Questions and Ideas

I’m just wrapping up a lovely three nights away with some friends at a beach house.

It has been such a wonderful time with laughter, silliness and fellowship. But the main reason we take this time away at the start of each year is to reflect on the year that has passed, take the time to relax, and recharge for the year ahead as we make plans and goals.

 

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I’ll share more about my personal goals for the year soon. But one thing I’ve been looking at is my plan for the blog this year.

So I wanted to take the chance to ask my readers for suggestions and input.

You can leave a comment here (or on Facebook) or email me at Seriouslyserving@hotmail.com

– Is there something you’d like to know about me more?

– Is there a topic you’d like to see me write more about?

– Is there a question you have based on something you read?

Let me know 🙂

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Never Alone

We sung this song at church today and I just love it. There’s something so great about singing gospel truth out loud!

 

We’re not alone, for Christ is here

Immanuel our God come near

We’re not alone, for to our world

Jesus has come, eternal Word.

And as he speaks, our souls laid bare

Naked, ashamed, sin is made clear

And yet he clothes us in his love

Never alone, Christ is with us, is with us.

 

The longest walk, earth’s darkest day

The pressing crowd, his mounting pain.

A heavy load of grief and shame

Breathless that we should breathe again.

“Father forgive them,” comes his cry

Silence from God blackens the sky.

A creeping dread in every heart

Lost in the world now God departs, God departs.

 

The dawn will come, the sun will rise

Out of the grave we’ll see hope’s light.

Tomb opened wide, stone rolled away

Morning has come, a brand new day.

“He isn’t here,” the angel said.

“He is alive no longer dead.”

Our hearts are lifted, souls raised high

Christ is with us, Christ is our life, he’s our life.

 

Never alone, is now our cry

In joy, in grief, in lonely sin.

Never alone, for Christ is ours

He lives in us, we live in him.

And ’til we reach that final day

When fears are gone, cast far away

We’ll live secure, trust in his love,

Never alone, Christ is with us, he’s with us.

 

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From Emu Music

Still Smiling

It was the first night of our honeymoon. We arrived at our accommodation too late to order food in-house, so we ventured out into the night in search of a restaurant.

We didn’t have to look far – we found the one pub in the one-pub town and let ourselves into the cosy room. There were a few locals standing down one end of the bar, near the fireplace, and one woman serving them drinks.

They all stopped laughing and looked at us when we walked in. It felt like we’d walked into someone’s private dinner party by mistake.

They looked us over.

“Let me guess,” said one of the older men, “you’re staying at Eagle View?”

“Yep,” said my husband, “We’re on our honeymoon.”

He squeezed my hand and I beamed back at him.

“Remember what that looks like,” one of the swaying, middle-aged men said to my husband, gesturing at my smiling face. “You’ll never see it again.”

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Isn’t it amazing, all the things a smile communicates when sent in the direction of our husbands?

I love you.

I appreciate you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’m here.

I’m excited to see you.

Welcome back!

I’m thinking about you.

I’m happy when I’m around you.

I enjoy your company.


 

Those sobering words from the slightly drunk stranger on our honeymoon were easy to brush off as a couple of love-drunk newly-weds. But as time wears on, they take on a greater significance and importance.

Because sometimes it is hard to muster up a smile, when the days are long and real life weighs heavily on us. But all those messages I listed – the messages we can send with a smile? They’re still things I want to say to him.

So, eight years on and I’m still smiling up at him. Sometimes it’s an intentional show of love. Sometimes it’s a spontaneous burst of joy.

But I’m still here and I’m still smiling.

 

A Year to be Thankful For

Another year draws to a close. Another set of milestones passed… 8 years married, our daughter has finished her first year of school.

This year was also really hard for us, in some very strange and unexpected ways.

I always think it’s interesting to compare my vision for the year as I look ahead (when I set goals and make plans) with the reality of the year that was. As much as I love to plan and dream and imagine what the year might look like, there are always things that catch me by surprise. There are always things that can’t be anticipated or planned for.

It really drives home the message of Proverbs 16:9:

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

And even through all the difficult things that have happened this year, there is so much to be thankful for. So I decided to close out 2017 by making a list of all the things I am thankful to God for:

  • Another year of getting to stay home and look after these precious kids.
  • That my husband has a job which provides for us and means I can stay home with the kids.
  • My wonderful husband – all the ways he loves me, leads me and nurtures me in the Lord (could write a whole post about him, TBH 🙂 ).
  • The way God has grown my love for learning about Him and following Him more deeply this year.
  • Surviving my daughter’s first year of school (and my first year as a school mum!!).
  • My amazing friends who came through in such supportive and encouraging ways this year, through some really hard times.
  • My wonderful church and Bible study family who also supported our family through prayer, encouragement and practical support.
  • God’s mercy and grace to me – there are so many times this year when I have been aware of His mercy, of how he has actively held back worse things that could have happened!
  • God’s patience with me, even as I stumble and fall.
  • God’s provision and help in my first year as a MOPS coordinator, working through me despite all my self-doubt and lack of organisational ability.
  • For all the beauty surrounding me inside and outside of my house, for small pleasures like nice sunny days, rain when it’s needed, a quiet cup of tea before anyone else wakes up and falling into a soft, warm bed tangled up with someone I love each night.

It’s been a strange, beautiful, hard year. Here’s to the next one!

 

What I Love about Summer Holidays

Easy mornings with Christmas music playing.

One on one time with my big girl when the boys are napping.

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The smell of sunscreen mixed with sweat on our skin.

The kids shrieking and chasing each other around the back yard while I hang the washing on the line.

An almost-cool breeze as we sit in the shade of the olive tree.

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Warm sunrises and glorious sunsets.

Impromptu craft sessions with the kids.

Hot naps on the couch in the afternoon.

Backyard water-play with the hose and allllll the bath toys.

Catch ups with friends at the park.

Listening to the thunderstorms roll in after a scorching hot day.

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Singing Together

One of my favourite parts of church is the corporate worship. (That’s a fancy church word for when we sing to God as a group.)

I love hearing all the different voices come together. I love hearing the little kids who are learning to read try to sing along. I love my view from the back of the church – I can see who are the “boppers”, the “swayers”, the “finger tappers” and the “statues” (we’re Presbyterian – we have a lot of “statues” 😉 ).

But most of all, I love the way singing together is a collective expression of our faith and trust in God.

This came to mind at church yesterday when we sang these words, from “Blessed Be Your Name”:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name, oh
As I sang, I looked around the church, at the Church – the body of Christ.
I thought about all the trials I know people are going through. I thought about the struggles and the pain. And I thought about all the abundance and joy others are experiencing.
And I thought – how amazing is it to join with these people and reaffirm to each other, as our voices join together, that we all just want to praise God’s name and bring him glory. Through all of our different lives, we come together to praise God and trust in him together.
It’s a taste of what heaven will be like – when all God’s people (I mean ALLLLLL God’s people – from past, present and future!) will be joined together for the sole purpose of worshipping the Lord.
Wow! I can hardly wait!
Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-19
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To Love and Be Loved.

“Mummy just needs to lie down for a bit,” I said, and like seagulls to an airborne chip, they were there with me on the lounge in an instant.

My toddler climbed up and flopped his body down across my chest. It’s his version of a hug. He lay his head down on my arm and turned his face towards me.

My “big boy” (the middle child) leant across the end of the lounge, driving his duplo tractor up and down my legs.

My daughter stood to the side, stroking my head softly.

She stepped back and surveyed the scene.

With a sigh, she said, “Aw, everybody loves you, Mummy. We all want to be with you.”

It’s a phrase she’s heard my husband say many times, often in moments like this, when the love can feel a little overwhelming.

Sometimes I think I need some space, but I find what I really needed was time.

Time to slow down. To enjoy the cuddles and the attention of these little, going-on-big bodies. To love and be loved.

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Afternoon bubble fun!

P.S. And sometimes I really do need some space.

Picking My Attitude Up Off The Floor

Picture this:

A cold, miserable Monday. It’s raining, possibly sleeting.

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I’m not too old to jump in puddles, right?

The kids are bouncing around after school, climbing all over each other as a substitute for the swing set that is too wet to climb on.

If the toddler isn’t whining, he is destroying something. (Seriously, if there were toddler Olympics and one of the sports was “who can cause the most destruction in 1 minute”, he would win it!)

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Whole jar of rosemary. All. Over. The. Floor.

I tried three times to start washing dishes, but I didn’t even get to the point of running the water.

What did I do next?

You have one life line left. Would you like to phone a friend?

Yeah, I called my husband, in a kind of panicked state (but without the energy) to ask when he would be home.

Sometimes I get to this point where I just don’t even bother trying any more. I feel defeated.

And at that point, I really just want the 2D version of my husband (the one who didn’t just spend a whole day at work, doesn’t have his own feelings and needs, and only exists when he is around me…) to walk in the door and rescue me. Just walk in the door, (metaphorically) whip the kids into line and magically make the mess disappear.

And I kind of just sit down, pop the TV on for the kids and scroll through the internet until he comes home and works the Daddy magic.

Today I started to do that – I had already plonked my butt on a kitchen stool – but then I thought to myself, I am a grown woman. I might not be able to turn the whole day around, but I certainly don’t need to sit on my butt doing nothing, waiting to be rescued…

So I got up off the stool and started picking things up. Yes, the house is still a mess. No, the dishes still didn’t get done. But I did something.

And as I walked around the house clearing up the small messes, putting the bin liners back in and wiping down the benches, I cleared away the mess in my heart.

I wiped away all the why is this house so messy and the why can’t the kids just play nicely for five minutes.

I cleaned up the stinking piles of no one appreciates what I do.

I scrubbed at the mysteriously sticky my husband has it so much easier than me.

And I had to get out the bleach to deal with the toxic heap of God, I deserve better than this.

 

And when my 3D husband walked in the front door, and our eyes locked across the work-in-progress living room, I smiled at him. (And he smiled back at me *blush*)

I’m not talking about plastering on some fake smile.

No, that smile was the real smile of a real woman who did the real heart-work of turning to God instead of wallowing in self-pity and despair. It was not the desperate, grasping glare of a damsel in distress, trapped in a tower of dirty dishes waiting for her 2D knight in a business shirt to rescue her.

(Goodness knows, we’ve been there before! But that season has passed…)

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File under “F” for “Feline Dictator”

This is just one day, but honestly there are many days that end like this. The chaos of tired little bodies, and a whole day’s worth of mess and a Mummy who is counting down until bedtime…
And although my growth as a Christian woman has not been linear, it’s certainly evident to me that God is working in my heart, making me quicker to renounce complaining and embrace rejoicing.

Sometimes we look at the Proverbs 31 woman and think about how unattainable and impossible that standard is. But the thing is, she didn’t get there overnight!

I hope that in 20 years’ time, when I face different but equally stressful and exhausting situations, I will be able to look back on days like this as God’s training ground, where he has been working with me to make me a better woman.

 

Mothers and Sons

I came across this music video the other day, by Christian hip-hop artist, NF.

And through tears, I watched as he told the true story of his mother’s addiction to drugs, her death by overdose and the impact on this young man’s heart.

You know how some songs just reach deep inside your chest, grab you by the heart and don’t let go? Yeah.

Here are some of the lyrics:

They say pain is a prison, let me out of my cell

You say you proud of me, but you don’t know me that well

Sit in my room, tears running down my face and I yell

Into my pillowcases, you say you coming to get us

Then call ’em a minute later just to tell us you not, I’m humiliated

I’m in a room with a parent that I don’t barely know

Some lady in the corner watching us, while she taking notes

I don’t get it mom, don’t you want to watch your babies grow?

I guess that pills are more important, all you have to say is no

But you won’t do it will you? You gon’ keep popping ’til those pills kill you

I know you gone but I can still feel you

Wow, it makes me teary just reading the lyrics again.

 

 

Recently I watched the controversial (for it’s take on suicide) series 13 Reasons Why.

There were many “moments” that got to me from that series, but one in particular centred on the character Justin. (Spoiler Alert)

He lives with his single mother, but is often kicked out by her on-and-off boyfriend, who doesn’t like Justin. I think his mother struggles with mental health issues and alcoholism.

There is this one scene towards the end of the series where the boyfriend has Justin up against the wall, holding onto his throat, telling Justin to get out of his (the boyfriend’s) house. Justin’s Mum is standing off to the side, watching. Justin looks over at her and pleads, “Mum?” But she does nothing.
Then the boyfriend lets Justin get down. He grabs his bag and runs out of the house, wiping back the tears.

As I watched that scene, my Mumma heart just wanted to reach out and hold that big little boy. To reassure him that he was loved. That someone had his back.

 

 

I’m still only early on in this motherhood journey. I’m in the “sowing” stage, not yet at the “reaping” stage.

But I know that our young boys need us, Mums. They need us in a distinct and important way – different, but no less important to how they need their Dads.

I know they need us to sow into their lives love and security and warmth.

I know they need to see what a healthy relationship looks like.

I know they need to see that we don’t put inanimate objects before them (whether that be pills or phones or anything else).

And ultimately, they need us to introduce them to Jesus. The ultimate source of love and security.

Mothers – myself included – we only get to raise each child once. Let’s not mess this up.

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Middle child and I when he was a gorgeous chubby baby. Photo credit: http://www.sophietphotography.com

Here’s a fantastic resource about raising boys, from a Mum who is older and wiser and further along than me: http://jessconnell.com/25-tips-moms-boys/

I Am Thankful…

I am thankful for…

  • The crystal coat of frost on the grass in the mornings.
  • Cold air and warm coats.
  • Three tiny tickly bodies.
  • A new friend, baking up a storm and laughing in the kitchen.
  • The peacefulness of the house at nap time.
  • Little arms reaching up.
  • The warm arms of my husband around me in the night.
  • The subtle citrus candle that makes my house smell clean.
  • Thoughtful conversations with a five-year-old.
  • The tree with red leaves that haven’t yet fallen.
  • The anticipation of exciting things to come (a catch up with a good friend, a date with my husband and a weekend getaway with my family).
  • The pink glow of the sunset across the sky.
  • The feeling of a full tummy.

 

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. In this season, I am thankful for all He has given.

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