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.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

"Strangers On A Train"

As I sat on the train on the journey home, I found myself sitting next to a chatty, friendly stranger called Louise. She offered me and the other stranger at the table, a glass of wine each. And her and her boyfriend shared a glass. A new friend for the journey. We talked about books and films. I now have a new recommended film to view from Kieran, her boyfriend. We talked about home schooling with Chris the other stranger  at our table. We talked about our kids, the beauty of Quentin Blake (me and Louise share a love for his illustrations), we talked about Brighton and engagement rings. (Not sure the boyfriend will appreciate that part!) We talked about who would get killed off first if the train scenario was actually part of a book. It was a wonderful journey home.

I was struck by my new friend on the train. Her warmth, and generosity, and interest in people's lives. She wasn't afraid to give her opinion, or be open to other's thoughts. Anyone who shares their wine with me on the train, strikes me as kind and thoughtful, and selfless. She could've quite happily just drank wine with her man and conversed with him only, and that would have been totally acceptable. But I'm so pleased that her qualities shone beyond the awkwardness of strangers on a train.

This morning I received post, which I love. In this technological age, it is so nice to get hand written post from a friend. The letter was one of encouragement, and my friend reminded me that I am made in God's image. It made me think back to my encounter with Louise yesterday. I don't know her beliefs or if she holds any kind of faith, but the qualities of warmth, kindness, and a selfless attitude that she showed, reminds me that she too is made in God's image. Any act of kindness, hospitality, sacrificial love, or goodness that people show is because we are all made in the image of God, whether we choose to know Him or not. Today I will look for other examples of this and be encouraged by who God is as I see His image displayed in the people around me.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
                              Genesis 1v26-27

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Great Escape

I'm sitting on a train, alone. Well technically I'm not alone, I'm  with all the commuters to London. But I'm alone in the sense that it's just me that I know. I'm not talking to anyone. I'm not responsible for any of these people. None of these people need me. None of them are hoping I've got Fruit Shoots  and Cheddars on me. None of them are asking if we are there yet. None of them are climbing on me. None of them are dancing in the aisle and need me to ask them to move. They are all just quietly reading their papers or playing/emailing on their phones. 

I'm struck by the size of my bag. It's small and pink. It has a phone, my keys, a wallet and a book in it. That's it. No nappies, no wipes, no antibacterial hand gel, no Lego, no McDonalds toys playing Beyonce, no bits of broken biscuit at the bottom. No one would even know I'm a mum as I sit on this train. 

I'm off for a couple of days away with my sister in law. Between us we have seven boys, but for today and tomorrow, it's just us. Just us, no responsibilities, no one needing us, no bulk meals to prepare, no packed lunches to make, no buggy to push, no shoes to tie, no little teeth to brush, no uniform to put out, no one to serve. No responsibilities just adult conversation, chocolate, wine, pistachio nuts, books and the Pride and Prejudice series on dvd which I've never seen.

I am fully aware that I could treat these two days in one of two ways. I have recently read an article about escapism, so I know I could look at these two days as a way of escape. Avoiding my real life and opting for two days of all the things I don't get to do with a great sense of abandonment and escape; all that I deserve! 
Or I could look at these two days as a way of refreshment and rest in order to plug straight back into my real life. I could still get to do all the things I don't get to do, but view it as a blessing, rather than something I deserve. 

I know that one of the enticements of escapism would be to escape from God too. To have just 'me time' but what a wasted opportunity if I do this. Even though the husband and my boys don't need me these two days, I still have a responsibility to them. I have a responsibility to make sure I go home rested, refreshed, and with renewed energy for them, but also to go home with my relationship with God strengthened so that I can be all I have been called to be by Him.

I do not want to go home just rested to the avoidance of going home renewed. I do not want to go home after two days of just 'me time' to the avoidance of 'intimate me and God time'. I do not want to go home just knowing I have conversed and laughed with my sister in law to the avoidance of pouring out my heart to my heavenly father and saviour. I do not want to go back home knowing Mr Darcy a little better to the avoidance of knowing Jesus Christ better.

So I will laugh and chat and watch Mr Darcy's smouldering looks, I will drink a little wine and eat a little chocolate, but I will also plan to walk and talk with He who brings great rest and renewal and comfort and strength and joy. I need it for myself and I need it for those God has asked me to serve.

"but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40v31

Friday, 17 June 2011

Claim the Reward

When it was raining recently, my oldest took off his hooded jacket, and gave it to his younger brother who's jacket didn't have a hood. He did it without any prompting. He selflessly loved his brother. Hallelujah! All the training of the past seven years paid off in this one incident. It encouraged me to keep going with all the daily seed planting and heart training, even when it looks like there is no fruit in teaching them. After all, God so gently and so patiently keeps training my heart even when I am slow to bear fruit!

I was so pleased with my boy, and told him so. I told him that God loves seeing selfless acts of love, because it is the essence of what He did when He gave His son to die for us. My son sometimes asks in these situations if he can tell his dad or if that's being proud. I find it hard to make a call on things like this so I leave it to the husband, and seeing as the husband wants to cultivate a home where our boys can talk to him about anything, he inevitably says yes to them.

It got me wondering about my own motivation to do things. Stopping to ask the questions "Am I doing this to look good? To impress someone? To make people think better of me?  To get recognised? To gain some kind of earthly reward or proud trophy?" Or am I doing it to be selfless, following Jesus example, and therefore bringing glory to God? I'd hate to think how many times my heart's motivation is wrong. I find it hard not even pointing out to the husband when I've hoovered or put the washing away. I want him to be pleased with me and say something fabulously encouraging about my selfless act. I want to get that small bit of earthly recognition. But the bible is very clear about such motivations. No reward from my Father in Heaven! Is it really worth seeking man's approval when I miss out eternally? I think not!

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people
 in order to be seen by them,
for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."
                                                                        Matthew 6v1

Saturday, 11 June 2011

That's Not My Name

"Mum, can I have a drink?...Mum, I need you...Mum, can you wipe my bottom?...Mum, he hit me...Mum, where's my uniform?...Mummy...Mum, I've swallowed a piece of Lego...Mum, can you help me with my homework?...Mum, look at me jump...Mum, why did God put metal in the earth?...Mummy...Mum, I'm hungry...Mum, can I have Sport's Candy?...Mum, where's dad?...Mum, come see...Mum, can you deal with him...Mum, what you typing?...Mum, I need string and some glue...Mummy...Mum, I'm stuck...Mum, can you play with me...Mum, I'm hungry...Mum, maybe we should calm down with a DVD...Mummy...Mum, can you make Buzz a spaceship...Mum...Mum...Mum..."

After a day of this, I turned to our lodger and said "I think I might change my name". And her response was simply quite profound in that moment; "Mum isn't your name." Her comment stunned me, I don't think I believed what she said. Of course Mum is my name, I get called it a few hundred times a day. It is what I am most often referred to as. It is what I do, so it must be who I am. Even the husband will say things like; "Ask mum". That's me, that's who I am. That's my name!

But actually our lodger (and wise friend) is right. Mum is not my name. It is one of my roles; a challenging, wonderful, blessed role, But it does not define who I am. The husband sometimes asks me if I feel more like a mum or more like a wife. And if I answer 'mum', it usually results in him booking us a date night. Which is of course a result, so hopefully he's reading this! But of course 'wife' doesn't  define me either. So what does?

"In love he predestined us for adoption
 as sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." 
                                                  Ephesians 1v5-6

My identity is in Jesus christ. Because of what He has done for me on the cross, I am adopted and blessed as God's beloved. I am loved and forgiven and chosen and adopted as His. I am righteous in His sight because of Jesus Christ. I am my beloved's and He is mine. This is my identity, whilst being a mum and a wife, and anything else for that matter.

Monday, 6 June 2011

9 A Day

During a slightly stressful moment in our house, I sent a text to a couple of friends. Slightly tongue in cheek I asked "What are the fruit of the Spirit again and do I really have to try and show them all at the same time?" Their wonderful responses ranged from "I'm about to boil over myself" to "It's about dwelling in the Spirit, which enables us to show such fruit, it's not about 'trying harder'." In short, go and pray, rather than try harder and end up losing it at the boys!
I asked my eldest if he could remind me of the fruit of the Spirit and he did. It's one of the verses the husband has taught him. 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
Galations 5v22-23

We often ask him what the second part of the verse means, "And against such things there is no law". And because we often ask him, he was able to respond (in that way a child responds when his parents try to drum in a lesson) by saying that there is no limit to how kind and loving he can be to his brothers. Some of the lessons we teach our boys, seem so easy when we are teaching them to grasp something. But when I'm reminded to put that verse into practice, I can so easily forget this part. I tend to think that I have already been long suffering about something for long enough, or I have already showed that person kindness or gentleness. Or I was self controlled yesterday. Or my patience has run out. But I need to remember that there is no law (and no amount of reasoning, however good they seem) against such things.

My second son asked me what we were talking about, so I grabbed the teaching opportunity. I said that when we plant an apple seed in soil and water it and look after it, after time an apple tree grows and produces healthy apples. And likewise if we plant ourselves in Jesus then as we grow, we will produce fruit like kindness and gentleness. On asking him if he understood, he replied, "I am an apple!" Not put off, by his silly answer in a silly voice, I showed great patience by explaining it once more, in a very gentle, self controlled tone. I even acted out a seed being planted and growing healthy fruit and likened this to planting ourselves in the Holy Spirit, and us growing good fruit. I asked again if he had understood, and he replied, "Can I show you my Nanny McPhee impression by sticking pieces of Lego in my teeth?"

I gave up and accepted that maybe the best way to teach him about the Fruit of the Spirit, was to model it to him, which is often a bigger challenge than teaching it!