Thursday, November 11, 2010

A (Thurs)day in our life....

5:50 I wake to Michael's moaning. I get up to pull the blankets back over his cold body and return to bed.

Last night was a late night for all. Granny and grandpa visited. We put the kids to bed at 9:00 and Ray and I still took time to sit and chat and then catch up on house chores.

6:15 Ray gets up to get ready for work. I drift in and out of sleep as I listen to his morning sounds.

6:45 He comes in to kiss me good-bye and I hold on a little longer, loving him. He walks out...
Jenna calls out. She wants to say good-bye, but he didn't hear, so I get up to call him before he leaves. She loves to say good-bye to him in the mornings. I slip back into my warm bed.

He has blessed us.... remembering how much we miss him if he doesn't stop to say good-bye.

6:55 I'm reading from Streams of Refreshment. I lay there loving Him. I read from my Bible. I'm following a year plan-not too concerned if it's completed within a year or not. I just need a list to tick off. :-) I hear that Jen is up and she comes to tell me she's done her chores.

She has blessed me.... no continual reminders to make her bed this morning.

7:30 Jenna is playing with her doll's house. I go to ask her to play quietly as Michael is still sleeping. I guiltily climb back beneath the covers telling myself I really should be getting up, we have visitors coming today.

8:00 Michael cries out again. I get up. "I had a bad dream mommy." I hold him and climb into his bed for a cuddle. We lay there in the quiet until Jenna's sounds alert him to the fact that someone else is up. He gets out of bed and joins her in her room. Our day has officially begun.....

8:15 I start to make our bed. The children come in asking for breakfast. I walk with them to the kitchen. Jenna notices the breakfasts on the table (I like to set it out the night before), "It's not an oats day mommy"-we follow a meal plan. Oats is her least favourite breakfast and we have agreed she will eat it once a week. I reassure her that today she can have Pronutro and fruit. It's our cereal day today. I remember to put a worship CD on.

8:30 We give thanks, then chat about our plans for the day. I remind them they need to get ready quickly as friends will be coming later. We talk a little about how to be a friend and how to react if someone makes us angry, something we are working on with Michael.
Their breakfast is finished, they leave me to go and do their chores. Jen packs away cutlery. Mikey packs away cereals and opens curtains.

8:45 I help Mikey make his bed and choose his clothes. He chooses all red today. I leave him to dress himself and go to remind Jenna to finish dressing. I find her putting on her roller blades and remind her about washing up and brushing her hair. Michael comes out of his room, proud of having successfully dressed himself.

He blesses me... my little man is growing more confident in his own abilities everyday.

9:00 They see Ticha outside in the garden. He's home today and is doing a little weeding. They go out to ride on the road while he works on the verge. I take the opportunity to jump in the shower.

9:20 Charity does not come in on Thursdays so it is up to me to straighten up the house before our guests arrive. I check the menu plan for tonight's supper and take out the necessary goods.

10:00 Our friends arrive, my children excitedly go to greet them. I self-consciously finish cleaning the counters while saying hello to their mom. Should have gotten up a little earlier!

10:30 The plumber arrives to fix our leaking toilet. Michael spends some time showing him his tool kit. The children play in the garden on the trampoline and swings. They have a snack-picnic in the back garden and they even go for a quick dip in the pool. New friendships are growing around us as their mom and I spend two hours encouraging one another with what the Lord has been teaching us.

She blesses me with the truth that she shares... later on in the day I will remember her words.

12:00 We say good-bye to our friends and get ready for lunch. I ask the kids to tidy away the toys they have played with while I prepare the food. Michael willingly tackles the outside toys. No convincing needed today. Jenna is tired and needs a little guidance. I go to her and encourage her to pick up toys. Seeing that she is helping now I leave her to go and find Michael who has disappeared.

He blesses me... I find him in his room packing away his toys on his own initiative, no arguments today. You're such a helpful boy!

12:15 Their baked potatoe, droe wors and salad lunch is gobbled down while I enjoy the leftovers from last night's supper. Yum, creamy haddock pasta. We chat about their new friendship and how their play time went while classical music plays gently in the background.

I am blessed to hear Jenna remembered to be patient with the younger boy.... she chose to patiently remind him not to hit instead of reacting in anger.

12:40 I start the dishes while Jen finishes eating. Michael goes off to play. He finds a snap game and asks if we can play. I promise we will do so after rest time. Jen finishes off, clears the table and wipes it off while giving me sound cleaning advice for the future. Michael needs me in the bathroom. I go to help. I return to a little girl washing the dishes. Michael asks if he can help too, she let's him do the last few dishes.

I bless her with a kiss and a cuddle because she has blessed me.

1:00 We snuggle on the couch to read stories. We read a book about the Seashore and a folktale from a Children's Collection of stories book. Today story time is short I can see they are tired. I suggest a sleep for rest time today.

1:30 Everyone is tucked in bed. I lay down to rest. The 5:50 wake up call has beat me regardless of how long I lay in bed this morning. I fall asleep...

He blesses me with rest.....

3:00 I'm woken by a cat scratching at the window. I get up and wake the kids. Get a snack ready and tell Mikey to get the Snap game. I put on a blues CD to match the rainy weather outside. We drink tea and play snap. Michael is learning how to play and he is eager to snap a pair.

His joy and her patience with his eagerness to grab the cards bless me....they are learning to love.

3:40 We prepare supper together. This is becoming a more regular habit and I can see that they are learning to handle their different roles quite efficiently. Jenna is confidently chopping beans in her new creative style.

They bless me... supper prep is quick and easy today because of our teamwork.

4:00 I put on the Jungle Book 2 DVD and they settle on the couch with their blankets to watch. I tell them I'll be in the outside room checking e-mails. I catch up on the outside world via the internet and start to type a little of this post.

5:15 Ray arrives home. Michael puts on his rain jacket and goes out to greet him. Afterwards he insists that his jacket should be hung besides dad's on the door. Ray comes to say hello-he knows where to find me. It is good to see him again.

5:30 We go back into the house. The DVD is finished and the kids are building bunk beds in Michael's cupboard. We take the opportunity to catch up on our day and I fill him in on supper details and sleep times as I must soon leave for pilates.

5:40 I'm dressed to go. I haven't been very consistent with pilates lately due to all the illness in our home. I have to motivate myself to go. Giving loves and kisses to all I walk out into the rain.

I am blessed to have a husband who willingly allows me to leave at the start of the night time routine.

6:00 My body survives pilates. In fact I am quite impressed that I can keep up with all the stretching and toning exercises.... I'll feel it in two days time probably.

7:20 I return home to find the kids in the bath and Ray watching the weather. They're up to mischief and I get annoyed that he hasn't calmed them down. I'm reminded of what my friend shared with me this morning, but I still let my annoyance turn to anger. My flesh is winning. I eat supper alone at the table having said words I can't take back.

I am blessing nobody now.....

7:30 Ray gets them out the bath and dressed and they come through to the lounge. Michael asks for some of my food and I share a few mouthfuls. He leaves and goes to ask Ray if he can play a game of Tortie. They all play together while I finish off supper. Michael's ability to recognise numbers is improving. I go to sit beside Ray knowing I need to apologise and fighting with my conscience. I say sorry and he quietly accepts it.
Jenna asks to play Go Fish with the Animal Snap Cards. We play together as a family. Michael renames it Go Hunt!

8:00 Teeth are brushed and I read stories and the Bible to Michael while Ray reads to Jen. Separate story times gives time for one-on-one bonding. They both ask for water as we tuck them in and say prayers.

8:30 I get in the shower after asking Ray if he'd make the Raisin bread for the morning.

8:40 He gets ready to shower. I ask if he's angry. He's tired and quiet, he reassures me that he isn't. I ask what he'll be doing tonight... is it ok if I finish a blog post? He'll read or watch t.v. I leave to finish up this post.

We missed our Bible time this morning. Our story time was shorter and we didn't go for our Nature Walk but I'm happy with what we have done today.

I have counted many blessings....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Smiling at the Storms.

I grew up in a dysfunctional home.

My dad was a Bipolar disorder sufferer. His mental health was hardly ever stable for more than 6 months at a time. My mom worked most of her married life just to keep us out of debt caused by Dad's excessive spending during his manic times. (Manic Depressives/Bipolar Disorder patients can be compulsive spenders as well as extremely generous givers of their money during *high* moments).

I only realised recently, that although our experience was not your normal, happy suburban family story, as a young child I just accepted it as normal. I don't really remember thinking "we're not normal" until in my early teens.

However, although I may not have realised it as a young child, experiences shape you and some can scar you.

I've never been one to believe in the popular phrase "children are so resilient". It may seem at the time that they bounce back into life and carry on as if nothing unusual has happened, but trust me, if you look closely you'll see the negative effects of stressful times acted out in their daily behaviour. It may come soon after or it may come later in their teen or adult life, but unfortunately it does come....

Like it or not I have to admit that what I experienced as a child influences so much of how I handled life, it still does.....

The good news is: I'm now a daughter of Christ, adopted into His family where I now believe that as the Potter, My Shepherd and my Healer, He can restore the years which the locusts stole away as a child. He can apply the healing balm.
I refuse to believe that "a leopard can't change her spots", especially when she has Christ as her Redeemer. I choose to believe that with Christ in me He can change me to be more and more like Him.

Unfortunately though, as a result of my childhood experiences my knee jerk reaction to stressful moments has always been: Why me? Why this? Why now? When will it stop? Instead of having peace and joy I choose to get angry at yet another tough moment to endure-does life always have to be this tough?

Our last three to four months have been filled with sickness. After a winter of a terrible flu for the kids-which we seriously thought was whooping cough for Jenna- it hit Ray (who never gets sick) and finally myself. Having just recovered from that Jen went down with high temps which lasted 6 days followed by Ray getting hit with similar symptoms but worse results: glandular fever which had him flat on his back for a week with blurred vision from conjuctivitus. Michael followed next-confused by the temperatures and hallucinations and nightmares caused by the temps-he was extremely difficult to calm at night, thankfully his high temps lasted for a shorter period.

I'm not a great nurse. Whiny children who needed me within their sight 24/7 and a husband who couldn't breathe or sleep peacefully really tested my servant heart and patience. (I haven't handled sleep deprivation very well in the past). Normally I would have gotten impatient, lost my cool and I would have just wanted it all to STOP! But while we went through this storm I felt the Lord saying: I'm with you in this storm, smile! What? You've got to be kidding? Smile? Not me Lord, I'm better at moaning and complaining and wondering what on earth have I done wrong to deserve this? But repeatedly He said: With me in your boat you can smile in the storm. And so I did. And we survived. And we learnt many important lessons. My children learnt about putting other's needs before their own. And I learnt to look for the blessings in the midst of the storm.

A week after everyone was fully recovered I was going through another storm: the emotional after shock of a sick home. In this storm I didn't smile. I got angry. Why does *this* have to happen now? Haven't I had enough? My eyes and ears were closed and although I had just been through a storm where I had been continuously reminded that the Lord is always with us I thought: I'd take control again. I literally tried to row my own boat. Our routine had been lost while going through the sick times and instead of lovingly trying to lead our little sheep back to greener pastures while listening to My Shepherd's voice, I tried to control them.

The result: tantrums and tears.

I thought I was loosing my children's hearts.

After a very hectic tantrum session with Michael (who has a will of iron) I lay on his bed trying to calm him. And I didn't know how to! In desperation I prayed -yes, it does take a while for me to realise who actually needs to row our boat!

That's when I realised, he was struggling because he had never before experienced his mommy or daddy being so sick. His little world had been rocked so much He didn't know how to express it. Being defiant and angry is his way of expressing his confusion. (Something he obviously learnt from his mommy)
Going against every parenting book I've ever read, I felt I needed to tell him: I love you! Instead of trying to win the battle by controlling him, I had to listen to that small still voice telling me to love him. And so, lying there with a little angry boy, kicking and screaming and trying his best to hurt me I started to repeat: I love you Michael! to him. Eventually I could see his face calming and he stopped and lay peacefully beside me.

And the storm stopped.

Yes, the Lord had taken us through the sick storm and I'd learnt a little more about having peace within a storm, but I hadn't remembered that even after the storm I still needed to continue to rest in Him! Trying to take back control instead of resting in Him and following His lead I had almost plunged our family into an even bigger storm.

I'm sharing this today because I want to remember that it is always important to seek the Lord first and to remember that even in the storms there are blessings to be thankful for.

Does this mean that I will always ride the storms with a smile? Most likely not. Life's not perfect. I'm not perfect. I'm learning to accept that now.

And when I forget that, please remind me: His grace means that even when I kick and scream and throw a tantrum, He never ever stops loving me in the midst of the storm!