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.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

From One Princess to Another

A year ago today I blogged about a letter I sent to my second favourite Royal - Princess Catherine. I asked her if she wanted to be interviewed for the ol' Pink Toothbrush, and I think as much as she wanted to, protocol caused her to decline my offer. Apparently, "it would be unfair to single out a few (replies)". Personally, I don't think it would be unfair, (for me anyway) and in our house we don't even do fair! But as much as The Duchess of Cambridge probably wants to be my BFF, she has to be seen to love everyone equally. And I respect her for that, nearly as much as I respect her immaculate hair and outfit choices.

In my letter I asked her what colour her toothbrush was, as well as what it's like to raise a Royal, because not many of my other friends are having that kind of experience. We may be raising many things, but an heir to the throne isn't one of them. Can you imagine the pressure? It's hard enough getting them to sit still, fully clothed, in a restaurant, let alone meet diplomats from another country. There was a recent picture of dear old Kate, giving little George what looked like 'one of those chats'. Oh, how I felt for the woman. I've given that look, the 'gritted teeth, make everything look totally under control look'. And it just made me love her a little bit more. We are with you Katherine. Cue dramatic music and Katniss Evergreen salute!

The thing with us mums, is that in some way or another we're all the same. Maybe completely different stories, backgrounds, views, parenting styles etc, but there's a certain something that unites us on our mothering journey. And I don't just mean that completely knackered look we have, or the wine we may consume, or the dried-on, unknown substance we wear on our sleeve. I mean something of depth and significance. 
We are raising, nurturing, training the next generation. How they deal with life, and what it throws their way, how they deal with each other is largely down to what we put in. That's an intimidating thought, but also one of excitement and challenge. Some days, I'm happy if mine are just fed and the majority of them are clothed, but there are other days where I want to input so much more. Where I know I have truth to stand them in, mercy to show them and unconditional love for them to relish in.

I actually disagree with my own earlier point. I said I didn't know of anyone raising a Royal. You see, If I am loved by the King of Kings, if He says I can called Him 'Father', then that makes me His daughter, and that makes not only myself an heir to the throne, but my kids must be too. 

Romans 8v14-17 spells it out for us..."For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

Not everything in that verse is easy to understand, but the gist says that we are not slaves, living a life of fear, but we are God's kids. That's how He loves me, and it's also how He loves my children too, and that love is also available to my mum friends who don't even know of God and His abounding love. I don't always feel like an heir to God's throne. Some days I feel like I'm not even worthy to clean the throne, let alone be the one who gets to approach it. But those are the days where I need to fall on the truth that I am indeed a daughter of the King, rather than wait for my feelings to catch up. 
So unfortunately no,  I haven't got Princess Catherine's inside view on raising an heir to the throne. But I have got my own view, the Bible's view on raising an heir to a throne that will last forever. And it's not easy. But thankfully my Heavenly Father never has to grit His teeth with me, and He is actually completely in control. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

I Want It Now!

The smallest member of our house was a bit on the poorly side, and threw up in her cot, which meant there was sick on her beloved duvet, her panda and of course, in her hair. So poorly baby had to have a distressing bath-shower in order to rinse the lumps away, and make her smell a little less offensive. And the beloved duvet and panda had to have their own bath-shower on a quick rinse cycle. 

My sad little baby stood at the washing machine pleading with me in her non verbal, but very vocal way. She needed the comfort of that duvet. She knew I knew that, and yet I wouldn't give it to her. My explanation that it smelt and was dirty was not easily understood by the little being whose understanding currently sits with one syllable words, signs and animal noises.

She tapped me on the leg, cried and signed 'please' but it was still a no. That's where it got a little more intense. With the lack of comfort she could get from her duvet and panda, she signed 'milk' to me. Now there's certain rules in life; you can't go out to play if you've been off school, and you can't have milk if you've been sick. So again I said no to her desperate request. This resulted in her volume button being pushed up, and dramatic rolling on the floor. I tried to explain why she couldn't have all her comforts. But she was beyond reason at this point. 

The husband picked her up and tried to cuddle her, but she fought him off and even threw her dummy on the floor. If she couldn't have the comfort she wanted, she didn't accept any comfort. This carried on for some time, until a big brother stepped in. He suggested a cuddle and a few episodes of Peppa Pig. She got up from her carpet moment, grabbed her dummy and put her arms up to her big bro. Peace resumed in the house, and the duvet was able to be transferred into the dryer without anyone seeing. 

I was very aware of God's prompting throughout this. And I got to wondering what my duvet, panda and milk are;  my 'go to comforts' so to speak. Food, friends and Facebook are mine! All good things in their own place. But can easily be things that I go to when I'm sad or when I have sick in my hair. 

I know I have a Heavenly Father who wants to be my comfort and bring peace to me, pick me up and cuddle me. But I sometimes go to those other things first. 
And they may help for a bit, but they can't love me, help me and guide me. They just fill a gap for a while. And of course, sometimes The One who wants to be my comfort is also The One who has said no to me in the first place, and it's hard to know what to do with that. That's where trust has to kick in. And 'bigger picture' perspective. But it's hard to see the bigger picture when your duvet is covered in sick!

Because my little Peppa Pig fan can't yet verbalise how she's feeling, it comes out in an emotional outburst. Whereas we're trying to teach the others to say, "I feel disappointed about...", "I felt cross when you...".

The thing is God accepts both; when we come to Him in a measured way and tell Him how we're feeling and when we have a tantrum on the floor and demand He gives us what we want. He knows what we need. He has endless episodes of Peppa Pig for us, (stick with the metaphor, rather than how annoying that would actually be) a cleansing bath, and a warm clean duvet in the form of His love. We just need to give in and put our arms up, so we can get to His lap.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1v3-5

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Push On & Push Up

My friend Pete, is currently on Day 49 of a 22 day challenge. That's 27 days longer than the allotted time for the challenge. The challenge is to do 22 press ups every day for 22 days, but he couldn't do 22 press ups, so instead he has posted videos of his adapted challenge; to do do as many press ups every day until he reaches the goal of 22. (The challenge is to raise awareness of Mental Health issues, especially for veterans).

This has become quite intense viewing as a family, as we watch each new video and count the press up total. (He is currently hovering around the 18/19 mark). And of course, with most things in this house, it has become an excellent teaching tool. 

In life, we all like to do things that we are good at, rather than attempt things that we're not sure we can do, or we might be seen to fail at, and this is why I love these videos. They show a man humble enough to show what he technically 'can't do' 
(22 press ups in one go) and we get to follow his journey of commitment, perseverance, fun, and hard work. 

One of my lads didn't do too well in a Rugby match and one was nervous to join a Boxing club, as he didn't know if he'd be any good at it. He was concerned that he would be embarrassed. And one of my lads was just having a tough time with something else. 

I used Pete and his push ups to teach into each one of these things. To encourage them to press on, and to explain to them that embarrassment and pride will be a real stumbling block for them in life, preventing them from doing stuff, especially from doing the right thing at times. I'm sure Pete may have wondered what people would have thought of him, and if he had stopped there...that would have been it. No perseverance, no example of humility for four self-assured boys, no 49 days of challenge, no videos for us to watch, no growth, no mental health awareness, no achievement. 
What a waste. Thankfully Pete didn't do that.

God's word, is full of weak people doing great things for God. They pushed through and trusted God when it was tough, when they felt like giving up, when they discounted themselves, when they had nothing left to give, when they were too old, too young, when they tried something new, when it was too hard, when it was impossible, when they got laughed at, or worse, when they went for it, when they didn't go for it, when people were at their lowest or even their greatest. God is in the habit of using our weaknesses to show His greatness.

And the beauty of the gospel is when we realise God is our strength. He alone can get us through the battles. But the challenge is admitting we need Him and actually letting Him strengthen us.

We are looking forward to the day Pete reaches 22 press ups, we really are!! I'm sure Pete will celebrate. But we're already so proud of him. He has done loads of press ups, and the bits he thought he couldn't get through, he now does with ease. I am personally grateful that there are strong bearded men for my boys to look at, who are willing to walk in humility. We are wonderfully loved by God when we've got nothing to bring. And even though it brings Him glory, He doesn't love us any more when we do well. 
He's already proud of us. And that alone should push us on to do great things.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
Philippians 4v13

Thursday, 13 October 2016


When the husband decided he wanted to 'drive around Europe on a motorbike for a couple of weeks', as a Bucket list type adventure, we all went on the journey with him, so to speak. As he started to look at bikes, and began to speak about bikes, and dream about bikes, we gave him our attention and asked suitable questions, and we were as interested as he could hope for us to be....most days.

The husband and the boys watched 'The Long Way Down', a documentary following Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, travelling from Scotland to Cape Town, via Europe and Africa, on their BMW GS R1200s. (I had to look it up but the husband will appreciate the detail). And the day came, where he went off to his driving test, all of us hopeful and wishing him well and we excitedly hoped for the best, waiting to hear the good news, which didn't quite come. He hadn't done it. Dad, who can pretty much do anything didn't pass his bike test. 
Instead, we had to all deal with the disappointment. He was sad. I was sad and the lads were sad too. We had put high hopes in him passing. 

However, the day came for the husband to go off for the test once more. Hope restored. Fresh excitement in the house. Until of course, the second 'fail' was given. Oh man, that was tough for him, tough for them, and tough for me. Probably toughest for him, I expect.

In the midst of the house's disappointment, I decided to use it as a teaching moment. 
I personally think it was good for the boys to see their dad 'fail', as a lot of the time he is of course, their hero.  It was a great chance to talk into disappointments, which we all live with, explaining to the boys that "suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope". It is important for the boys to see that dad isn't a perfect standard. Anything which teaches them that we, their parents, are fallible, just like they are, has to be a good perspective producer for the kids. We then get to point them to the One whose standard is perfect and who never fails.

The husband just loved hearing me tell the boys that daddy's character was being shaped and that he was learning what to do with disappointment. He was deciding whether or not that disappointment was going to rule him. Was it going to define him? How was it going to shape him? He got to make those decisions with four sets of eyes watching him, and with a wife teaching into it all. The boys' dad had to hand even a failed motorbike test over to God. He knew he couldn't sit in it and wallow, although the temptation was great. 

There is a verse in Proverbs which says; "Hope deferred makes the heart sick".  Disappointment can literally leave our hearts feeling sick. And it can come in any form; a failed motorebike test, expectations which weren't met, someone let us down, promises which seem unfulfilled. We do have a choice to sit in the midst of the disappoinment, or try to climb out of it. Sometimes it feels nice to sit in that pit for a while, and throw a little pity party for ourselves. Thankfully Jesus came to sit in the pit with us, listen to us, and then drag us out of the pit, if we reach our arm out to Him of course. 

One of the hardest things about parenting is walking out what I believe the Bible says. I can teach them stuff every day, all day, about all kinds of things, but unless I'm facing things honestly with them, talking about my own failings and disappointments, and walking them through it the other end, via the cross, my words are pretty empty. They learn more from what I do, than what I say. I wish it were the other way round.

A few weeks later, one of the boys felt they had failed a test they were sitting at school, and the husband, possibly with slightly gritted teeth, got to talk to him about what is important in life and how the things we go through do indeed shape us. I smiled sweetly at the husband as he got to share his disappointments with our boy. A learning curve for us all. How we need to go through disappointments and even fails, in order to realise that our standing in God never changes, even when we fail Him, or let Him down. 

The husband would no doubt like me to add that he did go on to pass his motorbike test, buy said precious beaut, and indeed travel around Europe on it, looking uber cool of course. 

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5v3-5

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Socks And Sabers

Socks! We go through quite a few pairs in my house. I haven't yet solved the mystery of why the boys' socks always get a hole at the ball of the foot. Always! I understand the tip of the toe sock holes, especially if the brakes on their bikes aren't working, because this hole rather expensively matches their trainers. We try to enforce the 'Don't climb trees in just your socks' rule, the 'Don't ride a bike in just your socks' rule, the 'Don't tackle a lion in just your socks' rule. But it's a losing battle. 

One of my boys has an unhealthy relationship with socks anyway. He lives in them. He only isn't wearing them when he is in the bath, and as soon as he gets out he puts them back on. He puts warm, sometimes moist socks back on after a bath! If we do get round to challenging it, he will put clean socks on instead. He can't bear to go to bed without socks on. Aaarrrggghhhhh claustrophobic feet! I personally don't get it as I rarely wear socks, but he wears them all year round.

Occasionally, like every day, we run out of socks. They are somewhere 'in the system'. The system being in the wash basket, in the washing machine, in the dryer, in a different wash basket, in a pile on my bed, in a pile on my floor, in a wash basket, and the very rare, (usually because I have bribed some small person) in the sock drawer. The challenge of course, is to find two of the same colour, the same size, for six kids, not 'nearly the same', but 'the actual same'. This is something of great importance to the husband. 

But every so often, there are none to be found in the system. Usually this happens just before the school run, like most elements of any family's calm start to the day. The sock crisis calls for extreme measures. This is where I have to go find these wandering socks, and my search site; under and down the sides of  boys' beds. Many are found in my quest. Never a full set, but many many socks are recovered in this process. And the best tool for the job has to be the Light saber. It reaches beyond the Nerf guns and hidden teddies, and it can prod from the top to the bottom of bunk beds. 

On my recent mission, I actually thought to myself, 'I wonder what Luke Skywalker would make of how this powerful weapon is being used'. And then I had to laugh at myself, because I realised it had happened; the combining of the worlds of reality and fantasy. I expect Yoda would be fine with it. He's all about the wise apprenticing of younglings. Yoda had a tough job training Luke because he didn't know what he was called to do.

Sometimes, as a mum, I forget that my job isn't just to wash socks. It is in fact to train the next generation, to teach them God's ways, to reveal the Bible to them. The ground work I'm putting in day to day, is for a much bigger purpose. I don't want them to be used for the wrong things. 
I want them to know their purpose in life; to enjoy God, to live for His glory, to worship Him, to tell of the power of the cross, to help the poor...

I want them to be a powerful weapon to be reckoned with, powerful in love, in selflessness, in grace, powerful in their understanding of the gospel, powerful in peace and forgiveness. I need to recognise that there are giftings in my children which will cause them to be and do different things from what I have done. God has great purposes for their lives, with individual talents along the way. Sure a light saber is good for fishing out socks, but it is much better for tackling the evil in the world. 

"But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the Earth". Exodus 9v16

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