talk to her and be with her. She puts her little hands in her lap, and is happy that you came to her, happy that you stepped into her world, happy that you gave her the time. Sometimes she babbles away. Other times, she just sits quietly content with your company, until she's finished with you and then wanders off.

I wonder how many times my Heavenly Father beckons for me to join Him. I wonder during the day, how many moments there are when He pats the space next to Him, and asks me to sit with Him, to enjoy His company, to talk with Him, to see things from His perspective or just to be still with Him. And I bet my excuses are the same...I'm busy. It inconveniences me. The washing up needs doing. The kids need my attention. I've already done it today. It's uncomfortable. I don't want to make the effort. Or it simply wont fit.

My guess is that my little pink one wont request this of me forever. And maybe Grannies know that precious little secret more than tired, rushed mummies do. Maybe tomorrow, I'll say yes a few more times to her beckoning, and maybe I'll keep an ear out for the Father, who I know is is wanting me to spend time with Him too.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10v41

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A Second Opinion

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22v6 

That's my opinion on raising my kids. Let's get a second opinion...

Dinner-time's finished, time for pudding and I know what's coming. Mum puts three mousses onto the table and says "Boys, who is going to be selfless and give way?" 
Same saying every day. Selflessness, selflessness, selflessness. Why do I have to? 
I wait to see if someone gives way first, and if not, then I do. I know that's not being selfless, but I'm only ten.

For years, my mum has said there's always an opportunity to give way. It's like she knows it's going to happen even before it does. But being selfless isn't easy, unless you're my brother. He always gives way. He's younger than me so I should be the one setting the examples. I struggle to not show off once I've been selfless.

Today I was selfless. I did it. Today, my dad was taking me and two of my brothers to see 'Frozen' at the cinema. I gave my ticket to my youngest brother so he could go. I felt that it was right to put my brother first. And even though I gave way, he was still crying because he wanted to make cakes.

My dad's always explaining to me that life's not fair. He says "Fair is getting punished for my own sins; but Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for me". And that's not fair!

I wonder how long all this teaching will go on for. Probably decades or until I'm dead. I can't wait for tomorrow's dinner-time. I know what's coming.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2v3-4 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

To The Moon And Back

One thing I'm learning from being a mum, is that the little people in your life do as you do, and they eventually even start to do as you say. I know that I am one of the biggest examples in their lives. They copy me and the husband, which can be wonderful to watch or embarrassing to witness, depending on which bit of you they decide to imitate.

One thing I teach my boys, is that if a relationship has broken down, they need to sort it out. Usually this means that they need to say sorry, or they need to forgive the person. Maybe they need to ask the other person if they're okay, or choose to love them by showing them practically. It pretty much always involves talking.

"Use your words", is a highly used phrase in this house. Along with "change your tone", and the more than occasional "get your hands out of your pants".

The thing is, sometimes I think I haven't got time to practice what I preach. The boys need to leave the house at 8:30am, so if they all do everything that needs doing at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way, everything is good and they leave on time. 
But this is a house with kids in it.... So it just doesn't happen that way!

More often than not, there is a moment which needs dealing with. I usually make sure a 'sorry' has been said. It doesn't take long to do. Either I need to be quick with mummy forgiveness, or humble enough to admit that I'm in the wrong. I don't like the boys leaving without a kiss and a hug. Sometimes we shout "I love you, I love you more, I love you most, I love you infinity.... to the moon and back, I love you a zillion" until they've walked round the corner. 

However some mornings, family harmony doesn't happen quite so well. We end up bugging each other, or the kids upset me, or I simply snap. I feel overwhelmed, or I only love them to the bottom step and back, and even that's pushing it. And there isn't time to practise what I preach. 

(There is actually always time!!) 

Last week, I had one of these moments. There was lots of nagging and shouting on my part. One of the biggest flaws in my parenting, is that I lecture them. I may well be upset with them. They may well have done something wrong. But instead of speaking into it once, I go on and on and on. (Which any male will tell you, just makes them glaze over). Anyway, it was school time, and there was "no time" to mend relationship. So I just closed the door, without a hug, a kiss or any declaration of love, even to the other side of the road, let alone a round trip to the moon. I felt sad, but in my heart I justified it because of the stress and the time and the volume of kids in my kitchen. 

As I sat with the other elders' wives a couple of hours later, I got a phone call from the school. It was a learning support assistant ringing to say that my son was upset. He had informed her about our argument, told her he was sad and explained that we hadn't sorted the problem out before he left. He knew that it did not feel good to be in a broken relationship with someone. He was unable to get on with his day so he had asked to call me. It's always fun when you teach your kids something, and then they put it into practice. And by fun, I mean humbling!

But I'm pleased that he did it. We had a chance to say sorry and put this verse into action over the phone. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3v12-14

God calls each family to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, even at 8:20am. And that is not easy! But it must be possible, with His help. He asks us to bear with each family member and forgive each other. He asks us to 'put on love', as if it's an actual item of clothing. Why? Because He is clothed with compassion. He is clothed with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He bears with us and forgives us. And because God sent His son to die for us, so that we would no longer be in broken relationship with Him. 
He loved us to the cross and back.