Branded

Night falls early in these parts, so I imagine the deed was done early one evening.  The ‘deed’ being the scrawling of an ugly word with an even uglier meaning, onto the front of a car.  By scrawling I really mean scratching.  Leaving a permanent mark.

 I don’t know the victim of the ‘crime’ – the owner of the car at the time.  She obviously had upset someone.  Maybe a jealousy was playing out in a very real way.  Maybe it was a spiteful prank gone wrong.  I don’t know – but I do know this – she didn’t deserve to be branded in such a scarring way.

 We are now in possession of the aforementioned branded car.  A long time loan while its current owner is overseas.  I can’t help but notice the unpleasant word every time I get in or out of that car.  It looks very out-of-place the few times it has been parked at my boys’ school.  Their ‘private Christian College’ school.

 In the bible, in John 4, we read of a woman who was branded with the same word that appears on our car.  The Samaritan woman with a bit of ‘baggage’.  Jesus approached her at the well and asked her for some water.  Now this was not the common practice in that day at all – not common for a Jewish man to speak publicly to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman, and even less common to talk to a Samaritan woman with a past like hers.

 In his book ‘Powerful and free, confronting the glass ceiling for women in the church’, Danny Silk looks at this interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman and notes that ‘Not only does Jesus talk with her, but he also talks with her about theology – a topic expressly forbidden to discuss with women.  In one conversation, Jesus literally sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with the extreme love of God that sees the treasure in every human heart’.

 The people around the Samaritan woman would have had all manner of labels stuck on her.  All sorts of branding.  Yet Jesus was able to look into her eyes and see her simply as a child of God.  He saw in her purpose.  And hope. A future.

 He saw the treasure that is in every human heart.

 He looked past her past, and saw what she could be in her present.  And she did use that information he shared with her; the fact that he revealed his true identity as the Messiah for the first time, to her, she went back to her people and shared the good news with them.  She brought people to him.  There must have been some point in her thinking when she realized ‘if this man the Christ sees me, then I am worthy’, for her to have gone back to her people with enough confidence to share her story with them, to bring others to Him.  All it took was for her to see herself as the Lord saw her – worthy.  Daughter.  Beloved one.

 We all wear labels of some sort.  Some of these labels are positive, some are negative.  Some stop us from seeing ourselves as God sees us.  My husband and I have to look past the label on our car.  We know that this branding doesn’t affect how the car drives, its effectiveness in doing what it was designed to do.  We have to choose to not focus on the negative connotations of this label.  What if we all carried this on to every area of our lives?  To every dark and hidden corner of our hearts?  What if we all worked on trying to rip off every label that has been imposed upon us, by simply accepting the Father’s love for us.

 Jesus sees the treasure that is in every human heart.  We are his children.  What if we start walking in that?  What if we start living that out?  We are loved with an everlasting love.  We were created in His image.  I think it is time to start ripping those labels off – time to help your friends and relatives see themselves as God sees them.  Cherished.  Beloved.  Designed while we were in our Mother’s wombs for a purpose.

 I’m gonna start tearing off some self-imposed labels and others-imposed labels…..how about you? Are you in?

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To quit or not to quit….

Once upon a time there was a young man who eagerly signed up for a school sports team, at the start of the new school year. His delight was, rather unfortunately, cut short when he found this new experience to be……a little lacking. 

He played for a number of weeks. He was committed and diligent with showing up for practices and games. And he gave it his all. However, this young man continued to feel all the frustrations he was feeling. This was not helped by the fact that the team lost every stinking game they played for the first term and a half. Every. Single. Game. 

Eventually the young man in question spoke aloud those four words that most parents shudder and quake at the mentioning of…..

I want to quit. 

Oy vey. 

Crapola. 

What to do, what to do? 

The parents really didn’t blame him. 

So the parents muttered and uttered all the things they thought they were supposed to say in this situation. 

The team is depending on you.

You have to show continued commitment.

This is character building. 

They tried to show him empathy. They tried to shower him with encouragement. But still, it was a stink situation. 

Just when the parents were starting to weaken and just when they were considering brokering some kind of a deal with the young man….they considered telling him he had to see out the end of that term but could miss the last term…they realized they had been given some wrong information and the team only had three games to go before the end of the season. 

That was a huge win, for everyone. The parents didn’t have to concede and let the young man quit. And the young man could see the end in sight and finish the season well. The whole painful experience would soon be over. For all. 

But you know, along with that whole light at the end of the tunnel business…..the team’s third to last game just happened to turn out well for them and became their first win. And not just a scraping through win, no, it was a rip snorter of a win. 20 – 4, with six of those points earned by this young man in question.  Who knows what the last two games will bring….

Persistence, persistence, persistence. Holding your ground. Sometimes that’s a lesson needing to be learned by both kids AND parents.  And you never know what surprises will save your bacon. 

The Cycle of Grime?

Today would be a fantastic day to visit me.  I tell ya – my floors are sparkling clean, the toilet gleams, my oven shines, and even my linen cupboard is neat and tidy.

Now we’re not messy slobs, but on a normal day there isn’t quite this level of cleanliness in my house…not with my three boys.

But today we were inspected!  In nearly fifteen years of marriage and nearly fifteen years of renting, this was the first time we’ve ever had a house inspection.  We’ve either had very lazy landlords in the past, or very trusting landlords…….Anyway here in Australia it is customary for property managers to do inspections every three or four months.  Our property manager was happy with our place and we ‘passed’.  Whew.  But I learnt an interesting thing today.  When you leave a rental property here, the expectation is that the house only needs to be in the condition that it was in when you began the lease.  When you take over a lease you have to fill out an entry report.  In that report you write down every mark on a wall, every bit of mould, every patch of weeds you see.  And when you leave……those same allowances are there with the expectation that there is no need to improve on them.  For us – the reality of that is – when we took over the lease here, our bathroom ceiling was absolutely covered in mould.  It totally grossed me out.  With a bit of elbow grease and a good cleaning product we managed to clean the sucker up – and now there is no mould there.  I asked the property manager about that, and she said the mould was allowed to be present when we took over the lease because it had been there when the previous tenants took over their lease.

The cycle of grime.

That’s the reality of it.  If we hadn’t said enough is enough, and that mould ain’t healthy, and that mould ain’t pretty……well then that there mould could have stayed put until we leave this here property.  And that would have been ok, legally.

But, gross.  Right?

This whole entry report/ entry condition being ok for exit condition……while it kinda safeguards the tenant against any wear and tear already present in the property, it also seems to be the easy road to travel down.  I can see how in older homes the grime could just grow by levels…..gardens could become very dishevelled…and so on.

We couldn’t stand to live in the grime we originally found our rental in……I remember crying as I washed down the breezeway and as I swept up mounds and mounds of dog hair and gecko and cockroach poop.  For us, we had to make a stand against the cycle of grime we found.

I was thinking about this whole cycle thing this afternoon, and was struck with the thought that sometimes that is what this parenting gig is like.  We carry on, carrying on, doing as we have always done…..because a.  it may be what our own parents did or b.  it works for us or c. it is all we know to do.  And sometimes that is just fine…..but like a rental house that never gets improved upon, even when new people come and go……if we don’t stop and look at our actions and reactions and if we don’t sometimes mix it up or look for a new and better way of dealing with things……then we’re going to get stuck with the same results, with very little room for improvement.

It takes time and energy and effort to clean a house properly.  It takes getting ourselves dirty, and it takes getting down on our hands and knees sometimes.  It takes reaching into the dark and unseen places.  It takes sheer will power.  And so does parenting – intentional parenting.

So what can we as parents do, to help us upskill ourselves?  How can we not settle for the ‘cycle of grime’?

We can

* attend parenting seminars (Triple P parenting seems to be a big thing here in Brisbane).

*  read books – from a wide variety of authors and experts

*  read blogs – read shared experiences

*  ask other Mums and Dads the hard questions – especially to those who are in the same stage as us and those who have been in the stages we are.

*  parenting DVDs – at the moment a small group I’m in is going through a parenting course called ‘Parenting your kids on Purpose’, I can highly recommend it.

*  share your struggles, your triumphs and successes with your friends.  I guarantee the minute you open up with a concern, there will be others in your circle of friends going through a very similar or exact same thing as you.

I know it is humbling to ask for help – it takes guts to acknowledge a situation when you are out of your depth, but I’m learning that’s ok.

No-one has all the answers, and together is so much better.  Together we’re just a bit more clued up.

The cycle of grime is not a good thing for rental houses – even if it is ‘allowed’……and the cycle of parenting without upskilling oneself or looking for new ideas and asking for help is not a good thing for families – even if it is ‘allowed’.

How do you intentionally upskill yourself, when it comes to parenting issues?

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On the Cusp…..

This is to you, dear lady who is standing on the precipice of a new direction in your life.

This is to you, dear man, who struggles under the weight of responsibility and concern for your family, yet you know, that you know, that you know, that you are being called into something new. Something different.

This is for the couple that are just feeling more and more unsettled with your status quo. Your life is ticking along just fine now, things are good, things are great, but there’s just something inside of you that hopes you’re not settling for less. Something inside of you wishes to expose your kids to a new dependence on God, a new level of trust having to be established.

You’re not alone with your fears, misgivings, second-guessing and concerns.

But this is what I know, without a doubt, as sure as night follows day, as sure as a baby poops as you’re about to walk out the door, as sure as a seven year old’s eyes leak as he’s learning the discipline of graciously loosing…….WHEN you step out in faith, WHEN you follow God’s leading, WHEN you choose to obey what has been asked of you, He will be faithful.

So very faithful.

One of the beauties of this world is we’re all called to different things. As a body of Christ we all have different ministries to serve in, different capacities to fill. What God has called my family and I to, will look completely different to you and your family has been called to. There is no ‘better’, there is definitely different. There is no ‘holier’ or ‘more worthy’, obedience is obedience. Serving is serving.

At the moment we are starting to pack up our lives here in Southern Oregon, and we’re researching and planning for a move to fulfill our new calling (in Australia of all places! You can read about that here) So, while your family may not be called to move geographically, or you may not be looking at fulltime Christian ministry, what you are being called to is of equal importance in the Kingdom.

And if you’re peeing your pants at the thought of something new, if you’re feeling that sense of doom over details that are way out of your control…..please know…..God has this.

God holds you in the palm of his hand.

His will is perfect.

Sheer and utter dependence on God is a scary thing, but a blessed thing. That walking step by step in His will…..that’s the kinda walking that brings miracle answers. That’s the kinda walking that shows God as the hero – because of ONLY God.

How do I know this? Because of God’s track record in my life. Because it is in the stretch and in the pull, where I think I’ve lost it all, where I think this time I’ve really done it, really gone crazy, really lost the plot….His track record shows the Lord provides. The Lord opens doors. The Lord makes crooked paths straight.

As a parent and as a trained teacher, one of the biggest concerns I have for my children is for their schooling. We were hugely blessed with a great experience of school here, and with moving that has been a concern of mine – where to put my boys in school, with not knowing the system, not knowing the options and not knowing areas etc.

A very legitimate concern in the natural.

But you know what? We *think* we have a school sorted. An amazing school at that. I did some internet research, chatted to a very wise and godly friend who was familiar with this one particular school that stood out from the others immediately, made some inquiries and we prayed and left it in God’s hands. And now…..because God has made a way, where there seemed to be no way….as long as this particular school accepts the boys we have been blessed to be able to make it so this will work for our family. Now we may never be able to save for a deposit for a house (ha!) – but that is not our concern at the moment – this big deal for me of where to place our kids in school – after a big move and after leaving all they have known for the last four and a half years – is in the process of being sorted for us.

God is most certainly in the details.

If it weren’t for looking back at all God has done in our lives – all he has provided – all those details we’ve seen his hand at work in – it would be easy to say no to our next God adventure. it would be more appealing to go back to where we’ve come from. Back to familiarity and all the comforts that brings. Back to what we know and to where we’re known. But God. But God’s track record shows He loves us and cares for us – for our every need and then some. God’s track record shows I fret and I worry and I falter every step of the way – but He doesn’t. He is patient and kind, his love is everlasting.

It doesn’t matter what the crowd thinks of what you’re called to do. it doesn’t matter if your heart skips beats and you can’t sleep and you mutter grumpy words to yourself…..it doesn’t matter….because in and through our weaknesses, He is made strong.

What is God asking of you right now?

Live in the stretch my friends. Allow opportunities for your kids to see you thanking God for his provision. Step out into his glorious unknown – step from the cusp – into the scary. He’s there. It is not unknown to Him.

 

 

 

 

Avoiding the Hamster Wheel

School lunches, clean and ironed uniforms, drop offs and pick ups, homework, after school activities. Dinner and dishes.

And repeat.

And repeat.

It isn’t going to take much before we could feel like we’re in that hamster wheel…….just keep moving………just keep the momentum going…..family life in full swing.

Preschool life, school life, working life, hobbies and interests, church life, sports.  That’s a lot of balls to juggle.  How do you stop it all from consuming you?  How do you keep joyful in the midst of your taxi-driving and piles of paperwork that demands your attention?

And for those of you who are currently in the preschool trenches – when your nights are constantly interrupted and you’re not sure if you’ll ever get little Johnny to pee pee in the potty, and you’re concerned about behaviors and habits and EVERYTHING that goes hand in hand with the challenges of toddlerhood and babydom…..how do you keep your perspective balanced?  Because, I believe that perspective needs to be balanced, otherwise you’ll be eaten up, continually consumed by the demands of parenthood….if you don’t keep your perspective above and beyond the piles of laundry you currently face….

So….a two pronged post here………how do you keep your family humming happily, and avoid the ho hum hamster wheel of life when life is in full swing……..and/ or……how do you stop the concerns of life with little ones, from eating you alive?

I’ll share a few things I’ve learnt recently…….but please, do chime in with your thoughts and your experiences in the comments too…….remember – we’re all in this together……we have much to learn from each other….

*  Look at what other families do for fun – and copy – steal ideas.  Sometimes ‘fun’ doesn’t come easily….borrow ideas from others…..be intentional with creating ‘fun’.  It doesn’t always just happen.  I’ll do another post at another time on fun family things to do with spending very little or no money.

*  If organizing doesn’t come easily and naturally to you, work on identifying a few things that will make your family life flow a little better.  It may be starting the week with an empty ironing basket, or filling the freezer with some extra meals or snacks.  We all have things that cause little hiccups along the way to happier mornings/ after school or evenings…and sometimes it doesn’t take much to eliminate some of these hiccups.

*  Delegate more – to older kids, spouses, friends…….see if you can carpool more or swap babysitting duties.  Remember the whole ‘it takes a village’……

*  Try to socialize with others occasionally who are one step further along in life than where you are – your babies will not be babies forever, your tween will soon be a teen……..watch and learn by osmosis……I can not tell you what I have learnt from my dearest friend who has one child the same age as my oldest, and she has older children as well…..’cos it is so much….so very much……watch and learn my friends.  And know whatever stage you’re in – it does pass!

*  I think it is a good idea to try to read at least one international news item a day – there’s a big old world out there…..and it is easy to forget when our right here and right now is so pressing, but, this big old world is important to know about.  Our worlds become more meaningful the bigger we make them.

Ok, so those are my few, simple thoughts…what can you add?

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Rosa – The KitchenAid Stand Mixer

This is about a ‘thing’, but it is about more than the ‘thing’.

I do realize it is not normal behaviour to name a kitchen appliance. Not normal at all. But here’s the scoop – I welcomed a brand new KitchenAid mixer into my family last night. And her name is Rosa.

For the last four and a bit years I’ve had my eye out for a stand mixer. You see I do a lot of baking and once we moved to America I realized the huge difference in price in mixers here….just under a thousand dollars in NZ dollars for the very same thing that I got last night. More than three times the amount it costs here in America.

So for the last four years I’ve been entering every competition I could see on blogs to try to win one. For a while there I would tweet sometimes daily to @KitchenAidUSA, sometimes weekly. Just crazy little comments along the lines of ‘I still have a KitchenAid mixer sized hole in my heart’. I would have friends send me links to competitions. I would write silly facebook statuses along the lines of ‘KitchenAid mixer – the perfect Father’s Day present’. But there was no way I could ever justify buying one for myself.

I was a little over the top I know. But it was fun.

Last night I was invited up to a friend’s house under the guise of ‘cleaning’ in preparation for a new baby’s imminent arrival. Yeah well that house didn’t need no cleaning. Already spotless. Instead the kitchen was full of a bunch of amazing friends who had gathered for a bit of a ‘do’ and to present me with my very own ‘Rosa’ – a shiny red mixer.

Amazing.

Now while I will love using this appliance and will use it all the time – like ALL the time – at the end of the day the mixer is just a ‘thing’ I know…and the meaning behind receiving this gift is more than just being gifted a very handy appliance – that I may or may not have harped on about for over four years….

For me, Rosa will sit on my kitchen counter for years to come and serve as a reminder of just how faithful our Lord is.

Moving to America has been tough. Settling here has not been all smooth sailing.

But we’ve persisted. And God has blessed us tremendously. God has been so very faithful. Every step of the way. In the good times and the bad times. He has been our strength.

Three years ago I never dreamed that people would gather in a beautiful home, one summer’s night, to bless me with a gift – a gift that I can use to serve others. To bless others.

Two years ago I never dreamed that would happen.

But in the midst of just getting on with life, and reaching out and initiating and just being real and raw and learning to not hide who I am……..relationship has happened. Lifelong friendships now exist. ‘Community’ has happened.

Not because of me. Because I say stupid things and I have fierce and strong opinions, and I second guess myself all the time, but IN SPITE of me – God has been so very faithful.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19: 29

Those words in Matthew, they are a very special promise.  To be perfectly honest with you, it isn’t the funnest thing in the world to yard sale a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff you actually use and are gonna have to replace once you move countries again.  It isn’t the funnest thing in the world to realize one day you have plenty of friends with kids your baby’s age, but hey, that tween, that tween of yours is seriously lacking in the friendship department and you failed miserably in that area.  It isn’t the funnest thing in the world to say goodbye to family and friends – and to miss special events, for years on end.

BUT God.

But God is faithful.  He does promise that if and when we give up ‘things’ and proximity of relationships for His name’s sake, for ministry purposes, then we will receive many things in return.  According to His purpose.

Whatever God is asking of you – be assured, He does provide all we need – as well as things we don’t actually need.  Like a mixer.  If you are being called to do something for His sake – he will not abandon you.  His will = His bill.

The very fact that I’ll be sad to leave friends behind when we leave in three months time is a very good thing – again it shows the Lord’s faithfulness.  If I left and I wasn’t going to miss anyone – then that would have been a terrible shame.

And for me, right now I can see the Lord’s goodness – represented by a shiny red mixer.  Others may see a powerful kitchen appliance that will churn out whipped cream in a flash and make the best pavlovas, but not me.  I see it as a symbol of God’s goodness.  That He cares about the details of my life.  He wants to bless us – abundantly.  And friendships matter.  They really do matter.

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Building Your Lifeboat

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I’ve been marinating on this little ditty, this little nugget of truth since I saw it on pinterest a couple of weeks ago.

You see it is all very good and well to read these words and to believe them.  It is another thing to actually live them out.  And gee……there is absolutely no denying the truth of these words when you see someone living it out…..when the truth they have stored up in the silence is the only thing that gives them hope, it helps them carry on, sees them through the hard times, when the storms come.

This past week I’ve had the honour to walk alongside a friend as she has encountered one of life’s curveballs.

You know that mixture of feelings you get when you go for your big anatomical ultrasound scan, when you’re about 20 – 22 weeks pregnant?  You’re thrilled to actually see this little person for the first time, you may or may not be eager to know the baby’s gender, but you also have that slight uneasiness..hoping everything is ok with that baby.  Wanting a good report for everything.  Well Lindsay didn’t get that all clear that we all hope for, not then anyway, and she has another wait of a few more weeks before she gets definitive results from more tests done this week.  You can read this part of her story here, and she writes it beautifully, so much better than I ever could.

I said it is an honour to walk alongside her through this and I truly mean that.  I can see the fruit and the evidence of what Lindsay and her husband build up in the silence, carrying them through the uncertainty.  Giving them hope and that peace that passes understanding.  You see it is not that Lindsay and CJ are perfect – nope – they are human, just like the rest of us – it is because they serve a perfect Lord.  They are conduits of the Holy Spirit – vessels – that’s all.

I like to think of ‘the truth that we build up in the silence’ as being the things we build our lifeboats out of.  Lifeboats to keep us afloat when our ships are capsized by life and life’s curveballs.

*  The word of God = the body of the boat, the hull.  Knowing God’s word means knowing God, knowing his heart, and who wouldn’t want to know the creator of the world’s heart?  In Ephesians 6 Paul talks about the armour of God and of putting on the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  The bible illuminates, it reveals to us the good and the bad, it gives clarity to the wise and the unwise.  The sword, the bible, is used for offensive and defensive purposes.  Jesus used the bible to counter Satan’s attacks when in the wilderness.  The word of God deep down in our souls is going to keep us afloat when storms come.  We can depend on God’s word and the promises in his word.

*  Prayer = the gps/ radio in your lifeboat.  The prayers that you pray in the silence come back to you in the storm, when you don’t have the words to say, when you can only muster up that Holy moan. An utterance. Prayer is just communication with the Lord and the *best* thing about prayer to me, is it keeps your perspective right, it keeps you looking up and out so that you’re not consumed by your here and now.

No relationship survives without communication, including our relationship with the Lord.  Prayer – communication is necessary for growth and intimacy.

*  The companionship of Godly friends = the outboard engines on our boats.  Sometimes when we walk through the trials of life we can walk that ever bit faster with a friend by our side.  Things can be so much more bearable when you have a shoulder to cry on.  Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.  Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to make good friendships great.  It involves a lot of vulnerability, on both persons part, a lot of trust and a lot of wisdom.  It is never a good thing to just spill your guts to just anyone, but when you know who can be a great friend to you, and when you make room in your life for them and them for you……friendship is one of those things that can get you through anything.  C.S Lewis said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
You know this past week the easy thing for Lindsay to do would have been to hide away.  To just hibernate with her husband while working through the emotions and seeking a Godly perspective in all the waiting.  But in doing that she would have been denying her friends the opportunity to reach out to her, to uphold her family in prayer and the opportunity to partake in a miracle.  The harder thing for her was to share with people where she was at – and God was glorified.  She could call on these friendships because they have been established in the silence.  When life was a little easier.  And then, when the storm came, the outboard engine of friendship helped to push her along a little….reassuring her….

Now here’s the scoop, the latest on Lindsay’s baby, Charlie.  Lindsay’s OB (who also happened to be my amazing OB, a great man of God) emailed her today with the news that the fact that the ultrasound that Lindsay had yesterday showed no abnormalities in the baby’s heart, that it was normal, was a gift from God.  The ultrasound yesterday was so different from the bizarre one from the previous week shows that the baby was healed.  This was not a technical glitch, but a healing.  Praise God.  Praise Him.

And here’s the thing – because Lindsay chose to include others in her journey, both in her real life and through her writing, others have been blessed.  My own faith has been boosted.  What my husband and I prayed for, in the quiet of our time with the Lord, has been heard.  Countless others have likewise stood in faith with her about this too and prayed for healing – they have been touched and who is glorified?  Not Lindsay, not CJ, even though they are strong leaders and amazing people in their own right.  No, the Lord is glorified in this healing of baby Charlie, because the Lord is the reason for their peace and their very purpose.

Lindsay and CJ still have a few question marks hovering over their little Charlie’s life – but nothing can take away from the fact that this life is God-ordained, this life has a purpose, this life already has an amazing testimony of God’s healing power and this life is loved.  Loved by the people around him already, but even more so by the one who created him.

Whatever the next weeks or indeed the years to come bring my dear friends, they will be riding out the storms just fine.  They have a lifeboat.  They are building their lifeboat……prayer by prayer, bible verse by bible verse, friend by friend, they are building their boat.

All of us will encounter storms in our lives, it is not a matter of if, but of when……when will you need your lifeboat to hold you afloat until your seas become smoother?  And will that lifeboat be ready for when you need it?

For the ‘my child is the worst’ parent….

If your child has never thrown a hissy fit in a crowd feel free to leave your computer and put the telly on, I’m sure there’s a new episode of Downton on for you.

If your child has never raised their voice and caused heads to turn, isn’t it time for a cuppa?

If you have never shed a tear over something your little darling has done, or not done, then out you go, that dog needs a walk.

Right then.  The rest of you.  Let’s gather around those parent friends of ours who are having a tough time of it, and offer them some real and raw advice.

If you’re one of the ones still reading this, then no doubt you’ve had your own challenges and your own phases of thinking everyone is looking at MY child and you seriously feel like the worst parent in the world.  This parenting gig is a learning thing.  You finally get one thing sorted and then another challenge rears its (ugly!) head.  It is VERY easy to feel like your child’s behaviour is a direct reflection of you.  Especially when they are toddlers/ preschoolers. And to some extent it is – but then there’s this huge gap where the child’s own personality comes in to play and they are navigating their way through the jungles of learning to share, learning to express themselves, learning to be heard.  And I guarantee in any playgroup, any Mainly Music group, and preschool gymnastics/ swimming/ whatever group, there is always going to be at least one child with one parent who is feeling like their child is ALWAYS the one receiving attention for all the wrong things.

One of my children was an extremely busy toddler – so much so he earned himself the nickname of The Hurricane.  Child-safety locks had nothing on him, he climbed before he could walk, he made having an adult conversation an Olympic feat and we lost count of the number of times he escaped from the nursery at church.  He was the one that I was convinced would turn me grey.  I shed many tears over this little dude.  But you know what?  That season passed.  That Hurricane is now the most chilled out guy around. I do not have grey hair. Yet.

So to all the Mums and Dads out there who are shaking their heads and feel like they are at their wit’s end, and feel the weight of condemnation from others on them……you are not alone.

You are not alone.

So many of us have gone before you.  And one day, you too, will be that shoulder for others to cry on.  In the meantime……..my only words of wisdom to you are – consistency, consistency, consistency.  It will pay off…..it is darn tiring, exhausting work…..but it will pay off.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  And caffeine.

So to all of you who have been in the same boat…..you’ve felt like your child has been the worst in the room, the one who is always upset and causing ‘issues’……what can you say to encourage those in this situation now?

Please add your thoughts and words of encouragement in the comments on here.

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BAM! New words in my bible…

Don’t you love it when God just miraculously adds words to the bible? Well it feels like that huh? What is really happening is you are reading, really reading a passage with new eyes, or a new and different understanding, or it could be as simple as reading a different translation to your normal one.

Anyway – bam! I read something this morning and for the very first time I understand it better – and it is AMAZING – it could revolutionize your life. It really could.

‘For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power’ – Philippians 4: 13

That is it. BAM! And here are the new key words for me……..everything God asks me to……..

For years and years I’ve just thought the verse went ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Which is great – it is an amazing statement, and wonderful words. BUT this translation with its mentioning of ……everything God asks me to……defines it so much better. I’d love to read what the original Greek says.

For all the tasks that God asks us to do – all the missions in life he has for us, and only us – HE WILL give us the strength and power. This verse clarifies things. So often we think of things that we should and could be doing and they may be all good and worthy things……but at the end of the day….are they what God wishes us to do? For it is under the umbrella of doing everything that God asks us to do, that there is Christ’s strength and power. This verse also highlights the fact that God is so very personable, wanting to speak to each of us, with distinct callings for each of us.

This verse also means that where and when God calls us, he enables us. He gives us all the tools to complete the task that we need.

What a promise to cherish and what a good kick up the backside to encourage us to seek His will for all things.

Admiring the flowers….

This parenting gig is many things. Challenging.  Tiring. Joyful.  Fun. Different every day.

One thing that it is not, is a thankful journey.  Not while the munchkins are little and medium-sized anyway.

Even when you have good kids, with good manners and good behaviour, there isn’t always a lot of positive feedback sent your way. As parents we don’t get report cards, we don’t get performance evaluations and 360 peer reviews.  Probably just as well with the way my boys sometimes rate my cooking (yes I do have disasters!), and they definitely see me at my very worst.

Those moments of real, sincere praise that come our way are the things we remember and hold onto.  Right?  It may have come your way in the form of a special letter or note from a school staff member, or a comment from a friend who acted on a thought.

When I’ve been on the receiving end of such encouragement, some kind of validation that there may be something my husband and I are actually getting right, it has meant tonnes! So if I know what a boost that has done to me and mine, then why o why don’t I make more of an effort to give sincere and specific praise to other parents?

It’s a simple thing.  It doesn’t have to be patronizing – in fact it better not be – and social media makes it extremely easy to do so.

This isn’t a new year’s resolution, but simply what could be a way of life….to see the positives more, and to be your friends’ biggest fan.  That’s a gift, that is – and the best part of it – it costs us nothing, but means so very much.

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