Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All Babies Bring Joy

It's been one month since you left us.
One month since my body finally let go of you, after clinging to you for two weeks after your heart had stopped. {I didn't want to give you up without a fight, my love.}

We were robbed of any memories to speak of.
What I wouldn't give to talk about the colour of your hair, to have felt it, soft under my palm, as I smoothed it back from your forehead. Or the curl of your lips as you slumbered, tiny in my arms. These things are only imagined. {How beautifully cruel the imagination can be, so vivid and detailed.}

I don't want to speak of you as if all you were was a medical condition. I don't want to tell people the story of how you left us, how I lay on my bathroom floor, bleeding and semi-conscious, my body in shock from losing too much blood too fast, until I was rushed to hospital.

The imagined memories are so much more lovely than the real ones.

Except...you didn't exist in my imagination. You were really here, inside me, and I felt you there. And though it was too, too brief, your time here was complete. You had already become part of our family, we had talked about you, made plans for you, changed things to make room for you. One month has passed, and I'm still finding little reminders, stinging reminders, that you lived. A bag of clothes as I'm putting away washing; a brochure for car seats as I'm clearing out my bag; a hand-written list as I'm searching for stickers.  And though these little reminders stop me in my tracks, though they sting like a sudden, unexpected slap, they are the evidence of a life lived here with us, and for that I am thankful. Your life was not lived wholly tucked away, but spread out through this house and through our lives, no different from your brothers and sisters, only shorter.

All babies bring joy to families who love them, no matter how brief their life is, and you were no exception. You brought joy through the plans we had for you, and perhaps my greatest joy is that one month on from your passing, I miss you. Only someone who had known you could have that terrible joy.

We will be reunited someday, all of us together finally, and it comforts me to know that for you, and for your sister who went before you, now in a place that exists outside of Time, that reunion will happen in the twinkling of an eye. For you, there is no waiting, only peace and love and togetherness. You exist in a place where you have already felt the warmth of your Daddy's smile, the tenderness of my kiss on your beautiful face, and known the joy of standing with your brothers and sisters and laughing and shouting and holding hands.

One day I too will know the feel of your hand in mine.
Until then, I will think of you and smile, miss you and treasure the imprint of you on my heart and on my life.


Friday, October 5, 2012

I already loved you

I had a scan this morning. A scan I had been dreading for the past few days, although I didn't know why.

I guess I did know, deep down. I knew something anyway. I had a feeling something had changed.

I saw my baby, tiny and adorable...

and lifeless.

There was no heartbeat.

I stared at the screen, just stared and stared. I wanted to memorize his shape, burn that picture into my memory. Because I already loved you.

Too bad I already loved you.





Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Big (and small) Things To Come


The danger of blogging as irregularly as I have been is I tend to come across as if my live moves from one big event to the next. This year I’ve blogged about trips away, my sister’s wedding, the birth of my niece, meeting my father. Which is all very wonderful. But I’m quite sure that ten years from now, when I read back over these days, maybe on a day when things are slow (because when else will I have time to sit reading old blog posts from ten years ago?) Future Me will start to think things like “Wow, I had so much going on back then. My life is so boring now.”  I know this is likely to happen because even now, when I look back at my blog from ten years ago, I think things like that. and then I get all depressed about how dull my life is compared to back then, when things were busy, busy, busy, with ministry, and trips here and there, and study, and major life events. It’s only when I look closely that I realise I was posting irregularly, sometimes even once in a month, and so maybe it wasn’t that I had so much going on, but I was only blogging when I had something interesting to blog about.

So here’s a little note for Future Me: My life right now is average, sometimes even mundane. My days consist mostly of running kids to school and back again, hanging out with a toddler and singing songs, drawing pictures, teaching him new words, colours and shapes. I spend a LOT of time at home with him. I go grocery shopping weekly. Mount Laundry is my Everest. It’s all terribly unexciting.  (I love it!) But occasionally, something big happens. And that seems to be when I blog. So don’t feel bad if things seem to be moving slowly. Most of the time they are. It’s only every now and then that something big comes along, and when it does, that’s great, but actually, it’s the way you live the everyday, normal, mundane days that really make up a life.

OK. Now that I have that out of the way, and I can stop worrying about poor, sad, Future Me...

I have big news.

The first is this: I’m pregnant. Again. Baby #5 is on the way!


The second is this: Hubby’s work is closing down. By the end of November he will be out of a job.

I know, right? Those two pieces of news fit together rather awkwardly. But include God and His Love and Power and Provision into the equation, and we’ll be ok. I’m sure of it.

I’m sure, but I’m soooo impatient! I want desperately to know what our next step will be, where Hubby will be working when he does find a job, where we’ll be living (because with Baby #5 on the way we’ll need a bigger house, but can’t really do anything about that until he has a job).  I want to be able to start settling the family into a new house, a new life. Or at the very least, I want to be able to do things like lie in the bath rubbing my growing belly and picture where my home will be, and where I’ll be giving birth. It doesn’t help that I’m insane right now with pregnancy hormones.  One day I’ll be crying and wailing and “Ohhh what’s gonna happennnnn!!!” and the next day I’ll be the picture of contentment and “God’s good and we just have to be patient, but we’ll be fine...”

We’re praying. A lot. We really want to wait, to move only when God tells us to. But it’s hard! We seem to be surrounded by people who think we need to do the opposite. Act immediately, and in our own strength. Go to WINZ and apply for the unemployment benefit now, panic and act, panic and act fast. I’m sure they mean well. But when you are trying to speak out faith, and they respond by suggesting you act like you believe only in yourself, you want to rush them out of your house as quickly as possible, before they convince us. We can doubt all by ourselves thanks, we don’t need anyone to come and plant seeds and say things that make us panic and run towards something that God doesn’t have planned for us.

I don’t even know if this makes any sense. I feel like my pregnant brain is all over the place. Let me try again to explain where we’re at.

  1. I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. Once the shock wore off, there was happiness and excitement all round. 
  2. We started thinking about moving. We need a bigger house, since the one we're in has only 3 bedrooms.
  3. Hubby has a good job. We’ve done it pretty tough since moving here, but he’s finally in a job he enjoys, that pays well.
  4. After an E-rating on an earthquake review on the building where he works, a series of events and months and months of meetings and various proposals, the Salvation Army bosses decide that the best plan of action is to shut the service down. All staff have been made redundant. As Manager, Hubby will still have a job until late November, but after that he’ll be unemployed.
  5. Immediately after receiving the news about his work, Hubby and I both sense that God has something amazing for us. As his colleagues begin looking for work, we sit and wait. We hear of jobs that are available around town, and Hubby lets his colleagues know. They apply for the job, get the job, and are happy and excited about the next chapter of their lives. Hubby and I still sit, and wait.
  6. People start to think Hubby is insane, or lazy, and wonder why he’s not working harder to find new employment. (OK, I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it probably is. Why else would bible-believing Christians respond to his saying “I’m waiting to see what God is going to bring my way” with “You could always go on the unemployment benefit” or “You should demand that the Sallies find you another job”.)
  7. I don’t know why or when I started writing this post as a numbered list...


Here’s the thing. We’ve looked on Trademe, and on Seek and on a whole lot of other job websites, and there’s a whole lot of jobs Hubby could apply for. With his qualifications and experience, and the jobs that are listed on TradeMe alone right now, he probably could have had a new job already by now. The issue isn’t that he can’t find work.

He hasn’t applied for anything yet, because of this sense we both have that God has something perfect and amazing for us, and we want that perfect and amazing thing! And we don’t know if that thing will be here in Invercargill or somewhere else. And until we know for sure what we should do, we aren’t doing anything.

And believe me, it’s not being lazy, or irresponsible, and it’s certainly NOT easy! We both have our moments, (more and more as time goes on) when we just want to jump into action and sort everything out ourselves. Especially when people around us suggest looking online or talking to so-and-so about whether he can get us a job, and especially when we explain why we haven’t yet applied for anything and people just don’t understand. Honestly, it’s like when you say “I believe God has something for us” people think you’re just saying that to stop yourself from freaking out. And they think they’re agreeing when they answer with “Yea, for sure, there’s always the benefit if something doesn’t come up anyway.”

Anyway. So that’s what’s happening with us at the moment. And it’s been soooo good for me to write about it. I really should take the time to sit here and blog more often.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Sisterhood Needs Your Help!


I wanted to take a little moment to talk about something that’s important to me, and ask you all a tiny favour.


I have posted about The Sisterhood before, but in case you missed it, let me tell you a little bit about it. The Sisterhood is a group of over 700 women from around NZ who have never met, but have joined together via the internet to reach out in sisterly love to women all over the country. Women who are going through tough times, or women who just spend their time selflessly putting others firsts, anyone could end up a target of The Sisterhood’s prayers and practical help.

Here’s how it works:

~ Someone nominates a woman who they know, who they believe could do with a bit of a boost.

~ The Sisterhood sends out a message via Facebook to the other sisters and tells a little bit about the nominated women.

~ The Sisters send gifts, chocolate, coffee, cookies, pamper vouchers, grocery vouchers, cash – whatever each Sister chooses to send. A little from each Sister goes a long way!

~ Donations are gathered in and pulled together to create individual ‘Love Bombs’ – parcels sent out anonymously to these unsuspecting women. Here’s what they look like:





The Sisterhood is a beautiful thing, because it is so simple. I said before that there are over 700 women involved nationwide. Well, it started with just one woman. My lovely bloggy friend Sophie posted her simple and beautiful idea on her blog one night, after being moved by the story of a friend. It started with the question: What can I do? As we read, we knew we had to be involved. How could we not? The thought that someone, somewhere, would open her door and find a box filled with beautiful gifts, put together just for her by women who she doesn’t know, just to show her the world is filled with goodness and beauty and people who genuinely care...that thought was too powerful to resist. So we got involved, a small group at first, but word got around and within weeks the group had grown...and grown. Because the world is filled with goodness and beauty and people who genuinely care!

If you aren’t already a part of The Sisterhood, and want to join, here’s the link to Sophie’s Blog: http://www.sophieslim.co.nz/p/the-sisterhood.html

And the Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/SophieSlimSisterhood


And now, that tiny favour I wanted to ask you? It really is tiny, I promise.


The Sisterhood is in the running for a $10,000 scholarship. We need votes, lots of them. What I’m asking is simple: vote for us? Please? And ask your friends and family to vote too?

It’s really simple, you just need to click this link and hit "Vote for me" on the side, then follow through and accept Facebook's terms.

Of course if you’re really keen, you could share this post, or write about it on your own blog. Like I said, we need lots and lots of votes to win this scholarship, so please share with everyone you know!

I so appreciate you taking the time to read and vote. I’m not into spamming people, and only ever blog about things that I genuinely care about, so THANKYOU for your votes, and your prayers.

Bless you!
xo

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Father's Day

Our trip to Christchurch was very much about family time. We stayed with one of Hubby’s Aunts, and talked and laughed like never before. We visited an Uncle and another Aunt and spent time looking over the family tree and hearing a few of the amazing stories that went with it. We spent time with Hubby’s mother, my sisters, our nieces and nephews and even a great-nephew. And of course, as I mentioned in my last post, I met a man who was my Dad.

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing about this here. Maybe some of the people who I know can access my blog will find this hard to read. But this is my space, and it’s all a part of my journey. Today is Father’s Day and I can’t help thinking of him.
We’ve had a quiet day. Hubby got a few gifts this morning that he loved (I think) and then we went to church, where he had to put an old-school cloth nappy on a baby doll, then drink a raw egg, then build something out of lego. It was actually a pretty funny game to watch. So far, he’s not sharing the chocolates that he won. (I will find them.)
We came home and had lunch, watched some old videos from when the kids were little, took a gift over to his Dad, hung out at home some more.
Hubby’s working now, busy on his computer. The kids are watching TV, snacking, reading.
And I’m putting off telling this story...


Over thirty years ago my mother, for whatever reason (the reasons aren’t important to this story, not now) left her husband. As people do sometimes.  Sometime later, from what I can gather it was a few years later, she returned, and they got back together for a while. By this time, unknown to her at the time, she was pregnant with me. I was born very premature, so it was a case of maybe I was his, maybe I wasn’t...it soon became clear that I wasn’t his biological daughter. But it didn’t matter. They had their little family of three kids, and he counted me as his, even when they finally ended their marriage, they both moved on, remarried, had more children. It’s complicated, and there’s so much more to the story of course, but not all of it is clear and not all of it is mine to tell.
Fast forward thirty years and through the magic of the internet, particularly Facebook, my mother’s first husband makes contact with us. We’ve been chatting online for a year now. It’s been safe and easy, and in some ways, unreal – or as real or pretend as I wanted it to be. A virtual relationship with a virtual man who would be my virtual Dad. Then, with the arrival of my sister’s baby, he took the opportunity to fly down and meet with us, take the relationship offline and into real life.
I met him in the hallway, at the hospital. He was just heading out as we were coming in. I had turned to say something to Hubby, and when I turned back, there he stood. He said hello to me, greeted my kids, he knew their names from Facebook. Hubby spoke to him, shook his hand. I just stood there, and said nothing, like a shy little girl who was funny around strangers.
I’d tried to imagine what it would be like the first time I met him face to face. I’d tried and hadn’t been able to imagine anything at all. The whole idea was totally foreign to me.  I wrote a short story a few years ago, for a class I was taking at the time, about a woman who met her father for the first time. It had lots of beautiful imagery: their hands pressed together, hers small against his; the tiny pendant he gave her, that he’d been holding onto for years in hope. The strange sense of familiarity she felt, the longing, the brief yet deep dialogue between them that explained the years of his absence. At the end of the story the girl woke up – it had all been a dream, brought on by the news of her father’s death.
I had no idea what to make of this man who was to stand in front of me and claim me as his daughter. He came back into the hospital room, which was full of visitors, enough to make it possible for me to ignore him. I wandered around the room, spoke to people, fussed over the new baby, took photos. Every now and again I stole a quick look at him – four out of five times I found him doing the same, and I quickly looked away. I moved closer to him, gradually, cradling the baby, taking photos of my kids holding the baby. And I couldn’t help myself – I glanced across at his hands, his big hands that had once held me, lifted me up, and I imagined I’d wrapped my fingers around one of his and held on.
We didn’t stay long, maybe half an hour or so, before we left. I had managed to avoid speaking a single word to him the entire time we were there. It wasn’t exactly deliberate. I just didn’t know what I should say, or how to start a conversation with him.
On the drive back to where we were staying I was miserable. I curled up on the front seat and put my head on my hands and talked to Hubby about my frustration. Cried about how awkward and uncomfortable it had been. Got angry that he hadn’t started the conversation, why had he left it up to me when it was him who’d decided to come down here and see us? Went from anger to sadness when I pictured his face, his stolen glances at me when I knew that the reason he hadn’t started the conversation, the reason he’d held back was to give me room to decide whether I wanted to let him in or not. I felt so horribly confused and full of regret. I’d missed my chance. My chance to have a Dad.
My logical mind gets in the way sometimes. I know he’s not my biological father, and I couldn’t understand how he could call me his daughter when I knew he knew that too.
The night before I had seen my brother-in-law weeping over his new daughter. I’d watched him dance around the room with a huge smile on his face and tears running down his cheeks. I’d watched him bounce down the hallway and throw his arms around my hubby, whooping and laughing with joy at the miracle of his daughter’s arrival.
On that drive back from the hospital that day, I imagined that on the day I was born, there had been a man who had done the same. Danced and whooped and laughed and smiled, and wept with joy as he held me. And for the first time I considered, how could that man who loved me like that, how could he not be my Dad?
So when Hubby suggested we meet him for coffee that night, before he got on a plane and went home the next morning, and as I was considering the idea he called and asked for one more chance to see us, I knew I had to give in and agree to see him. I thought of my biological father, now deceased, who had known where I was when I was fifteen and made no efforts to see me. I thought of the disappointment I’d held onto all these years at his lack of effort, the sadness I’d felt that he’d never come to claim me, even if it meant risking my rejection, I should have had that chance. And I thought of this man, who’d come all this way to claim me, who was giving it one more go, risking the awkwardness and the rejection, and I knew I had to go and see what would happen.
We met him at his motel, Hubby and Froggie and I. We talked for a couple of hours, about him, about us. We talked about some of the things that happened thirty years ago, and some of the things that have happened since then. He told us about his life, his children, and how he counted me as one of them, and how he always had. He looked at my little boy, snuggled in my arms and said “those are my grandchildren...” and then he broke down and cried.
I couldn’t deny him. I couldn’t say he was wrong. This man, who was there when I was born, whose name appears on my birth certificate, who had hopes for little baby me and who held onto those hopes for thirty years could not be anything other than a Dad.
We left, and he flew home the next morning, and at the end of the week we came back to Invercargill. The next week there was a parcel. Two tiny pendants, one for me and one for my sister, bought by his mother two weeks before she had died. He had held onto them in hope that he would one day have contact, and the chance to give them to us.
I am still yet to actually call him my Dad. My brain is still in the way, and thirty years is a long time. But part of me is different. I am like a person who has won the lottery, but still walking around with holes in my shoes, because I don’t know how to walk in new shoes. I don’t know what a Dad is for, or how I should respond to one. But at least now, I have a chance to work it out.



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Linking up with:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So much to tell you...


Finally, a moment, to pause and reflect.
So much to reflect on too. So much has happened.
First things first. My beautiful niece and goddaughter.


She arrived at 4am on the 7th of August, to a room filled with love and tears, joy and relief. Parents who had waited twenty years to hold her. I was blessed to be there, and the first glimpse of her totally wrecked me – I sobbed like you would not believe.

She is perfect. And I’m not just saying that. Ten fingers, and ten toes, and even just the shape of her face can take your breath away, before you even take in the beauty of her eyes, her cute little nose, her perfect mouth.


Ok, I’m gushing, I know. I can’t help it. She is the reward after years of praying, wishing, hoping.

My sister and my brother in law suffered so much loss over the years, that they had come to believe they couldn’t have children. Yet here she is, their amazing daughter. Perfect. And so, so loved.

During the labour, my sister received phone calls and visitors at the hospital. Friends and family who had been waiting, hoping, wishing and praying for twenty years alongside them. My niece was born into a world full of people who were desperate to know and love her. She was born special, and she will live special, surrounded by love and devotion.


Watching my sister cradle her little girl, name her, feed her, whisper dreams to her, was one of the most precious gifts of my life. What that little girl has given the world is permission to hope. Hope, because the blessing does come, after the pain, after the waiting. And when it comes, it makes the waiting, worth the pain. It takes your breath away, leaves you speechless.


The day after she was born, someone else left me speechless. I left the hospital, climbed into bed and slept for hours, woke and ate breakfast, still in a dream-state, still experiencing the miracle I had been a part of in the early hours of that morning. By the time the kids were all dressed, fed and ready to go it was early afternoon when we arrived back at the hospital so they could meet their new cousin.

And there, I met a man who was my dad. 
But that’s another story, for another day.


Welcome to our world, precious little one. We loved you long before you were born, and we will go on loving you. I pray you will have a blessed life. I pray you will know the joy you have given all of us, simply by being here.

xo

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby

My beautiful boy turned one on the weekend. I've lost count of how many times Hubby and I have commented on how quickly the year went.


It went too fast.
One minute he was tiny in my arms, babbling and gurgling and marveling over the colours of the world, and the next he was crawling, climbing over furniture and speaking whole words. Sometime over the last year I blinked, and he grew into this robust little boy who's got a mind of his own and tells us all what's what.

I adore him.

His birthday celebration was a quiet one in comparison to his brothers and sister's first birthday. No big party for Froggie, because we live so far away from family and friends. But my mother came down from Seddon to stay with us for a few days. He had the presents and cake, and we all went swimming and then on to McDonald's for tea. We loved all over him, kissed him and cuddled him and asked where the time went.

video

Here's to the next year...may it be beautiful and full. I promise to dream dreams for you, and pray hard and work hard to see them come true. I promise to love you and teach you. I promise to be fun, smile at you a lot, and act silly with you. I promise to keep thinking you're amazing and special. Happy birthday my beautiful boy.
xo

Monday, June 25, 2012

So excited!

I am so, so excited! The Sisterhood Love Bomb made it onto the front page of Stuff.
I know I haven’t really mentioned The Sisterhood much on here, but that’s just because I’ve been busy and distracted. There’s a LOT I haven’t been writing about, to be honest. The Sisterhood Love Bomb is just one of those things.

When I first came across Sophie’s little idea, everything inside me screamed yes, yes, YES! Years ago I used to refer to our mums coffee group as ‘the sisterhood’ whenever one of us was in need of love and support from the rest of the group, so even the name of Sophie’s new idea appealed to me.  The whole ‘love in action’ thing with women reaching out to women not out of pity but simply because we can, was something I knew I HAD to be a part of. At the time, I was struggling myself, financially, emotionally, even physically, and I knew just how amazing it could be having someone reach out to you just because you exist. I could imagine the ladies receiving their love bombs in the mail and smiling, maybe even shedding a tear or two as they realised that they’re actually not alone, that someone, somewhere cares enough to do something a little bit special for them. It was too, too beautiful.

We women can be so cruel to each other sometimes. We compete and compare, we tear each other down, too often. The Sisterhood is about building each other up. That’s why I love it.

And now it’s on Stuff, and in The Press, and it’s going to be featured in a women’s magazine, and who knows where else God will take it. But actually, the possibilities are limitless, because when women do get together, really stand together, and work towards something, amazing things happen. More women mean more resources, more ideas, more prayers...more possibilities.  I’m so, so excited to watch this grow and shape itself and see what it becomes a year from now, and two years, and five years.

xo


Sisterhoodbutton.jpg

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This isn't really about a haircut...


Last night Hubby and I told our teen that he needs to get a haircut, probably next week.


He erupted. It was insane. He was defiant – “I’m not cutting it, I don’t care what you say, it’s not happening.” He tried bargaining – “I promise if a teacher tells me I have to cut it I will then.” He yelled and screamed, and then stormed off to his bedroom. “You guys are retards!”

Then we had our family meeting, which we usually have on Sunday nights, but didn’t this week so it was last night instead. He sat with his face in his hands, crying through most of it. When we got to the part where we talk through any personal issues we’re having, he finally looked up and said he wanted to talk about his hair. “Everyone will laugh at me and say I look like a retard” he said. He gave us the lowdown on how it works at high school. Someone gets a haircut. Everyone (including him) laughs at them and makes fun because they look different. This goes on for several days.

I’m sitting there listening, calmed down now from the arguments that followed his initial reaction to the Haircut Proposal, and just ready to give my son the full attention he needs so he can explain the horror that is his fate if we cut his precious hair. And it doesn’t sound all that bad to me. So a few kids laugh at you for a few days. You laugh with them, right? Or you turn it around and ask “haven’t you ever had a haircut before? Make them feel silly for laughing at pretty much nothing. Right? No big deal...

But it is a big deal. Because he’s sitting there talking about it with tears streaming down his face. It’s a very big deal to him. And that’s a big deal to me.

What has happened to his confidence? Why is he so afraid of being made fun of and laughed at? He used to be the type of kid who would thrive on the attention and enjoy the chance to laugh at himself. I always thought of him as outgoing and confident, but this boy, crying at the mere thought of turning up at school with his hair shorter, is not the picture of healthy self-esteem I had in my mind. I’m so surprised and bothered by this. At first I thought he was resisting the haircut idea because of vanity. Sounds awful, but I thought he was just being a bit of a poser. It never for a second crossed my mind that he just didn’t have the confidence to deal with a little bit of sarcastic ridicule from some kids at school. What has happened to my “try-anything-once” fun-loving guy? Have I not been building him up enough? And what else does he refuse to try because he doesn’t have the confidence?

He’s getting a haircut. He needs one, badly. A few kids laughing at him aren’t going to be the end of the world, so he’s getting one. But my eyes are opened. My boy needs a boost. I need to pray for him, praise him more, build him back up to the confident guy he was, the guy he pretends to be. I’m aware now. I’ve heard him. He asked to keep his hair long, and I’ve heard what the real issue is, behind the anger, behind the appearance of vanity, behind even the childlike explanation he gives to explain his need.

And it makes me wonder...how often, when I ask God for something, does he hear behind it all what my real issue is? How many times, when I think my prayers are unanswered, has he actually provided for a different need that I didn’t know I had – that He’d identified through my frustrated tears and childlike explanation of my needs and desires? Because if I do it for my child, then so must He.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Why I'm sick of blogging

I’m sick of blogging.

For the last little while my blog posts have required a lot more effort and motivation than I’m used to. I post just to keep my blog active, rather than because I feel I have something relevant to say, and I think this shows. I make every post pic-heavy, to make up for the lack of writing. And while I love sharing the photos of my kids, I find the whole act of blogging quite boring lately.

I’m not planning on chucking it in – I don’t think that’s where this is going. I probably would quit, but for one thing – I so love reading back over my old blog, from years ago, and reliving those days of 2 kids and the life we were living back then. But I do need to change things around here, so that this is a worthwhile thing for me to spend time doing.

I’m writing as I think here. I have no idea where this post is even going, it’s just happening as I write it. And I’m ok with that, because I think that’s the only way I am going to find my blog voice. Forget about polished. Just write what I think, as I think it. Which I think is problem #1 with why I’m sick of blogging: My blog doesn’t express my personality.

I’m almost 32. I’m finally in a stage of my life where I comfortable with who I am. I know what I like, and what I don’t like. I have very strong opinions on most things and I have no problem expressing them, even if they’re different from others, because I know I’m not an idiot and I give everything a lot of thought (actually I can often tend to overthink most things) and at the end of the day, I’m not so close-minded I can’t end up changing my mind after giving it more thought. I remember reading, I think it was in Velvet Elvis, that the Christian journey is one of constant wrestling with ideas, not just a set of beliefs that are firm and unmoveable. I agree with that. There are absolute truths of course, like what is and what isn’t, but it’s in how we respond to those truths that I think we all need to be more flexible. The grey areas of life, like breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding, or whether or not gay marriage should be legal. We all have opinions, and I do too, yet I never talk about them on here. I find that boring. Because it’s a huge part of who I am. I think about these things, yet if you read my blog you’d never know it.

I’m not saying I want to get all serious and start posting lectures about controversial issues. I hate reading blogs like that. But I should be expressing myself more truly, and when something is on my mind, just write about it and post it and not worry about whether or not those of you reading this will be interested or agree with me or remove me from your reading list.

Which leads me to problem #2: I’m a bit of a comment-whore. I love it when I open my email inbox and find that someone has left me a comment. It lets me know that people are actually visiting my blog and reading it, and that I’m not just talking to myself. But when I post something – or don’t post something – with readers, comments, page hits, shares, followers in mind, it takes away from the honesty of my writing. It means that I am absent from my writing. And if I never really engage with what I’m writing, neither will anyone else. So I need to stop checking my blog stats, stop thinking about how to get more traffic, and most importantly stop censoring myself. I’ll just write what I want to write and stop worrying about who’s reading it.

The blogs I love the most, that I click on straight away when I see that they have a new post, are the ones who do just that. They write whatever’s on their mind at the time and don’t apologise for their views. Their experiences are real and personal, and yet so typical to mums everywhere that by opening up on their blogs they create a bridge between themselves and their readers. We laugh together, cry together and pray together.

When I read those blogs, the ones that feel as if they are holding a mirror in front of my face, a bunch of things happen.

1. I feel less alone, because someone is going through the same things I am going through. Whether its teething babies, or questions of faith, or frustrations in marriage, it’s important to feel like it’s all a normal part of life and you’re not the only one on the planet having that experience.

2. Often I laugh at myself, which really helps me see that experience in a different light and not get so hung up on what is probably only a stage that will pass soon enough.

3. I am inspired – to do something, to stop doing something, to change something, to create something or just to enjoy what I have.

The interesting thing about each of these blogs (the ones I’m thinking about as I write this) is that each of them is different from the others, because they each have their own authentic voices. Even if they all posted about the same thing on the same day it wouldn’t sound the same. Which leads me to problem #3: I haven’t been writing in my own voice. This is probably the biggest problem, and why I have been finding it so hard to sit down and write.

Back when I wrote about getting back into blogging, I found it inspiring to read a lot of other blogs. I found some that I really love and still enjoy reading, but because I find their work so great it’s hard not to get into the “I need to write like that” kind of thinking. I mostly read other “mummy blogs” because that is what I like to read, and they all had certain things in common. I felt that as a “mummy blogger” I had to be writing a certain way: funny or cute stories about my kids; crafting projects; photography; homeschooling; fashion; or tips for home making and all of that. I felt I had to fit into one of these “mummy blogger” categories. I don’t craft, I’m not a photographer and I don’t have the time or expertise to write tutorials. So my blog doesn’t really fit in the “mummy blogger” world, if that is what it has to be. I have lots of cute stories about my kids, but actually, they have their own blogs. I’m not sure if I can stand to try and fit in anymore with my perception of the “mummy blogger” label. Who cares?

And that brings me to problem #4: I’m trying too hard, and it’s killing the enjoyment of the whole thing. Back when I was trying to find my “blogging mojo” I read lots of tips and advice about blogging. I followed the advice I was reading, and when I did, I gained a bunch of new followers, so I kept following the advice. I joined in linky parties regularly; I took more time “photoscaping” my pictures; I even gave my kids blog names/aliases because that’s what the seasoned bloggers said to do. It was good advice, all of it. But following it has made me miserable and bored. Because I never wanted to be a “blogger”, I wanted to be a writer, and blogging was a platform for it.

So I’m giving up blogging and going back to writing.

I’ll still join in with linky parties from time to time, when it suits me, but not all of them and I will link up if I see one that suits a post I’m already doing, rather than creating a post for a link-up. I’ll still share pictures, because it makes me happy to, but not necessarily in every post. If I continue with #photoadayMay it will be on my Facebook page – feel free to join me there.  And I’ll still enjoy reading the blogs that I love, and new ones that I find, but when it comes to my own blog I need to start embracing who I am. Some will enjoy my blog more, some will not. But I’ll enjoy it.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Crazy Princess Gets Creative

Princess loves building things with lego, and last week when she had a sick day at home she built a big city out of Froggie's Mega Blocks for him to play with.





Her creative mind didn't stop there though. Minutes after the 'city' was built, she started giving directions to both Me and Froggie, turning the whole game into a movie making session. As always, she was very specific about what was to happen, and I was sworn to secrecy until the finished movie was posted on her blog.

So here it is - enjoy!
video


Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 7. Someone that inspires me


Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and several other awesome reads. My absolute favourite author, because he is honest and good and authentic in his faith. I just like the way he thinks.

Find his books HERE
Follow his blog HERE

Some Donald Miller quotes:


“Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.” 



“It occurs to me it is not so much the aim of the devil to lure me with evil as it is to preoccupy me with the meaningless. ” 



“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:

Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” 



“...sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself...” 



“Dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something is the hard thing. Living for something extends beyond fashion, glory, or recognition. We live for what we believe.” 



“I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God. I was into habit.” 



“My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn't exist, and there are some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.” 



“...I want my spirituality to rid me of hate, not give me reason for it.” 



“Today I wonder why it is God refers to Himself as 'Father' at all. This, to me, in light of the earthly representation of the role, seems a marketing mistake.” 



*I did not take the above picture. I found it via google search. I took the one at the top, of the back of one of his books, and so I'm submitting that for today's #photoadayMay theme: Someone that inspires me. My kids inspire me too, and I suppose I could have taken a picture of them for today's theme. But I wanted to do something different, because a bunch of people already posted pics of their kids. Which is sweet, of course, but I like to be different. And Don inspires me in a totally different way to my kids. They make me want to be a better person, reach further, try harder. Don makes me feel comfortable in my own skin, and he makes me accept myself as I am. More than that, he makes me believe God accepts me as I am. I need both kinds of inspiration. And since there's already lots of photos of my kids on my blog, and there will be lots more, Don, you can have this one day.

I don't even know why I feel the need to explain...

Meanwhile, as I've been waffling on, the baby has fallen asleep in my lap and now my butt cheeks are numb. Gosh, he's heavy.

xo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the archives - Birth of a Princess

I received an email comment this morning from someone interested in adding my 'Baby is Here' post to a collection of birth stories. I have been thinking for a while that I should write Froggie's birth story, but have never got around to it. It's going to be a hard one to write, since his was the toughest birth for me. Looking back on it does not give me good feelings, which is sad, because I had such a different experience with the other three.
But it did get me thinking, and as I sat with my morning coffee I had a wee look through my old blog (yes that's right, this is not my first. I was blogging way back before blogging was cool) and dug up Princess's birth story. I thought I'd share it here, because it was such an amazing day and I do love the reminder of what an awesome and holy experience it was bringing her into the world.

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Victoria Faith is here. She held out till the very last and then shot into the world at incredible speed at 11:14pm last night. It shocked us the way she kept us waiting on 'high alert' as our midwife put it, for so long, and then suddenly at full speed decided to make her entrance into our world.

I had been having some fairly painful contractions off and on for a while, starting and stopping several times in the last few weeks. I'd gotten to the point where when I began to have somewhat strong labour pains at 4.30am I didn't take much notice thinking it was probably more of the same. I woke with each contraction, but dozed off in between, until at 6 o'clock I felt I wanted to be up and active so I got up and made breakfast. Chris woke up shortly afterwards to the sound of my moaning in the lounge. I just told him it probably wouldn't amount to anything and since we had planned to go looking at a few garage sales that morning I said I thought we should still go. So we dropped the kids off at Mum's - her and Pete had plans to take our boys and Josh to a model train show at Pioneer Stadium, and we headed off to some garage sales. I say we, but really I sat in the car while Chris went into most of them, because I just became more and more uncomfortable and sore as time went on. I know it might seem silly but because I'd already waited so long for the baby to come, it was almost lunchtime before I said to Chris 'I think I might really be in labour' and so we decided to go home for some lunch before we picked up the boys, that way we could time the contractions and let mum know if things were well on their way.

It didn't take long after that to recognise that this was it, and so we got ready to go into hospital. Mum and Karla came over to sit with the boys, Nelly & Charlie showed up after tea. My contractions grew stronger and more painful. The midwife came and checked me over and left again and I carried on.

After the kids went off to sleep and all was quiet I dozed a little on the couch between contractions. Chris said he was going to make some cheese toasties. The poor guy ended up burning them because all of a sudden my pains became hard and fast. Then he didn't even get to eat them because I suddenly said 'I need to go NOW' and he immediately dropped everything, picked up my jacket and got me into the car. We were there in no time at all. He'd phoned the midwife, who had phoned the hospital so the security guy called me by name when he let us in, which was somehow comforting. Chris was my absolute HERO last night as he supported me and I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been impossible for me to get through it without him. It might sound strange coming from a woman who has just given birth, but the whole thing was just as hard for him as it was for me and he did amazingly.

At one point I was in the bath and in terrible pain, and I looked up at him and said 'honey please pray for me.' He said 'I am praying.' I said 'No, pray out loud' and as he did I felt so empowered and instantly relieved and was able to get through the pain. It was incredible.

Later, we were amazed again when I had an overwhelming urge to push, but I had to get out of the bath first. Of course they were coming so hard and fast there was practically no break in between so I was unable to get out. I said to Chris 'I can't handle this.' He said 'Yes you can, God won't give you anything you can't handle.' I yelled out 'God, help me' and instantly it was gone! I was able to get out of the bath and back to the birthing room just in time to lean on the edge of the bed and with a few hard pushes gave birth standing up. I had intended to climb onto the bed but the pain hit me so hard I never got there. I just stopped walking, leaned over and out she came! I was still standing there in a towel dripping from the bath and when I looked down to see the midwife's arms holding up to me this little baby wrapped in a bloodied towel I actually laughed and leaned down to touch her face.

It was several minutes before we discovered she was a girl. Chris and I kept saying 'Is he ok?' and then we pulled back the towel to find 'he' was a 'she'. Chris and I looked at each other stunned and he said 'it's a girl honey'. Can you believe I actually went back and rechecked about 10 minutes later - still don't really know why I did that since once is enough and I'd seen it the first time! The two of us kept repeating 'a girl, a girl' over and over, we were so expecting another boy. It was just too perfect.
Now she's laying there sleeping, not even a day old and I'm still in shock that I have a daughter. Victoria Faith. Named to reflect our journey with her so far and all that she's taught us already about God and who He is and who we are in relation to Him.

I'm excited by the sense that she will have more to teach us. I'm thrilled by the inkling I have that she will turn our world upside down, not just for us as a family, but for us as a church and for the world too.

She's different. I can sense that about her. Chris cried this morning, and again as he sat with us at the hospital, as the whole miracle of her being here finally hit him. That is the effect she has. She can make a grown man cry tears of joy and praise God simply by being herself.

I feel so fiercely protective of her, yet at the same time I can sense a strength in her that leaves me reassured that she is full of the power of God that will keep her protected. She is so special.



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