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, 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.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Teabags & Tissue

So having a one year old is indeed a delight! Especially when it's a red-headed pink one, and you've been so very used to the blue variety. I'm getting to grips with tights under shorts and hair in bunches. I've adapted to there being a mini handbag in the house, and I'm secretly pleased to say it usually has a car or two in it, as well as a puppy of course.

She's a busy little bee, which seems to involve her mainly tipping stuff out and tipping stuff in. She opens the cupboards, and has her own little sort out. Much more than the boys ever did. She thinks the Tupperware looks much better if she tips the Soy Sauce in it. She thinks the Weetabix is better placed in the lounge. The tea bags taste better once spread out over the floor and the contents of the bin look better in the bath. She's discovered that her shoes turn a darker shade of purple once they've been down the loo. The toilet tissue should be released from the captivity of the loo roll, and the wet wipes should definitely not be imprisoned in the packet. Socks shouldn't be kept on feet and she gets a much better view of the DVDs, when they're in the washing machine. Yesterday she decided that she would prefer our green stair carpet to be yellow, so she added a hint of mustard powder. Of course, the best time for her to do any of the above is when I'm already late and about to rush out the door. 

I get lulled into that false sense of security; The boys are at school and the little redheaded one is quietly busy, so I try to fit in a quick job before I head out. I'm a mother of five children. I should know better. Yes there are moments when quiet equals calm, and these moments are like gold dust. But the house dust to gold dust ratio in this house, is a million to one. Most quiet moments in this house mean that intrigue has set in and therefore house wrecking will commence. I seem to wander around after her, clearing up her discoveries. Or I leave it 'til I get back in later, at which point I've usually collected the boys and forgotten about the random mess, which the husband then finds and wonders and what point during the day we were in fact burgled.

I can get a bit frustrated with all of this at times, even though it's simply just the developmental stage she is in. I know that she is just growing and working it all out for herself. But when you're not the tidiest person anyway, this just adds to an already slightly chaotic house. 

Sometimes she even asks me for help with the mess she's making, unaware of my day and my plans. This is where it's encouraging for me to remind myself that I'm God's daughter. After all, I find myself asking Him for help, even when I've stepped out of His purposes for my life, and I'm trying to work things out for myself. He watches me make a mess of this and a mess of that, making my own choices as I go. The difference with my mess and my baby girl's mess is so vast. Yes, tea bags on the floor take a bit of time to pick up, and yes rolls of ripped up tissue is a bit of a hassle to sort out. 
But my mess, my sin, is a vile stench to God. 

In every moment where I have not chosen His way, for every time I have been self seeking, and in every way that I have disobeyed Him, it all piles up into a hideous mess which I am unable to clear up. It didn't take an extra once over with the hoover, to clear up my mess. Instead He cleared up all my sin, by coming into the midst of it Himself. He gave up His only son to die a painful death on the cross for me. This is the only way I could receive His forgiveness. It always puts my frustrations into perspective, as I remember how wonderfully patient God is with me. How available He is to me too, to come right into the middle of it all. Maybe I should ask Him for His help with the things He has planned for me, and patience for the daily frustrations I face. And maybe I should sit down in the midst of the teabags and the tissue, and be as patient with the gorgeous red-headed one, as my Father is with me.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1v18

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Love Is...Specific

Now in asking God to help me to love my kids, I realised it was a prayer which required me to be active. Like when you ask God to help you be more patient, He may not just throw patience at you, or send it in the post. He may well allow you to go through something which requires you to rely on Him for more help, to trust Him with His timing and His way of doing things and along the way, ask you to make godly, patient choices. Well, if I was going to actively love them, I needed to do something about it, not just wait for the courier to bring a heart shaped packet of love to my door.

So I considered how I could love my kids. I knew it wasn't to be a general act of love, but an individual one. Loving them specifically takes more thought usually. It has dawned on the husband lately, that when he buys me flowers, I usually thank him, and then put them on the table. He then does what needs to happen to flowers so they don't die, and I find them in a vase. But when the husband buys me earrings, ooh that's different, then they go straight in and I mention them all the time. I'm definitely more of an earrings girl than a flowers girl. So I know the husband has thought about me when he's picked up a pair for me! 

I started with the one who had actually taken himself to bed, probably in an attempt to rid himself of boredom, and maybe even with the hope that his mum would chill out a bit. Now this particular boy got a couple of balls of string for Christmas! Yep, big spenders in this house. He loves string. I think it's a boy thing; string brings out the survival instinct. He can tie stuff up and set traps. Perfect if you have brothers. Anyway £1.99 always well spent, with a ball of string. 

I found a cheap bar of white chocolate in the snack drawer and attached some string to it. At the other end of the piece of string, I added a note saying, "pull this string". I snuck the note over his door, and then unravelled the string round the top of the house. Another son came up and asked what I was doing. I quietly explained, and then had to deal with the grumpy face and crossed arms of a child who didn't think it was fair for him to not have his own bar of white chocolate, attached to his own piece of string. I hoped that the gentle reminder that 'we don't do fair in this house', would be a wonderful prompt for him, to be delighted for his brother, but alas, the grumpy one was not delighted in the slightest. And of course, in making his undelightedness clear to me, my string loving boy woke up. 

I ignored the grumpy one for a moment and watched the other one pull at the note. His smile as he received his treasure, was worth the scowls from the other one. I told him I had been a bit grumpy with him, and that I wanted to show my love to him. He appreciated it and scoffed his chocolate, with an offer of a square to the heavy eyebrowed one. 

As I went back downstairs, one of my boys was looking through the Lego, in search of the tiny round, single colourful bits. He had no reason for his search, but he wanted them. So in an attempt to actively love him, I tipped the whole box of Lego out, to his surprise and possible concern, and we looked together. Well, I say together, but after about 3 minutes he had found something else in the Lego box and he was off. I pointed out to him that I had lovingly tipped the whole box out in order to help him, and after having a bit of a whinge at him, about how loving I had been, I proceeded to find the bits on my own, and scoop all the Lego back in the box. 

Humbled again by my mixed motives, my expectations, and the reality of life as a mum, I pondered on God's love for me. His amazing act of love; sending His son Jesus, to die on the cross, was a general act. He did that for every single person. He did it for us all. He also loved every single person enough to let them choose or reject His son and the cross. But yet I know it was also an individual act of love for me. He knows that we 'all' need His love and forgiveness. But He knows that I need it too. He knows how to individually love me, as if I am His child, because of course, I am His child. He knows if we like string or Lego. He knows when we think it's unfair. He knows what it is to do it all for us. He knows what flavour chocolate we like. He knows how to love me, because He is my Father. I am His child. His love for me is specific. I need to dwell in it more. 

 “As the Father has loved me, so I (Jesus) have loved you. Now remain in my love."
John 15v9

Love Is...A Choice

2014 is lacking in blog posts! It seems to be taking me a while to get back into the swing of life. After Christmas, my kids seemed to be the only ones who weren't back at school, for like ever! Okay, actually it was only for two extra days, due to teacher training. But it felt like a whole lifetime. Now I love having my kids around, especially over the Christmas period, and I'm all for teachers getting trained in how best to teach my kids. But this was two days extra that I could have done without. Two days in January; the season of fresh starts and new beginnings. The tree was back in the loft, the cards were in the recycling bin, and most of the new toys, had their own place. I had made a Gingerbread house, a Rice Crispie house and a chocolate house. I had completed nearly all 24 wonderfully fun advent ideas. I even had the uniforms ready to go. I was ready for the new term.

However, all of my little people were still in my house. All still in need of me. All still not quite getting along, in that harmonious way that siblings do. They were bored. Bored with their own company. Bored with their brothers' company. Bored with my company. I'd used the ridiculous empty threat, "If you don't play with your new presents, I'll throw them in the bin". They alternated from moping around in onesies to jumping on each other and wrestling. And in turn, they all came to me with their complaints; "He did that", "He did this", "What are we doing today?", "What can I eat?", "Why aren't we doing anything fun today?", and the biggie "When's school...It's better there!"

I sat in the kitchen, drinking tea in my pyjamas. I escaped through various apps on my phone and literally tutted in my head every time one of them called the stretched out version of my name, "muuuuuum". I huffed and I puffed. I sighed and I moped. There were moments during Christmas where I could have won the 'Fun Mum of The Year' award. But today my mothering was questionable. I excused it with tiredness and allowed myself to wallow in it. My whole body language gave into the wallow, from my eyebrows to scuffing my feet as I walked again to the kettle.

Then I got a text from my phone. Yippee, a new chance to escape; a text chat with a friend. The text said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full". My friend said she felt I needed to hear it. I was a bit miffed to be honest. I wanted either a chat, or an offer to take the kids out. Not some encouragement. But I felt a prompting in my heart, and so out loud, in a big sigh, I said "God please help me. I feel bleurgh". That was it. Not my most profound prayer. But I asked.

Then I read the only Christmas card which was still on my windowsill. In it, it said, "Love is patient, and kind...It is not irritable or resentful or rude...Love bears all things". Ah man!! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked for help in the hope that God would make it easier for me, like the husband coming home early, or the kids spontaneously loving each other or better still, falling asleep. But this help was in the form of a challenge. A gentle kick up the backside. I was not being kind or patient. I was definitely being irritable, rude and resentful. And I was most definitely not bearing the slightest of things, let alone 'all things'. Therefore I was not loving them at all. And I could either choose to wallow some more in phone apps and tea bags, or I could say sorry to God, and actively choose to love my kids. 

So as I drank my tea, I thanked Him for His choice to love me. I thanked Him for His patience and His help.. And I asked Him to help me to actually love them; to actively choose to love them. I would love to end this post with how perfect my day was from there on in, but it was still a hard slog. There were still five kids in the house. There was still the post Christmas blues, and moments of frustration and temptation to escape. But my heart was different, because I realised afresh that when God loves me, He really does bear all things. He loves me when I'm attempting 'mum of the year', and He loves me when I receive the trophy for 'best wallow of the year'. He loves me when I'm making edible houses and when I'm just drinking my own body weight in tea. He loves me when I'm loving my kids and when I'm being resentful. He is not irritable or rude. He is so kind. He bears all things, and therefore with his help, I can choose to love them, and I can aim to bear all things too. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

'Tis the Season

So, 'Tis the season to be jolly, and 'tis the season to open little doors and eat little chocolates. Some mums or mums to be, may have replenished their Advent calendars due to much needed emergency chocolate moments. And no doubt some people forgot to buy any, but got the bonus of only having to pay half price for their 24 days of choccy-ness. 

Advent has of course been the countdown to the greatest story ever told. The countdown to the wonderful rescue plan for this world. It's the countdown to Jesus' birth. I love Christmas, and I love the build up to it. I love it when the husband gets in the festive mood and he puts the tree up. I love when the gingerbread houses get made and eaten. I love when The Muppet's Christmas Carol is on the tele, and you get to teach the kids about generosity and why a frog would marry a bossy pig. 

This year, one of the boys has woken up to an envelope under their pillow with the instructions of where to find the Advent Bag. In the bag has been a chocolate or a bubble gum for everyone, a family activity to do and a story to be read from 'The Jesus Story Book Bible'. Some of our advent ideas have come from Adriel Booker's blog.

I love The Jesus Story Book Bible. Its beautifully written, beautifully illustrated and each story beautifully whispers Jesus' name. I want my kids to be excited about Christmas for the right reasons, remembering what it is for. I don't want them just getting lost in presents and chocolate and tinsel. That's why we are reading stories about Jesus coming to save us all, every day. They can never be reminded of the wonderful truths of the Bible, too much.

As me or the husband read each morning, my five children sit wonderfully still and listen intently as I turn the pages. They absorb every word and I can tell their hearts are softly being changed as they quietly ponder on it all. Now you see, that isn't actually what it looks like at my breakfast table. I'm not sure if it's all children or if it's just my children, or if it's the number of children, but our family bible times, like most other times in this house can be a bit messy. Someone has a question, (sometimes about the bible, sometimes about Scooby Doo). Someone needs a wee. Someone can't see the picture. Someone spills their cereal. Someone looked at someone which upset them etc etc, and all this is happening as the school run time gets closer and closer.

I remember being greatly encouraged, about Bible reading with the kids, when I interviewed a mum who has nine children. (Mothering Many
"We read Scripture aloud together, which my husband was and is especially good about. He doesn't let squabbling, complaining, or fidgety kids keep it from happening.There were gaps of time when we were struggling or distracted, but every bit adds up, like drops filling up a bucket over time. Nothing good is wasted".

So we keep on keeping on with the Bible readings most mornings, knowing that nothing good is wasted. We stop and train them when we need to, we stop so they can go for a wee, we stop to clear up the cereal, and we try to allow for questions. We want them to know the importance of reading the Bible daily, of drinking it in every day, allowing it to affect the rest of their day, causing questions to arise and all the time drip drip dripping in that the whole Bible points to Jesus and His great love story. 

Sometimes its the only bit of Bible reading I get to do, or hear. And because it so simply and beautifully points to God's love for me, I am greatly encouraged by it and it makes me want to read it more. After all, the Bible is for life, not just for Christmas.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.