Thursday, 31 December 2015

My 2016 Resolutions

I loved 2015. The Word the Lord gave us for that year was "enlarge". He did enlarge us.. our hearts, our lives, our capacity and our vision.. and family.
Joseph Edward Cahill. What a gift he is!

And going into 2016 I have been praying and asking God for what word to enter the year in...

I flicked on the radio for all of ten seconds and there was the word... "Clarity".

noun clar·i·ty \ˈkler-ə-tē, ˈkla-rə-\
Simple Definition of clarity

: the quality of being easily understood
: the quality of being expressed, remembered, understood, etc., in a very exact way
: the quality of being easily seen or heard

Viewing my goals through the eyes of clarity means that theyre not a vague expression of something idealistic or unreachable.
They are a means of seeing through decisions with the perspective of what matters.

Clarity is most present in the light of Christ. And that is foundational to my new years goals. Sam has such a sound understanding of the Word, as a result of three years of study in Bible College. So this year we will read through the Bible in a year together.. and I cant wait to pummel him with questions!

Next is loving others. We have so much to learn from others and we learn from them best, when we love them, when we invite them into our lives. So one of my goals is to once a month, invite someone new for Sunday Lunch.

One of my giftings is writing. I have a love of the written word, and I desire to grow and attain to the purpose for which Jesus has given this to me. I want to establish and grow my skills as an author and set up a blog that Ive been itching to do for quite some time.

I have long had a pile of books that I want to read through, and one of my plans this year is to research and discover more of the foundational principles and wisdom that is available, including undertaking a paper or two in Carey Baptist.

Im so aware that my kids are growing up so fast. My eldest is nearly twelve and you better believe the responsibility sits heavy on Sam and I. Investing in these relationships is so vital. I want to step back this year from the 'ought to' demands on our schedule and purposefully seek to invest in their lives, and into the Kingdom. We are going to make some brave decisions this year!

The most important relationship in my life, outside of Jesus, is my husband and I love him dearly. This year were going to make a point of doing twelve amazing dates, one a month. Something thats just us.

We hear it all the time, 'Take time for You'. Ive already made some great changes to that end. I go to the gym three times a week, Ive started running, walking and doing Pilates. I eat healthy and Im fairly careful with what toxins I have around the home. So the changes I want to make are to get to bed earlier, focus on intermittent fasting and doing small things.. like starting the day with a glass of lemon water while I read the Word.

Each of these spell CLARITY. Christ. Love. Author. Read. Invest. Twelve dates. You.

Today I started the year by buying a new pair of walking shoes, going for a run, and then a swim. While shopping I tried on a pair of shorts for running which had me cringing at the post baby evidence. I shared with Sam what I felt and then showed him my instagram feed and why it depressed me. I told him about this years word "Clarity". He was awesome. He promptly blocked all the images that come up that are not helpful.. and unfollowed me from fitness feeds which he could see throw me into despair. I thanked him. "Thats okay he said, Fleur, clarity helps us make good decisions fast".


Friday, 25 September 2015

Just Love

This week I was asking God about whether or not we should go, as a family, to a conference next year that looks pretty amazing.
And so as I was researching and talking it over with hubby, I did what we naturally do, I started pressing the doors open. I didnt get far because the major obstacle I hit, was, where to find accommodation for 2 adults and 5 kids. Put that into any 'Accommodation' search engine and it comes up with "Sorry, we have no spaces". Seriously. The best I could come up with was a camping ground or that hubby and I split up for the week, staying in separate motel rooms with 2 and 3 kids respectively.
Not my idea of a great family bonding time!

Then at last, I found the perfect place. The only place in fact still available! And it was only (drum roll) $2300nz for a week.

I get thats fairly reasonable but here's where the rubber meets the road in my faith. I know thats not a lot of money to God. I know thats not impossible for Him. And I even came up with some pretty awesome scenarios for Him of how He could provide $2300... you know those fall of the back of the truck kind of answers?

Let me go there for a moment...
Do you remember in Childrens Church the story of the family that had nothing, not even a loaf of bread left, and then around the bend a bread truck comes and it just happens that a bunch of loaves fall out the back of the truck and God answers the prayers of the family. Or what about the stories you hear where a missionary needs $10,000 and then they go to the letterbox and theres a cheque for $10000 anonymously given. I love those stories. Ive spent a lifetime hanging off those stories and I probably will till the day I die because thats the God I know and love. He is faithful!!

So you bet ya that I had a whole script written for how God can provide $2300. Here I was trying to pray and Im telling God "oh well you know that Bonus Bonds money, well you could just let me win next month, and it could just happen to be $2300 and that would be so cool! Or wait, you could just have us sell something and we get exactly $2300 for it.

I know I know, my faith reeks of immaturity sometimes. But truly, this was Mrs. Fleur Cahills internal dialogue in prayer time.

And then I picked up the Bible and read Galations 5. "What is important is faith expressing itself in love."

God had a conversation with me He's had a few times now.
"Fleur, you are FULLY RESOURCED for everything I am asking of you right now". Stop and insert your own name and say that back to yourself.

Because we live in a world, in a Christian environment where its tempting to always be looking for the upgrade, the where its happening, the amazing study. And none of these things are bad, they really aren't. In fact, often they are pretty awesome.

However, in looking for the upgrade, we can often miss "what is important".

Operating from a position of realising were FULLY RESOURCED changes everything. Why? Because when you're sitting with the knowledge that God has and will give you all the grace, energy, strength, provision to accomplish His calling on you, it results in action in the now. Its not dependent on whether or not the things YOU perceive you need will arrive, be it a conference, a car, a room or a position. Like dye seeping into fibres, that calling in you will find a way to penetrate the environment regardless.

Have you seen those sort around you?

I have a friend like that. She felt called into Childrens ministry. Well in truth, she just loved kids. She has a bundle of her own but when you wanted to find her in Church, she was in the childrens ministry room.. doing what she loved. Eventually a position became available which she didn't apply for, because it didn't cross her mind... till someone in the childrens ministry team told her she should, so she did. After a few interviews, she was in the childrens ministry room one Sunday and someone said to her "Oh Im sorry you didn't get the job". Her heart sunk. Guess what she did.. served anyway. NOTHING could stop her heart from doing what God had called her to do. The next day she found out she actually did get the job. It was wrong information but oh, what a test huh?!
And oh man, she is dynamic in that room and the energy and love that she has for the kids! But if you meet her, you won't be wowed by her position or impressed by her attributes. She's beautiful. But she possesses a beauty that expresses itself in eyes full of tears when you mention something that hits close to her heart. It expresses itself in a smile so warm, that your kids will feel Jesus regardless of the challenges going on in her world.

You want to prove your love is genuine? Let the obstacles and disappointments and things that you dont have be the vehicle by which you love even more. Let the lack be the place where God can shine. Let Him trust you with the little and watch Him grow the great.

If you're like me, and praying about the next thing... remember what is important. Galations 5. Thank God that He has given you everything you already need to love and serve Him and get on doing that which He has already asked of you. He will take care of the rest.... and the script?.... Well that will be nothing like you imagined and will have Gods original glory stamped all over it.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Goals 2015....

In the past few months God has really encouraged me to be my husbands best financial asset. That has been a marriage long goal of mine. Every year, at the top of my New Years Resolutions #Be my husbands best financial asset. Right under #1. Know my maker more. Last year I didn't even bother with writing that resolution list out.. I just rolled my eyes at myself "same list again huh?".
Now Im going to realistic here and point to the fact that I know Im not ridiculous with our finances either. I homeschool and I dont expect a lot of me time. I dont consider myself high maintenance. I like to look nice and I like to find a bargain. But from one month to the next, I really didn't know what the picture looked like overall.

For a while now, Ive felt a sense that God is drawing us deeper into His purposes and to, well, plan.
Thats kind of hard when you dont exactly know what you're planning for (and Im really not being mysterious or allusive here). But I had that prompting one day recently to get serious about it. In prayer, in purpose, in seeking, in planning, in being wise.

So I kept Sam amused late one night.. going through invoices and statements with the mission of knowing where every dollar was being spent... with thoughts such as "I spent HOW MUCH on food that week?" and then I came up with a budget to save money.

So far, its working absolutely fantastic. Ive become the budget queen. If the kids start asking me for things, I pull up the budget.. "see here, that fund is empty right now".. they get it. More importantly, Im learning a heap on the way! And most importantly.. my hubby thinks Im fantastic! :P. Heres some of my tips:

Have a long term goal: I have numerous.. I even have a little account for one of them where I tuck $10 away per week. When Im weighing up on spending on things a little more pricey, holding it up against my goals really helps. For instance, this week I so wanted to get a new running jumper. I also wanted to get a new pair of walking shoes. I decided the jumper wasn't that important next to my goal but decided on the shoes because I know as a mum on the go, I will wear them comfortably a lot.

Be in the office: This is Sams domain, but God told me to just offer, once a week, to help out. Sam was so blessed by that! I knew it was God because at the same time, he told me, to help Sams office a place of blessing, to put some plants there etc. Later that evening, Sam came out to me and said "I think I need to make my office a nicer place to be" and I was able to say "Yeah, God told me that too!". It was pretty cool!

Dont under budget for groceries: This is usually where all my past budgets have come undone. I like eating healthy and healthy isn't cheap. So I set a realistic figure, $300 per week. For a family of 7, one in nappies, Im finding this totally doable.

Give!: This I know seems the opposite of logic.. but giving, I believe, not only honours God but keeps our hearts in tune with the one who provides. Dont give beyond your means however. Thats Biblical.

Keep a record: Every single dollar I spent gets recorded on my Budget app on the iPhone. Its so easy to lose track of the little amounts and the practise of keeping check is vital to managing your finances. I run my app like an envelope system as I dont like carrying around cash.

Look after you, wisely: One year I paid for a gym membership that I probably used 4 times? I was so unmotivated and without the support, I got bored. The next year I joined Dave Jaggs bootcamp and that cost me half the price.. but was an investment worth three times as much. I felt better about fitting into clothes, owned less and was more buoyant, even though I was getting up at 5:30am twice a week. You dont have to spend untold money but do prioritise looking after you.. both in terms of healthy eating and exercise. Trust me, it will save you money in the long run.

Keep a wardrobe want list: I find myself reaching for a few staple items often.. white tops, a bright coloured t shirt, a good fitting pair of jeans. Just the other day, I realised one of my favourite t's is needing to be replaced and Im looking for its identical. Popping it on a want list means Im far less likely to be distracted by on sale items that I know I won't get nearly as much wear out of. Just the other day I saw a t shirt that was blue, down to $15. I liked it.. but $15 isn't cheap if you will lose it in your wardrobe!

Buy online: I buy a lot of things online from overseas as I get so frustrated with clothing that doesn't last. Cheaper NZ brands dont hold up and to be honest, I haven't seen a significant difference in the high end labels here either. But I honestly own things in my wardrobe that I bought 10 or so years ago from UK and are still looking great. I love Next, New Look, Shein and Sports Direct mostly. I love Lorna Jane and Portmans and I try to wait till they have a sale before buying, or google search a discount code. I always find one.

Get the family on board: I set the kids up with their own bank accounts each and have a budget for their 'allowance'. Its not a right, they can earn it, if they want. They have their own cash card and they can spend what is theirs. Oh how bliss it is when they get to the toy aisle.. "mum, can I buy this?".. "do you have the money?". These have lead into awesome conversations about their long term goals too and I am watching them make wise decisions. Im so proud of them!

Bonus Bonds: I love these because once its converted, you have to apply and it takes a few days to get the cash back. It stops the impulse decision making. I have been popping these away to buy Sams Christmas Present but in the interim, the money doesnt show and its not tempting to draw or transfer on it.

These are just some of the tips Ive learnt but Id honestly love to hear more from others. Feel free to add yours!!

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Blameless Man...

"Mark the blameless man".. Psalm 37:37

I love this verse.
I love that were encouraged to 'mark' or 'note' the blameless. The ones who conduct themselves above suspicion.
Something about that really grabs with the beat of my heart.
I wonder what it would look like in our families, if we set about marking for our children, the blameless.
What people would you invite through your doors?
As a family, we've started to note them in our lives and to invite them into our home. We want to hear their testimonies. We want to hear what stories they hold, the things they won't tell without asking. Mostly we want our children to watch them. To see the pattern and rhythm of their lives. To note where they sit each week in Church. To catch their eye, engage in conversation, seek out their counsel.
We want them to be able to draw upon the example of the peace that follows them, when this crazy world throws at us so much.
We've decided to keep a little visitors journal.. The Blameless.. we call it. To record the gems they share and a photo and prayers..
Because Im convinced, that while the world may not always give them the title they are due, that we will one day find, we didn't just entertain the blameless, we also entertained angels.
And I want that kind of presence in my home. Dont you?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Lessons from a plane crash

Last night was one of those crazy nights where I just couldnt drift off to sleep.
I checked through every blog I could think of, searched for some pretty pyjamas online, had a hot drink, read some Bible verses.. but my brain just wouldnt switch off. Finally around 2:30am I fell off to sleep..
Only to be up after 7am, tired and wondering how functioning I would be.

I stood in the shower with baby Joseph, washing my hair with one hand, balancing him with the other and keeping the warm water on his back.. and all the while, I could hear the garbage truck in the distance, reminding me its rubbish day, kids up for breakfast and about ten different 'to do' flags sitting on my radar.

So off I set. I bounced into auto pilot and set about doing the tasks. With that nagging sense inside me "Where do I get off this bus?".

I dont know what bus I wanted to get off.
Definitely not the motherhood one. Or the wife one. Or the homemaker or homeschool one.

But perhaps all the other little ones.

I thought back to the night before. Sam had been at ICONZ and he usually comes home with enough time for me to run out the door and get to homegroup, late, but just in time for the study DVD. He'd got home later than usual and I was literally walking out the door, keys, study book and Joseph in arms when Tim said to me "Oh mum, are we not going to get to do our date night?". I said a quick "sorry son, lets try tomorrow" and headed for the car and as I sat there, Joseph strapped in, key in ignition, I had one of those "Fleur dont miss what matters most?!" moments and headed straight back inside for a date with my boy.

He wanted to watch Aircrash Investigations. Im going to honest. That stuff just sends me into panic attacks. I mean, heights, crashes and intense post accident analysis. He loves it. On our flights to UK, he was a running commentary of fantastic information on the planes functioning and all its potential problems. You can imagine. I made him promise not to mention or point out any funny signals, shakes, bumps, leaking gases, smells, temperature or altitude changes. And since we were flying Singapore Airlines which has a clean history, I figured we were fine.
So back to the point.
The episode he chose was one of a Singapore Airlines flight crash. Nice.
This one didnt make it off the ground.
In October 2000, headed for LA with a Typhoon moving in, the pilots prepared for take off, and made some major miscalculations. They were meant to be on runway 5L. They ended up on an adjacent runway 5R which was closed for maintenance. Unable to see due to bad weather, and ignorant of the warning flags, they hurtled down the wrong runway coliding into parked equipment. With all that fuel on board, the plain exploded into a fireball. 82 people died.

When investigators looked into how this accident happenned, the conclusion was 'Tunnel Vision'. There were plenty of red flags: Runway signs saying 5R that they drove past, their instruments werent aligned to the runway beacon at take off, poor visibility... they were all ignored. The report came back that " Upon entering the wrong runway, the flight crew had neglected to check the paravisual display (PVD) and the primary flight display (PFD), which would have indicated that the aircraft was lined up on the wrong runway. According to the ASC, these errors, coupled with the imminent arrival of the typhoon and the poor weather conditions, caused the flight crew to lose situational awareness and led them to attempt to take off from the wrong runway."
And it caused fatalities.

So mid morning, today, as I talked with mum about my sleepless night and the whirl of thoughts in my head.. I just found myself thinking back to the documentary and realizing what an important message there is in it, for me.

One of the biggest flags the pilots ignored, was that their instruments didnt line up on the runway. There is a beacon at the end of the runway that when the plane is lined up correctly, places its co ordinates as centre. They were off to the left that night. Because they were on the wrong runway.

Heaven knows, I find myself lined up on the wrong runway far too often.
As I thought back to my sleepless night, I saw the real issue. The beacon was blinking at me off to one side, and sure I know Im not 'centred'.. but theres a storm going on outside, a perfect storm of a full schedule, mountains of activities, friendships, phone calls, and appointments.

Then theres the fact that no barriers were put on the runway to indicate it was closed. The green lights were still flashing down the centre of the runway! You know, often the green lights for go are still flashing on my 'in maintenance' runway too. And Im needing to put some NO GO barriers in place. My diary looks kind of empty, the green lights are all blinking "its fine here".. but really, there just isnt enough emotional energy in me to give out. Or more frankly to the point.. theres probably enough to be kind and gracious to those outside the family.. and when they leave, it will be the kids who put up with a weary mummy and usually, a mess to help clear up.

What I knew I needed was, like those pilots, some situational awareness:

Dont let the storm rule your choices:
*Im not called to be ALL THINGS right now. It is full on right now. But Im first and foremost, wife and mum. And mostly, if Im honest, thats all I have time for. Friendships, 'ministry', anything else thats an outpouring.. is not my priority right now. And as much as I wish I could explain it to people, I cant. I dont owe them an explanation. But I can model to them right choices. Mostly Im modeling them to my children.

*Keep good signals with the 'control tower':
Stay in the Word, keep wisdom close and if in doubt, go back to the wise ones and their words. I read Proverbs every day. Even just one verse. It really is like my 'homing' signal. Also, my mum and a dear friend Robyn, are two women, whose counsel goes through my mind daily. I often make my bed and hear Robyn saying "Just love your family Fleur, everything else can wait" and when the phone is ringing and Joseph is crying I hear mum saying "Just love your children Fleur, they matter most".

*Put up some boundaries:
You may look like your coping well and theres green light flashing down your runway, but that doesn't mean you need to take on. Im terrible at this. I feel like I get a grip on my schedule and that Im relaxed, and in my relaxed state I think "oh yes, I can do that small thing" and then later regret it! What areas of your life do you need to put 'in maintenance'? I don't do any ministry things at Church, Im not on any rosters or meal programmes. Every now and then I might do one, but not often. My home group leader knows I'll be at group, if I can make it. I try and keep my schedule thin. I don't welcome drop in visitors and my door isn't open all the time. I dont have a lot of time for friendships. Im often looking for ways to manage mess better, declutter more etc.
One area that Im having to work on, is that when guests do come, often toys and food will get pulled out and guests will leave and a tidy up is necessary. It doesnt come naturally to me, but Im having to learn to say "food only at the table please" and "lets put away the toys all together"... because you know what, the truth is, if I dont, its my kids who have to pick it all up or watch mummy rush around and do it and get tired.

*Dont ignore the red flags:
The little warnings, physically and emotionally, that your lined up on the wrong runway. Lift your head for a moment and do a quick check. Who are you trying to please? Man? or God?

*Line yourself up central on the beacon:
Yesterday one of my best buddys asked me if she could give some fabric to a friend of hers in need. I handed over a bundle, willingly, and at the time, was thinking how I am just so overwhelmed and wont have time to sew for a decade. But in the middle of the night, failing to find pyjamas online for any decent price, I remembered I had the perfect fabric Id brought, a beautiful Amy Butler floral print, that Id intended to make a dress out of... but was never going to get around to doing. Pyjamas would be the perfect easy project for the fabric. Far less time consuming yet so enjoyable. And whats more, my sweet hubby had already paid for the fabric so it wouldnt cost him. ONLY, Id given that fabric to my friend.
Being the gracious soul she is, I quickly asked for it back and explained and she was a honey and understood.

I know thats just a small thing, but really, it exemplifies the kind of decisions I make, when Im stuck in tunnel vision. My "overwhelmed" state, I say yes to things that arent my best yes. I look back and think "I cant believe I made that decision in that headspace".
It was a lesson to me not to say 'yes' to anything, when I know Im tired. Its okay to say 'let me get back to you'. It doesnt mean I cant offer anything, but honestly, God might actually have a better blessing for that woman from a different source.
On a runway, a plane has a taxi proceeder before take off called LUAW: Line up, and wait... or position, and hold. Boy could I learn something from that. Take a moment to follow your decision through. See yourself down that runway, near take of.. are you still lined up with the beacon? Or is your decision sitting a little off to the left or right of it? When youve made that decision: HOLD. Just wait. You will likely never make a good decision if its a rushed decision. Pray about it, even the small decisions, because we serve a HUGE God and He is able to orchestrate the BEST when our heart is to please Him.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dear Joseph..

You are 11 weeks old.
11 weeks of divine. And I am smitten.

Tonight I tried to tidy up your change table and drawers a little bit.
Truth is; all your clothes at the moment are sitting on your change table. Because going into your drawers means I have to move out the sweet wee oufits you were in summer and admit, that you might have outgrown them some. I popped a few things to one side, ready to store, and that made me want to cry.
Im sure hormones have a lot to blame for this. And I truly am so glad you are growing so healthy and strong. Thriving. The Doctor said you were the model baby.
You are.
But my mother heart is falling to pieces.

And there's the irony of it all.
We had you, because you were a gift from God, the enlarging of our hearts. I guess I naively thought you would fill a little gap. I did not expect you'd tear apart the borders completely. And in the most loveliest of ways.

I smell you every morning and night, just to try and memorize that forever. Nate leaned in and whispered to me today "I love the way Joseph smells". It was a confession of sorts. In case I wondered why he sometimes just breathes you in. I whispered back "me too".

Ive been holding your head in my hand this past week wondering when did it become more firm? When did your wee fingers get dimples? When did your nose crease, smooth out? When did you go cross eyed, for the last time? It all changes so fast. And being that it all goes so fast, I feel set on holding you and snuggling you every possible moment.

In the supermarket today, you were having the sweetest conversation with me, gazing into my eyes, so while I lined up in checkout we chatted and the world may as well have stopped. I looked up to see the ladies around me, staring at me, staring at you. I felt like asking them to grab me a chair while I sat down and told you how I just so love you. I think they probably would have. But instead their eyes spoke back to me what I already knew "such precious moments go so fast..".

Come dinner prep time, I popped you in the front pack and enjoyed the way you feel as I gently swayed about the kitchen, preparing vegetables with your sleepy warm body against mine. You woke up just as daddy came home, so he got to see the way you stare so adoringly into the depth of me, with eyes for no one else. I love that you do that. That you know me. That I know you.
Its just one big love fest here with you, sweet boy.


Back to 11 weeks.
Youve always slept awesomely. Still do. Definitely being more wakeful in the day now, though I cant complain. Youre doing about 8-9hrs each night. This is the stuff of baby legends. Ironically, I couldnt care less. I can count on one hand the nights youve woken for feeding and Ive minded.
You smiled from, like, WAY young.. and now your giggling too. And today I swear you said "mum". Okay, maybe it was a bit of a coincidence, but still, lets just settle it that your first word was for me, deal?!
I havent actually done the whole weight and height thing. Mainly because, well, you just have to take one look at you to know youre tall, and healthy. You have a nice layer of squidge on you, and all the doctors and nurses say "aw, he's so long". Sometimes I forget how much so, but your foot length floors me. In utero, I remember tracing your foot, pressed against my belly and thinking "woah". And yup, I was right. You dont fit any of the booties. Youre already well too big for the 0-6month socks.

I just wanted to say Joseph, its so super awesome being your mummy. Were all so glad to have you in our family.
Love you

Friday, 17 April 2015

A ministry focussed family..

One of my favourite magazines just happens to be the Wallace Cotton home magazine. With all the inspiring magazines that are out there, this one just tickles me in the happy places. Each page represents order. Nicely folded linen. Crisp white sheets. Touches of beauty. A hint of French.
And while I recognise its an elusive dream to hope it all will just always look that way, I keep the magazine on display on the bottom shelf of our buffet unit in my dining room, because just its cover inspires me to hold a standard of beauty in our home.

In a very real way, thats often been the means by which Ive coped with the day to day. Especially as a homeschooling mum.

You see, much of my time as a mother is spent in the seemingly mundane, as Im sure many of you can relate to.
Washing, dishes, training, playing, character building, nursing, cooking, reading, maths and picking up lego from all sorts of places. There are days its all just hard work. Messy, unglamorous and outright exhausting. The house falls apart. The rooms are far from orderly. The kids are needing lots of attention, cuddles, order, and an ever present eye and ear and I, quite honestly, would like to curl up and go to sleep on the couch. Especially with my newborn son.

And while I know there are all sorts of great placards I could put on our walls such as "Good mums have sticky floors, piles of laundry, dirty ovens and happy kids"... I'm not convinced that I believe that to be true.

I think its possible, in fact, healthy, for there to be order AND happy kids.

I know personally, I function far better when peace and cohesion reign in the walls, even if it takes a bit of effort to get the kids involved. So while we are the journey to learning how to work together as a family, to keep and create a home of beauty, I often remind myself why.
Its the why, I think that matters most. I believe, having a healthy mindset on keeping a home, makes all the difference when the housework is falling apart and when it all looks just amazing.

For me, the key has been to discover Gods heart for our home. To recognise the purpose for which He has given us these walls, this space, these children.... and the answer is; to please Him.

As simple as that sounds, its been so hugely freeing. Holding my home and schedule to His standard has only served to bring a greater joy into my life. And I am recognising that when we walk and work in our homes, to bring Him pleasure, that our homes can function as a place of ministry.

On this journey, Ive found and gleaned so many wonderful tips to creating a home that functions that way. We are a work in progress but I can honestly say, its a joy to watch our children learn the blessing of Gods best design. Yesterday, our 8yr old got the opportunity to work alongside his daddy, filling holes to prepare the walls for painting. Its a small skill, but it takes precision and an eye for detail. Hubby came home with nothing but praise for the accurate attention to detail and commitment to stick at the job. And all the while, our son had the joy of knowing he was achieving excellence in a 'real mans world'. Its these sort of opportunities that we can create, to teach our children about the character of Christ.

Where does that heart attitude stem from? In just the small and most insignificant of jobs. Such as, as a mere three year old, picking up the toys and popping them away in the right box, or as a four year old, learning to fill the toilet roll holders with paper that opens from the right way, and hangs down the right side of the wall. Or as a five year old, to clean a toilet in a way that reflects not just hygiene, but a note of dignity and care.

They are, as I say, the mundane things. The tiny and time consuming tasks which quite frankly, are far easier as a mother to do ourselves, then to teach. Yet when we take the time to instruct them in the art of creating beauty in the home, we are teaching them SO much. Challenging though it is, the key to teaching these things well, lies in our own heart attitudes as mummies as of these children. Thats *really* where true beauty lies.

Here are some practical tips Ive learnt along the way:

*Enjoy work and play.
This is something my husband has worked to instill into our children from such a young age. Work is a joy, and so is play. That kind of joy is contagious. We can choose our attitude whatever the task at hand, including the mundane moments of motherhood. I will never forget hearing Rosie Boom talk about homeschooling, to work hard, and then to play. Thats a Godly order and the truth is, isn't play so much more fun, when you can rest knowing the work is complete?! Things like reading a chapter of a great book together after morning chores are finished, or lighting the candles around the home, when its all cleaned up at night, are simple joys which reward a task well done and reinforce the value of work and play.

*Turn on some happy music.
A sweet sound in the house to hum along to, really helps you as a mum to not deliver orders with military tone and a frustrated spirit.

*Theres joy in variety.
I delegate four jobs to each child each morning and they change each day. If I know one of them are particularly tired or flat, I'll often choose them a job thats actually therapeutic. It might be dusting the lounge suite, so they can wipe it down and be close to the music, or making some biscuits with me, or washing the outside window down with the hose. Today I was teaching Amy how to clean a handbasin and I realised that she was sluggish. So I set her loose with a small tub of baking soda and a toothbrush, and had her scrub and smear that everywhere. Then she had the joy of spraying on the water/ white vinegar mix which set of a fun fizzing reaction. Science and housework all in one ;)

*Pick real jobs.
I used to follow a housework schedule, but the reality is, that mess is unpredictable. As life is. I ditched that and instead every morning I do a quick walk around the house and note what truly needs to be done. I dont make the kids clean, just for cleaning sake. Funny enough, we are never short on jobs to do however. Today, for example, Nate cleaned the washing machine filter. Tim emptied the car. Ben put random toy objects in right places and Amy swept the bugs out of the corner of our outside entrance. Other jobs that are real, are picking flowers for vases, spraying shoe deodoriser in all the boots and sneakers in the shoebox, or I let them decorate a room up. Our bathroom and bedroom has never looked so good as the times that Ive left them to it and said "can you make this place look nice" and entrusted the task to them.

*Choose one area a day.
I often just pick one drawer, one cupboard or one room that is vexing me, and ask myself "what can I do to make it beautiful here?". And then while the kids are cleaning their designated areas, I attack that space. Often I will get the kids to help me out too as Ive found children are far better at not making disarray of something they've helped tidy up. Yesterday it was the sock drawer and today it was the kitchen bench. Dont bite of large bits. Keep it small and simple.

*Invest in baskets.
We have baskets all around the home for everything. Not the plastic tub sort, although we have a few see through ones for construction toys, but I opted for nice ones that I don't mind to have on display. I often have a basket by the stairway simply for those 'bits and bobs' that randomnly find their way into my kitchen and at the end of the day, have the kids take these things and put them away. It helps to have a place for everything, and everything in its place. It also helps to keep stuff to a minimum, including toys.

*Use the time to chat to them.
Job time is a great time to get to know your kids hearts more. Instead of telling them how to clean the handbasin, come along side them and just start quietly scrubbing one small area and just be there. often I will just quietly hum and wait for them to start talking. Its funny how when they have the chance to talk, they will often take a little more time to care and you get the joy of having greater insight into whats going on in their lives.

*Create beauty everywhere.
This is something my mum is SO good at. She is one of those people that just leaves a sparkle on everything she does. Washing folded by her, seems to feel softer. The kitchen glows a bit brighter. The carpet feels more fluffy. She arranges things in a way that makes you want to sit down and stay a little while. She also achieves this making her own cleaning products that smell lovely and won't make you sick and has a simple solution to most problems that doesn't involve a load of money. I tend to be more minimalistic than her, however, Ive learnt from her so many ways to make things, just, well, lovely. A small example would be my breakfast buffet unit. I do not like cereal boxes. So instead, I ordered three large jars with sealed lids, and three scoops to sit inside each one, and have these on display on the buffet unit beside our table. From time to time, I would think that it looked just a little stark. One day mum popped in and slid a table runner she had made underneath it.. a burlap strip with a lace band in the middle... and suddenly, it looked complete. Not just complete. But beautiful. Because it looks special, the kids are careful to not spill their cereal all over the place, when getting breakfast in the morning. Beautiful places elicit us to take more care, be more mindful, present and peaceful and its an art we need to cultivate. Flowers are pretty much my favourite way of creating beauty instantly and I love to purchase a bunch from time to time and separate them out into small vases spread through the bathroom, laundry and bedroom. Just this week I let my little Amy choose one flower from the florist for her bedroom. She chose a pink Gerbera for $5 and I asked them to sprinkle it with glitter. We popped it into a blue mason jar fitted with a zinc sipper lid (less likely to topple and spill). Such a simple thing added feminine sweetness to her room and has encouraged her to take a bit more care in the mornings to make her bed, open her curtains and tidy her 'treasures'.

*Ask for help.
Im great at being efficient, I can hold colour in my memory well and juggle a lot of balls. But I am not good at administration. I also sometimes get lost by the issue right under my nose and miss the point. Asking help has often given me a solution that is far better. For instance, just last week I rang my mum frustrated. My 4 year old daughter is tidy with her things, most days, however for months, whenever she had friends to visit, it would inevitably involve that items would be pulled down from her wardrobe, clothes strewn everywhere, hair-ties and jewellery pulled out and it would be a major tidy up job for this mummy at the end of the day. I knew I couldnt keep this up with a baby, so I rang my mum. Lost in the details as to what possesses girls to tip the entire contents out of all baskets, I missed what my mum saw quite obviously: That they were playing dress ups and without clear boundaries. Mums practical suggestion was to create a dress up box, and to even have a mirror, with jewellery and bits and bobs that belong all in one place. Only things in that box come out. Then when its tidy up time, everything can go back in the box. It seemed so plainly obvious when talking to someone else.
In the past, Ive solicited help in many ways. Getting someone in to read to the children, while I cleaned, or sorted some space. Paying a dear friend to sort a cupboard that I know she could do so much better than I could or just unloading some worries I have about the smaller issues of life to a mentor, so I could see what really mattered most.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Sibling Relationships

Any typical day in our family involves quarrels, unkind words, fights over toys and reminders of whats right and wrong.
Thats the normal.
Thats also the changing normal.

You see, for the longest time, I've wondered, can you really teach siblings to be each others best friends?
Can you really have them treasure one another?
Can they really form life long friendships?

I know its possible as my brothers and I love each other dearly, and I can tell you, they've been fiercely defensive of me and equally as treasuring. And I happen to think they are the best brothers that I could ever have.

But it wasn't always that way.
I was a pain of a little sister and my eldest brother and I fought a lot growing up. At least till they were old enough to demand my respect. And even then, I kept myself distanced, secretly wanting their approval, but to cool for that.

I distinctly recall however, that at some point, my brothers broke through that shell with their affection. It didnt matter if it was cool or not to show affection to your sister and perhaps, I grew old enough to leave their stuff alone?.. but "go away" was replaced with "sweetie" and "hun" and I glowed under the endearing terms which they lavished on me.
I still do.

So watching my kids interact, Im so aware of how words can make a world of difference and attitude can mean so much.
And with three boys so close in age, especially, Ive held my breath as to whether or not, they would be each others friends.

Until recently.
I realised the role I have as a mother, to train them to be. To teach them what it means. To help them see the blessing they have in each other.

Baby Joseph was a significant part of that journey. His presence brought a dimension to our home, a place to lavish our affections. My boys don't hesitate to smother him in cuddles, kisses, hugs and tender words. Daily his giggles (and odd cry) bring a gathering of three devoted brothers (and a sister) to his side, eager to love on him, and eager to be loved. They ask me "do you think he loves me?" and "do you think he knows me?". Oh yes! I reply, over and over. And then I remind them how significant they are in his life. And how he will always look up to them. And how he will want to be like them. And how he will cry when they leave home.

As these conversations happened, I began to think more and more, how wise it is to invest purposefully into teaching our kids to be each others best friends.
And as the weeks have passed, Ive rejoiced to see hearts soften, attitudes change and a tone come into our home that blesses me.

Just the other day, my son was explaining to his friend why he was doing something for his brother, and the visitor said "oh I wish our family did that, Id love my brother to do that for me".. and I thought how affirming it was, to the need of each one of us, to be loved. Especially by our siblings.

The wisdom in getting there, is not my own. Its been a journey and I have gleaned from some amazing sources.
But here is what I know works:

*Teach them the significance of their role.
The eldest sets the mark. Its a responsibility and a privilege. I remind my eldest often how much his younger siblings look up to him, and how important it is to be tender with them and earn their respect. I also remind them how to correct in an encouraging and positive way, rather than a lording way, and to report quickly back to a parent when they won't listen.
Teach the younger ones to show deference, teachability and to make good appeals. Its a quality of the second, third born, etc.. to sure know how to wind up the older ones, to resist their correction and to remark "you're not the boss". They need a voice, but they also need to learn to heed correction as good. We talk often about having a teachable spirit, not fighting against someone who shows you 'blindspots'.
Theres examples everywhere of people who can back up your stories.. for good and for bad.. and we talk openly about both.

*Protect their time with each other.
Its good for kids to have other friends, but its not high priority in our home. We rarely separate them off to other friends and try to discourage 'one on one' friendships. They each have a 'dear friend' they love being with, and we don't mind that at all. But we try to include family in relating to those people.

*Watch Heart Attitudes.
Resentment can easily build up when offences aren't rightly handled. It doesn't work to just make kids say sorry to each other, but not deal with core issues. We frequently stop and assess whats going on inside their hearts, and how its coming through in their attitudes to one another. It takes time, and energy, to go down into the deep stuff but its worth it.

*Play with them.
As a parent there is always so much to be done. Im often tempted to say "go play together" and hope they will run off and find Lego, while I sit and read a book Ive been wanting to read all week. As a mum, I rarely get down time, and 'free play' is a tempting time to slot in a coffee and the chance to zone out. It also happens to be the time that they most likely fight with each other.
It takes a great deal of discipline to say "hey, why dont we pull out Boggle" and play it with them. Or draw with them. Yet when I take an interest in what they are playing, it pulls them together and also makes them appreciate one another.

*Keep Routine.
Kids without order, fight. Ive found if you give a kid too much 'free time', they get bored, irritated, and cantankerous. Ask any mum on school holidays. I don't make my kids work all day, but keeping a schedule, maintains a sense of order that ministers peace into the home. It doesn't need to be implemented with strictness, but rather function like a happy hum through the home.

*Get them to serve one another.
I listened to a fantastic message recently that suggested a different idea for each day of the week, in loving each other. We put it in place and every evening around the dinner table, talk about it. It's simple things: Learning to encourage, serve, pray, give and prefer one another above themselves. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to watch them practise these things and to see the joy it adds. I love watching them at the supermarket, choose something to surprise a sibling with, or noticing something in their sibling that they haven't noticed before.. and it sure does encourage us as parents, to remember to show appreciation and love to our own families also.

There are fantastic ideas, wisdom and strategies you can implement to encourage sibling relationships, but the change happens in the heart. Corrie Ten Boom wrote in her book about her experience in the Nazi concentration camp of a time in the barracks when all the prisoners were fighting and arguing and contention reigned through the cramped and horrible sleeping arrangements. Her and her sister Bettie prayed, and the Spirit of God brought peace across the whole place. Laughter and politeness replaced the harsh words and order came into the place. God can change hearts when we pray and ask Him to fill our home. And I can vouch, time and time again, He has come through for me. And will for you.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

For posterity sake...

A look at a typical daily routine for me right now:

Around 7:30am. Wake up with Joseph giving us some serious grins and needing a feed. I spend some morning time in bed with him. Sam usually gets a little amount of time to enjoy all those grins before he heads off to work.

8am. Admit that Josephs nappy needs attention. Shower myself and him at the same time.. or just do a top and tail wash and get him decent for the morning.
Throw on some clothes and go downstairs where we get greeted by "oh hellow Jo-suf" and three boys come in for the kill... okay well actually just the snuggles. I hand him over and get to steal him back if he grunts, needs winding or a wants a top up.

8:30am. Have some breakfast. These days its oats and healthy toppings. Or a smoothie. Or if Im lazy, a piece of toast with marmite. Throw that down and make some attempt to hit chores.. clean up kitchen, put a load of washing on, pull out something for dinner, check the diary, clean out bins and make a mental note of how many corners of the house Id like to attack. Choose one.

9am. Get boys onto schoolwork. We usually start the day with scripture. These days the boys choose their own proverb for the day. While they are writing and illustrating, I get Joseph to sleep and sort Amy some breakfast and get her hair done.

10am. Set boys next task.. writing.. then race upstairs and make my own bed, throw on some make up and while Im doing that, meditate on my scripture for the day, as well as do my Caroline Leaf Brain Detox.

10:30am. Set boys up on quiet reading and reading to Amy. Do a quick tidy up, upstairs. Lay out Amys clothes for following morning.
About 3-4 times a year I do a wardrobe sort on each of the kids wardrobes. I keep them pretty slim line and choose co ordinating colours amongst them so they can grab one thing, and generally it wont clash with another. So at the moment, I also take ten to 15 minutes in one wardrobe and do a quick sort.. pull out things that are too small, note any things I need to buy and set aside anything that needs some stain/ iron attention.

11am. Morning Tea time.
I pop out a plate of rice crackers and almonds, and another one of chopped peach and a sprinkle of dark chocolate buttons and some yoghurt for kids. I make myself a herbal tea, and start soaking some dates because Im out of my latest go to snack.. bliss balls/ energy bites etc.. so instead eat a piece of sourdough wholegrain toast, munch a couple of almonds and hang out the washing. Grab in the dry washing. While Im folding it, and sipping on a peppermint tea, and theyre munching, I talk with the kids about whats on their minds.

11:30am. Its science time but today Nate is writing a book about his friend who is partially blind and how he has found ways to help him.. but also, how his friend has been a help to him. I quietly thank God that they have each other. I wonder if this little friend of his knows how much I see the blessing in him and the blessing he is to us. Ben wants to write a book about Spying. I let him run with the inspiration. Tim is reading, again. Always reads. I steal him away from his book and set him up with his science, Flying Creatures. Amy has snuck off and put on Mickey Mouse on the tv with the headphones. I grab some books out to read her, and her phonics lessons, and spend some time with her. Then I set her up on some jolly phonics activity sheets.

12pm. Race upstairs and pop some washing away and while there, do a quick wipe down of the upstairs bathroom. Order some thank you cards to send out, from Josephs birth.

12:30pm Nate starts making lunch for the kids. This is his responsibility each day.

12:45pm Joseph wakes up. I feed him one side and enjoy sitting and chatting with him while the kids eat lunch. When Ive finished feeding Joseph, and given him a nappy change I grab a moment to have some lunch too. On Sundays and Wednesday nights I make Mason Jar Salads which are proving to be ridiculously fantastic. It takes a little prep.. cook some quinoa and brown rice, roast some vegetables and then cool and assemble into jars with fresh vegetables and rocket etc. But the effort is worth it. So I throw one of these into a bowl and down it with a big glass of water. And chat to Joseph in between mouthfuls.
While the kids are talking to him, I pop another load of washing out on the line and throw a few more things into the machine. I usually do about three loads a day. A light, a dark, and a towels/wipes/cloths load.

1:30pm. I get the kids into their maths and answer questions while snuggling Joseph. I quickly download Reading Eggs on the ipad for Amy and get her set up on phonics work to match her learning this morning.

1:50pm Joseph is getting grizzly so I wrap him up and pop him into his bed. He's asleep 2 minutes later.

2pm. The house feels quiet! The kids are doing their work so I set about draining the dates and making the bliss balls. I so need a decent food processor! This takes ages cause the mix slides up the side of the bowl rather than staying where the blade is. After quite some effort, theyre done. I get clever and do a diy raw chocolate coating on them. Then I make some roast red pepper hummus.. in between I field questions about maths, jolly phonics and what Im making.

2:45pm. Take advantage of said hummus and devour some on a piece of sourdough. I make a mental note to hunt down some nice jars. My 'health corner' of the pantry has slowly taken over to half the space. Legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds, quinoa and brown rice and things like that seem to form the basis of my diet these days. It wasn't planned. I had every intention of dropping said "health freak" stuff when Joseph was born but tastebuds change, I guess, and I just feel SO good and excited about eating right. My body likes it.
Clear up kitchen again and wish I could get SO excited about that. Not so much.

3:15pm. Set kids on next learning tasks, language. Try and tidy up dining room/ lounge area.

3:45pm. Make myself a Decaf coffee and sit on the couch with a bliss ball in hand. Read some Proverbs.

4:10pm. Head off out the door to take Tim to choir. Go and swap a pair of shoes while we wait for him.

5:30pm Pick him up, come home and feed Joseph. Do a nappy change which quickly becomes a bath job. Have a bath with him and set the boys up on a game.

6pm. Finally heat up some dinner. Thankfully an easy night.. leftover Welsh Cawl from the night before. Sam is out for the evening doing some work. Its grumpy hour for Joseph. Throw the dummy in his mouth and walk around with him for a while.

7pm. Take Amy upstairs while still bouncing Joseph and get her teeth brushed and into bed. Cuddle her. Settle Joseph some more.

7:30pm. Joseph and Amy down. Joseph wakes up a few minutes later with a windy tummy. Resettle him. Get Ben and Nate into bed.

8pm. Go back downstairs and realize Im craving coffee. Make myself a super healthy warming drink instead (beetroot, apple, carrot, raspberries, blueberries and cinnamon. Cook up some kumara while Im there for my Mason Jar salads.

8:30pm. Sit down to watch a little bit of Anne of Green Gables with Tim for a date night, complete with some hummus and carrot sticks.

9pm. Send Tim to bed. Late night for him.. I carry on watching Anne..

10pm. Sam comes home and sits and watches the end with me "Are you crying?" he asks... of course not.

10:30pm. Crash into bed vowing to smile more and see the positive in all the EGR people in my life. Fall asleep.

12pm. Nurse Joseph.

4am. Nurse Joseph again. Snuggle him till dawn while snoozing cause he's delicious.

And there you have it!!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Joseph... his story and his name.

Ive been itching to write this precious journal post.
It feels a bit sacred, and so Ive not rushed to do it.. but kept it hidden in my heart in its entirety. Till now.

A year ago pretty much to the day that Joseph was born, I sat in the kitchen in the quiet, praying through some struggles. I had my Bible in one hand, my heart open, and tears on my cheeks.. and all my insecurities laid bare before Him.

As I prayed them through, God spoke to me "I have given you a soft heart because I have called you to work with children". I knew that. A flashback across the course of my life would reveal many a moment where my love of children and my call to them was confirmed and ignited. Even from a tiny little girl.

I allowed myself to consider what that calling might look like in the here and now. Orphans? Adoption? ... and then God gave me a verse:

"I run in the path of your commands, for you shall enlarge my heart". Psalm 119:32.

I meditated upon that: That when we run in obedience to God, he enlarges the capacity of our hearts, beyond what is natural to ourselves. We are literally made for more, when we follow Him.

The next verse that jumped out at me was Psalm 127:3 "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him"... Psalm 128:3 "Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table".

My heart beat inside me as I considered that He was going to increase us, and gift to us another child. I knelt, yielded my desires to Him and prayed that if that were His will, He would also reveal it to Sam. I was honest as I shared my heart with Sam. Id be lying if I didn't say how the weight and responsibility sat upon Him. Also the small yet practical 'complications'.. the car seating arrangement, the fact that there are 6 chairs around the table we bought as newlyweds 'for life' and our new carpet, with no baby spill stains. Small things? You could say yes on one hand. But for us, and especially for Sam, they were real.

Yet despite them, he also saw the value of another little life in our precious family and God confirmed it to us in some precious little ways.
As we prayed God gave me a dream, two in fact. I dreamt we had a girl and I also dreamt we had a boy. I kept the dreams a secret in my heart and tried to make sense of them. They were two very different dreams. My little girl had an ethereal presence about her that I struggled to identify. Whereas the dream of my boy felt grounded.

Shortly after, we discovered we were pregnant. I still remember taking the test, seeing the pregnancy test negative and saying to Sam "hmm, something is not right with my body".. and then slowly seeing it turn positive. The next day I started bleeding and that evening went and had a bath. As I lay in the bath, the Lord whispered to me "She is with me". I knew she was in the Lords hands. Our dear and ethereal Poppy Grace Cahill.
Her little face edged upon my mind forever, and suddenly the dream made sense. Oh how I ache to trace my fingers over her delicate little face and kiss all the softness of her profile. To admire her in all her elegance and dignity. And although my grief was so very real, yet my heart burned deeper with a burning desire to love children as God loves them.. and heaven became more real.

Two weeks later, we conceived again. This time I waited till week 8 to test and then, only to be sure I wasn't going to see the midwife in vain. I knew in my heart, this was our boy!

When we went to the 20 week scan and heard that confirmed, I spent the next couple of days crying. Perhaps not for reasons that people might think. I was so excited; our beautiful little boy was up there on the screen looking just perfect. But seeing his feet reminded me of another little pair of feet I didnt get to see. Knowing he was a boy, confirmed the reality of the dreams Id had and perhaps the grief set in again.. how does the heart do that? Grieve and rejoice all at once?

As I prayed through the pain, I felt God speak to me of the promises He had for the little man that I was carrying. He truly gave me joy in my sorrow and anticipation in the place of tears, and I knew that this wee man was a very great reward and treasure that we were being entrusted with. I shared this with Sam and we began to wonder what name we should call him.

Starting with a name book would make sense. But this time we knew we needed to pray and ask God for this name. We quietly waited for Him to answer.

The answer came one night, October 16th 2014. Sam and I lay in bed and he had been looking through a book about the lineage of the Cahill Clan, called "Cahill blood" - about his forebears. One name in particular stood out to him; Joseph. Sam's great great grandfather. An amazing man who served as a Policeman and also Mayor of Poplar, London. We decided to look the name up.

Joseph: The name Joseph is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Joseph is: May Jehovah add/give increase/ enlarge.

Immediately I remembered the verse God had given me "You shall enlarge my heart"... our hearts burned with joy and we decided to lock this name away as a secret till he was born.

Joseph really is a gift of God to us. We thought our family was done at 4.. and Jehovah has given us an increase. His love enlarges both our capacity and our dreams. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think.

In the birthing centre, my Nana visited me. She had a special story for me. My great great grandfather was also called Joseph. He also lived in London and was a medic in the army . Is it any coincidence that our son shares his name with his great great great grandfathers on both sides?!!

What a LEGACY for our little man, and what a TREASURE for us.

Today I was lying on the couch with wee Joseph curled up on my chest asleep. I closed my eyes and breathed in the peace. As I lay there listening to the crickets sing, my boys upstairs quietly playing with lego, my daughter humming outside, my heart was hit with a wave of ache again. That quiet longing to hold time still and enjoy feeling this content, this fulfilled, this rich.. forever. I breathed in the smell of Joseph one more time, trying to memorize it. Milky, a little like a lamb, sweet and fresh, and lived in. And the thought hit me "This cant be our last!". Oh I know all the reasons it should be. My body for one, can only do so much. Yet even as the thoughts washed over me, I was reminded of Gods truth.
We don't need to lament for our past, while still in the present, because Gods still writing the future. When the pen is in His hands, He still keeps enlarging the capacity of our lives and hearts for FAR more than we could imagine.
Yes, our bodies wear out. But our hearts dont have to.
It reminded me of the call God gave to us, back a year ago, when we said 'yes' to one more: The call was this.. simply to love children, as He loves them.

Though this is likely our last baby, I know God will continue to enlarge our hearts and home to children.. as long as we walk in obedience to Him.
To that our hearts say "Yes Lord".

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A message from Tim to me

I went for a walk yesterday evening with Tim.
I invited him along on my "lets march uphill, get this baby moving, and pray" hike.
As we pounded the pavement, we prayed. For baby to turn, for labour to start, for friendships for Tim..
Tim asked me, as we headed home "Mum what can I pray for you?". I reiterated my biggest hope.. that this baby boy will arrive asap, that he will get into a good labour decision, that I wont go over my due date. Etc.

And then as we walked, he began to preach to me a little lesson that cut to the core.
He reminded me, that life is a series of tests, of moments of learning to trust God. He likened life to going through valleys and mountains and how often we find ourselves at a cave door, something we didn't chose or want, but something we have to walk through. He talked to me about King David and Moses and the choices they made (and didnt make) to trust God and by the time he near finished I was just wanting to kneel on the pavement and say "okay God, I will trust you!".

I thanked him and kissed him goodnight and tried to sleep while quietly wrestling with the words he challenged me with. Each vigorous kick and wriggle junior made, reminded me how very out of control I am. And I spent a restless night falling between trust in the Lord and wondering how many ways I could attempt to bring on labour.

Morning soon arrived and we started the day super early at the chiropractor. I felt sure if anyone would be able to get baby to turn, it would be my chiro. He adjusted my stiff hip (instant relief) and together we mused how incredibly active this wee boy is, with his octopus limbs and unwillingness to stay still long enough to engage in any position that indicates an imminent arrival.

And as we left, I felt as deflated as they come.

All day my mind turned back to the little sermon Tim had preached me the night before. The decision I have to trust the Lord, or to fall into my emotions and weariness. Id like to say I managed it successfully today, but there were moments where I blinked back some tears and sighed.. and moments where I remembered who my Lord is.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills, whence does my help come from" Psalm 121.

How easy to fall victim to fear and despondency, when circumstance is not what we wanted.
How great to realise there is a God who is BIGGER than it all.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Musings at full term.

As I lay in bed asleep last night, I felt Sam reach over and tenderly hold my hand. Sweet man. I whispered to him "you okay?". His response? "um yeah". And I ask "Im keeping you awake?". "um yeah".
Im not sure why?..
I mean, he's only sleeping next to a woman with a bowling bowl/ heater wedged to her front, throwing off every blanket in sight and stealing every pillow in an attempt to somewhere wedge the weight just perfect ;)
I drift back to sleep till 3am when in kick thats pregnancy insomnia, a part of a woman's brain that says "I know you have to push out a baby sometime very soon, but lets get up and ya know, practise being awake"

So after getting up for a glass of cold milk, staring blankly into the fridge and deciding that I will once again eat what I always eat at that time.. a small bowl of greek yoghurt with some nuts and a few raisins scattered over the top (which despite being a ritual, I still ponder what I will eat!).. and then check the weather report with trepidation. What I want to see is rain cloud. Cloud cover. A temperature dip perhaps? Nope. High 20's for the next 20 weeks of my pregnancy, or however long this eternity of 'full term' lasts.

After a while, the cool night air convinces me it would be awesome to go into labour NOW and I sit with a few Braxton Hicks, willing them to turn into something more, ya know, painful. I pump myself for the task and take to the stairs to do some silent squats. By squat ten I think "um, nah, Im going back to bed". I wander back and lie on my left side (turn baby turn) and re arrange myself as tidily as I can, and try not to wake Sam up. I contemplate snuggling into him but junior is now kicking and likely to keep him awake.. so I lie there with my hand feeling every kick and feel emotional that Im going to miss this amazing miracle within. And that hey, being full term pregnant forever, is not so bad.

Then I play a little mental game with myself. "What things will I do tomorrow to distract myself, play with the kids and be a happy creative and patient waiting mummy?. I decide we will walk around the Mount and then have ice creams. Then I think about being half way around the Mount and labour kicking in and having to get some stranger to deliver the baby with no sterilised spot in sight. Maybe not.
So instead I decide that in the morning, in a more realistic head space, I will make a 'baby countdown calendar' with something every day to do thats fun with the kids... before concluding "who am I kidding, Nanny and Grandpa's pool is my happy place right now. We'll just stick to that".

Eventually after dreaming up some elaborate meal to cook for the following nights dinner (because these days Im ravenous and just want decent healthy food), sleep kicks in again. Come morning, Im woken up to a little hand (or 4) tenderly rubbing my head, whispering in my air quiet questions "mummy, can I have a biscuit for breakfast?" or "mummy, can I have a snuggle" or "mummy, would you like a coffee?"....

and I look at their blinking wee morning eyes, their sweet lil faces and tenderness and it hits me. ENJOY THE NOW. Because this, right here, is the brink of happy anticipation. Being a mummy, and about to become a mummy once more. All its aches, discomfort, fatigue, the whole lot... is building to the real end that once more, I will know Gods grace and favour more intimately as a new little life comes into the world. A life thats His, a life thats mine to gladly sacrifice for.

Dear Baby Boy. You are hugely anticipated. By all of us. I pray God graces me here now, and in the days to come, with a joy of waiting and a joy of fulfilment as you come into our lives and make us HUGELY RICHER just by being you.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

To my baby boy

Youre due in a few weeks. Apart from finding nights rather uncomfortable, Im content that you are still where you are.
Daddy asked me last night what its like when you have your body back.. and the truth is, its fantastic, and its a grief. For weeks afterwards I instinctively put my hand to my belly and realize there are no feet there to feel, no kicks to giggle at. Ive loved that most about this pregnancy. My hands have been glued to you, your form, your movements. Ive cuddled you a thousand times over from the outside in.
Im going to miss that as much as holding you in my arms is going to break the ache ten fold.

In every pregnancy Ive learnt something new. I was thinking this morning how I would define what 'new' thing this pregnancy has taught me.
Funny enough, I came back to a word that God gave me a year ago, when we were praying about you. "Enlarge".

Our hearts have enlarged to know youre coming. You havent yet taken a breath of air, yet you have enlarged the capacity of our dreams, our home, our functioning, our joy. Perhaps mostly so in Daddy.

Conversations that we have make me smile. He was thrilled to choose you a pram, and I wish you could have seen him wandering around Baby City asking me if there was anything else we needed, his evident excitement of you soon to be in our lives. He asked me last night why I needed a night light in the lounge area upstairs, because of course, you will sleep in a bassinet beside us. I told him "oh you know, so we can move you into the lounge and I can nurse out there"... to which he replied "no, I want him right beside us, so I can listen to all his sweet noises".

Those things are considered an inconvenience in our world. Broken sleep, a pram to wheel around, a pacifier to clean, a life of little messes to raise and train. Yet as daddy and I stand at the brink of this new adventure, weve also looked back and reflected how quickly the years pass... and how having you enlarges our ability to enjoy all the wonder of it, all over again.

Sweet boy, I love you so much. We love you so much.
Cant wait to kiss your sweet lil nose.