100 Psalms of Summer

Summer has hit… and hit is has!  Time for the beach, the pool, the friendships and the BBQ’s.  There is nothing quite like an Aussie Summer.  Soaring temperatures, and soaking rains,  relentless sun, and ferocious storms.  Summer hits, the fun begins, school is out and holidays abound.

I have decided to do 100 days in the Psalms for summer.  Ok.  I’m already a day late. But I’ll catch up. I have been pondering the verse:  I life my eyes up to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1.  As summer starts, and Christmas approaches, it is good to remember that our help and our hope come from God.  It is good to plant ourselves firmly in His word and sit under the convictions that come from it.

Psalm one says:  His delight is in the law of the Lord…. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.treeriver-1418492277n48gk

Am I like that tree?  Are my roots reaching deep into the water?  Are my limbs stretching and growing?  Is my trunk strong and rooted in good soil?  Can the depth of me withstand storms and trials?  Is my love in obedience to God?

As always, the end of the year brings with it reflection.  The year that has been.  I think for most of us there were times of trials, and times of great joy.  There were times of hope, and times of despair.  Where did we turn?  What did we run towards?

I have bad tendencies.  Tendencies that see me seek escape.  Escape to places that are unhealthy.  It is my natural flight or fight.  I fly.. straight into temptation! Self awareness helps a lot, but often I have to fight to stop myself from the flight. But I hope that this year my roots are deeper and stronger than they were last.  I hope this summer I branch out further, take more risks, touch more lives, and inspire more hope.

To My Dad, with love…

It’s Fathers Day here in Australia.  The sixth one without you.  Some days hit harder than others.  This is the way with grief.  We can walk along in our life completely normal, and then our heart pangs with loss once more.

You didn’t even like Fathers Day.  Thought it was a waste of money.  But we liked to remind you we loved you.

My eyes fill with tears.  Not at what we lost when we lost you, but at what you lost.  If you could see our family – you would be so proud.  Your eyes would fill with tears to see us in church today.  Hands raised to Heaven worshipping the God you showed me from the time I was little.

This is your legacy. A legacy of prayer. Dedication to pray for your children and grandchildren and now these dreams and wishes are coming to pass.  I wish you knew.  I wish you could see.

We are not the family you last saw.  We are different now.  We have moved from where we were and found a new freedom in life and in God.

We are no longer broken.  Our marriage is no longer broken. Our hearts are no longer broken.  We are whole.  We are investing into other people with love.  We are encouraging each other and lifting each other up in life.  We cry together.  We laugh together.  We love together.

My boys are home now and so different to when they left.  To see these young men with their eyes set on God, and to see our girls the same makes my mummy heart swell with pride and my eyes leak with gratitude.

I am so sad that you aren’t here to see it.  Because I know you would understand the beat of my heart.

I also know God has his reasons.  One day we will all be together again.  Praising God and welcoming each other with open arms.  I have been given grace and mercy far beyond what I deserve and I am so thankful for it.

I miss you every day Dad, but the special moments are the ones where your absence is felt the strongest.

Happy Fathers Day.  Thank you for the memories, but thank you most of all because you showed me God.

Your baby girl xx

Its YOUR Life!

Yep, your life sucks.
So what are you going to do about it?
No amount of whining is going to make any difference.
You have to WANT to change your life.
Then, do something about it!
Accept self responsibility.
Accept your mistakes.
Accept blame.
Accept what you have done to get where you are today.
Accept what you can’t change, what you don’t own and lay them to rest.
Next, change your attitude.
Focus on the positives in your life.
Focus on how you can make today better.
Make plans for where you want to be in 10 years time.  5 years.  1 year.  What do you have to do to achieve that goal?
If you are over 18 you have the choice where your life takes you. It might take time, but you can achieve your goals.
It all starts with YOU.
I have had to do this!  I had a mess in my life and I actually wanted that mess as much as I didn’t want it.  The mess was enticing.  It was fun.  It was captivating.  I craved it like an addiction and I didn’t want to give it up.
On the other hand, all the wonderful that came with the mess, made the rest of my life a disaster.  I couldn’t choose to have both the mess, and a normal happy life.  I had to choose.  It took a while to work through, but I chose my normal life because that was where I knew I needed to be.  I knew that was the way to the best future.
Addiction, no matter what form it comes in is controlling and possesses your very soul.  Whether you are addicted to a drug, alcohol, exercise, diet or a person.  It takes over your thought process, and evades all reasonable logic.  It is dangerous.  It is enticing.  It is destructive.
Some people are addicted to drama.  They love it, just as much as they hate it.  Something in their system draws them back in time and time again.  Perhaps it is the adrenaline of the drama, perhaps it is the attention.  Often times, people don’t even know they are creating their own mess.
Being self aware is a major skill in life.   Looking at yourself critically, yet without criticising is exceptional.
As I did… deciding to change is the first step towards breaking the cycle of addiction.  Support and accountability go a long way to helping you create a new life.   I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of a group of online friends.  They let me walk through my circumstances as I needed to and supported me and kept promising me a better future.
A future I now embrace.   A future I CHOSE.  One I am so very thankful I did!  If I didn’t I would still be whinging and complaining, instead I am free, happy, loved and loving.  I am true to myself, true to my God.
You get to choose too.  If you want to continue with your bad choices, then do.  Just don’t whinge when life sucks.  If you want to embrace the future you dream of, then start believing you can do it and make steps towards change.  It is quite possible that in a year or two’s time, you will have no idea who that person was you use to know~!
It’s never too late!
Butterly

The Marriage Cloud

When I married my husband, I didn’t know he would psychologically, and emotionally abuse me.  Lets, be honest, I didn’t know much at all about my husband when I married him. I didn’t even recognise the signs.  Why?  Because I had psychologically and emotionally abused myself for years.  So why should I expect different from any man?  I didn’t know any different.

I remember the very first argument we had.  We were 22.  I can’t say I had very good arguing techniques, but I was certainly surprised when his reaction was suicidal.  From that moment I lived in fear of him killing himself.  I lived in fear of his mood swings, his long silences, hours, sometimes days where I was shut out of his world.  And I did everything I could to combat that.

I was scared.  Scared he would leave me.  Scared of having a failed marriage.  Scared of finances.  Scared of finding a dead husband.  Scared of saying the wrong thing, upsetting him, being treated as though I didn’t exist.

So, for a time I almost didn’t exist.  I tried to keep the calm.  Remain the peacemaker.  Take responsibility for things I shouldn’t have.  I lived without living.  I did the one thing I was good at.  I had more children and lost myself in their world.

Nothing got better over those ten years.  Nothing.  When my husband would walk into the house, it was as though he brought a could with him.  It would descend over us and constantly threaten a storm of epic proportions.

The question can be asked – why didn’t I just leave?  My kids asked that question too.  There was always just enough hope to hang on to. People think walking away from a marriage is easy.  It isn’t.  It takes a lot of courage.  It takes a lot of strength.  It also takes security.  But it also takes a lot of strength to stay.  To walk through the valleys when there seems to be no end.

So what changed?  I did.  I have another post about how God spoke clearly to me one day. He told me I was beautiful, I was strong, and most of all I was loved.  Me?  Little, unfaithful, dying inside me?   Did I really matter?

Over the next couple of years I worked to believe that moment.  I was valuable.  I was strong.  I was lovable.  I got back into the workforce.  I had people who spoke into my life.  They taught me respect, for myself, for others.  I grew in confidence.  I grew in the belief that I was more than just barefoot and pregnant.  I began to believe I was a contributor to the world.  I believed in me.  A thought I had grown up with as ‘anti-christian’.  Somehow they forgot to teach us we are to love others as we love ourselves.

Ironically, I didn’t magically become nicer to my husband.  Perhaps the opposite.  I pulled away.   I didn’t take on his baggage.  I made it clear I could live my life without him and if he stayed it was his decision.  I kicked him out at one stage.  It was only for a couple of weeks, but it made a difference.  I became happy when he wasn’t speaking to me.  I would carry on with life as though he didn’t affect me any more.  Perhaps this sounds harsh… but I realised all my pandering to his whims, all my attempts to always make things right – they had never worked.  They just enabled his behaviour because he never suffered any consequences.  I wiped them away to make the peace.  But no more.  No more would I suffer because of him.  He could live as part of our family, or leave.  I didn’t want him to stay because he had to.  I wanted him to be there because he wanted to.  I didn’t want him to be there because I chased him down, but because he wanted to be.

There was no doubt  God was working on him all this time too.  It took a long time, but gradually I saw a change.  In fact, I pulled so far away, I think my husband thought he had lost me.  I didn’t need him anymore.  I was financially sufficient.  I was emotionally and psychologically sufficient.  I got to a point where I didn’t even want him.  I told him if he wanted us that he would have to fight for us, because I had nothing left. I was exhausted.

The truth was, when I stepped down, he stepped up.  When I stepped away, God moved in.  When I stopped enabling his behaviour, he stopped acting like a jerk.  I can’t remember the last time he had a wall of silence from me.  I can’t remember the last time I felt like a cloud walked in with him.  I can’t remember the last time he wasn’t trustworthy.  Or the last time he made me feel as though I was nothing.

He is my biggest supporter, my greatest encourager, my best fan.  He is an amazing networker, great businessman, hard worker, fantastic dad, and I love him.

I always thought only HE had to change, but the truth was that we both had to.  It was so worth it.  Every moment.  If anyone is struggling in similar circumstances – help them.  Help them not to be afraid to stand up.  To be strong.  To believe that they can have a voice.  Cover each moment with prayer.  Help them believe in themselves, and teach them that they deserve respect.

Not everyone’s story will turn out like mine.  Some will have to leave.  But no one – NO ONE ever should not believe, work and hope for a better life.

You deserve to get out from the cloud and dance in the sunshine.

 

 

 

Failure

Everywhere I look I see my failures.  I look at my study books and am so far behind.  I look at my children and see my failures.  I look at my work and my failures are what stick out to me.  I look in the mirror and the failure is clear.  I look at my marriage, my finances, my housekeeping and I see failures all around me.

Failures to live up to expectations.  Failures to stay faithful to my path.  Failure to be the person I think I should be.  Failure to be as sensible, as responsible, as loving, as giving, as smart, as kind.

Some days it’s easy to look around and feel like I don’t belong, like I am no good.  But I’m measuring myself mainly against world ‘norms’.  God says I don’t have to do that.  He asks the I love Him with all my heart and strength and soul.  He asks I love my neighbour as I love myself.  He says the love covers a multitude of sins.  He says to seek first His kingdom, to lift my eyes up to Him.

He knows I will fail.  He knows I will get down.  He knows how easy it is to look at my own shortcomings.  And He says He has it covered. Nothing can stop Him loving me.  Nothing can make me less worthy.

Nothing.

So today I am holding on to His promises.  To His love. Today I am holding on to being a person who seeks after Gods heart.

Perhaps there should always be enough failures to keep us humble, and enough of Gods love to make us strong.

 

Happy Mothers Day

This is for all the Mum’s who give tirelessly and self sacrificially every day with little recognition.

For all the Mum’s walking the floor at 2am with a screaming baby wondering if they are the only person in this world awake.

For all the Mum’s who suffer from post natal depression and every day is a struggle.

For the Mum’s who sacrifice to stay at home and spend this time with their little ones.

For the Mum’s who sacrifice and go to work to support their families.

For the Mum’s with boisterous boys, and the Mum’s with teenage girls.

For the Mum’s teaching children to drive and the Mum’s being driven to their wits end.

For the Mum’s who parent in pain, watching a child fight some of life’s cruelest diseases.

For the Mum’s who wish with each breath they could breathe for their child who is gripped in despair.

For the married Mum’s, the single Mum’s, the step Mum’s, the ladies who are desperately wishing they could be Mum’s, and the Grandmums!

This is for you. You are NOT alone.

We are women.  Strong women.  We bear more judgement than we should.  From breastfeeding to discipline, from the way our babies sleep, or don’t sleep, from potty training to school choices.  It seems everywhere we turn there is a ‘right’ way to be a parent.

There is no right way!  There is only the best parenting for your situation and your children.  The way that suits your family and teaches your children love, respect, and boundaries.

Motherhood is challenging!  It will take you places you never thought you would go.  You will love more than you thought possible and cry more tears than you thought a body could hold.

But you are doing well young Mumma, and older Mumma alike.   Hold your head high. Believe in your abilities.  Make decisions based on what is best for your children.  Ride the waves and hold on in the storms.  Rely on friends in the valleys and treasure the mountains.

We are women.  Let’s support each other.  Love each other.  Respect each other.  Hold on to hope.  Stay the course.

Always remember you are not alone.  So hold your mother sword high and keep being the best Mum you can be.  You are called to this position and you are the best one for it.

Happy Mother’s Day !!

Finding Time For What You Love

writing

I love writing.  It doesn’t mean I am a good writer, I just enjoy doing it.  My grammar isn’t always correct, my depth not always there, yet somehow when I write it refreshes me. Often I look back on blog posts and cringe a little.  Sometimes I go back and delete them even.  I don’t spend much time writing, but its the one thing I wish I did more often.

Sure, sometimes I have nothing to say.  Most often, life is just too busy, or I am too tired.  Yet, I love writing!

Sometimes  I have little to give, other times I am afraid of being judged.  But does it matter?  Am I letting expectations that I place on myself stop me from being the real me?

I love writing.  It’s really not about other people… its about the download from my brain.  Its about sharing experiences and sometimes I even write myself happy!!

For some people its singing, or playing a musical instrument, it could be socializing, reading, dancing, fishing, dining out, playing a game, sport, or going to the movies.  We all have something we do where we relax, or stretch ourselves, but it feeds our inner selves.  So often we neglect it because we don’t have time.  When will we have time?  When the kids are grown?  After we do the next ‘thing’?  When we are retired?

I’m challenging myself to write more.  For me.  As a wife, a Mum, an employee, a volunteer, there are always excuses not to write.  Tiredness is my main one.  But, if I am to love others, I also need to take care of myself.  If part of taking care of myself means enjoying an area I love in order to refresh and revive.. then I think I should spend more time doing it.

What do you think?  What do you enjoy that you don’t do enough of?

Why Me?

Carefully driving the well known road, tears streamed down my face. Overcome with emotion. Raw. Powerful. As my lips trembled I asked ‘Why God, why me? What have I ever done to deserve this? Why me Lord?’

The tears weren’t as you may expect, from grief.  Rather awe.  Why would God be so gracious to such a sinner as me?  Why would God relentlessly pursue me when my heart was still thick with sin?  Why would God choose me when so often I hadn’t chosen Him?

This is how I feel day after day.  At random moments my heart will cry out, my soul facedown in worship, my tears expressing the amazement of a God who loves me more than I know.

There are times you talk to people who inspire you.  They have story after story of what God is doing, and has done in their lives.  People who leave you with your mouth open wondering how you get ‘there’, and contemplating why you aren’t there yet.

Last night we were talking with a friend.  As we spoke words of encouragement into her life, it dawned on me that we are what I had always termed ‘there’.

Our history is made up of mistakes and struggles.  It is full of unfaithfulness, pride, bitterness, rage, and all manner of ugliness.  We never shy away from sharing it because our history is our story, and our story has become about Gods glory, making our history His Story!

 

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I imagine standing at the top of a path and looking back to where we started out.  The climb has been huge!  There were times we wanted to give up.  Times we were dry, thirsty, cold, dried up, settled and puffed out.  Some days we sat on the step, other days we pushed on alone.  There were times we fell and one of us would pull the other back up, or we would crawl up a step, tired out, exhausted.

As I look down at those steps, I see grace. Forgiveness.  Love.  I see golden colours, harsh winters, the hope of Spring blossoms, and rays of summer sun. Every step we took has been a building block to where we are today.  Slowly but surely God built little steps of trust, faith, surety, love, and blessings into our lives.

But His Love!  Oh, His love.  Nothing can compare to knowing you are loved in abundance.   Three years ago I had a vision of doing what we are now doing.  When I tried to make it work it never eventuated.  Looking back I can see that my heart attitude wasn’t from love.  I didn’t love God enough to stay away from temptation in areas of my life.  I didn’t love Him enough to care if I sinned or not.  I thought I ‘shouldn’t ‘ do this or that, sometimes out of fear I chose the right path, but rarely out of love.

When we grasp just how much God loves us, how can we not love Him back?  When we grasp the depth of His desire to bless us, to provide for us, to heal our hurts and wipe out tears, we can only then begin to imagine a life where we choose the right choice because we don’t want to hurt Him. When we choose the right thing because we trust Him, we believe His ways are higher than our ways, then and only then are we actually starting to understand the heart of God.

As we stand here I also realise I am not ‘there’.  I feel as though we are just starting out.  As though the last twenty years has brought us to this amazing place, but now we are going to stretch and grow.

So I stand, arms high and heart abandoned…. Thankful, so very thankful that He loved me enough to pursue me.  Grateful for the overflowing blessings that have come our way.  We are only a portion up these steps and we know that God isn’t going to let us down as we continue to build block of faith and trust in Him.

All I can do is sit here in wonder, in awe, in amazement because I get to be a very small part of a journey I am not worthy of, except by the Grace of God.

 

 

Taxi Mom

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‘Mum, I need you to take me to football’

‘Mum, we have to pick Karen up’

‘Mum….. Mum…. Mum….’

Anyone else feel like a teenagers Taxi Mom?  It’s something we all say at times I’m sure.  There are years that feel as though we are all about food, clothes and tripping our teens wherever they need to go.

I’m currently on to teaching our fourth child to drive.  Every time I teach one I think ‘Yipee – now I will have a child who can pick their sibling up and help with the taxiing.’  It never happens.

So I drive.  We live a good 45 minutes from most central places.  Every day I drive my girls to school as I have the boys before them.  With each of my teens, it has just so worked out that I have had a year or more driving just one of them.  The rest were at different schools and caught buses etc.  That time has created some of my best memories.

The car is the place we have had our best discussions.  It is the place we have sung the silliest songs, laughed about stupid things, and there have even been a few tears.

The car has been the place I have often learnt things I didn’t want to know and told them things they didn’t want to hear.

The greatest thing about being a Taxi Mom, is that you get connection.  45-60 minutes each way every day means you can talk and your child can’t escape.  It means you can listen & build relationship.

Teenagers, especially today are the most likely to sit in their rooms, grunt, nod, and  pretend you aren’t important.  But we are. So very important!

As I drove home last night I realised I am in my last year of driving daughter no 1. It makes me incredibly sad.  I will so miss the connection that we have, her company, our laughs, and just her presence.  Yet, I know we have built a great relationship.  I know that we have a close bond.

When she is gone, I have four years left with my youngest.  I pray that those times will be just as valuable, just as important and just as bonding.  My sons who now live a plane flight away are still close with us.  They miss us and frequently ring for chats and direction and just to hear their Mummas voice.

So, if you are a mother who is busy taxiing your children around, embrace the moments, create the relationships, and treasure the times your children let you into their lives.

It is so true that we only get to hold their hand for a while, but we want to hold their heart forever.

xx

 

How Do We Save Our Children?

There are some great charities in this world.  Compassion, World Vision, A21, Interntional Justice Mission, African Hearts, and Bloom just to name a few.  They work with children of poverty, abuse victims, women who need hope, and for the most part do an amazing job.

Our children are dying too.  Right here.  They could be a neighbour, a relative or a friend.  Sadly so many die by suicide.  If I ask my own children how many young people they know that have died – all of them would be able to list at least three.  That’s a minimum of 15 friends!  It breaks my heart.  Lost hope.

There are some great resources here like Headspace, Lifeline, beyond blue & the kids help line.   Yet still they deem themselves so invaluable that they take their own life.

Mental Health is such a complex issue.  So many of our children that smile on the outside are dying on the inside.  I don’t profess to know the reasons.  I can only imagine some of it is bullying, peer pressure, family problems, abuse, low self esteem, loneliness, and pain.  So much pain.

It wasn’t all that long ago our own daughter wanted to die.  Or more to the point she just didn’t want to live.  It hurt too much to live. Memories from a traumatic incident flooded her fragile mind, and she would cut herself to take the emotional pain and turn it into a physical one instead.

As a parent, watching your child go through this is devastating. Knowing your child is so full of potential and their future can be amazing, while watching on at their current predicament breaks your heart.

So what can we do as parents of children who are depressed or unhappy?  I can probably tell you all the wrong things to do – I think I did them all, but in the end, I learnt a few things too.

Be patient.  As parents we want to fix our children – for them, but sometimes it takes longer than we hoped.  Never give up hope, just be patient.

Keep communicating.  Talk as much as they allow and take any moments you can when they let you into their world to pour everything you can into them.

Tell them you love them ALL THE TIME!  They might get sick of it, but they need it.

Be prepared to take technology off them.  Our daughter would improve considerably when we took her phone away & she wasn’t dealing with everyone else’s drama as well as her own.

Be the parent.  This was the best advice I got along the way.  Let their counsellor be their counsellor, their friends be their friends, and you be their parent.  We all have different roles to play and we can’t play them all.

If they have been the victim of abuse and you are a father especially, HUG them!  Men often feel as though they can’t hug a daughter who has been hurting – but they need it .  They need to know they are safe & secure in their Dad’s arms.

Keep speaking a vision of the future into their lives. Not reminding them they will get through this – but planting ideas of where they could go, what they could do, who they can be.  Always speak future into their lives.

Pray for them.  Never give up asking God for protection, breakthrough,  wisdom.

It’s very hard as parents to find support when you have a child going through depression.  The journey we went on was very lonely, so if you have a support network, lean on it.  You will need it.  Your friends will always listen, laugh with you, cry with you.

Sadly, we won’t be able to save every young person that is suicidal, and I can’t imagine anything harder than being a parent in these situations.

There may be a young person that isn’t your own son or daughter… Love them too.  If we can all influence just one person in our lives, we make a difference.

And if you struggle with mental health – get all the help you can from Dr’s, psychologists, friends, family.

Each and every life is incredibly precious.  You are loved and loveable. You were created with a purpose and to bring hope to others. There is a future waiting for you that is going to blow your mind with goodness and love, laughter, happiness.  You are never alone.  No matter how you feel there are people who care.  People who want you in their world because you make a difference.  Love yourself, be patient with yourself and talk – as much as you can.

Life is worth living.

xx