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, 27 September 2016

Haters Gonna Hate

My son: "I hate Chuggington".
Me: "You can't hate Chuggington".
My son: "Why not??
Me: "Because it has no worth to it, and therefore isn't worth hating".
My son: "But I do hate it".
Me: "You may dislike it, or it may not be your preference, but you cannot hate it. Hate is a really strong word for really strong things".
My son: "Like what?"

Me: "Like Oppression. You can hate oppression. Like Racism. You can hate Racism. Like Sin. You can hate sin. But you can't hate Chuggington. Not because you have to like Chuggington, but because it doesn't have the worth connected to it, to hate it".
My son: "What is oppression?" 
Me (pressing sons face into sofa, making him giggle): Oppression is pressing someone down. Keeping them down. Imagine my hand is the weight of these words being pressed down on you. 'You're worthless. You're rubbish. You're no good. You'll never do any better'. That is oppression, with a lot less giggling. With no giggling at all. You can hate oppression.

My son: "What is Racism?"
Me: "Racism is preferring someone because of the colour of their skin. Or rejecting someone because of the colour of their skin. Usually it means you pick the person most like you, and you reject the person not like you. You can hate racism".

My son: "Sin is everything we do wrong. So you hate everything we do wrong?"
Me: "Sin is not choosing God's way. God doesn't hate you, He loves you. But He doesn't like the naughty things you do. He hates sin. Because sin separates us from Him, and He doesn't want that. He loves you, and he loves me, but not what we do. And as your mum, my view is the same.

My son: Does God love the devil?"
Me: "No".
My son: Does God hate the devil?"
Me: "Yes. He is the opposite of what God is".
My son: "What if the devil says sorry?"
Me: "No he's different to us. We can say sorry and be forgiven. the devil can't".
My son: "And the devil hates us even when we do what he wants us to do?"
Me: Yes, he hates us when we're good, he hates us when we're bad".
My son: "But God loves us when we're good and He loves us when we're bad".
Me: Yes exactly".

My son: "So, I cant hate Chuggington, because it's just a cartoon?"
Me: "Yep, it's not big enough to hate. Hate isn't good for us. But some things are to be hated".
My son: "Why isn't hate good for us?" 
Me: "Roll yourself up into a ball, and hold onto yourself as hard as you can".
My son: (Muffled grunting noises, and more giggling, as he holds on tightly to himself).
Me: "You're all tied up, holding on. You can't breathe properly. You can't do anything. Hate does that, it ties you up, takes your breath away, stops you from living and being and doing. If you hate the wrong things, you get into this state. It makes you very bitter."

My son: "What is bitter?"
Me: "Bitter is when you can't let go of something and you can't forgive or move on, like how you are physically now. Now release yourself and relax".
My son: "Ahhhhh...." (as he unfolds himself and stretches out).
Me: "Now you're free to breathe, not holding on to anything, free to be you, free to do stuff and it feels much nicer. You've let go. That's what happens when we 'Let It Go' as Elsa would say. When you forgive someone, You are free".
My son: "Okay. Chuggington is a bit boring, but it's okay.
My daughter: "Boring is a rude word".
Me: "I think we've done enough for today".

"Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good".
Romans 12v9

Friday, 9 September 2016

Digging for Gems

One blog a month seems to be the rate at which we are going this year. Good job I've got some loyal followers, and my mum always ready to read the next one. So what's my excuse this time? Last time it was finding out that I wasn't Wonder Woman. Well, this time, August felt a bit hard wearing to be honest, but there is always stuff to learn and stuff to reflect on. Hindsight is a wonderful, humbling, slightly annoying thing.  

One of the little people in my life was poorly for the whole of August, and my role of course, was to look after her, to comfort her, to check on her, to sit with her, to be concerned for her, to feed her, to play with her and to Calpol her. This was quite tiring in the midst of parenting a few others, a youth camp, a family wedding, a family holiday, the six weeks summer holidays and a hospital trip. But it was also a bit lonely. I'm known for having a few strong urges towards being an extrovert, as does the one who was poorly. So we went for it wholeheartedly anytime lovely people visited us. I was very grateful for those visits, especially through a caravan window. 

Nearing the end of the summer, and when said poorly one was on the mend, I got a bit low for a few days. As well as the extrovert thing, I tend to fall in the 'glass half full' bunch of people too. (Especially if it's a wine glass). So it was a bit unusual for me. As I sat in hospital, and had a mini break from the hundredth episode of Peppa Pig, I read some of Andrew and Rachel Wilson's book, 'The Life you've never expected', and I was greatly encouraged and challenged. Comparison is never healthy, but their struggles are far greater than what I was going through. 

Having said that, Struggles are indeed struggles. And thankfully God is indeed God! The Wilson challenge was to find joy in it all. Actually to find 'Joy in God', in it all. Our number one priority in life, is to 'Be Happy in God'. And not some weird, fake, 'smiling like you're constipated' happy, but real happy. We can find Joy in God's word, the Bible. We can find it in people, in celebrating, and by being and speaking positively. We find joy when we remember the goodness of God, and in the discipline of doing these things regularly. I personally find Joy in taking photos and capturing moments. I'm sure the rest of the Wilson's book is wonderful, but I'm stuck reading this chapter for a while. It's good for the soul. And I'm capturing the moment. 

Funnily enough, while I was reading it, a friend who is having a really tough time at the moment, text me and said, "you've just got to look for the positives, in among the sh**", and I thought that was a fairly honest snapshot of what the Wilsons were trying to convey. It reminded me of my little one who was in hospital. She had found an old, dried piece of dirty play dough, but she was so excited because there was a gem in it. She dug at it until she got to that gem, and she was so pleased about it. 

We drew a picture of what was hard about being poorly in hospital; not seeing daddy, the cannula which made her arm sore, feeling hot and sad, and being sick. And then we drew the good things; the free play dough (brand new not just the skanky bit I mentioned), painting in bed, nice nurses, sleepover with mummy, Peppa Pig on repeat (I would have maybe put that in the other column), medicine to go in the cannula, the sick bowls which we could draw on, getting a new doll for being brave, friends visiting, the giant animal puzzle, the man who bought the Custard Creams, and God's love being wherever we go. (I added the Chinese Takeaway that was delivered by a friend, the coffee, Dairy Milk, the McDonald's dinner and the NHS...all definite Joy givers). 

It was important to teach my little one to find joy, to be thankful, and to stop and look for the gems even when they seem out of reach. Or maybe she taught me that one...

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice". Philippians 4v4

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