Choosing to Be Still

Sometimes the list of what we can’t do or fix for our families is much longer than what we can. 

As mum’s, it knocks the very air out of our lungs when we realise that by our sheer will, determination, or the pure force of our mother’s love, we can’t actually change things.

Over the last little while, I haven’t been able to fix challenges at school, stop nighttime fears, solve friendship struggles or even stop bleeding noses. I haven’t been able to get in front of the technology battles, or solve an ongoing issue with our youngest who is due to start school next year, but is just not ready. I haven’t been able to get a child to drink 10ml fluid from a syringe, so watched a drip rehydrate him instead. I haven’t been able to stop a nasty illness ravage my boys body, or answer his ‘Why mum?’ at 2am in the morning when nothing could relieve his pain. I haven’t been able to get homework done without arguments, or succeed in forcing everyone in the house to just LOVE EACH OTHER. 

I haven’t been able to get to church for weeks due to sick kids, stop the possums from ravaging my garden or the mould from growing in the shower. On some nights, I have not even managed to get a simple meal on the table. And I have a food blog that is supposed to help mum’s like me with exactly that. Seriously.

I am not on top of the tax paperwork, family birthday cards and gifts from months ago remain unsent on my study desk. 

You know the season I am talking about? You have had one or been in one too. 

Outside of my walls, there are marriages I can’t fix, illnesses I can’t take away from loved ones, depression I can’t lift and suffering in the world I can’t eleviate. 

On the bathroom floor at 2am, beside my sick boy in the bath, I determined that today would be the day I would take this Very Long List of Things I Cannot Change or Fix and give them over to the One I profess to trust and follow with my life.

I am laying down my arrogance and pride that says it’s up to me to make everything right. 

I am thanking God for his goodness and faithfulness in my life and those I love and trusting what it says in Romans 8:32 that He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

The term give us all things is not referring to a sprinkling of fairy dust that mends every broken thing, heals every sickness and gives me everything I want for a stress free, totally perfect existence. 

No. If you keep reading a few verses down, you see that it goes on to say in verse 35:

Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or danger or sword….No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am convinced, that neither death nor life, neither angels of demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height or 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.

That’s the good stuff right there. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not A Thing. We are not alone, we are not forgotten and we are not left to try and figure it all out in our own strength. I don’t have to get it all right, earn it, work for it or achieve it. 

I am resting in that promise today and hope friend, you may too. 

My natural tendency when faced with a long list of challenges is to get my boxing gloves on and gear up for a fight. I want to DO STUFF, keep busy, keep moving, research, plan, make lists, make appointments because my human nature says ‘You need to make this right.’

There is a time and place for all of the doing, but I am going to do the opposite today.

Choosing to Be Still in one way means actually physically stopping, but I’m mainly referring to choosing to quieten the voice in my head that says it’s all up to me. 

I’m so thankful for a Heavenly Father who did not in his wisdom, leave it all up to me to solve or fix. 

Today, I will be present for those I love and meet their needs, I will ‘show up’ to do what is required of me. But I will leave the fear, stress, anxiety, unknowns and burdens at the feet of the cross of my saviour. 

One of my current favourite songs, from Hillary Scott & The Scott Family is Still. It sums up all of my ramblings perfectly. I hope it encourages you, wherever you’re at and whatever season you’re in, to join me today in being Still.

 

Celebrating Small, Celebrating Him

Monday.

I should be at the groceries and organising the laundry. Then it’s off to Pilates, before a quick catch up with a friend over coffee, followed by a busy afternoon of 3 boys, and their post-school moods and issues, their homework, and then onto the dinner dilemma, some scuffles over showers and teeth, prayers muttered with only a small amount of patience left, and finally bed.

This is a very normal ordinary day for me.

But my body isn’t working today. It just isn’t showing up to the party, so I’m sitting down instead with all the above plans discarded, mocking me in their incompleteness.

‘Life is Beautiful’ by the Afters is playing on my iPod and outside my windows, which I notice need cleaning, is my hedge of flowering white camellias.

IMG_8479

Looking at them actually makes me want to cry. They are so beautiful and sitting here today means I actually get to see them.

Thank you for the camellia’s’ I write in my Gratitude Journal.

I keep it close these days, my gratitude journal, as it is the discipline of looking for things to be thankful for in the ordinary every day that is keeping my heart, mind and perspective where it should be.

IMG_8267Not on what I am not achieving, or on a weary, not-working-as-it-should body. Not on what I don’t have and wish I did. Not on someone else’s reality, that I wish was mine.

No. There is no future in that type of thinking. It only robs me of my joy and smile. It only turns me into a person I don’t want to be.

I’ve kept this journal for a few years now, and today, decide to look back through it, to see what ‘thanks’ I have scrawled in the days and moments that have gone before.

the smell of ripe tomatoes

hanging washing in the sun

my morning coffee

hugs from my boys

blue sky

sleep

showers and moisturiser

medicine for sick kids

my parents

the rain

my boys energy for life

my husbands encouragement

money to pay the bills

my girlfriends

I keep flicking through the pages and it dawns on me that I haven’t written anything of great magnitude or extra-ordinary-ness.

The pages are filled with the small, ordinary every-day things that I fear often go unnoticed when we don’t choose to look for them.

Choosing to see them and take a minute to note them down, turns something I could take for granted into something worth celebrating.

I wish I didn’t need this discipline, I wish it came naturally for me to always see the small and the goodness around me every day and appreciate it, celebrate it.

But my human-ness means I often see the dirty, unfinished, not-complete stuff first. I have a tendency to feel the pain and see my shortcomings and stop there. But it’s not a nice place to sit in for too long.

I want to fight to celebrate something each day, in the midst of an ordinary day of chaos, incompleteness and weakness, there has to be something to give thanks for, something to celebrate.

In ‘How writing can be a spiritual discipline’, Ashley Abramson says;

“When I write, my perspective shifts. The mundane becomes a minefield for inspiration. My daily routine becomes an adventure, an opportunity to look for living hope where others may see none. And when I find that hope, I rejoice in the God who gave it to me. Whether I respond to beauty with a blog post, a song or a prayer, my response is worship because I’m noticing God’s beauty and celebrating it—celebrating Him.” (exceprt from www.relevantmagazine.com/life/how-writing-can-be-spiritual-discipline)

So, despite my mood, my health or circumstance, I want to keep looking for something small each day to celebrate. Not only does it keep my heart in check, but it reminds me to look up to the one who gives me every good thing and to worship Him with my thanks.

One camellia at a time.

IMG_8457

Bung-In Chocolate Cake (To Love and Feed Them)

It has occurred to me that when it comes to raising children, nothing can actually prepare you for each new season.

I don’t like this.

If at all possible, I would prefer 12 months notice on All Issues That Will Arise with each of my children. Then I could plan, research, study, hold focus groups and interrogate All Those Who Have Gone Before and demand their wisdom and insights. I could search for the people who have experienced the exact same thing that my kids will and ask them “What do I do?”

But alas no. Reality is more like at 9.45pm at night or as we are running out the door to school late, again, BAM, I’m blind-sided by New Issue that I am totally unprepared for.

I don’t think this feeling of being unprepared is specific to any one season. Whether it’s trying to feed a new baby, or help them learn to sleep, or navigate relationships and technology with teenagers, it’s almost impossible to prepare for how it will look for your kids and your family.

I don’t like this. As I previously mentioned.

So, as I often tell my kids, I am learning to embrace the things I Don’t Like and work out how to get through anyway.

It’s looking a lot more like thinking on your feet, getting it wrong, getting it right the next time, rolling with the punches, counting to 10, walking away, keeping my mouth shut, smiling in front of them and crying once they’re in bed, pretending I’m an expert in said issue while inwardly hoping they can’t see through me, telling them I don’t have all the answers, letting things that don’t matter go, going to sleep thankful a bad day is over and waking up thankful each new day starts with new grace and mercies for myself and for my kids.

Recently I did receive a beautiful text message from One Who Has Gone Before, who has/is raising boys older than mine. Not only is she surviving, but she seems to be doing it with bucket loads of grace and humor. I want to be just like her.

On a particularly discouraging day, as we had started to navigate the tween and teen years, she sent me this advice. Simple but Gold.

1. Keep a sense of humour.
2. Don’t take them too seriously, or take their “moods” personally.
3. Give them space and independence when you can.
4. Encourage good friendships.
5. Above all, keep loving them (NOT always easy)
6. Never stop praying.

I have considered getting it written on a canvas and placing it somewhere I can see it each morning.

And on the days when I seriously don’t know what to do, I try and focus on what I can do.

Love them and Feed them.

Sometimes that has to be enough.

Kate Bracks Bung-In Chocolate Cake
Serves 10
an easy one bowl plain, moist and fluffy chocolate cake.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups self raising flour
  2. 1 cup caster sugar
  3. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  4. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/3 cups milk
  7. 150 grams butter, melted
  8. Icing
  9. 1 1/4 cups icing sugar mixure
  10. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  11. 30 grams butter, melted
  12. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  13. 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Grease a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper, on the base and sides.
  3. Place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk with a hand balloon whisk to combine (this replaces having to sift all the ingredients)
  4. Make a well in the centre, and add the wet ingredients.
  5. Whisk gently until the mixture is smooth and combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool into the tin for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a small bowl.
  9. Add the melted butter and vanilla and enough milk to get it to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add more milk if it's too thick.
  10. Spread the icing over the cooled cake.
Notes
  1. This cake will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Adapted from The Sweet Life
Adapted from The Sweet Life
cook fast eat slow http://www.cookfasteatslow.com/

A Letter to my Big Boys

To My Big Boys,

Thankfully I was wearing my sunglasses and big cowgirl sun hat when it happened.

You were far enough away, you wouldn’t have noticed anyway. I was smiling the best I could and giving you the thumbs up each time you looked to me, to check that I had witnessed the massive wave you just rode.

Yep, I saw it. In between my gulping sobs, I saw it. The massive wave, that I was scared of as I stood on the sand, I saw you catch it and ride it.

I was so proud of you and excited for you, so even I was surprised by the tears that were flowing underneath my sunglasses.

Oh my big boys. Lovers of adventure and adrenaline, anything fast and furious. How does nothing frighten you?

It’s in moments like the one on the beach this week, that I realise I hold my own fears, plus yours, on my shoulders and sometimes I think it gets all too much for this mother’s heart.

Just yesterday you were walking beside me, holding my hand and squealing when you saw a shell. Well, it feels like yesterday to me. How did we get here so quick?

Wanting to get to the back of the big waves, all by yourself? Wanting to kayak, all by yourself. You know when I couldn’t see you anymore from the shore, and you were on the other side of the island, I almost couldn’t breathe. This is what it’s going to be like from here on in, I kept telling myself.

Adrenaline, freedom, excitement, adventure, risk, faster, deeper, further…..that’s what you want. I know, you keep telling me. I know you feel ready, but I am not.

Be patient with me, my boys.

You see, we’re different. I have never loved or needed adventure or adrenaline. Safe and secure has always been my chosen place to be. I am happy there. The little girl you never knew, she didn’t do fast, or adventure, or adrenaline. She avoided it at all costs. Her fears were big and she was little. Sitting still was an option. Watching was an option. I didn’t like the feeling of being out of control or adrenaline pumping through my veins. I still don’t.

But you boys, God has given you to me and I am so very thankful. You have opened up a new world to me that I didn’t know existed. I love your love of life and you are teaching me so much. How to live in the moment, how to move and enjoy it, how to fit so much in one day and to experience the world around me from participating, not just watching.

But, even after all that, I am still me. That little girl, who gets scared, but now, not just for myself, but for you boys, flesh of my own flesh.

It’s hard to explain to you how a mother’s heart works. I don’t even know myself sometimes. But I do know, it’s different to fathers. Oh your Dad loves you more than life itself, and he would do anything for you, but his love feels stronger sometimes, like it could carry you for miles. I watch him watching you and he is filled with pride and wonder at you, all at the same time.

So am I, don’t get me wrong. But there is something in my heart that wants to protect you and keep you safe and keep you just a bit closer, for a bit longer. I want to cheer you on and release you to be who you are, and keep you my little boy, for like, forever, all at the same time.

But I can’t. I know that.

So, be patient with me. I will get there. I can’t say I’ll catch up, because I think you’ve already passed me in some stuff.

I know we’re different and that’s okay. I can see glimpses of who you are becoming and I will champion you and cheer for you and help guide you as best I can.

The good thing about my soft heart that so easily breaks, is that it’s a guarantee that I will always be there.

I may be running behind you, breathless, but I will always be there, my boys.

Always.

The Year That Has Been

It’s 6am and I can’t sleep.

My mind is a jumbled mess of Christmas to do lists and random thoughts and although I feel bone weary, I decide to get up. Maybe if I start writing my mind will quieten down?

It’s rare I am up before one of my sons, so there is something special about a quiet house, where everyone else is snug and sleeping and I have the lounge and the peace all to myself.

Staring at my Christmas tree and watching the rain outside I can’t help but wonder what next year holds? What’s around the corner that I can’t see or plan for yet?

I feel like this past year has been one long lesson for me in Just Showing Up.

You see I love answers. I love solutions and systems. I love logistics and procedures. Set a goal, define my next steps and BOOM  – here is the outcome!

But in this past year it has become painfully obvious that this life ain’t going to always follow my Action Plan.

This past year I have learnt how to sit in brokenness with someone I love dearly.

No amount of coffee or casseroles was going to solve it this time, so I learnt how to sit in the brokenness and in somehow just sitting there, hopefully share in some of the pain. I had to learn how to keep fighting the urge to solve or fix and just keep showing up instead. To weep with a friend in silence, without answers, has taught me that sometimes we need to just BE, especially when there is nothing that we can DO.

IMG_7686

The same goes for my children as they get older and the issues they face in their own little worlds can’t always be fixed by me. Oh, this has to be one of the hardest lessons for any parent. I can see your struggle, I can feel that hurt or confusion, but there isn’t necessarily an answer or solution this time, buddy.

So we show up. Listen, encourage and BE there and learn how to watch them grow from tough lessons that we would prefer they didn’t have to go through.

The same goes for my marriage too.

After only a short 15 years, I am still learning that although large and fancy gestures are lovely, nothing can replace small daily acts of kindness towards each other.

Why is it is so easy to show kindness to nearly the rest of the world and yet it be such a struggle to extend it to those we love the most?

The daily ritual of kindness is like oxygen to a marriage. Without it, the stress and strain of this life will suffocate even the most solid of relationships.

I struggle with kindness when I am weary. And the problem is, this is the season of life when I feel a constant weariness. So, I have had to learn this year how to keep choosing kindness, in-spite of how I feel. Between you and me, I think I will keep working on this one for the rest of my days.

If I had one wish for the next year it would be less drama and less pain for the people I love around me, but I know deep down that this won’t be the case. I have learnt that much already.

So next year I will keep doing the same as this year.

Just Show Up. Be present. Sit in it. Listen. Walk beside.

Does it feel like enough? Not always.

Will it lighten their load? Maybe.

I am going to fight the urge to make new year’s resolutions that I know I can’t keep and instead resolve to Keep Showing Up for those around me, regardless of time or cost.

E x