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.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Love Is...Specific

Now in asking God to help me to love my kids, I realised it was a prayer which required me to be active. Like when you ask God to help you be more patient, He may not just throw patience at you, or send it in the post. He may well allow you to go through something which requires you to rely on Him for more help, to trust Him with His timing and His way of doing things and along the way, ask you to make godly, patient choices. Well, if I was going to actively love them, I needed to do something about it, not just wait for the courier to bring a heart shaped packet of love to my door.

So I considered how I could love my kids. I knew it wasn't to be a general act of love, but an individual one. Loving them specifically takes more thought usually. It has dawned on the husband lately, that when he buys me flowers, I usually thank him, and then put them on the table. He then does what needs to happen to flowers so they don't die, and I find them in a vase. But when the husband buys me earrings, ooh that's different, then they go straight in and I mention them all the time. I'm definitely more of an earrings girl than a flowers girl. So I know the husband has thought about me when he's picked up a pair for me! 

I started with the one who had actually taken himself to bed, probably in an attempt to rid himself of boredom, and maybe even with the hope that his mum would chill out a bit. Now this particular boy got a couple of balls of string for Christmas! Yep, big spenders in this house. He loves string. I think it's a boy thing; string brings out the survival instinct. He can tie stuff up and set traps. Perfect if you have brothers. Anyway £1.99 always well spent, with a ball of string. 

I found a cheap bar of white chocolate in the snack drawer and attached some string to it. At the other end of the piece of string, I added a note saying, "pull this string". I snuck the note over his door, and then unravelled the string round the top of the house. Another son came up and asked what I was doing. I quietly explained, and then had to deal with the grumpy face and crossed arms of a child who didn't think it was fair for him to not have his own bar of white chocolate, attached to his own piece of string. I hoped that the gentle reminder that 'we don't do fair in this house', would be a wonderful prompt for him, to be delighted for his brother, but alas, the grumpy one was not delighted in the slightest. And of course, in making his undelightedness clear to me, my string loving boy woke up. 

I ignored the grumpy one for a moment and watched the other one pull at the note. His smile as he received his treasure, was worth the scowls from the other one. I told him I had been a bit grumpy with him, and that I wanted to show my love to him. He appreciated it and scoffed his chocolate, with an offer of a square to the heavy eyebrowed one. 

As I went back downstairs, one of my boys was looking through the Lego, in search of the tiny round, single colourful bits. He had no reason for his search, but he wanted them. So in an attempt to actively love him, I tipped the whole box of Lego out, to his surprise and possible concern, and we looked together. Well, I say together, but after about 3 minutes he had found something else in the Lego box and he was off. I pointed out to him that I had lovingly tipped the whole box out in order to help him, and after having a bit of a whinge at him, about how loving I had been, I proceeded to find the bits on my own, and scoop all the Lego back in the box. 

Humbled again by my mixed motives, my expectations, and the reality of life as a mum, I pondered on God's love for me. His amazing act of love; sending His son Jesus, to die on the cross, was a general act. He did that for every single person. He did it for us all. He also loved every single person enough to let them choose or reject His son and the cross. But yet I know it was also an individual act of love for me. He knows that we 'all' need His love and forgiveness. But He knows that I need it too. He knows how to individually love me, as if I am His child, because of course, I am His child. He knows if we like string or Lego. He knows when we think it's unfair. He knows what it is to do it all for us. He knows what flavour chocolate we like. He knows how to love me, because He is my Father. I am His child. His love for me is specific. I need to dwell in it more. 

 “As the Father has loved me, so I (Jesus) have loved you. Now remain in my love."
John 15v9

Love Is...A Choice

2014 is lacking in blog posts! It seems to be taking me a while to get back into the swing of life. After Christmas, my kids seemed to be the only ones who weren't back at school, for like ever! Okay, actually it was only for two extra days, due to teacher training. But it felt like a whole lifetime. Now I love having my kids around, especially over the Christmas period, and I'm all for teachers getting trained in how best to teach my kids. But this was two days extra that I could have done without. Two days in January; the season of fresh starts and new beginnings. The tree was back in the loft, the cards were in the recycling bin, and most of the new toys, had their own place. I had made a Gingerbread house, a Rice Crispie house and a chocolate house. I had completed nearly all 24 wonderfully fun advent ideas. I even had the uniforms ready to go. I was ready for the new term.

However, all of my little people were still in my house. All still in need of me. All still not quite getting along, in that harmonious way that siblings do. They were bored. Bored with their own company. Bored with their brothers' company. Bored with my company. I'd used the ridiculous empty threat, "If you don't play with your new presents, I'll throw them in the bin". They alternated from moping around in onesies to jumping on each other and wrestling. And in turn, they all came to me with their complaints; "He did that", "He did this", "What are we doing today?", "What can I eat?", "Why aren't we doing anything fun today?", and the biggie "When's school...It's better there!"

I sat in the kitchen, drinking tea in my pyjamas. I escaped through various apps on my phone and literally tutted in my head every time one of them called the stretched out version of my name, "muuuuuum". I huffed and I puffed. I sighed and I moped. There were moments during Christmas where I could have won the 'Fun Mum of The Year' award. But today my mothering was questionable. I excused it with tiredness and allowed myself to wallow in it. My whole body language gave into the wallow, from my eyebrows to scuffing my feet as I walked again to the kettle.

Then I got a text from my phone. Yippee, a new chance to escape; a text chat with a friend. The text said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full". My friend said she felt I needed to hear it. I was a bit miffed to be honest. I wanted either a chat, or an offer to take the kids out. Not some encouragement. But I felt a prompting in my heart, and so out loud, in a big sigh, I said "God please help me. I feel bleurgh". That was it. Not my most profound prayer. But I asked.

Then I read the only Christmas card which was still on my windowsill. In it, it said, "Love is patient, and kind...It is not irritable or resentful or rude...Love bears all things". Ah man!! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked for help in the hope that God would make it easier for me, like the husband coming home early, or the kids spontaneously loving each other or better still, falling asleep. But this help was in the form of a challenge. A gentle kick up the backside. I was not being kind or patient. I was definitely being irritable, rude and resentful. And I was most definitely not bearing the slightest of things, let alone 'all things'. Therefore I was not loving them at all. And I could either choose to wallow some more in phone apps and tea bags, or I could say sorry to God, and actively choose to love my kids. 

So as I drank my tea, I thanked Him for His choice to love me. I thanked Him for His patience and His help.. And I asked Him to help me to actually love them; to actively choose to love them. I would love to end this post with how perfect my day was from there on in, but it was still a hard slog. There were still five kids in the house. There was still the post Christmas blues, and moments of frustration and temptation to escape. But my heart was different, because I realised afresh that when God loves me, He really does bear all things. He loves me when I'm attempting 'mum of the year', and He loves me when I receive the trophy for 'best wallow of the year'. He loves me when I'm making edible houses and when I'm just drinking my own body weight in tea. He loves me when I'm loving my kids and when I'm being resentful. He is not irritable or rude. He is so kind. He bears all things, and therefore with his help, I can choose to love them, and I can aim to bear all things too.