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.

________________________________________________________________________________

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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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Peace


Peace is...falling asleep in the arms of someone who loves you.
Peace is...never having to worry about where your next meal is coming from.
Peace is...hearing "I love you" a million times a day.
Peace is...having someone to hold your hand, and carry you through the difficult things.
Peace is...being surrounded by people who want the best for you.
Peace is...having someone wrap their arms around you when you're sad, scared or lonely.
Peace is...having someone to pick you up when you fall.
Peace is...looking into the eyes of one who knows all your worst moments, and knowing that what they see in you is Greatness.


#photoadayMay


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