Evening snapshot

We scuttled down to the beach after dinner. Son1 weaving from side to side on his scooter. Son2 singing as he ran barefoot along the road. I strolled behind sharing eye rolls and wry smiles with other parents, at the loons in front of me.

Across the bridge, past the car park and down to the river flowing into the beach. They splashed around, pouring out stones, up and down, up and down. I sat in the evening sun, blue sky above my face dotted with cotton wool trail clouds. The small ones shrieked with delight at crocs floating down the stream, stones poured down their backs and the feel of water on their feet.

I gazed at almost 5 and almost 3 and marvelled at their random play, their delight in the world around them, their growth over the last few years and the sense of progression in them. I looked at older children scattered around the beach near us, wondering what our boys will turn into, who they will be years from now, what they will make of their childhoods in the future.

As I sat I tasted something rare inside. I think it was contentment. A lack of sheer exhaustion from sleep deprivation. A knowledge that it is brilliant fun, sometimes, mooching around with my boys. An awareness that they are growing less all consuming in their need of interaction with me. A sense that we have made it through the early early years with them.

I can sit and watch them play and for a while they are happy, having fun, occasionally coming over to show me something cool or to give me huggles.

I sat in the golden sun and tasted the moment. Savouring a peaceful joy filled time with my beautiful boys.

(And it made up for the extremely grumpy hour we had on the beach earlier in the day when I was less content 🙂

Your correspondent. Thinking that maybe going home might not be so bad after all…

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Another one of those weekly round ups

IMG_0661It’s Friday lunchtime, the boys are watching Mike the Knight for the 100th time and for the sake of an old school weekly round up, here we go.

To be honest it’s been a pretty good week (all things being relative) in the life of Team Cunningham.

Husbandface is really low at the moment but it seems that things have levelled out at the bottom. Nothing seems to be getting worse, nothing seems to be getting much better either but there is at least a consistency in that. It remains a horrible horrible time and when I can bear it I cry out to God for some relief for him (the rest of the time it’s too hard to pray so if you pray please do on our behalf). We live in a known horrible landscape and there is a strange comfort in that.

This week I was reminded of the need to put on my own oxygen mask first, before helping my family with theirs.

And so I have read, I have run despite exhaustion and pain, I have attempted to remember that sugar doesn’t actually help my mental health anymore than my physical health and I have occasionally thrown some bootless cries to the heavens. I’ve also stepped away from my twitter account for a bit, the vast amount of craziness in the Christian twitter world was disturbing any notion of peace I had about the existence and care of God. I can’t live with two tribes telling me I’m either a raving liberal heading to hell or a raging fundamentalist who has no love. Of course no-one has told me either of those things but the implications are there and I can not deal with it all right now. I need to know that fundamentally God is nice and he likes me. I want to love Jesus more and more. I need to love and care of the people in front of my face and not worry about what the many tribes of the Christian world thinks about things. The rest can fit into place.

The boys and I have had a mostly harmonious week and although there is much sadness around we have had some fun too. Son1 had his last day at his lovely nursery, I watched as he and his friends took part in a hilarious ‘sports’ day and almost cried all over his amazing key worker at the love and care he’s experienced this year. I am so grateful. I have loved learning how to be his advocate this year, how to navigate him through his emotions when I’m not aware of what exactly has caused them and how to do the whole school gate thing. I’m as well prepared for reception as he is and for that I’m also very grateful.

We’ve been preparing lots for our motorhome adventure, putting lists together, buying maps and the reality is starting to sink in. My emotions range from uber excitement to wondering how on earth I will cope without the break that Nursery has been so helpful in providing for me in this odd world we live in at the moment. I’m a little worried about heading away from our support networks and community. But I’m glad we will miss things, I am glad we are rooted here and that there will be good things to come back to. I am so looking forward to catching up with old friends who know us and love us but who we don’t see enough of. I can’t wait for the possibilities of fun and for the boys to have more Daddy time on the road. We are so looking forward to bringing him on adventures. Knowing we are carrying our safe space around with us for him to retreat to when he needs to is a huge relief.

I have huge stack of books to enjoy over our adventure thanks to my Birthday happening this week. I’m enjoying being 39 so far. It’s not so bad being this close to 40. The middle of life might be ok after all.

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Right, Journey to Dragon Mountain is coming to an end, we have a sunny afternoon to enjoy with friends. There are sparkly moments in the gloom. There are Jewels glinting in the dark cave of life (I think this dragon mountain thing is affecting my brain) and I am grateful.

Your Correspondent, aware this blog post could have a different tone if it had been written at certain other points this week…

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Thoughts from the gathering gloom

IMG_0531It is Tuesday evening

Outside the rain gently falls on dry ground. Inside the dishwasher hums. The fridge murmurs and the house is still. The boys are asleep. Husbandface is out.

It’s just me and this quiet.

I sit at our table. A beer rests beside me and I munch on cookies fresh from the oven. The table bears the marks of son2’s earlier breakdown over pouring milk over his cookie, despite being told not to, realising it was horrible and my refusal to give him another one. I smile wryly at the small tired boy whose eyes closed almost as soon as his head hit the pillow tonight.

I sit and contemplate the gathering gloom of a cloudy evening.

It’s been a strange few weeks. I haven’t wanted to write any reflections here, mainly because I had no reflections. We’ve lived and breathed. We’ve shouted and sighed. We’ve despaired and longed for night as soon as we have awoken each morning. We have laughed and rejoiced. We have worried and been confused. We have been tired. Oh so tired. We have been worn out and spent. We have hated our life and we have looked around in awe at the grace gifts in our gaze.

We have longed for escape, planned for escape and sit on the verge of escape in two weeks time. We have looked to the future with fear and anxiety. We have got through the days. We have drunk beer and watched tv. We have drowned the pain in wine and chocolate. We have run and cycled and got drunk on nature and endorphins again and again. We have had faith. We have prayed. We have rejected and felt like there is no-one watching over us. We have clung and we have felt abandoned in the cold night.

We have prayed with friends, we have connected with others. We have felt alone, so so alone. We have remembered we have been loved. We have been touched and held and cared for. We have been loved. We have been forgotten. We have been heard. We have been misunderstood. We have been unsure, unconfident, unlovely. We have felt the stirrings of hope. We have known deep despair.

We have lived and breathed through these last few weeks.

We breathe through each day. We know nothing of the future, how we will live and earn money in a few months time? We have big decisions that feel too big too make. How do we make them? What governs our choices in this time of uncertainty? Should I get a job? What job would I even get when I have little experience except in a very specific, hard to find jobs that exist in it, line of work. Should we move somewhere more affordable? Should we move so I can find a job in this narrow field of work? What about our community, our support networks, our friends who are family, our roots that go so deep? What about Son1’s lovely school he is breezing through the transition into because we have worked so hard at being in this one place? What about our love of this place? How much do these things feed into the basic need to have shelter, clothes, food and relationship?

Trapped in an airlock we wait for the pressure to equalise somewhere. For suits to enable the space walk or pressure to enable the return to some kind of life through the inner door.

Stuck in the fog. Not knowing which way the steep drop on one side is or the bog on the other, or if indeed they are there at all.

Thirsty in the desert not trusting which way the true oasis lies or which way the mirage fools us.

2 weeks time we get in a big van and run. To something different. To each other. To a search for a bigger reality than our circumstances. To set sail and to live with each other even if we never make it to see any horizon in the distance.

Yesterday I read this:

“We have an idea that God is leading us to a certain goal, a desired haven. He is not. To God the question of our getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end. God’s purpose is that you depend on him and his power now. God’s purpose is that you see him walking on the waves.

No shore in sight.

No success.

Just the absolute certainty that it is all right because you see him.” (Oswald Chalmbers)

I don’t really know what my faith looks like at the moment. I feel a bit like a house torn down and I’m trying to work out if the foundations are sound so rebuilding can start. I want know what lies beneath the rubble. Whatever. I like the sound of the above. No shore in sight. No success. That seems like life right now and I long, oh I long to know some certainty that seeing Jesus is enough. That seeing Jesus will help us in this storm. No matter how long it goes on for.

I know the pat answers, the it’s ok because God is in charge, is probably doing something amazing, will maybe use this in the future, is doing good in the midst of it and so on. They are easy to trot off and yes they might be of help. BUT. Sometimes, well lets face it, most times we just don’t know. We can’t say with certainty why any of this stuff happens. We live in a beautiful but crappy world. I think looking for meaning in all of this might just lead us down the rabbit hole of insanity.

Maybe we don’t need more meaning. Maybe we need to see Jesus.

To meet the One who holds us, who has walked this confusing road before and who stands in our storm. Not making everything ok or less confusing but just being here. Calling our names.

Tuesday group happened today (it is Tuesday after all) we looked at the weird confusing events of the resurrection. The fear of the body taken away. The confusion of what, where, and how that enveloped Jesus’ friends and the joy that over took them when they realised it was really him. There was no need to fear anymore because here he was, back and as confusing as ever. But still. He was back with them.

I love Mary’s encounter with Jesus at this point. The guys have headed back to town, tomb empty, confused at all they have seen. Mary’s grief seems to be too strong. She cannot cope. She cries and cries and through the tears chats to some angels who simply ask why she is crying. It is too much. ‘They’ have taken her Lord. It is too much. Through the pain another voice asks why she is crying. Again she expresses her longing for the Lord. One more word is enough.

Mary.

Rabboni

I wish we knew the intonation of their voices. However it was said, it is the voice that calls her name that turns her tears of grief to those of joy. It is seeing her Lord and hearing him say her name that brings the wonder into the pain.

I know this Jesus. I know he knows our names and I long to hear him more, to see him so we can gingerly walk on in the fog, so we can wait patiently in the airlock, so we can drink deep in the desert.

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What I’ve been into May/June edition.

I really dropped the reading mojo in May. It was a pretty horrible month. Husbandface briefly returned to work until being signed off again worse than before. I think I had a long cold that didn’t shift and reading got pushed to the bottom of the pile. We finished the month well but my reading hat didn’t quite make it back on. June was slightly better but I am still struggling to read anything of any weight or depth.

I ploughed on with some fun young adult books and some thriller by numbers to keep me reading at least.

Here’s my somewhat patchy list for the last couple of months.

Boys Don’t Cry- Malorie Blackman.

I really enjoyed Noughts and Crosses last year and so thought I’d give some more of her work a go. I liked this book even though something in me thought I shouldn’t. Who knows why. It’s about a teenage boy suddenly lumbered with his own baby he didn’t know anything about. His interaction with the small one and his growing love of her is what makes the book special. I’m fascinated by how my boys are going to grow up and read this with one eye on that and enjoyed a book about a baby. Cos you know, I’ve had babies. I know some of what that’s like. Anyway. A fairly good read.

Chasing the Stars: Malorie Blackman.

This one was more of a sci-fi love story which was ok. I’ve read better young adult science fiction (still can’t beat Monica Hughes for that) but it was alright. I liked that the love story wasn’t a neat nice happy la la la thing but it wasn’t enough to really make me really love the book. But I read to the end so it can’t have been that bad. (Wow I should really write reviews for the Guardian Review section.)

The Highly Sensitive Child- Elaine N Aron

This is a brilliant book. It seeks to help those with highly sensitive children appreciate them and learn how to parent them well. It’s helped me understand myself, husbandface (we are both fairly highly sensitive ourselves) and how to love and appreciate better the sensitivities of our beautiful boys who are both highly sensitive in their own ways. I wish I possessed more articulation than Tuesday night with a glass of wine in me will allow. BUT please do read this helpful article.  I found this book really helped me stop and think about the ways we maintain the boy’s boundaries and helped me appreciate them for who they are. I love understanding that they are affected by noise and smells, that they will need time to process, time to wait before launching into situations and will be massively emotionally affected by things other kids might take in their stride. It’s been helpful to know my kids aren’t abnormal, just a different kind of normal and helpful in understanding that for my own reaction to things. Obviously I haven’t become a perfect parent as a result of reading this book but it has helped lots. It has helped me be slightly more patient with son2’s meltdown’s over tiny amounts of water splashed on him or son1’s grim reactions after noisy days at nursery. Definitely worth a read if you are at all aware that your child or you might fall into the 20% of the population who are highly sensitive.

Walking Home – Clare Balding

I had to put this book down several times to stop myself seething with envy that she got to walk in all these amazing places whilst my smallest weirdo moaned about walking down the road. I SO want to do what she has done and walk all the amazing footpaths and chat to interesting people along the way. I loved this rambling ramble about rambling. Loved it.

Commonwealth- Ann Patchett.

Urgh. I wanted so much to like this one as I have all the others I have read but I barely finished it. It was only the insane completer finisher inside me that made me keep reading. It’s ok. It’s just not as amazing as some of her others. Sorry Ann.

Into the Water- Paula Hawkins

I know, I swore off the thriller crime by numbers thing last time around, but… It was surprisingly good. Better than the Girl on the Train, which I read too close to Gone Girl last year to be all that ok with another, ‘here’s another hideous marriage that is hiding awful things you will only know the truth about at the end of the book’ genre… Into the water is a bit different and fairly gripping.

I See You- Clare MacKintosh.

Meh. It kept me reading but it wasn’t as well written as the Paula Hawkins one and was kind of annoying in the keep you guessing to the end thing, plus random sub plots for no reason. A quick read though. That’s good right?

When the Floods Came- Clare Morrall

A really good dystopian read. Interesting view of the future and very interesting with lots of themes of who can we really trust and how do we know we can trust them. I liked it lots.

So there you go. Not much of merit there but a few good reads along the way.  All but one of these were books from our local library.  I think I need to scour our shelves again for books I want to read but haven’t got around to just yet.  I’m also hoping our motorhome adventures, coming up in 21 days time, will give me time to read more and space to read deeper rather than mere quantity.

What have you been reading this month?

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“Some other day when my morning comes, I’ll be the one that’s waited all night…”

A hot and sticky night. In the room next to me son1 is tossing and turning listening to CBeebies Radio. Son2 has oddly found sleep easily tonight and is snoring hard. I am pottering around the house slowly putting to one side the things we will need when we head off for a couple of nights camping tomorrow. It has been a day of ups and downs, stresses have too easily hit my head and I struggled to cope with dinner time.

This morning was thankfully a different story, I went to Tuesday Group, we shared songs, poems and encouragements along the road with each other. We wanted to be reminded of the reality of God. I think we were. I played everyone my song of the moment: Iain Archer’s Everest.

It is a beautiful song that speaks powerfully of my emotions right now. I have no idea what the song is really about but I guess that’s the beauty of songs, they in turn become more personal as we speak our own interpretations into the lyrics and melody. This one is a song that talks of hanging on, of hope that barely breathes. It is a song that echoes the long long wait until morning, the longing for change in a situation and maybe the holding on to that final morning when everything will be ok after all.

The last two lines make me well up whenever I hear them: “Some other day when my morning comes, I’ll be the one that’s waited all night…”. Life feels very much like we are waiting for morning right now. We plough on, not knowing how long husbandface’s condition will last, we don’t know how or what life will look like beyond September. We deal with that by consuming sugar and staring at motorhome and camper van conversion sites on the internet. We trudge on through the days. We try and love the small ones well but it is hard to keep on waiting for the dawn. We know there are many blessings and wonders in this world of ours right now. Life is not as bleak as all that but every now and again the weariness hits and I am left aching for night to be over.

I think we are meant to ache for that. I think are made to live for another world, a world where there will be no more pain or suffering, where we will be able to live without conflict or confusion in our relationships, where there will be no selfishness or self protection because the hurts will be healed and we will be free to love and be loved. It’s a beautiful world to long for, it’s a beautiful light to live in the reality of now. We can keep on loving those around us because the dawn is breaking in. The new light leads us on to the true light ahead. We love poorly and impatiently but we do love. We care, oh so briefly and fleetingly but we do care. The kingdom of the other world is breaking into now.

And so we hold onto morning. We hold on for the light.

I guess I’m thinking lots about light at the moment. We have reached the point of the year where the creation around us shouts about life. Our garden is growing strawberries and lettuce we can eat. We can see the fruits of spring budding to full growth. Light and colour and richness are flooding our senses whenever we walk around with our eyes open. There is so much light. I can’t remember a year when I noticed the light so much. Maybe this year is the year I really need to see it. I am staying up later, I seem to need less sleep. My body feels more in tune with the earth it dwells in. There is so much light. Tomorrow we will live the longest day of the year, the day full of light and wonder. We will drive to Wales for a couple of nights camping in this light and we will see new things. I want to dare to hope. To embrace the outdoors joy, to guide my sons through new experiences, to get away from our house and my insane desire to clean so I can control something in our world right now. I want to hope, to hope that somewhere in this crazy life is someone who is holding us, who is pointing us to the true light in this world, who shows us more of that light not only by shinning in darkness but by giving us full light of day to enjoy and be refreshed by.

The solstice is here. Endless light is promised. We ride on towards the dawn.

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Parenting thoughts…

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View from a seminar…

This weekend I was asked to share some top tips on parenting, gathered from my years as a parent so far. To be honest I felt like a bit of a fraud, this world still feels very new and I know I’m conditioned by only being a little way along the road. The best bit of the seminar was listening to those far ahead of me in the journey.  It was refreshing to hear from another perspective and be comforted by the knowledge that all the phases are different. It was reassuring to know that through all of them surviving and thriving is possible. Children do grow, become independent and come back in some way in a different form of friendship/relationship. I loved the view from up there and it gave me hope in these trenches of the early years.

I decided not to share many top tips, as we are all so different in ourselves and in our approaches. What works for one parent and one child may not work at all for others. We are all stumbling through this land. Instead of dispensing my theories on how parenting should be done (and I have many, ask me, just don’t look at my parenting all that closely.. my theories and reality are still far too far apart) I thought I’d talk a bit about what I’ve experienced of God in these years. I hoped it would be of help to others to know the basic realities of God that have kept me sane so far. I hope it will help you if you have the time to trawl through them now.

Best put the kettle on if you want to read further… (Reading through these notes I can see that a talky thing is obviously different from a writing thing. I could change this into sounding more like a blog post, but it’s not an essay on parenting, these are thoughts that led to a talk. I didn’t parrot this out, it was more of a safety net as I waffled away through some of this material on a sunny day in June to a few people)

I’m not sure when parenting became a verb. A thing to do rather than an unconscious reality of bringing children into the world. I think it’s good that we are thinking more about how we relate to the children we have been entrusted with, but the rise of ‘parenting’ as a thing has also meant we have become divided into different tribes that compare and contrast and judge all too easily those that do things differently to us.

Into that Psalm 131 seems to speak pretty powerfully..
“Lord, my heart is not proud;
I don’t look down on others.
I don’t do great things,and I can’t do miracles.
2 But I am calm and quiet, like a baby with its mother.
I am at peace, like a baby with its mother.
3 People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord now and forever.

I could give you my great ideas about how to parent (well from a particularly good moment…)
I could give you my ideals of what I think parenting should be about.
I could tell you all my failures to make you feel better about your parenting.

But I’m not sure that would be a whole lot of use- I parent as me. I parent together as a team with my husband, who parents as him. We bring our own strengths and weaknesses to it all. We have our own unique weirdos to look after. They will respond differently to your kids, we will deal with them based on our own personalities and values. We muddle through in parenting. Our basic approach has been do what works within the parameters we felt comfortable with.

Aspects of different styles of parenting shaped what we have tried to do but there is a bigger picture that I think we need to talk about before we even begin to think about how we ‘parent’.

I want to talk about the God who parents with us and who parents us.

I’ve found such comfort from some basic realities about God as I’ve struggled to adjust to life with small people and the relentlessness of the preschool years.

I found it incredibly hard to recover after the bomb of Son1’s arrival into the world. I felt like my entire world had come apart, bits of me were lying in pieces and I’ve been recovering and adjusting to who I am now for the last 5 years. I feel like I’ve entered a world that has changed my entire being and there is no going back. It’s been a crazy adjustment but also a wonderful one.

So in no particular order here is what I’ve found out about God along the way and what I’ve clung to in the daily ups and downs of parenting small people.

He’s my good shepherd. He is my children’s good shepherd,

I need someone to guide me through these years, someone else’s footprints to walk in, a guide who will show me what good parenting looks like. We have that in God.

When all is going wrong, and when I get things right, he is the one I look to for example of how to shepherd my boys. No amount of parenting manuals can come close to simply looking at how God treats us and then trying to imitate that.

He gently leads those who have young.

Isaiah 40, a lifeline verse:
“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”

He gently leads me, he is not expecting great things from me, he is holding my hand as I fumble through the days, He is my children’s shepherd too. He loves my boys more than I ever could and has them in his hands

Without that fundamental reality I think I would go mad in parenting. This is the bedrock of it all. The gentle goodness of our God helping us through and being an incredible example to follow.

Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice.

I am slow to this realisation. I want my comforts, I want my holidays back where I get to lie around and read books all day. I want my world to be the way I want it. But Jesus has always said life is about sacrifice, of finding true life when we deny ourselves (not in some morbid self flagellation way but in a way of truly finding the best way to live is in loving the people around us)

Having small people depend on me for life itself has made me realise the reality of that truth. Life is not all about me and my world. God has told me on numerous occasions to trust that the sacrifice is worth it. And strangely when I stop fighting it it kind of works, a life of love is a beautiful one, when I stop demanding and complaining (and generally acting like my youngest son) I find he is right there helping me through the days.

God doesn’t slumber or sleep.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Psalm 121 was of great comfort in the long sleepless nights with the boys. They didn’t sleep either and some of my best connection moments with God have come in the middle of the night, when I’ve stopped swearing and accepted that I’m here to care for which ever small one it is who needs me. I’ve known that there is one who is up all night with me.

God really loves me and you

Way more than I love my insanely cute strange boys. I sometimes get so caught up in the pure strength of love I have for them. It’s like the cliches. It’s like you’ve birthed your heart and it’s walking out there in the world unprotected. Argh. It’s insane how much I love them. And every time I feel those feelings (and lots of the time I don’t) I sense a small still voice whispering in my ear. That’s how I feel about you. (Mental)

God knows how it feels to be a breastfeeding mother.

Isaiah 49 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

God can’t forget us as much as I can’t forget my kids. I remember one of the first times I left Son1 when he was tiny. I only went to the pub for a couple of hours but his face was etched in my mind. I couldn’t forget him. I couldn’t get him out of my head. God is like that with us.

God is gentle, calm and patient in his love and mercy and discipline of me. (maybe I could learn from that..)

He doesn’t shout at me (except maybe when I’m in danger). I don’t need to shout at my kids to make them do what I want them to or so they will learn. (I mean I do shout at them cos I am human and full of anger at times) but I am trying to learn that God’s patient ways of showing us grace and love are also the best ways to treat my boys.

New mercies are needed each morning and given. Phew.

“22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

I had not realised how much I was full of anger before I had kids. I need unfailing love each day. I need the new compassion waiting for me each morning and thankfully I have it daily over and over again. Lamentations 3, 22-23 is a lifeline I need to make more use of.

God is a redeeming God who brings good out of the crappiest of situations.

I know this is true in my friends lives and mine. It is all I have to cling to when I freak out about the future and want to lock the boys in cupboards so they will never see any porn or be hurt by anyone or be able to hurt others. But God redeems and restores and loves my boys more than me. Sometimes that hope is the only thing that keeps me believing in all this Christian stuff.

It’s never the end of the story.

However crap things are right now. However hopeless we feel for our parenting or kids lives. It is not the end of the story. God knows. He is here. He is at work. Cry out to him.

“38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8)

And now for some more generic advice…

There is no value in the comparison game…

There is no point in comparing or contrasting or judging others. I’m called to be faithful and to love. Not to try and score points. If I’m worrying about what others think about my parenting, or feeling inferior or superior it’s cos I’m not feeling secure. I need to go back to the reality that God is my point of security. Not how well or badly I’m doing in comparison with others.

Our kids aren’t going to be perfect.

We are called to love them anyway. I struggle with this so much. I long for them to be wise lovely men of god who are tender and caring and like Jesus in how they treat women. They may well be like that some of the time but they will also not be perfect. I need to love them anyway. Whatever they are like. I long that they will always know they are loved and that will point them to the bigger love that holds this world together.

If you have a co-parent- Remember you are a team

Communicate with each other, and if you are able to do that kind of thing – pray for your kids together, delight in them together. If you don’t have a co-parent, and even if you do, grab a trusted friend and share the ups and downs together.

Get advice when you need to:

Having said it’s what we need to know about God that matters in our parenting… it can be helpful to get advice from others on the journey. Talk to couples ahead of you in it, find people you respect and hang out with them to see how they do it, remember that you are different and be ok with being different 🙂

Read a few parenting books to see if they fit. We are reading ‘Calmer, Happier and Easier Parenting’ at the moment which so far is brilliant and fits well with where we are at in parenting and seems to fit well with the values of the kingdom of God too. Take all advice with a pinch of salt though. No-one else is you parenting your children. It’s a unique situation. Some stuff from each book will work, some won’t. It’s ok.

Everything is a phase even the good stuff.

Time moves on. Kids change and develop. The struggles of now will not be here next month or next year. It’s a rollercoaster of joys and sorrows, pain and wonder.

The hands of God are holding you tight even if it’s all you can do to keep breathing.

I’ve, and others of my friends have found the preschool early years to be a parched desert of faith. But good work is being done here. There are water supplies and there is one who holds on tight to us.

Finally- Galatians 5:22-23 are verses I keep coming back to in my prayers for us as a family.

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law”

I still think these are the best list of characteristics we need to live out as we parent and the best things we can pray for our kids to develop.

There is no law against these things and they are beautiful ways to treat each other and to treat our children as we stumble through this journey of parenting.

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Thoughts from a long bedtime at the end of the week. 

It’s Sunday evening. The boys are late to bed tonight. Naps in the car on the way back from our church weekend away have ensured we are listening to CBeebies radio whilst they try and sleep and I am drinking wine already hoping that soon they can drift off so I can raid the chocolate supply I bought earlier from Asda. (CBeebies radio at this time of evening feels like some kind of weird hypnosis with voices inbetween programmes telling us in soporific voices to close our eyes and go to sleep. So far I’m the only person it seems to be working on…)

It’s been an interestingly up and down week in our life. The first week back after half term. Thankfully routines worked again for our stability and sanity in the first half of the week. 

Thursday afternoon is my worst point at the moment. We’ve run out of energy post the weekend and beginning of the week and I’m full of weary tiredness with no energy for the boys. This week was no exception. By the end of Thursday I was grumpy and sad. 

Drumming helped cure the misery for a bit and the arrival of Mum and Dad to help out on Friday was a welcome relief. Good friends listening to our story and feeding us curry on Friday night provided another excellent start to the weekend.  

We’ve noticed this week that we feel in a catch 22 situation, in desperate need of community but too exhausted to make the inroads into community that we need to. We have felt isolated and alone, bar some excellent friends and our Godfamily whose consistent support is a lifeline in these times. We sat and poured out our heart to our friends on Friday night and then prayed. With our tiny, fingernails barely holding on, faith we prayed for miracles on our church weekend away. 

It’s been a year since our last church closed and there is still deep grief over lots of aspects of that closure. In the end I think it was the right decision that we ended but there was much pain in that ending. Our new church feels like an amazing fit, God keeps showing up to reassure me, restore me and remind me of reality each week and I’ve been able to be useful there already. However, it’s not been been easy to feel more connected as a couple and a family. Husbandface has been so unable to come along recently and we have such small windows to reach out to others. 

I was a little worried about the weekend away and hoping for God to show up. Thankfully prayers were answered. Me and the boys had a beautiful day there on Saturday, we loved hanging around outside all day, I loved the chance to chat to more people in a deeper way whilst the boys bounced on inflatables. I enjoyed rambling a bit about God and parenting helping out at a seminar in the blazing sun. The boys made new friends and we drove home happy and refreshed. Today husbandface managed to come out with us and had good chats with someone in a similar situation. We felt cared for and part of community life again. Tendrils of hope have swung into view.      
The road ahead is still fairly relentless but it was lovely to sit a while in some shade, drink refreshing water and feel able to keep on going. 

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