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.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Wonder Woman...I Wish

So one blog a month over the last few months, what's that about? Well, as hard as it is to admit, it turns out I'm not actually Wonder Woman. I can't actually do it all. I started a childminding course, and something had to go. Either that 'something' was the husband, the six intrepid explorers I live with, the housework, my church, my people, Facebook or the Blog.... So out with the blog and in with the coursework.

It's not been as easy as I had hoped. I'm quite a 'Big Capacity' person so I thought it would just slot in with the rest of life. But it turns out, you don't get more hours added to your day, when you take something else on. You have to find those hours from somewhere else. Usually there is a cost, and it takes wisdom to not make that cost in the wrong place. I managed this at times, and failed at other times. Doing coursework instead of Facebook, is the cost of a few likes and cat videos. Doing coursework instead of reading the Bible is only going to make me think I can do it in my own strength. Doing coursework instead of cooking my own children's dinner is more of a compromise of the cereal kind. Doing coursework instead of housework, is a wonderful excuse.

At first, I thought the best time to start on the study would be when all the little people were in bed, but I had forgotten about 'mum syndrome' where the clock turns 8:30pm, a little person is still awake with phantom ailments, and you sit down at a computer screen and physically cannot function. Sure you can scroll up and 'like'. You can drink wine. You can snore, but you can't actually 'do' anything. You can't read or compute. You can't study or retain any information whatsoever. There's a slim chance you can load the dishwasher but even that's a push.

So I tried when the kids were playing. I was researching how important it is to a child's overall development for an adult to play alongside them, asking them open ended questions to enhance their learning and help them grow their skill sets. I researched these wonderful ideas on childcare while repeating the phrase "please go and play with your sister, so I don't have to" and asking the classic, "would you like another episode of Peppa Pig on?" until the dreaded "no" comes. (It does come after an extensive period of time, and it's probably best that there is a limit).

Eventually through shipping my own kids out, working late, grabbing an hour here and there, utilising that beautiful hour and a half where the big girl is at nursery, the baby asleep, the boys at school, and no one needs me...I did it. I handed it all in. I swallowed my pride, and re-did the assignments that came back incompetent. I gave examples of how to look after a baby, a three year old and a six year old all at the same time, whilst attempting to do it in practise. I gave the detailed description of how to make a Formula bottle, while feeding the baby Wotsits. I shed a tear or two, text a friend or two, questioned why I was doing it. Got scarily interviewed by Ofsted, which caused my house to be epically tidy. (Think the husband wishes Ofsted were coming every day) And it got done. Phew!

Maybe Wonder Woman will be part of my advertising, as I defend the weak, seek justice, truth, and love for the new little people in my house. As I engage in battle to bring peace, fearlessly focussed on my objectives of Play Dough, glitter and cup cake making. Stretching the analogy only slightly too far, I didn't have superhuman powers given to me by my Father Zeus, but I desperately needed the strength given to me by my Father in Heaven. I needed His help and His perspective, as well as His provision of people around me. I needed my own Justice League; friends who I could actually ask for help from, rather than fail alone. My very own Batman and Superman. My very own Green Lantern, Aqua Man, Manhunter and Flash. I'll leave my friends to fight out who they are...

I may not have the knee length boots, but I do have the t.shirt, the pants and other assets... as well as an All Powerful Father who gives me strength to conquer.

"I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of Heaven and Earth. Indeed He who watches over Israel will neither sleep nor slumber". Psalm 121

Saturday, 18 June 2016

What Are You Fighting For?

One of my kids this week had to go and knock on a friend's door and apologise for hurting their feelings. Did they want to? No not really. It was embarrassing and they had to swallow some pride. But they had hurt their friend. It took a lot of guts to admit they were wrong and say sorry, and hope for forgiveness and reconciliation. But we went together and they did it. Why did they go through with it? Well for two reasons; they wanted to mend their friendship and because loving people is a really big deal. I could have listened to my child's, "I don't really want to go, it feels hard" comments, but I want more for my kids than an easy cop out. I want them to fight hard for peace, for love, for reconciliation,  and for restoration. 

This week the news has been awful. A hideous shooting in a gay nightclub, left 49 dead and 53 injured. A young MP, mother of two was brutally murdered. 50 people were mercilessly killed in an explosion in Syria. It has been shockingly sad. This makes it even more clear as to why I want my kids to fight hard for peace, for love, for reconciliation, and for restoration. It's what we should all be fighting for.

Kids annoy each other. It's like an inbuilt thing. I used to annoy my brother and he was a pain. My kids get annoyed when one of their siblings look at them, don't look at them, breathe near them, sing at them, walk in their room, walk out their room, take their stuff, give them stuff, change the TV channel, sit next to them and so on and so on and so on...

I spend most of my day stopping them, and asking them to love the other one more than they love themselves. Literally, this is the thing I say the most. And it may seem pretty harmless some of the stuff they do, but I want them to grow up loving others more than they love themselves, so I start with the slightly pathetic "he breathed near me" complaints, so their hearts are trained to love and accept, no matter what they feel. 

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He said to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength". He went on to say "Love your neighbour as you love yourself"
So after loving God, He wants us to love others. That's His heart. 

I have many different 'neighbours', many different friends. Some of them are just like me. Some are different to me. Some are Christians, some are not Christians, some are Atheists. Some are single, some married, some divorced, some widowed. Some of my friends are gay, some are black, some are Muslims, some are Welsh. Some are highly educated, some didn't finish school. Some of my friends are voting to stay in Europe, and some are voting out. And I am asked by the one who loves all, to love them all. So I will fight to train my kids to love others, no matter what. Otherwise I do fear for their generation, as I'm saddened by the lack of love towards others, in mine.

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