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.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

It's A New Day

We have just got home from Newday, a Christian Youth Festival. It is a wonderful mix of fun, tiredness, carbohydrates, God's presence, grubby kids, sweets, worship, friends, late nights and cups of tea. It can have a crazy start to it; one year we bought a car off of eBay for the husband's team to spray paint, as part of an obstacle course and we all came home in different vehicles. This year he travelled up first and left me a note of what to bring with me, which of course included slugs, lard and a pig's head. (I have noticed over the years, how God has given me certain grace for the man he put aside for me). 
The kids loved it; up late most evenings, running around the campsite in their onesies, with their buddies. Their two outfits they wore, covered in grass stains. (Still better than poo though....a friend had an interesting moment with her shorts). They especially enjoyed the Retro cafe; sweets, fun adults, Popcorn, pink ice cream and Disney movies. They visited the skate park and basketball court, and had a battle with their Dad in the Nerf arena. They queued for delicious milkshakes in the Cowshed and listened to some funky tunes in the Rhythm Factory. 

For the first time in many years, I had a reason to visit the pink Bar with my princess, where we got our nails done and had hair extensions put in. And every morning, they watched their dad encourage young teenagers to eat cricket fritters and pig's ears, cover themselves in lard and glitter and stuff their leotards with turkey stuffing ready for Christmas day. (There are no answers to the questions of Why? in the 12-14yr olds venue). 

Parenting is a funny one at Newday. The kids naturally have more freedom, but living in a caravan or tent means you naturally use a lowered voice to tell them off. (Albeit, stronger eye movements). The kids don't see much of their dad, so I allow them sugar on their cocopops. Their boundaries are extended...mine don't tend to be allowed into 'town' at 10pm, but everything feels a little safer. And their sleep patterns are late nights and ever so slight lay ins. Unless you take a baby or a two year old, then you're just distracting them with milk and dummies and silent songs until you deem it a reasonable hour for other people to hear them. 

The highlight has to be watching or hearing thousands of young people, make decisions to follow God, to worship Him, to make a stand for Him, to accept His love for them, to live in the light of His forgiveness of them, and to grasp more of who He is and what He has done for them. Whether I was in the big top in person, (kindly served by my friend who took on the Dawson kids for me) or if I was back at the campsite, feeling the bass line through the caravan walls, I knew God was doing something. I knew Aslan was roaring, calling people to Himself. And they were hearing and responding. I had a couple of those moments myself and I know some of my kids did too. 

And now we are home. I'm prone to the Holiday Blues, (whether Newday felt like a holiday or not), so I always have a little lull driving home. My poor girlie one sobbed for a good ten minutes as she said "goodbye caraban", "I've lost my caraban". But sleep and a McDonald's Happy Meal helped. The washing machine is continuously on, and the kids are in closer proximity to me and each other, which as you can imagine is a wonderful adaption. 

The mistake would now be to assume that I left God back in Norfolk, that I left His presence in the Big Top, that His righteousness can only be grasped if the band are on stage. It definitely felt easier to acknowledge Him at Newday, to step into His loving presence and worship Him every day. It's what we were all there for. But of course, that's exactly what we are all here for everyday. To acknowledge Him, to step into His loving presence and worship Him every day. Yes He was wonderfully and powerfully in the Big Top, in a showground in Norfolk. But He's also right here, with me, right now. The lion still roars, I may have to tune in more finely that's all. He's still speaking, I may have to be quiet enough to listen that's all. His presence is still wonderfully available, I may have to actively walk into it that's all. Each day is a New Day to spend with Him. 

Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Keep Calm & Party On

In the space of two weeks during July, we have celebrated three of our kids' birthdays. (We should have obviously spaced out our 'evenings in with a bottle of wine' during November and December over the last few years). We also hosted a Year 6 leavers' BBQ, which turned out to be pretty much a birthday party, just without the cake.

We have had games galore of course, being married to Mr Newday! (Newday is a youth event, which the husband helps to lead, inevitably making young people do ridiculous things in order to lose their pride and win a milkshake). We have thrown the wellie, and jumped over the wellie while its been spun around on a rope. We have eaten doughnuts off of string. We've done the classics; the three legged race and the wheel barrow race. We've bounced off each other in blown up zorbs, tipped water on our heads when the music stopped, and had various fun with tissue. Lots of fun! Lots of noise! And lots of people! We do like people, us Dawsons.

And then there was one party which wasn't as party-like as the others. One of our lads took a couple of mates bowling. There was orange squash. His brothers were invited in a 'Please come to my party, but not actually get involved. In fact, please just play Pool in the background' kind of way. It was quiet. We didn't even look at a wellie, let alone jump over one. And there was no water involved. 

We realised that as a family, we're quite 'people people'. Some may say a few of us are slight extroverts. But we've come to realise that just because we are from the same family, it does not mean we are from the same mold. This came as quite a surprise to us. We thought it was just how we all were. But then we had a son who didn't find eye contact as easy, and really doesn't need more than two people in his life at any one time. 

I think he stands to show just how different we actually all are. Our family has people who are ordered, and others who are not so. People who love the correct answers that maths gives you, and others who are creative and happy for any answer. People who take risks and those that play it slightly safer. People who like jeans and others who like joggers and now of course, ones that wear dresses. People who are savers, and others who are spenders. People who cry more easily and others who might shout. People who have teddies and others who don't see the point. People with wonderful imaginations and others who prefer scientific, structured play. People who like their music loud and will sing along as if they're on the stage. (Actually that's just the husband) and me who hears music as more of a background thing. People who have many words, and those who speak just a few. (I'll leave you to guess which one I am). People who like crazy parties and one who doesn't. We're a mixed bunch under the slightly loud surface of it all. 

I love that we are all made in God's image. Not one of us is the odd one out in that. God is beautifully creative and yet mind blowingly scientific. He is ever so ordered, and yet does not get flustered when order isn't present. He made the crashing seas to roar and yet calmly brings His peace. He is all powerful, and to be greatly feared yet He is gentle and kind. He can be extremely serious and yet wonderfully joyful...

The mixed bunch living under this roof, relate differently to each other too. There are the sparring pairs, the strong friendship pairs, the imaginative pairs, and the clashing pairs, to name a few. Some of the kids are easier for me to parent. Some, the husband finds easier. I'm sure some of my lot would prefer to talk things through with me, while others probably don't get me at all. We all need grace for one another.

A bit like the church really... we're all a bit different from each other, and have different views and different ways of doing things. And there are some we get along with more easily. Some, we maybe clash a little with. We're all wonderfully, and sometimes annoyingly unique, but we are all in the same family. And our Heavenly Father, fathers us all the same way, with His perfect love and His gentle forgiveness. 

Me and the husband often say, "It's different, not wrong", especially during Marriage Preparation, with other couples. It's quite easy to see our contrasts as wrong, because we don't understand them or like them. But if we are all made in God's image, if we are all in His family, if we have all received the same Grace from Him, then surely it's a good thing to take a moment and see the other person how God sees them. He made them unique for a reason. He made you unique for a reason. And we can usually learn more about His vast character if we see others how He sees them. It helps me too, to parent my mixed bunch better, and to see their unique giftings.

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever." 1 Peter 4v10-11

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Hidden Treasure

I have four boys, they have two feet each. Each foot, needs a sock. So that's eight socks at any given time. (Not including the girls' socks...mainly because the little one's socks are tiny weeny and the two and a half year old wears a lot of sandals, ballet shoes, princess shoes, flip flops...you get the picture). I say 'any given time', rather than every day, because if left to their own devices, they just wouldn't change their socks. They do not see it as a necessity in life. They would keep them snuggly on their feet until fungus grew in them, evolved legs and walked themselves into the wash basket. One of my boys, used to get out of the bath and put his dirty socks back on. He would have slept in them and worn them again the next day, if we hadn't protested.

On Friday, my wash basket stunk. The heat and those eight socks multiplied several times over, made for an awful stench. I was very pleased to get that particular wash into the machine, seeing as the wash basket is in my bedroom. It's not until I've washed the socks and dried them, do I tend to find the huge holes in them. Maybe this is due to the tree climbing or the walking about without shoes on. Or maybe the smell and dirt just erodes them. (I should probably take my friend's advice, and let them live the South African way; no shoes & no socks).

When I have done a mass wash, I need a pairing plan. I'm not too fussed about odd socks but the husband God blessed me with, is more at 'one with the world', when the socks are paired, when he, I mean they, are ordered. So as a rule, we tend to try to only wear pairs. The boys occasionally grass on me, when their dad questions them about today's sock chaos. I hear "Mum said it was okay". So I had a genius plan which involved some godly teaching. I'd love to say my motive was to keep dripping the Bible into their lives, but I honestly just wanted to get the socks paired. 

So I spent the amount of time it would have probably taken me to pair them, to fill different socks with coins from our loose change pot. When I had run out of loose change, I put some packets of super noodles in, some mini cans of Fanta, some jelly packets and a sweet or two.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6v19-21

I put the basket in the middle of the lounge and asked, "who would like to serve me, by pairing these socks?" The rush of help wasn't immediate. No one was going to get an award for their speed and willingness. But then one of my boys said, as joyously as his heart would allow, "I'll do it mum". I said thank you, and said that I appreciated his willingness to serve me.

So the slow pairing started, one eye on the TV, and one finding the colorful matches first. He heard a jingle in a sock, pulled out a coin and pocketed the findings. He then found another, "muuuum, there's money in here". "Oh is there?" I replied. "Mmm, maybe that's because when you serve other people, you're actually storing treasure up in Heaven". His eagerness picked up some speed, as he hunted through the socks. He seemed to forget it was all about making pairs, so I had to quickly remind him. (This isn't just a fun treasure hunt you know. I do have ulterior motives). And then came the gloat, "Boys, there's money in here and its all gonna be miiiine". One by one, a brother took interest in the new activity unfolding before them, until they were all on the floor, pairing those socks. 

I added another little quip about the first son's willingness to serve when there wasn't a reward, which is of course, pleasing to God....that God had made a note of the son's serving heart, and put aside treasure for him in Heaven. And I pointed out that once they knew about the rewards, they were more likely to get involved. So, as christians, we should tell people what awaits them in Heaven, so that they too can get in on those rewards. I walked into the kitchen for my own caffeine induced reward and wondered if there will be socks in Heaven? 

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Living Life Abundantly

Resurfacing after the birth of baby number six, and I'm holding John 10v10 very close to my heart. "The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly".

My house is definitely full of life; eight people breathing, eating, talking and doing, certainly makes my house feel full of life. On Saturday, there was Origami folding, swimming, successful pottying, tree climbing, cookie making, DVD watching, picnicking, minecraft creating, Cinderella viewing, roof top climbing, play doughing, bike riding, Duplo building, fly catching, fly nurturing and eventually fly burying. (RIP Rosie) 

Doesn't that all sound so wonderfully full of abundant life? Yes it does, but what about the days when it's the eight of us squabbling, moaning, crying, arguing, puking and unsuccessfully pottying (okay, so not all eight of us on that one). That doesn't feel quite so full of life. It feels more like a life sentence. So how can I let this verse shape me on the days where I'd rather not do life abundantly? When I'd rather just do life, under a duvet to be honest.

Well, I've realised that this verse breathes life into me in different ways; not just 'take one house, add two people, add a further four boys and finally two girls into it, and you have abundant life'. True, but there is more as there usually is with scripture.

A friend of mine brought it to me that I was being quite negative with my words, in regards to my big family. I was jokingly apologising to the newest addition, for the family she had been born into. And I kept referring to my family in slightly derogative terms, focusing on the 'crazy', and the 'overwhelming' side of it all. And both these words at times, are completely the right words to use. But I know that my heart was panicking..."What do people think?", "Are we going to manage?" "Have we made a ridiculous choice to have another?" And it was coming out as jokey put downs, as if to jump in defensively before others confirmed the thoughts I was having. 

My friend showed me that I was indeed allowing 'the thief in to steal and destroy'. I wasn't speaking life into my family, quite the opposite. I remember emailing a mother of many, nine to be exact, seven weeks in and saying 'Help'. She said that the overwhelming thoughts she had had, would suck the life right out of her. She was spot on at lifting my chin and reminding me that God had given me faith for a big family and He would therefore give me the abundant grace for it also.

Living life abundantly, doesn't mean having a mini bus full of kids. Life is also lived abundantly by the person with a quiet house, and no kids. It means dwelling in Jesus' goodness for me, no matter what my circumstances or feelings. Dwelling in His joy, His peace, His provision, His forgiveness, His hope, His help, His love for me, and even His work for me to do. That is what brings me life. Come rain or shine, come fun, full days or 'under the duvet' days, come pleasant chats or slamming doors, whether the poo is found in the potty or out of the potty...

Last week, a great example of this came from a friend of mine, who text me a verse about being refreshed. She test me from hospital, after she had just come out of an operation. The operation was to drain her lung, and ease her respiratory problems. Fluid had built up due to the breast-cancer cells, which had been found in the lining of her lung. I would most definitely allow for, even expected her to feel a little destroyed. But nothing is stealing the hope she has in Jesus, away from her. Her text was encouraging and challenging, about how God wonderfully refreshes us, and asks us to bring that refreshment to others. She was and continues to be so full of life, abundant life. She too is holding that verse close to her heart.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Thank God for Monkeys

So if I'm going to be thankful...I'm going to take the kids on the grateful train with me. 

I am the mum; one of the most influential beings in my little people's lives. Me and the husband set the standard in this house. Whether it be with our tones, our quickness to apologise, (his) dance moves, how much we play on our phones, how we talk about people, how we store Tupperware or the moans and woes we verbalise around them. I recognise that if I've not been overly thankful lately, then my little copycats may well have picked up on this. I do feel kind of sorry for this last baby. She is getting the blame for everything... "Mum, are you crying cos of the baby?", "Mum are you stressy cos of the baby?", "Dad, is mum sleeping again cos of the baby?". 

Yesterday when we got in from school, we sat at the table, and I explained that I had been a bit moany and cryey lately. They nodded their heads, in complete agreement and said something about it being the baby's fault. (Oh how well I've prepared them for when they have their own emotional, hormonal wives). And I said that the best way to stop being moany, was to be thankful instead. 

I explained that we were going to write or draw everything and anything we wanted to thank God for. I explained that "every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1v17. If anything good in life is a gift from God, then we shouldn't ever be able to run out of things to thank Him for. I said that although I was achy and the baby made me feel cryey at times, I was very thankful to God that I am having this baby. 

We had pens & paper, a bucket, a choc ice each, and then it was all systems go, go, go... Those who liked to draw, drew. Those who liked to write sentences, wrote. Those who liked to pretend the pink pen was lipstick, puckered up and those who would only comply with one word per piece of paper, (because "we've finished school for the day") did just that. 

 It didn't take long for the bucket to be filled with things we were all thankful for. Sometimes we read our paper out to everyone, sometimes we just popped our own personal gratitude in the bucket for God to see. It was great to ask each other qualifying statements, like "why have you written 'boxes'?" And to hear the answer of a time when we taped one of the brothers up in a box and then knocked that box over. That is definitely worth thanking God for. He loves fun.

I was intrigued to see that three different boys had thanked God for monkeys. Yep, can't say I've ever stopped to thank God for them. And Granny's roast potatoes deserved the recognition they got for sure. People, and things, and treats, and Science and the beloved cross all got a mention. Because God is good. He loves to give His children good things, and He loves when we stop to delight in His generosity. 

Monday, 2 March 2015


Some days you need to just give yourself a bit of a kick up the backside and be thankful. Today was one of those days. In fact, every day should probably be one of those days....

When I start to lose thankfulness, I literally lose the plot a bit. I stop being grateful, and become ever so 'Woe is me', with a huge dollop of 'me', and a bit more 'me' thrown in for good measure. Being nine months pregnant, with aches and pains in places there really shouldn't be aches and pains, and hormones tipping me just over the edge of sanity, really helps me justify the 'me perspective'; really helps me justify the moans. The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to moaning and complaining. It simply says not to do it. In 1 Corinthians 10, it reminds us that the people of God who grumbled, were destroyed! Gulp. Philippians 2 tells us to do everything without grumbling or complaining. EVERYTHING?! Double gulp! 
Having a grumble or a moan, tends to suggest that we don't really trust God in it all. 

So what do I do with all my woes? Well, this morning, through tears I told God all about them, because the Psalms in the Bible, also encourage me to be real with God, rather than cover my actual feelings up with religious sentiment. 
"As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon,I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice."Psalm 55v16-17

I've come to notice that when I tell God my woes, (rather than just sob them snottily out to the husband or a friend or social media, or even worse, just keep them on 'repeat' in my own mind) my focus and my perspective does change. When I involve God in the process, my woes might still be exactly the same, but they can't be quite as big as they were before. When I come before the creator of the universe; the perfect, just God, who loves me unconditionally and knows everything about anything, including little old me, well then my woes do have to fall into line with His bigness, His vastness, His infinite care, His faithfulness, His forgiveness.... And I start to trust Him with it all again. 

So I started to thank God and just like with Pringles, once you pop, you just can't stop! Or a better reference may be Matt Redman's '10,000 reasons' song. He tries to convey that there is no end to what He's thankful to God for. There are at least 10,000 reasons for his heart to find. So my grateful list began...

Thank you God for the cross. Thank you that the reason I'm aching is due to the privilege of carrying a child within me. Thank you that the reason my house looks like we've been burgled, is because of the blessing of children. Thank you that with stock, any leftovers can be made into soup. Thank you for the free babysitting service called cbeebies. Thank you that someone upgraded their PlayStation so we got a free one. Thank you that the washing machine works, every single day. Thank you that wet wipes clean most stains ever invented by a small child. Thank you that when all else fails, there is always cheesy pasta. Thank you for big elasticated pants. Thank you for clean water which isn't just available and drinkable, but I can lay in a whole vat of the stuff, with muscle soak bubbles. Thank you that when my little girl is sucking on the end of the toilet brush, that the bleach has hopefully killed any trace of anything else. Thank you that I've been married so long that the husband's Tupperware meltdowns don't get to me any more. Thank you for friends who are willing to hang out with my kids. Thank you that Facebook means I stay in touch with people far away. Thank you for my Dyson. Thank you for when the Tupperware matches the lids. Thank you for Dairy Milk. Thank you that I'm heavily pregnant, which means I have an actual excuse for once, not to hoover the stairs. Thank you God for the cross...

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5v16-17

Thank you God for Monkeys 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Mothering Through Loss

I have asked my friend Becky to share her story of loss, grief & eternal hope, following on from the previous post in the mothering series. (Sharing different mothers' stories).

I am a mum of two sons. One on Earth and one in Heaven. Zach is 3 and Joel passed away in July of last year at 3 1/2 months old.

He seemed to be a normal and healthy baby until the weekend before he died. He started vomiting severely so we were admitted to hospital with a suspected gastric bug. In the middle of our second night in hospital I was unable to wake him and a CT scan showed that he had a very large brain tumour. We were transferred to a specialist hospital where they informed us that Joel was already brain dead and there was nothing they could do. A few hours later we turned off his life support and he died in mine and my husband's arms.

It has been 6 months since Joel passed away and they have without doubt been the hardest months of my life. 'How are you?' is now a very hard question to answer. Sometimes I don't want to answer. Sometimes I am not sure my answer is appropriate or know whether the person really wants to hear it. Sometimes I just don't really know and cannot put into words all that's going on in my heart and mind.

I know that I miss my son. I think about him every day, throughout the day. I also miss who he would be now and what he would be doing at 9 months old. I'm aching to hold him and kiss him again. Wishing he could share in all the new memories our family is making. Feeling somewhat unsettled and incomplete. Knowing that however big our family grows there will always be a Joel shaped hole in it.

I am so thankful that we were given Joel, even for such a short time. Despite the pain, despite seeing my husband's grief and Zach's confused sadness; those short, sweet months with my precious boy were worth it. I wouldn't swap the pain of today if it meant not having him for the time we did. But God has helped me to realise that it is for so much more. His short life here on Earth was only the beginning, of his life and of our time together. From his very conception Joel became an eternal being and he will now exist as long as I will. He is already getting to experience the reality of Heaven and being in the presence of his Father God and will enjoy eternity doing so. One day I will join him there and get to spend the rest of my days with him. Those days, which seem so distant and ethereal now, will be just as real as these days.

Not long after Joel died I read this verse:
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." I Thessalonians 4:13
Since then I have prayed that God would show us what it means to grieve with hope and help us to do that.

As a Christian, the death of someone you love is no less painful than for anyone else. Your grief is no less real or raw. Sometimes my grief is overwhelming. The pain and anguish is so deep and strong I don't know what to do with myself. I still experience all the normal grief responses and feelings: fear, anger, questioning, guilt, sorrow, doubt. The difference is, under all that grief there is hope. I cling onto it and onto God. The hope that God is with us in our suffering, the hope that nothing can separate us from His love and the hope that death is not the end: Jesus has overcome death and we will spend all eternity with him in the new heavens and the new earth. A place more wonderful than we can comprehend.
These truths are more real and more important to me than ever before. In the daily struggles and low times I contemplate them, and Heaven and eternity in a way that I have not done before. Although there is still pain, they bring comfort and encouragement and hope.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

That doesn't mean it's easy. I am realising like never before my total dependence on and need for God. 

I am constantly trying, unsuccessfully, to do things in my own strength. A dear counsellor from our church helped me to recognise that I was trying to deal with my emotions and thoughts intellectually, attempting to rationalise them away rather than going to Jesus. Telling myself things like “You shouldn't be feeling fearful, trust God”. I realised I need to admit to how I feel and invite Jesus into those emotions and thoughts and into those broken parts of my heart. I need to ask him to reveal his truth to my heart and to help me. To reveal to me more of who he is. And I am thankful that He does. He is faithful.

"Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us."
 Psalm 62.8 

Zach, who is three, has been amazing through this whole thing. He brings us such joy. The loss of his little brother has brought sadness, but mainly confusion. He still comments on how he misses baby Joel. We talk about him fairly often and how we miss him, but how he is now in Heaven and with Jesus and that one day we will see him again. I love the simplicity of his understanding: it is so sad that baby Joel died, but it is so happy that he is now in Heaven with Jesus. 

I will continue to talk to Zach about Joel as he grows up and to any subsequent children we have. It is important to me that Joel will always be remembered as a part of our family. I hope that in doing so, it will also provoke them to grapple with the reality of pain, suffering and death, whilst also pointing them to Jesus, their creator, sustainer and Saviour and the eternal hope we have in him.