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, 11 December 2012

Mothering & Mourning

This is the story of a friend of mine and is the second post in the Mothering series...

My husband and I married 27 years ago. We had two children fairly early on and another baby boy 8 years later. Although we had long passed the baby stage, going back was easy and we really enjoyed having him. Also our children loved having a younger brother around, most of the time!
In May 2003 our youngest son became unwell with what we thought was a virus and this continued with headaches into June. We had numerous trips to the doctor and the children's hospital. After an MRI scan which confirmed a brain tumour, he became very unwell and was rushed to Kings College Hospital in London and put on a ventilator. Unfortunately a further scan revealed that there was no brain activity and we made the difficult decision to turn off his life support. He died in our arms on July 3rd 2003, just three weeks before his fifth birthday.

I was devastated. It felt like a part of me had died, and at times when I was crying it felt like my heart would break. I had to make deliberate choices to occupy myself with the mundane in order to cope with the pain. Getting to sleep was especially difficult. I had to make sure that I thought about the next day in order not to let my thoughts run wild. Even when I got to sleep I would dream that he was still alive and would have to wake myself up and face the reality. I had to take one day at a time and I cried every day. Thoughts of ending it all did occur to me but I knew I could not do that because I had a husband and two other children and I knew that it would not be fair on them.

My husband and I have a very strong marriage and we were able to draw comfort from one another. However there were times when one of us was found it more difficult than the other. I did not always know how to support him through it. It also affected the intimate side of our marriage at times. Our children were both teenagers and I'm not sure that I mothered them well during those early days. I met their physical needs, but not much else. As time went on, I got better at being available for them when they needed it. 

It was difficult to deal with other people. Some people appeared to ignore me, I assume because they did not know what to say. Sometimes I avoided people as I did not want to have to tell them about my son dying. I wanted to have a sticker on me saying "Be nice to me, I am grieving" so that people would understand if I did not talk to them. Other times I just wanted to be treated as normal. Some people did not talk about my son, it was as if he no longer existed and I found this very hard.
We were supported by a couple in our church. They were our leaders but became our friends. They would meet us regularly for coffee and just let us talk. I also met with my best friend, a christian lady who had gone through the same thing with her daughter three years previously. She was probably the only person who truly understood what I was going through. I also had and still have a great group of friends from school who made sure that I was occupied every day usually with coffee somewhere. They understood when I had had enough and needed to be on my own. All these friends were prepared to talk about my son and the memories that we had of him which helped so much. 'Care for the Family' have a 'bereaved parents network' organised by other bereaved parents and this was very helpful too.
Anniversaries were difficult, especially our son's next birthday and that first Christmas. The first anniversary of his death was extremely hard as none of us knew what we should be doing and we were glad when it was over. Now on his anniversary, my husband and I go out for coffee and take flowers to his grave. We then go to work and try to occupy ourselves as much as possible. We still go to his grave with flowers every week after church on Sunday.
As time has gone on, things have become easier but I still miss my son every day and feel like a part of me is permanently missing. I often wonder what he would be doing now. I see my friend's children at the age he would have been now, which can be difficult. When my oldest son left home for university it brought back some of the grief and again when my daughter left. We were suddenly on our own when we should have had a son at home, starting senior school.
I don't cry every day now, in fact sometimes I feel guilty for not crying. Nowadays the grief tends to catch me unawares, maybe with a song on the radio or visiting a place that we spent with our son before he died. I do not dream about him as often now but when I do it wakes me up with a start as I know that he is isn't alive. Another thing I find difficult is when someone asks me how many children I have. If I know I will be seeing them again, I tell them about my son but often they find that hard to cope with. The thing is I still have three children even if one of them is now in Heaven.

I have been a Christian since the age of 9 and although I was shaken, it did not destroy my faith. I knew that although things had changed drastically for me, the God who I believed in had not changed. The first Sunday back at church was extremely difficult and I particularly found worship times difficult. I often had to leave during those times. I felt that I would no longer be able to serve God in any useful way in the future.
Amazingly however, I am now doing more in church than ever. My husband and I are involved in pastoral care. This can at times be tough, for example visiting dying people in hospital, but I feel that God has given me an empathy for people that I did not have before. I know that if I was not a Christian I would not be here today. It is my faith in God that has brought me through and continues to take me through this time. It is because of my faith that I know I will see my son again in Heaven. I know that he is there with Jesus now and already enjoying eternity.

I have always held onto this verse knowing that it is true;

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope".  Jeremiah 29: 11

Monday, 10 December 2012

Mothering Special Needs


The first post in the Mothering series is an interview with Rachel. Rachel and her husband Andrew have two children and in December 2011 their eldest, Zeke was diagnosed with Autism.

What special needs does Zeke have?
By one year, Zeke wasn't hitting his milestones and continued to fall behind. He began flapping his hands and becoming quite obsessive about toys and objects. At that point alarm bells started to ring as I recognised some of the things he was doing as stereotypically autistic. Our gorgeous little man then went through a painful period of regression; his development went into reverse, he lost eye-contact, his social skills and language. This was probably the darkest period we've been through. 

How did you feel during this season?
The hardest thing was the uncertainty of what was going on and what the future would hold. It was an emotional roller coaster; his behaviour would sway each day. It was hard as a couple to agree, because I was spending more time with children his age and Andrew wasn't. I felt a lot of pressure to provide Zeke with as much input as possible; toddler groups and craft activities. Looking back I wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself - I don't think it was a lack of "cutting and sticking" that was to blame!

How did you feel towards God?
It was harder than I expected. I would fall apart when praying or engaging with God. While this was going on our little girl was diagnosed with Childhood Epilepsy. We were constantly at appointments and there wasn't much time to pray. To be honest, it sometimes felt like I was rejecting Zeke when I was praying for him to change. Autism is oppressive and awful but it is also something which moulds with your child's personality; their strengths and their weaknesses. So it's hard to know where the lines are between him and it.
When I pray now, I pray for God's kingdom to come in Zeke. I don't believe there will be Autism in Heaven. From early on we could see that this was shaping our character and humility. It is much harder to understand how this could be God's best for our children.

Any verses or worship songs which have been a help?
I found two songs from Bethel hugely helpful, 'Your love never fails' and 'Come to me'. Both songs made me cry and made me look up and cling a little bit more to God. I read 'God on Mute', by Pete Greig, while crying in Starbucks. It helped with the 'Why' questions. And I read Isaiah 61 in a whole new way. I'd never quite seen the 'broken hearted' as 'me' before. Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted and to bring beauty out of the ashes. So He came to bind me up.

Have you been amused or embarrassed by Zeke's antics?
Yes, many times. Last year he insisted on carrying a tin of Thomas the Tank Engine spaghetti hoops everywhere he went. He also has strong feelings about songs. If the church band opened with anything non-Matt Redman he would cover his ears and scream "different song". Whereas now he's in a Lou Fellingham stage. We're entering a nakedness phase which I'm sure will be interesting, particularly as he's still in nappies! The genuinely hard stuff in parenting him, is that he doesn't look any different. He can use some language but he doesn't understand lots and he can scream/shout/hit out in public and I can't stop to tell everyone why it's happening so I just have to deal with the stares.

How have your family had to adapt/make sacrifices?

We've had to adapt our whole lives. We are routined and planned. We have to limit the amount of 'people time' that Zeke has. I've given up work. We go to bed very early as Zeke starts the day very early, and we're not nearly as hospitable in the daytime as we'd like to be. But there are also joys like swimming, walks, endless trampolining and lots of laughing. It's sad to miss 'normal' things like birthday parties, nativities and watching him make friends. Having said this Zeke continually surprises us, and when he does, it feels like a wonderful bonus as I don't take it for granted any more.

What are the pains & joys of being Zeke's mum?
A friend of mine has a child with Down's Syndrome. She has been a huge blessing to me. She described diagnosis like a bereavement; you feel a tremendous sense of loss no matter how much you love and accept your child. But the pain of what you've lost does begin to ease and the joy comes with the steps they make that you never thought they would; each a gift of grace.

What have you learnt?
We've both been incredibly broken by the past year's challenges. We identify more with parents going through challenges with their kids. I think we could have been quite smug parents and even looked down on others, whereas we are now completely convinced that we can't do this without God's help.

What are your fears and hopes for Zeke?
We want our children to develop to a point where they can know God for themselves. Everything after that is a bonus. The future is very uncertain. We've been told that Zeke will need much support and is unlikely to live independently, but it is also so difficult to know the development of autistic children. I'm a bit of a planner so God is teaching me a lot, and just as I think I've got Zeke sussed, there's a new hurdle. Long-term we would love to be able to be an encouragement to others parents and testify that God is good and very very faithful even in pain, confusion and the challenges of mothering a child with special needs.

How do you feel towards Zeke?
Zeke is one of the most loved little boys that's ever walked the earth, not just by us but also by family, friends and support workers. We are enormously proud of him and are very grateful that he was ever entrusted to us.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61v1

Monday, 3 December 2012

Mothering...



Lately, I have been thinking about mothers; I am one. I have one, and ten years ago, I got myself one of those 'in-law' ones. I have also been 'mothered' by older women (the ones that bake you a cake when you have a baby, or put your washing away when you're heavily pregnant). From my own mother, I learnt how to be hospitable and go the extra mile for people, how to bake without measurements and live without order, how to laugh a lot and find a bargain. From my mother in law, I have learnt how to be patient and diligent, and to see the benefit of a little order in the chaos, and how to give my oldest boys individual time. From those mother-hen types, I have learnt to offer help, even when a mum says she's coping and to look out for young mums. And from being a mother, well...I'm still learning. I have learnt that wet wipes really can clean anything, that you have to say sorry often, that it's best if you try not to laugh during discipline, that you have to try not to worry what others think of you or your kids, that you need to ask for help and advice, and that you need to hand over all the 'Mother Guilt' to the one who loves us with His perfect Grace. 

As far as I can tell, some aspects of mothering are the same whether you're mothering girls or mothering boys. It is one of those relentless but joyful tasks. It's full of tears and laughter. Full of the unknown, and the same old things. Full of teaching, but also learning. Full of change yet also steadfastness. Full of worries and expectations. To mother, it seems, what ever book you read, is to improvise on the spot; how do I bring Biblical teaching into this? how do I make a jet pack out of a Pringles tub? How do I know which size jelly mould is the right sized sick bucket, for which child?

To mother, it also seems, is to be the fountain of all knowledge, at any time of the day, or at least to pretend to be, or asking God and Google for wisdom in the moment.  Some days, mothering is just full of naked bottoms, poo or sick, Calpol and cheesestrings!

I think that most mothers can relate to one another, despite their different situations and circumstances. On some levels, one mother's plight can be totally different to another's. And mothers can definitely learn from one another. So here is my introduction to a series on 'Mothering'. I have interviewed different mothers to find out what mothering is like for them and see what we can learn from their journeys. The common ground I have found, is that regardless of our mothering differences, God remains the same. Amen to that. He remains faithful, loving and full of grace no matter what kind of mother we are. And He is willing to help us become mothers who glorify Him.

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 2:22-23



I hope and pray that you enjoy the series...

Part 1 - Mothering Special Needs

Part 2 - Mothering and Mourning
Part 3 - Mothering at Christmas
Part 4 - Mothering Twins 
Part 5 - Mothering Many
Part 6 - Mothering & Working
Part 7 - Mothering someone else's
Part 8 - Mothering with Post Natal Depression
Part 9 - Mothering Young
Part 10 - Mothering Girls
Part 11 - Mothering an Empty Nest
Part 12 - Mothering in Fear
Part 13 - Mothering Alone
Part 14 - Mothering the Prodigal Son
Part 15 - Mothering Mum
Part 16 - Mothering Across Cultures
Part 17 - Mothering Without Mum
Part 18 - Mothering Through Loss
Part 19 - Mothering Anorexia Part One

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Little Nudge

Last week and the week before, I was being a bit snappy at the boys. The mother tone was a little on the harsh side. Sure, I can hide behind the 'new baby', 'sleep deprivation' and 'hormone overload' excuses but there's a verse in Matthew which says, "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person". So, I'm not sure I can hide behind those excuses really, seeing as this verse says that what comes out of my mouth is a result of what my heart is looking like. My heart wasn't really looking very kind and gentle, but instead a bit rough round the edges.

As a result of this, I decided to dwell on a different verse, one from Galations; "Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..." I sometimes wish there was a bit added to this verse so it would read, 'Let your gentleness be known to everyone, except the children you live with, cos that's just impossible'. But it doesn't say that does it? It says everyone, and there isn't a clause for certain little people, which must mean even the little people in my house. It must even mean when I'm tired, even when there is a new baby, and even when the little people don't deserve it.

I made the brave (or maybe stupid decision) to ask my boys to keep me accountable on this verse. I told them that I felt I was being snappy with them and that I was struggling to show them gentleness, which they totally agreed with. I told them about the gentleness verse and said that with God's help, I was going to try and put that verse into action. I told them there was a big difference between knowing a verse, and living a verse. (I also went for a brief explanation that this did not mean I wouldn't be disciplining them, but it meant that I was going to aim to do it right) Gulp!
I asked the boys to 'live a verse' too. A couple of the boys had already been working on particular verses, so I chose two verses for the other boys.

It was a great chat, with different levels of understanding. I think it made us all see that whatever we are doing or feeling, there is a verse that we can choose to live by. I needed the reminder, and I wanted them again to see the wealth of what the Bible actually holds for us. We've stuck it on the bathroom door to nudge us.

We have done it this week, giving each other a little nudge to 'live our verse'. I have of course, had to say sorry for telling one of them off, when they tried to point out my lack of gentleness. I tried to justify my actions, but they were right. I have been able to remind them of their verse too, hopefully without legalism, but in grace and love instead. After all, the main essence of what the Bible holds for us is indeed God's love and Grace. He wants us to live out all the verses. But He wants us to know His love and Grace in it all. I'm reminded too that His gentleness is always evident to everyone, even when His word is nudging us!







Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Daughter

 So we're in that hazy, blurry season of newborn life. Everything is a bit foggy due to lack of sleep, a whirlwind of change and everyone's emotions running high. Our little pink bundle arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning. She is lacking in the willy department, which is definitely a new one for this house! She is of course adorable and scrummy, and she has many pink & flowery, cute & frilly outfits to be dressed up in. We do indeed have a daughter.

The boys love her already. They come into our room in the morning, and pretty much queue up for their cuddles and kisses with her. One of them sings Rita Ora's R.I.P to her. One of them just snuggles her. One of them rubs her head in the way you just don't really do with a newborn, and one of them laughs at her bottom burps and brings her hammers and torches to play with. She is a much loved little daughter and sister.

I was thinking about how loved she is while tending to her last night. It was one of those nights where sleep was a far away dream from the actual reality. I really wanted to sleep, and everything was as it should be to attain sleep; comfy new Christmas pyjamas were on, separate duvet from the husband was ready (a must in this season), the house was quiet, the lights were off, the pillows were plumped, and the moon was dimly glowing but there were these noises from a little one who hadn't read the memo on how to act at nighttime. First there was the cute cooing noises, then the snuffly hedgehog noises, then the 'am I choking...you should check on me' noises, then the sound of a head turning from side to side, 'rooting for a boob' type noises, and then a noise which the boys would have been proud of from their little sister, as her nappy was filled. She then repeated this whole range of noises once more as she was clean, fed and settled back into her Moses Basket.


As the clock on my phone reached higher numbers, and as the the moon started to make it's descent, I realised that we had indeed spent most of the night together in one way or another. I think I had dozed off, slouched with my head on the side of her straw basket and my hand protectively on her tummy. I was zombiefied and achey, reacting on auto pilot and definitely frayed but yet I looked at this beautiful little one and continued to have such love for her.


I realised in a sightly cloudy moment that that's how God looks at me. So far, my daughter hasn't sinned against me, but she has thrown in some difficulties, some pain, some sleep deprivation and some bad smells, but she is my daughter and I simply love her very dearly. What I have thrown at my Heavenly Father has been far worse; sin, disobedience, taking Him for granted, the 'It's not fair' syndrome, lack of time and attention and so much more, and yet I am still His daughter and He still loves me very dearly. He still watches over me at night, with His hand protectively over me. And this truth mixed with His wonderful strength and grace will carry me through this new tired, pink season.

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 
John 16:21
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Another Pink Toothbrush

I spent yesterday morning panicking and giggling with the husband. With one week to go 'til our due date, we sorted out the new baby's nursery. We went through the clothes that we have been given for the new arrival. According to the scan, this little bundle will be a pink one, which is slightly different to the numerous blue bundles we have brought home from the hospital over the years!

We sat and went through many pink, and fluffy, and floral, and pretty and frilly items of clothing. And we realised just how out of our comfort zone we are. With baby boys, you put a nappy on them, a vest, a top and trousers. Job done! But with girls, there seems to be a variety of options; You put a nappy on them, a vest (maybe one with frills on the shoulder, depending on what else they will wear), then you have to decide on tights or leggings or socks, before deciding on a dress or a top or a long top which could double as a dress, and then at this point you may put frilly knickers on the baby, which no one can see, but they match the vest, or the socks depending on what you previously decided. Then you put a cardigan on them, and the buttons match the unseen frills of the knickers, along with the button on the cute shoes! Simple, I guess an hour or so later she's dressed, until she throws up, and then you start the whole pretty process again?!

The husband has realised that he wont know what's going on with a little girl, whereas he looks at the boys and totally gets them (most of the time). He knows when they're being warriors, being egotistic, dealing with pride, being the clown, being a leader, taking a risk, rising to the challenge, stretching themselves, manning up etc. I look at them and see danger. I see bundles and wrestling and toilet humour. In our house, we do Lego, and weapons, and Nerf wars. We collect spiders and snails. We tie stuff up with string. We laugh at willies. We imagine what super hero powers we could have. We jump out at each other. We slide down hills on our muddy bottoms. We climb crazy high trees in the wind and we don't change our socks until mummy is gagging on the smell of them.

What a whole new world we are about to enter. A world of the unknown. A world of pink. A world of leggings and frills. A world of Barbies and My Little Ponies. A world of Flower Fairies and Ballet. A world of drama and emotion. But it won't be a world where we will just have to go for it and hope it all works out for the best, no not at all. It will continue to be a world where we will have to trust God with our parenting, like we always have done. We will not panic, we will trust that God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent us on this pink adventure. We will continue to thank Him for the arrows He has given us to send out and we will embrace the addition of another pink toothbrush in the house. Here we go.....

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4v6

 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3v5

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Keep Calm and Text Me

Last week, I was feeling just a bit fed up. I text the word "Poo" to a friend. She asked for an explanation, and for once it wasn't about poo in the literal sense. So I text her the following moans and groans.... "Because being pregnant and a mum, is all too hard and I can't do it and I feel like poo and my husband is tired and he's probably fed up serving me and dealing with me and I'm hosting small group tonight and a new lady is coming who needs to be welcomed, and I'm fed up and sad and angry and pathetic! Hence the poo..."

Like all good 'iron sharpening' friends, she asked me what I was planning to do about it all. I told her I had text her; that was my plan. So she sent me a link to a worship song. So annoying, I wanted a bit more 'poor you, life is hard for you' type stuff....But I clicked on the link and listened to the first verse (with a slightly stubborn heart); "God I look to you, I wont be overwhelmed. Give me vision to see things like you do. God I look to you, You're where my help comes from. Give me wisdom; you know just what to do".

And then I text the following to God....

"Oh God my Father. I am sorry for not looking to you, not coming to you. Please forgive me. And please 'Give me Vision, to see things like you do'. It is hard, I know I don't have to pretend it's not but it's not impossible. I know I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me All things, well that must mean parenting, because your word also says that You will tend your flock like a shepherd; You will gather the lambs in your arms.You will carry them in your bosom,and gently lead those that are with young. And I have young so you are gently leading me and carrying me close. What safer place is there?

And I know you're carrying this pregnancy, because you yourself are knitting her together in my womb, in the secret place. Seeing things the way you do is so much better than seeing things the way I do.

And to be honest, today I have felt a bit like poo but I seem to remember that it's not about how I feel, but who I am. (I may have even written a post on it recently - 'Who are Ya?')
I am righteous because of what Jesus has done and the righteous can draw near to you. And I am loved and accepted and an heir to your kingdom and an adopted child. And it is much better for me to dwell on this than dwell on how I feel. Help me to take my thoughts captive.

And my husband is genuinely tired. He may not actually be tired of serving me, I expect that's just my filter reading it that way. But even if he is, you're not tired of me. You're not even physically tired; you don't rest or sleep. You're a constant in my life. And you served me to the point of dying for me. Your love for me, and your patience never weakens. You are consistent. You will always have more for me than he will.

And yes I'm hosting small group, but you love hospitality! And yes there's a new lady coming, so I need to welcome her. But what a great opportunity to welcome her into the church family and feed her. You love when people feel welcomed in and taken care of. You even say in your word that when we do it for the least of people, we are doing it for you.
And after all, you welcomed me into your family when my life was a mess!

And so I may still feel a bit fed up with it all, even angry and sad and pathetic, but having the vision to see things as you do has lifted my soul and I thank you and praise you for that. Thank you for gathering me in the midst of my tantrum and for loving me and lifting me. Thank you that even when I make it all about me, your grace says that it's really not. It's all about you and you do reign even when it's poo. I love you Lord love Emma"

 Send...

Friday, 12 October 2012

Muddy Bottoms

I was a little worn out and emotional as I left church last week. We go to church at Brighton Racecourse, which is on the top of a big hill, and the boys were asking me if we could go down the hill, rather than walk around it.

At eight months pregnant, and worn out, I could definitely see the benefit of going round the steep hill. But I also knew that the walk would be much longer and more tiring, so I was quite torn and didn't quite know what answer to give the boys. Eventually they convinced me that they would help me and help the younger two, and with a few more "please mums", I gave in.
We got to the top of the hill and I explained the deal. I said that the oldest had to go first, followed by and helping the five year old. And that the second oldest had to go next, helping the three year old, and I would somehow bring up the rear. The boys were very reassuring and said they would take it slow for me and help me.

So I followed my little clan down the hill, a bit nervously and trying to convince myself that it was a better option than going the long way round. We got to a very steep part of the hill and my son explained to me that it was better if I slid down on my bottom for this bit. I said that I thought it was better for me to walk. Again he encouraged me to follow his lead in sitting and sliding. He said it would be easier and a lot more fun. I firmly stated that walking was easier for me. I took a couple of slippery steps, and then watched my four little men sliding their way down the hill.

I got down on my bottom and slid, and it was so much easier and a lot more fun than teetering down that hill.

When we got to the end of our descent, all giggles and muddy bottoms, I explained to my son that I had been reluctant to listen to his advice, and thought I knew better because I was older and he was just a boy. I explained that actually he did know what was best for me and that I definitely had more fun his way. I told him that there was a verse in the bible which explained that just because he was young, didn't mean people shouldn't listen to what he has to say. And that he can be an example, even to his mum.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12
 
 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Today one of my sons made some good choices and some bad choices, which is a pretty regular occurrence for all of us really. In our house, we like to talk about these choices, especially with the husband. So I called my son into the kitchen, as it was a good time to talk to his daddy about his day.

My son was reluctant to come into the kitchen. He knew from earlier in the day that we were going to talk to daddy about it all. Sometimes I tell them in a wonderful controlled motherly manner that we need to talk to dad about it, and sometimes I may as well be saying, "I'm gonna tell dad on you". We try to develop an atmosphere where the boys feel comfortable to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly, or even the weird, the wonderful and the embarrassing?!

In my boy walked with his head low, fingers awkwardly in his mouth and his tail between his legs. He said he didn't want to talk about it, and I knew how he felt. Who wants to chat about their day when they've made mistakes? (In fact, the husband does have to do the same with his reluctant wife at times). The husband scooped him onto his lap and said to him, "do you know what, we're going to talk about the bad choices first and then the good choices, and for both of them, I still love you".

My boy explained his day to his dad; he had mean with his words and silly in the kids work at church. The husband told him how both these things were indeed bad choices. My son then told his dad how he had taken himself to a calm area during kids work, and how he had then listened well to the team. The husband told him how both these things were good choices and how he was proud of him. He then tipped his son upside down and kissed him. My boy asked if he was getting a smack, and his dad said no, unless he wanted one of course, which he found funny! He then ran off back into the lounge.

As I watched this interaction, I knew a God prompting was going on. I felt encouraged that my Heavenly Father always welcomes me to come and talk to Him, whether its something good, bad or ugly, (or even weird, wonderful or embarrassing). And I recognised little old me in that reluctant, ashamed boy, who didn't really want to chat. But the reassurance before he even began talking, that His daddy loved him no matter what He said or what he had done, was of course a reflection on how God loves me. And my Heavenly Father is always like that, He is consistent with His love and acceptance of me, whereas the husband can't say that to be true all the time. It was also interesting to see my son ask if there was discipline involved. I know I often think God is going to tell me off, forgetting that actually Jesus died on the cross for all the bad choices I have made and therefore He'd rather tip me upside down and kiss me.

"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." Ephesians 3v12

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Who Are Ya?

A friend of mine recently encouraged me with some verses from her study bible. I decided to send them on to a friend of mine, who could also do with the encouragement that these verses had brought me.

In the subject part of the email, I had written 'Who are ya?', but she had read it as 'How are ya?' and in her head she had answered 'I feel terrible'. It was only when she read the email and the verses included that she realised what I had actually written.

The verses were all about who she is in Christ. And i thought it was actually quite interesting and revealing that she thought I was asking how she was feeling rather than asking her who she is. How often do we 'do life' according to how we feel, or according to our circumstances? Rather than doing life according to who we are in Christ and what the Bible says about us; what our Heavenly Father says about us.

How often do we parent according to how we feel, rather than who we are in Christ, and who our kids are in Christ? How often do we respond with a tone or look because of how we feel, rather than the truth of who we are? How often do we judge others according to how we feel about them, rather than who they actually are in Christ? How often do we dwell on and mull over how we feel; our fears and worries, what is going on around us and what people think of us, rather than the wonderful biblical blessings, truths and promises from God? It changes perspective quite a bit. So today I ask, 'Who are ya?' not 'How are ya?'

Romans 3:24 - I am justified (declared "not guilty" of sin)
Romans 8:1 - No condemnation awaits me
Romans 8:2 - I am set free from the law of sin and death
1 Corinthians 1:2 - I am sanctified and made acceptable in Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 1:30 - I am righteous and holy in Christ
1 Corinthians 15:22 - I will be made alive at the resurrection
2 Corinthians 5: 17 - I am a new creation
2 Corinthians 5:21 I receive God's righteousness
Galatians 3:28 - I am one in Christ with all other believers
Ephesians 1:3  I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ
Ephesians 1:4 - I am holy, blameless and covered with God's love
Ephesians 1:5,6 I am adopted as God's child
Ephesians 1:7 - My sins are taken away and I am forgiven
Ephesians 1:10-11 I will be brought under Christ's headship
Ephesians 1:13 - I am marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 2:6  I have been raised up to sit with Christ in glory
Ephesians 2:10 - I am God's work of art
Ephesians 2: 13  I have been brought near to God
Ephesians 3:6 - I share in the promise in Christ
Ephesians 3:12 - I can come with freedom and confidence into God's presence
Ephesians 5:29, 30 - I am a member of Christ's body, the church
Colossians 2:10 I have been given fullness in Christ
Colossians 2:11 - I am set free from my sinful nature
2 Timothy 2:10 I will have eternal glory

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Confident Approach

The husband was out at a prayer meeting, and I had finally managed to get all the boys in their different beds at varying times. (After of course, the provision of drinks, stories, answers to life's questions, leaving lights on and getting the uniforms ready). I came downstairs and cleared up the aftermath of dinner, while putting the littlest one back in bed a couple of times. This was stretching the patience a little. I then literally fell into the sofa and 'crashed'. I felt like I couldn't do one more thing if I tried, and imagined the bath being run for me, and maybe someone even carrying me up to bed.

That's when I heard footsteps on the landing. There was nothing at all that a child needed so I just said up the stairs, "back in bed please". Whoever it was started the brave descent down the stairs. I actually wanted to cry. I wanted to be left alone. I had given out and served and reached the end of my capacity. "Go to bed" I said in a louder, more desperate tone. My five year old son, who gets growing pains occassionally, cried out "but mum my legs are sore". And what was my motherly, loving reaction? I shouted back at him, "I don't care! Get in your bed". He ran upstairs crying and I rang the husband crying. I told him through sobs how wrong I'd got it, and he said I needed to go and say sorry and ask God for help and grace once again!

So I headed upstairs with a hot water bottle and told my boy how wrong I had been and how sorry I was. I asked him for his forgiveness and reassured him that I did in fact care. He gave me a quivering lip cuddle and forgave me, in that way five year olds just do!

I headed back downstairs, and opened the Bible app on my phone. I read from Hebrews and came across this wonderful verse in Hebrews 4v16;
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need".

I received a text from the husband asking how it was going, and I replied that I was sheepishly approaching the throne of grace. The husband's reply was "lift your head, you are His beloved daughter and He is boldly taking strides toward you". This of course, made me cry even more. But I realised that I had only taken part of the verse seriously. I knew I could approach the throne of grace but I was doing so in guilt and shame with my head held low. The verse actually encourages me to draw near, in confidence. Why in confidence? Because of what Jesus had already done and dealt with by dying on the cross. All my sin, like shouting "I don't care" at my son, had already been punished at the cross. I just needed to say sorry and with my head held high, approach that wonderful throne to receive mercy and grace to help me in my time of need, so that's just what I did.


Friday, 14 September 2012

The Husband



Ten years ago, I walked down the aisle on my dad's arm, to a young fresh faced set of brothers. One was the best man;  my best friend from my youth  and one was his younger brother....the husband. And although he looked like he could have been a page boy rather than the groom, the adventure started there....

We got married in his last year of university and lived  in a cosy one bedroom flat, where we had our first boy 17 months later. At this point we lived on a small wage, as the husband volunteered for the church. A small wage and a huge provision from God. We learnt a lot that year about faith in a faithful God, and trusting Him wholeheartedly. Eight and a half years later, three more boys, a stint in emergency accommodation, a lot of old cars, bidding for our now nearly finished  house, leading a church in a racecourse, and being pregnant again is where we find ourselves today.

And today, I look back and I look forward with a grateful heart. The husband is and never has been perfect, he has never claimed to be. Not perfect, but definitely unique and definitely perfect for me. I don't know anyone else like him; he sings all of the time and often at me, whether I'm in the mood to hear it or not. He makes me laugh so much, not quite as much as I make him laugh, but that's the way it is and that's the way it shall forever be. He arranges meetings in his sleep and talks to me as if I should be awake. We have arrived at a church conference on the back of a pick up truck and we drove to Newday in a prop; yep that's the one God gave me!

He is a pioneer, an adventurer, a risk taker...dragging us all along for the ride. He's quicker than me to say sorry and quicker to forgive too. He serves and loves and cares for me, and for my boys and for those around him. He says things he just shouldn't say, he can't cook and he is known to eat frozen chocolate. 

He aims to love me in the same way Christ loves the church. It's a good aim, and I like it. Even when he misses, it's still a good aim to have. There have been definite times when we have both 'chosen to love' rather than it being about feelings, otherwise you just strangle each other. The husband's love for me, on the good days and the not so good days, points me back to Jesus. I know that Jesus alone is the one who is completely perfect, completely faithful, completely understanding and has completely laid His life down for me. 

So today on my tenth wedding anniversary, I want to thank for God His gift to me - the husband, my husband. I know of some not great husbands and some absent husbands. I know what a blessing it is to have one that not only sticks through thick and thin, but one who loves me, supports me, leads me and points me back to Jesus' unconditional husband love.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above..." James 1v17





Wednesday, 12 September 2012

It's a Celebration

For my birthday, I was given a box of Celebration chocolates by a friend of mine. Mostly a good range of chocolates, apart from the Milky Way ones which tend to get left at the bottom of the box, until the day when there's no other chocolate in the house so they'll have to do.

I put the box of chocolates in the middle of the lounge floor, next to some pens and paper and sat down. It didn't take long for curious little eyes and curious little little minds to engage in this sudden mysterious mummy act. One by one, they came and joined me on the lounge floor, even turning the tele off completely unprompted. "Is it a game?" "Are you gonna share them?" "Ooh, I like that one!" "What you doing mum?" came the questions, with some excited giggles and bottom wriggling.

I read them these verses; 
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." 1 Thessalonians 5v11

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Philippians 4v8

I told them that we were going to encourage one another and build each other up, by focussing on whatever was lovely and admirable about each other. We were going to take turns to choose one person, write something true, encouraging and good about that person and celebrate who they were by giving them a chocolate. After the barrage of questions, which basically were different versions of "Do I get to eat some chocolate?", we began our little exercise in putting the bible into yummy practise. For about ten minutes, my boys honoured one another, the bible was taught and chocolate was eaten! A good day's work in Mummyville really.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mummyville

So only a couple of wonderings over the summer...I wonder why?! Could it be those long, sunny and rainy summer holidays? The weeks of having a million children in my house? (Well actually only four, but it felt like more). The endless questions; 'Are trees made of paper?', 'Where do babies come out?' The fun activities? The camping? Newday? The beaches? The picnics? The Olympics? And the brain numbing hours tuned into the Cbeebies channel? Yeah that might be why I haven't sat down to write for a little while. Some wonderings have definitely gone through my head, but they have not made it out the other end, and they have definitely not made it into the written form. They have instead stayed locked up in a place called 'Mummyville'.

'Mummyville' is a strange old habitat indeed. It's a bit like living in Dr Seuss world. The Cat in the Hat is a favourite Dr Seuss character in our house, and I relate to him. He uses lots of words and rhymes and ramblings all at once, whilst juggling many things including a fish in a bowl and he does it all while balancing on a ball. He also has Thing one and Thing Two constantly by his side. I feel his pain, and he does have a lot of fun along the way!

You can't live in 'Mummyville' all the time. You have to take a vacation from it, just for a few minutes at least, to keep your sanity. Most mums try to step out of 'Mummyville' for a minute or two, by locking themselves in the toilet. But even then, the vacation isn't guaranteed. Little people come knocking, or they're even more intrusive than that.

Longer moments holidaying from 'Mummyville' are recommended in order to serve us mums, and help us to go a little less insane. That is why the summer holidays are a dangerous time indeed, as these much needed moments are few and far between.
If mums live in this strange old habitat for too long, like a period of six weeks say, they become ever so tired and delusional and are in deep need of a thing called...rest.

I heard a preach last week which covered resting; perfect, just what I needed. The guy said that not only do we need to rest, but that we need to recharge as well. I was all for hearing a preach about resting, and even quoting it to the husband in order to get a lie in, but the recharge bit I hadn't necessarily thought about.

He said we needed to be like David in 1Samuel 30, who "strengthened himself in the Lord, his God". It is true we need to"lie down in green pastures" like Psalm 23 says, but we also need God to "restore our souls". This really struck me and I prayed with a friend about it after our church service. She encouraged me the next day with an email recounting her crazy morning, where she wanted to crawl back into bed, but instead she chose to listen to some worship music on the way to work and she had felt her soul being restored.

So, I put the fish bowl down for a minute and got off of the ball. I stepped out of 'Mummyville' for a moment and opened the Bible. I allowed it to restore my soul and I put worship music on. Such wonderful truths I read, I felt blessed and plugged in and recharged before stepping back on the ball and picking up the fish bowl once more.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Yawn....

Last week, I seemed to reach new levels of tiredness. I think it was the combination of a few things; the summer holidays with the four boys, planned outings and fun activities, the relentlessness of parenting, the husband being pretty much unavailable due to prepping for a youth camp and me being six months pregnant! Combined, they all joined together to have a slightly mental effect on me.

I shed a few manic tears and laughed a few manic laughs, 'phoned a friend' rather than 'asked the audience' (the four boys) for advice and support. I ate chocolate to boost my energy levels and I shed a few tears. Oh, I said that one already. I have been like the mother from some kind of weird movie; my character is the lovable baddie who looks a little zombiefied. She shouts a little bit and says sorry, cries a little bit and then laughs a little bit. Occasionally she remembers to feed the other characters in the film, while cheering on a random Brit in the Olympics, only to cry a little more when the unknown person wins a medal in Judo or weightlifting. Probably not the best script for a film, but some may relate to the withered character taking centre stage...

And somewhere in the middle of it all, I built a den, put on a DVD, made a strong cuppa and opened the Bible. I read Ephesians 3v14-21 and dwelled on verse sixteen. 

"...that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being..."

Because God is rich in Glory, I can ask Him to grant me to be strengthened with power in my inner being. Wow! I definitely needed my inner being to be strengthened. And this verse seemed to suggest that I actually can be. Of course it made me cry again, but this time out of relief and understanding and renewed hope in a God who loves me and wants to strengthen me. I sang a tearful version of 'On Christ the solid rock I stand' with verse three in particular.

"His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the 'whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay."

And I was reassured once more that God is my hope, no matter how tired I am, or how manic it all gets. His faithfulness remains the same forever, and He loves me in the midst of it all. The tiredness didn't suddenly get replaced with the 'Red Bull Effect', but my inner being was indeed strengthened.