How I Learnt to Love Exercise

Here is my latest post on the MOPS blog…


The burn and how I learnt to love it.

26 June 2017

What had sounded like a fun date together during our blossoming romance ended in tears (mine) and bewilderment (his).
“I never want to do that again!” I said, with more drama than a room full of five-year-olds in Elsa costumes.
I sat there, my chest heaving with each breath and pain shooting through my lungs. My (then) boyfriend sat there next to me, looking at me like I was dancing the Macarena while speaking Klingon.
What was this terrible date we went on? A bike ride. To the end of the street.
But I was so unfit at that point that I (quite literally) felt like I was dying. Exercise was torture. And people who enjoyed it were very, very strange.

Fast forward 10 years, and we are now married (I guess he overlooked the crazy) and I thoroughly enjoy getting my heart rate up and getting a bit sweaty.
So what changed?

 

Continue reading here: http://mops.org.au/archives/7750

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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On Being Needed

I can remember a time in my childhood when Mum was sick enough to need to rest in bed during the day.

I remember my Dad looking after us and saying “You need to stay out of our bedroom – Mummy is sick and she needs to sleep. Come and play.”

And I remember how my little heart felt – that it was unfair that we had to stay away from Mum; that she belonged to us and being unable to access her felt wrong.

Of course, as we grew older, we grew in compassion and saw that she had needs of her own.

Now I’m a Mum myself and I can see the other side of the equation.

Yesterday, for Mother’s Day, I rode my bike over to our church early and had breakfast and coffee by myself from the local cafe.

As I was getting ready to leave, I told the kids that Daddy would be bringing them to church and I would meet them there.

My 3 year old said – in the sweetest, most sorrowful voice imaginable – “But Mummy… I just… love you de most in de whole world.”

I could feel what his little heart was feeling. Why does Mummy have to go away from us? Why can’t I have access to her constantly?


 

Sometimes the “feeling needed” part of being a Mum is so intense.

I can feel it when my daughter follows me into the bathroom. When the baby wriggles to get out of my arms, and then immediately stretches his hands up to me, wanting to be picked up again. When my daughter comes and sits in the kitchen and says, “I just want to do what you’re doing Mummy.”

Whether these moments make me swoon or grind my teeth usually depends on where my head is at. If I’m feeling well organised and refreshed, I see the joy in being needed. But if I’m feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, I just want some space.

It’s actually good to be needed. This means that my kids and I have developed a healthy attachment. But I can’t pour out of an empty vessel.

So I will continue to pour myself out for my kids, and my husband and whoever the Lord chooses. But I will also continue to fill my cup.

First, by spending time with the Lord. And then by spending time on my own.

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Have Dinner Ready in Only 2 Hours!

A realistic recipe for mothers of small children.

 

You will need:

  • 1 packet of hokkien noodles
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 block of tofu
  • 1/2 a cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • A bucket-load of patience

 

Directions:

  1. Get out a box of toys for your kids.
  2. Place the baby on the kitchen floor and open that one drawer of stuff he is allowed to play with.
  3. Get your broccoli and carrots out of the fridge.
  4. Close the spice drawer and redirect baby to all the SHINY HAPPY COLOURS in the drawer he is allowed to access.
  5. Wash your broccoli and carrots.
  6. Start peeling the mushrooms.
  7. Put down the mushroom. Go break up the fight that has erupted between your older two kids because they apparently both want the same single toy. In a box of about 20 toys.
  8. Return to the kitchen. Clean up the pile of mixed spice the baby dumped on the floor while you were out of the kitchen.
  9. Finish peeling mushrooms.
  10. Cut carrots into sticks.
  11. Wait. Stop. Put down the carrots. What’s that smell? Go change the baby’s nappy.
  12. Finish cutting the carrots.
  13. Slice the mushrooms.
  14. Turn on the stove top and heat some oil in a wok.
  15. Pull the baby off the bin and wipe his hands. Don’t forget to check his mouth!
  16. Your kids are getting kind of loud. The kind of loud when they are playing a physical game that started at “fun” but is fast heading down the “fight” end of the scale. Remind them to only keep playing as long as they are both enjoying it.
  17. The oil is starting to smoke! Chuck that garlic in the wok and turn the heat down a bit.
  18. The baby is eating something. You didn’t give him food. Pull foreign object out of baby’s mouth. It actually is food. Give it back to him.
  19. Chop the broccoli into florets and then throw all the veggies in the wok and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  20. Start chopping the tofu into cubes.
  21. There is a thud and a scream from upstairs. Put down the knife and get the ice pack. Comfort the thump-ee, chastise the thump-er, admit defeat and put the TV on.
  22. Re-enter the kitchen, taking care not the step on one of the 50 plastic kitchen utensils that are now covering the floor, especially the upturned cookie cutter – that thing hurts!
  23. Finish chopping the tofu into cubes and throw it into the wok with the veggies.
  24. Pull the baby away from the bin.
  25. Pull the baby away from the bin.
  26. Pull the baby away from the bin and put him in a high chair with some cheese.DSC_0632
  27. Give the veggies and tofu a stir. Pour over the honey and soy sauce, and stir again.
  28. Add the hokkien noodles and stir them through the veggies.
  29. Start serving food into bowls.
  30. Your 5 year old looks over the counter and says “Yuck! I hate that dinner!”
  31. Say, “Well, I hope you enjoy eating air for dinner then!”
  32. a) WARNING: Do not say comment in step 31 out loud! If you did say it out loud, then proceed to step 32b. This will add 10 minutes to your dinner prep time.
    b) Give your 5 year old a hug. Explain that they will not, in fact, be eating air for dinner. Explain why the dinner you made is, in fact, delicious (mmm, honey!). Go look up sarcasm in the dictionary together, because #teachablemoments.
  33. Finish serving up the food.
  34. Get all the children in their chairs.
  35. You are done! Enjoy dinner! (Just kidding – you have 2 minutes to scoff everything in your bowl before the baby screams to get out of the high chair).

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In all seriousness, it’s not often that everything goes wrong like that. And when it does, all I can do really is sigh, and think, “That’s life with kids!”.

I’ve found that chopping the veggies and meat earlier in the day goes a long way to making this time of night go more smoothly.

What do you do to help things run smoothly in the evenings? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

 

Should We Think of Motherhood as a Career?

Whenever I meet new people, the question is inevitably asked: “Do you work?”

I usually answer, with a grin, “Yes, I work a lot, I just don’t get paid.”

Now, there’s no hint of resentment there – the Lord provides for our family abundantly through my husband’s income. But I answer this way because I often think of my role as a mother as my career. This is my job, and I think it’s the best job in the world.

But recently I’ve been quietly self-critiquing this concept of motherhood as career. The way we think and talk about things matters, so I’ve been trying to figure out whether thinking about motherhood as a job does more harm or good – to my relationship with the kids, to my motivation levels and to how others perceive motherhood (especially younger women).

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The benefits of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • It helps me to spend my time during the day more wisely and productively. In fact, just recently, I confided in my husband that I felt one of the main reasons I was feeling so overwhelmed was that I was spending too much of my time on social media during the day, which meant that the important things weren’t getting done. In order to change this, I proposed that I implement a “work hours” policy, where I don’t use social media during specific hours of the day, and I asked his advice on what these hours should be (because, let’s face it, mothers often have demands on our time for all of our waking hours – and even some of the sleeping ones). He said 9-5 would be reasonable, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do since then – thinking of myself as being “at work” from 9-5, and not allow myself to slack off from the job.
  • It leads me to be more serious and intentional about motherhood. I make plans and I try to take advantage of the teachable moments with my kids. I realise that I am “it”, and I’m not waiting around for someone else to come and teach them all the stuff they need to successfully get to adulthood. This is the “thing” I do with my time, so I need to do it well. I guess the opposite of this would be if I just saw my kids as people who happen to be in my life now, and each moment passes by accidentally, with much thought or consideration. Or worse, if I just viewed motherhood as something to get through or something that is a hindrance to my “real life”. Thinking of motherhood as my career leaves no doubt in my mind about where my efforts should be directed.
  • It helps me to feel more valuable and appreciated for my contribution. If we can think and speak about motherhood in the language of career, it helps us to feel like we are doing something worthwhile with our time. Sometimes I have referred to my husband as the Chief Executive Officer of our family, and myself as the Chief Operations Officer.

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The drawbacks of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • The flip side of that last point is that this view of motherhood as a “job” or “work” comes from a capitalist system where people are valued based on their economic contribution to society. So there is a pressure on Stay at Home Mums to justify their existence in economic terms, or else risk being labelled a “drain on society” (as this recent OECD study said). When we talk about motherhood as a career, we are playing into this kind of thinking that people are only as important as the money they make (or save) and what they “do” for a living. This thinking is contrary to the Christian perspective, which says that people are valuable because they are image-bearers of God, not because of anything they do.
  • Another problem is that viewing motherhood in terms of a job often leads to a focus on fairness, rather than the service and selflessness that should characterise the Christian woman’s life. Let’s face it – there is so much about motherhood that is unfair. We often don’t get to go to the toilet alone or when we want to. We share our meals, or eat them cold. We have less time to devote to our own interests. And on it goes… Looking at it purely through an investment/return paradigm, we might be tempted to grow bitter about how much we “give up” for our kids, compared to how little we get back (at least in the short term). We can also be tempted to compare our “work day” with our husbands and think about how much longer and demanding our hours are (depending on what he does, of course – my husband has informed me that he too is frequently unable to go to the toilet when he wants to and often has to work through his lunch break!). Constantly thinking about whether something is “fair” or not is a sure fire way to lead to resentment or stinginess. Because even if things are fair, by your approximation, needing to vigilantly watch out for fairness will mean even what you do give is tightly meted out, being careful not to give or do too much, lest you tip the scales into “unfairness”.
  • When I think of my role as mother as my career, it can lead me to measure my success or failure based on things like how much I get done or whether I complete my to-do list. I’ve fallen into this trap before – going from elation when I get lots done to despair and overwhelm when I don’t. But then I realised that much of the work of motherhood is not measurable with pen and paper (or even Excel spreadsheets!). How do you quantify an hour spent in the sunshine, rolling around in the grass with three little munchkins? Even a note added to my list and checked off after the event – “play with kids” – seems hopelessly inadequate at capturing all that was achieved in that hour – the smiles shared, the fleeting embraces, the close examining of the leaves, the time spent watching a beetle, the discussion about why God made the trees. Some of my best “mum days” have been absolute failures according to my to-do list!

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How should we think of motherhood?

As I’ve thought through the points above, it’s become clear to me that I need to stop thinking of and referring to motherhood as my career.

Sure, I should take it seriously and be intentional about it, but I think using the language of jobs and career does more damage here than good.

So how does the Bible view mothers and motherhood?

 

Motherhood is fruitfulness:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” Genesis 1:28

 

Motherhood is hard:

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

 

Motherhood is a position of honour:

Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

 

The happiness of a mother is caught up in the character of her children:

A wise son makes a glad father,
    but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” Proverbs 10:1

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
    he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
    let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:24-25

 

The mother/child relationship is secondary to the Christian’s love for Jesus:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

 

Mothers are gentle and caring:

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7

 

Motherhood is ministry:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

 

Motherhood is a conduit of love:

 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:3-4

 

“Mother” is not my job title.

To call motherhood my career would only diminish what it is that I do.

It goes beyond the 9-5 and it is more than any list of tasks I can achieve.

It’s who I am. It’s why I was put on this earth. It is my calling and my passion and my joy to raise these little ones to know and love Jesus.

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If I Could Stop Time

There are certain things that highlight, for me, the swift passing of time.

The changing colours of the leaves is one of them. And each child’s birthday is another.

And so now that my youngest child is one and the leaves are bright reds, yellows and oranges all around us, I can’t help but think about how fast the days and years roll over.

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Sometimes I just want to stop time in it’s place and check I’m doing everything I can be… being the best mother I can, the best wife I can, the best friend I can. It feels like time moves too fast to properly handle everything, and that if I could somehow stop it, then maybe I’d have a chance to get it all right.

Or some moments seem so perfect, I wish I could stay there for longer. Like when my two little boys are rolling around on the bed, “wrestling” and shrieking together. Or when my daughter sits for half an hour at her dressing table, carefully colouring in a picture. Or the chilled air of a perfect, quiet morning.

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What I’m learning is that while I can’t stop time (or rewind it and redo it), I can make sure that I’m pouring my best into each moment I’m given.

Not worry about what’s coming, just handle what is right in front of me in the best way possible.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

Sometimes that means leaving the dishes for another time so I can read a pile of books with my kids. And sometimes it means telling the kids we’ll read books later because I really do need to wash the dishes.

Sometimes that means giving up my “lunch break” during nap time to get through a stack of paperwork. And sometimes it means leaving the paperwork for another day because I need to go lie on the grass and look at the sky.

Sometimes that means getting up at 6am and spending time in prayer with the Lord, while the house is still quiet. And sometimes it means turning off the alarm and thanking God for just a little bit more sleep, after being up all night with a baby.

There is a time for everything.

This can be hard to discern sometimes. When is it time to clean the house, and when is it time to let go of our standards?

I often quote to myself James 1:5 when I’m struggling with my priorities:

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

God has all the wisdom we need about how to give our best self to any particular moment. He knows what we ought to be doing, and He will gladly guide us if we just ask him.

 

One day I won’t have babies any more. One day I won’t have toddlers any more. One day I won’t have little kids, or big kids or teenagers any more.

I will have adult children and the work of “raising” will be done.

For now, I want to fully take in each moment… do the work needed, love with all my heart and point to Jesus with my every word and action.

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I’ll leave you with the words of Sara Groves, “This Cup”:

How many hours have I spent
Watching this shining tv
Living adventure in proxy
In another person’s dream
How many miles have I traveled
Looking at far away lights
Listening for trains in the distance
In some brilliant other life?

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

So take up what we’ve been given
Welcome the edge of our days
Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset
By our youth and by our age
Thank God for our dependence
Here’s to our chasm of need
And how it binds us together
In faith and vulnerability

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in
Without the fear and loved you whole
Without the flight and didn’t try to pass

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This beautiful reality
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy