Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back from the beach!

We have finally arrived home from our holiday in the sun. We reluctantly packed up the car and made our way home from the Sunshine Coast early Tuesday morning and got back late last night (to a wonderfully clean house, thanks to our awesome housesitter!!).

A part of me was looking forward to coming home, but mostly I wanted to stay by the beach! I was not looking forward to coming home to the crazy heat wave here in Adelaide, QLD weather is hot, but humid so there is some relief at night, and we were right near the water, the best place to be in Summer.

I loved hanging out with my husband and kids for 3 whole weeks. I was surprised at how well we all got along, of course there were moments...but we all seemed to enjoy each others company, and it was lots of fun being somewhere else together.

The kids did so well to travel 12 and a half hours for 2 days straight. There was barely any complaining, or fighting, only a few toilet and food stops - mostly we just all sat back and cruised along listening to Colin Buchannan, Veggie Tales, some worship songs, a few sermons and a couple of dvd's in the arvo. I loved sitting in the passenger seat taking in the scenery, reading my novel and being forced to sit down for 12 hours straight! I had plenty of time to think about the coming year and mentally prepare myself for the return home!

I was so thankful for God's protection over us while travelling and while we were away. We had many wonderful experiences together, I will post a few photos and stories in the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let patience have its perfect work

I have decided to read the book of James for this month of January.

The first few verses start off with.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
But let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James 1:2-3

We experienced one of those trials the other night, and after reading these verses again, it made me think that sometimes trials like the one we had, may just happen to let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.

No matter how big or small the trial, they all test our faith. Am I still trusting and holding on to God even when it seems like everything is turning out wrong, or I just don't know how I will make it through.

It is comforting to know that God IS doing something, even if its just to perfect my patience.

There are so many little things that happen day by day that try my patience, my children are great instruments to teach it to me.

Sometimes when I reflect upon my day, I am rather horrified to look at the times I lose my patience over something so insignificant, and....selfish!

So often it definitely is a lack of trust thing. I have things planned out in my head the way I think they should go, when they don't turn out that way, I start to lose patience and get frustrated. Instead of trusting Him with all my heart I fall into leaning on my own understanding.

But...I am thankful for the many times the Holy Spirit has led me back to look to Him, to make the choice to trust in God and have faith in Him and His plans, they always are the best way.

And the peace that takes over is so wonderfully freeing, I no longer have to worry that we are running late, that we won't get to the toilet in time, that the kids are getting restless and fidgety while we are waiting for someone.... I just hand it over to God and He grants me the peace, and ability to be patient!

I have been meditating on this verse of late.

..being confident of this very thing, He who began a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6
For the first time I realised that He will still be working on me until the day of Jesus Christ, which may not happen until long after I have left this earth.

So in Heaven, He will still be working on me, if I haven't learned the patience thing!

I am looking forward to that day in sooo many ways!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

This is what you do with...

My kids love to colour, cut, paste, make and paint! For the past few days they have been asking me if they can paint. But I keep delaying my answers, saying, maybe tomorrow... ??

Finally I caved in and said YES you can paint after breakfast!! Well breakfast came and I was not in a painting mood, (I was actually in a sorting and cleaning mood!) I asked my husband if he could take them to the park for a while before he went out golfing for the day, I just needed time to BREATHE before the painting started!
It's amazing how much clearer you can think without 5 extra people in the house! Within 5 minutes of them leaving I came up with a great idea of getting them to paint the trampoline boxes...outside! I didn't have any large bit of paper and I didn't want paint inside, and here were these 2 plain big boxes all ready for painting!

There was hardly any mess for me to clean up, they used up all the paints and I just put all the empty containers in the bin, and they painted to their hearts content!!

So here's what you can do with those leftover Christmas present boxes!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Snapshots from my super crazy, adorable 4 year old!

Our 4 year old daughter continually fascinates and shocks me! My husband and I often look at each other after she has done something crazy and make the comment, 'Where did she come from?'.

My nickname for her is Miss Blessie, because it reminds me that she is a blessing and a gift from God, even though at times I feel exhausted from her interactions!
Just in the last 5 minutes since I started writing this post, I went to see her in the bath and noticed many green dots in the water, I asked her if she had done a number 2 in the bath, no the oldest daughter replied, they are tomato seeds!
She had a cherry tomato in her mouth and decided to spit the seeds in tot he water. She has since got out of the bath, and come to see me in the study singing the Adelaide Crows theme song, then proceeded to plead for another tomato....just 1 more tomato and then that's it!

My stress levels seem to dissipate rather quickly when she is not around, its quieter, less fighting, arguing and yelling (all from the others at her doing crazy things to them!) safer, and cleaner. But it is also not as fun, and there are no where near as many cuddle opportunities!
She was the only child who came in the middle of the night, 1:30am. I had been having contractions with her all day and finally went into hospital around 11:00pm but I was sent home, being told those contractions could go on for another week! Well I was back in there an hour later, and 1 and 1/2 hours later she came out - screaming! She was the only one who came out screaming! She was also the most active baby in my belly, and resisted any pressure I put on to her. I was so sure she would be a boy because she was so active, but she is just our super active crazy girl!

She definitely is not your 'typical' little girl. When the boys are over shes outside playing in the sandpit, playing with cars, getting dirty with mud and water, and when the girls are over she is happily playing inside with dollies, ponies and teddies! She also loves cooking, cutting and pasting, drawing, playdoh, anything creative.

She loves wearing dresses and skirt and its often a battle to encourage her to wear anything else, yet she loves to wrestle and punch, she is constantly punching her 13 and 15 year old cousins and unexpectantly throws punches as she passes her siblings (and parents) in the hallway. But I realise this is one of the ways she shows affection, she doesn't mean to hurt, she just being playful?!

All of our kids received money to spend from Christmas. Everyone else had chosen something, except number 3. No, not a toy, not a teddy, not craft, not a book, not lollies...How about lipgloss daddy said. Yes!!!! Clipcloss (that's how she says it!) I want clipcloss!! That lipgloss has followed us everywhere for the past few days and sad to say, its nearly all gone!

I can't wait to watch her grow up, she tests me, tries me, worries me, stresses me - but she makes me laugh so much almost every minute of the day, and she keeps me on my toes. I am so thankful and amazed with the way God has made her so very special, and I pray that He would continue to lead me to train her in the way she should go - in the way God has made her to be.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Striking the first blow in the battle

I love holidays, but I also love routine, and sometimes those two don't go together all that well! I have been in holiday mode ever since Christmas and consequently have missed my early morning times with the Lord.

I have really felt the difference. Instead of waking up to the subtle beeping of my alarm clock, I am awoken to little voices asking if they can get up now, and then those little voices turn into louder voices as more little people wake up. And then starts the requests for milk, food, silly games, quarreling and so on.....!

When I get up early I have at least 20 minutes after showering and dressing to just sit in my comfy chair and stare into space, in absolute quiet! I then feel ready to proceed into reading my bible and prayer. But I have missed these times, the past two weeks, and I can feel myself being attacked from many different angles!!

John Piper helped sum up how I was feeling in his book When I don't desire GOD - How to fight for Joy. Under the heading, How important is early-morning prayer? he outlines 5 reasons to rise early for prayer. I related well to the first two.

"First, it signals conscience that this is of first importance in the day. That witness from our action to our conscience has a joyful effect on the Christian mind. Second, early morning prayer strikes the first blow in the battle of the day, instead of waiting till we are besieged from all sides.Third, what we do daily and do early shapes the spirit of our minds and brings us into a disposition of humility and trust that will bear better fruit than anxiety or self-reliance..."

I didn't realise how much my early morning times prepared me for the day, especially when it comes to interacting with my children. When I have not prepared for the first blow in the battle of the day, my first reactions to quarrels, demands, spilt milk are done in short temper and frustration, instead of love and grace.

I guess the good thing about holiday time is that I can still get up early and spend time with the Lord, but because we don't have to rush out anywhere, I can take it slowly and find a relaxing spot to curl up on the couch later in the day.

And, after reading a few pages of John Piper's book, I feel inspired to read it again this holiday time, that book changed my devotional life 2 years ago, and I am looking forward to being challenged once again!

O satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Confessions of a mother

Sometimes when I read other people's blogs I come away feeling discouraged and inward focused. I realise its because I am falling into the trap of comparing myself with others, and finding that I don't match up, or I fail in a particular area. I am slowly learning to deal with those kinds of thoughts quickly, to take them captive and send them away, but sometimes they linger and it takes me a while to wake up and fight them off with thoughts that are true, noble, pure, of God.

In light of these feelings I have felt compelled to write a post about some of the things I struggle with in life, not so everyone out there can feel sorry for me, because I know that everyone has their own struggles, but so that maybe others can relate to me and see that they might not be the only one who struggles with certain things.

So here are some of my confessions!

Some of you already know that I naturally am not drawn to kids. I struggle to play and interact with them, I am much more task orientated and shamefully sometimes find more fulfillment in completing a job then playing blocks with my kids. So I have to pray often for God to help me to enjoy them and to want to play with them.

I feel guilty each time I use the television as a babysitter. While there are sometimes when I am genuinely happy to let them watch a movie, handpicked by me, there are often times when its so much easier for me just to sit them down in front of the TV to watch something just to calm them down or to distract them from asking me multitudes of questions. I do limit their viewing time, but I struggle with the guilt of letting them watch something, I feel like I am giving in and should be doing something constructive and bonding with them!

The days sometimes pass me by so quickly and I feel like I haven't spent enough time playing, talking, cuddling, appreciating the blessings God has given me. I find it hard to balance all that needs to be done in a day, washing, cleaning, tidying, meals, on top of devotions, quality time with my husband and children. I must admit that my devotions are a priority for me each day, because its the only time I know I will have time alone, generally uninterrupted, and I know that its the time God will help me prepare for the day. But even so, its hard to balance everything, to trust fully in God to lead me and equip me for all the day holds!

I often have to fight off the temptations to compare myself to other mothers, their children and their family lives. On a good day I am often inspired by others to try things differently and learn more if they seem to be succeeding, but on a bad day I fall easily into feeling discouraged and like a failure if I don't do the same or if my children don't appear to measure up. I am so thankful though for the Holy Spirit and for the way He brings me back to the truth, discouragement always eventually leads me back to God to see things from His perspective!

Sometimes when my children fight with each other or show attitude or rudeness to me or others, I get disappointed with them, and am tempted to allow my love towards them to become conditional. I have to remember that they are children, and God has given me the responsibility to lead and teach them, I need to see their weaknesses and failures as an opportunity to show them the right way to go, and to show them the love of God which is forgiving, unconditional and so gracious!

I often feel like I don't teach my children enough about our awesome God. I battle with feelings of guilt that I don't spend enough time reading to them and teaching them about God. I do love it so much when we have devotions together and they are responsive and eager to learn, but it is so hard when they are little and easily distracted. I know the best thing to show them is my living example and devotion to God, my passion and love for God will overflow into their lives. I know I need to pray for more opportunities and for the desire to talk with them along the way about a God who loves them deeply.

I find it hard to truly put my husband before my children. Practically their needs seem to dominate his, but I know its all about my attitude, I need to be willing to serve him, to make it clear to him that he is before them!

Well, there are some of my confessions, of course there are many more, but I don't want this to become a negative post, I just pray that some of what I shared might encourage others out there who struggle with the same things or for those who are doing well in these areas.

It is helpful for me to write these things down and share them with everyone out there as it keeps me accountable and helps me acknowledge my weaknesses before God.

I am so thankful to God for the way He keeps me and leads me and in His time, helps me to overcome my weaknesses, and He uses them to lead me back to dependance on Him alone!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My thankful list from 2008

I woke up this morning thinking about the new year then soon realised that I had not spent anytime thinking about the year just gone by! Last year I wrote a list of all the things I was thankful for at the end of 2007, so I thought I would do the same for 2008. When I first started my mind was blank, I knew I had so many things to be thankful for, but.... what were they again?!

Here are some of them (I am sure I will think of many more as the day goes by).

The biggest thing I am thankful for in 2008 is for the opportunities to learn so much more about the amazing grace of God. Unfortunately that has come from watching and listening to many of my friends this year go through deep and and difficult hardships, I am so thankful to many of them for sharing with me, for the things I have learned from them. God desires to have such intimacy in our lives, for us to find such joy and delight in Him, yet even when we don't find that in Him He is still so gracious, so faithful, so unconditionally loving, and He never changes

I am thankful to God for giving me a deeper understanding and longing for Heaven. I have gained a perspective on eternity which has changed the way I live my life and the choices I make. It makes this world we live in feel so very temporary!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to read some great books with our book club. I have loved the chance to read and the times of discussion and edification with my fellow readers.

I thankful to God for giving me a more thankful spirit. I am learning to be thankful in all things, especially in the good things, the blue sky, the pretty flowers, good health, husband, children, friends, family, a place to live....if I develop a thankfulness in these every day things, then I have more likely to be thankful when the hard times come.

I am thankful for all the wonderful answers to prayer I have seen in my life and in the lives of those around me, all praise and glory go to God alone for His faithfulness.

I am thankful for new friendships, for depth in current ones, and for the rekindling of old ones (particularly through facebook!).

I am thankful for the years spent with our favourite wedding present, our German Shepherd Rickey who passed away a few months ago. I miss her lots, but I am thankful to God for sharing in her life!

I am thankful to God for my precious children who not only are a joy to have around, but they teach me so much about life. They test me, teach me, encourage me and accept me so much for who I am.

I am thankful for my wonderful husband who is ever so patient, loving, forgiving, to me. We celebrated 10 years of marriage this year, and it it only getting better! We have both changed so much in so many years, but I am thankful that we have changed together and that we have helped each other change - for the better, slowly striving to be more Christlike. He still is the one who makes me laugh every day, who understands my ways, who gives wonderful cuddles and who gives such fantastic hairbrushes and massages!

And I am thankful for the opportunity to blog, I have enjoyed writing down my thoughts and daily happenings and for the comments and encouragements along the way.

I look forward to 2009 for the opportunity to serve and worship God, it is such a joy to be His child, and how awesome would it be if this was the year we all joined Him in the air....!