Thursday, 17 October 2013

Supportive parenting {encouraging our children}

I have wanted to share a couple of things with you, since earlier in the week, but life has been a bit busy, so here I am finally getting it to you.  It started out as one thought, but as I have pondered it more, I think that there are TWO important truths that I want to share, each warranting its own post.

As I have mentioned before, when I read God's Word, I ask the Lord to show me how it relates to my life and circumstances.  In that sense, God may apply His Word differently at different times and seasons, and to different people. Sometimes He shows us something in a new light, that we have never seen before.  I think this is one reason why being in God's Word, as often as we can, is so important.  Even reading a few verses every day can be a source of encouragement and blessing.

I was continuing my reading through I Chronicles, and had come to the end of that book. It is the passage where David is fully handing over the reins, of building the temple, to Solomon.  He is seeking to encourage him in the work that needs to be done.  It was a big work - a great work - a God-glorifying work. David had done as much preparation as he could, but if you remember, he was not allowed to actually build it, due to his life of war and battle. Instead, his son, Solomon, had been given the awesome task of building a house for God.

"And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. 
Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it." 
1Chronicles 28:9&10 

I was particularly struck, when thinking through what David says to Solomon, about how much of a supportive parent he was being. David had desired to do something great, but God had said "no".  Instead, God had chosen his son to do it. He wasn't bitter, or angry, or resentful.  No.  He was quite the opposite.  He did everything in his power to help, support and assist his son in the building of the temple. He pulled together the resources and the workmen to get the job done.  He gathered the materials for the job. More importantly, he encouraged him spiritually.

Oh, how important this is!! How it struck my heart! There was NOTHING more important that he could do, than encourage his son, on a spiritual level, as he faced this mammoth task.  He wanted to make sure that Solomon was relying on God, and not in his own strength.

It got me thinking about my own parenting.  It got me thinking about how much easier I seem to find it to see the things my children are getting wrong, and forget to encourage them and build them up, in areas they are struggling to be strong.

 I need to remember, first and foremost, to keep pointing them to the Lord.  Above and beyond anything else, that I remind them to search their hearts and see if they are trusting in God,  for their salvation.  If they have not got a heart that belongs to God, they will struggle with a lot of life.  There can be no greater thing we can do as mothers, than point our children to Christ, and tell them of their need of salvation. Not in a "banging on" kind of way, but in the way where our lives first reflect Christ, and our words then point them to Him, in a loving and passionate way.  In a way where they can see the love and compassion that is behind the imploring, and not anger and judgement.

Then, I need to be an encourager.  When our children have got something they need to do, encouraging them is a far greater motivation to get it done, than being negative and angry.  Often, I think children struggle with tasks because they think they can't do it. It's my job, as a parent, to help them to see that they CAN do it! I remind them fairly regularly, that I don't ask them to do something, that I know they could not accomplish. That would be plain MEAN! However, it sometimes takes gentle, and inventive, persuasion to show them that they can do what I have asked them to do.  It may not be easy.  It may not be simple.  But, they can do it if they try. I may need to demonstrate a technique to them first.  I may need to help them start the job, to get it going.  I may need to simply remind them that they are able to achieve it, if they keep their mind and heart in the right place. (Don't we all need THAT reminder?.....)

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:"
Hebrews 10:24

I also got thinking ahead to the future. When our children grow up, they may end up having a life that is not the same as ours. The Lord may lead them on a path that is different to the one we were led along, but it's not wrong, just because it's different. It's STILL our job to encourage them, every step of the way.  So long as they are not walking in sin, then they still need our encouragement. There is nothing so soul destroying as a parent who cannot take a step back from their own choices, and see that the choices of another are equally valid, and when they then don't support their children in the choices they have made. I have seen it happening.  I have seen parents being so dogmatic, or legalistic, about their convictions, that they cannot see ANY other point of view.  Their children get left hanging, with negative remarks being thrown in, and hearts saddened. The thing is, we are ALL in danger of becoming a parent like that, if we forget that convictions are personal, and we need to let others make their own choices about things in life, that are not primary and fundamental. (The same thing can happen in friendships, but I think the family side of things is even more important).

Our children WILL grow up.  Solomon grew up.  God chose him to be king, after David, and to do a job which David would dearly have loved to have done himself. But, he was not bitter. He wanted to be an encourager, as Solomon faced the task ahead of him.

Oh, how I need to be more careful to be an encouraging parent. Not to be focussed upon my anger or irritation, when a child is struggling with a big job.  Rather, that I should try and be understanding and encouraging, when they face a task that seems to be overwhelming. It could be something as simple as laying the table the right way, or getting their maths completed. (Uh-huh.....conviction) Gentle, loving, patient and encouraging.  That's what I need to be.

When the time comes that they grow up, and start making their own choices, my encouragement needs to carry on.

In ALL of this, so long as they are doing something that is good and right, and without sin, then encouraging is what WE need to be.

May the Lord help you today, in whatever way your life unfolds, to be an encourager, ESPECIALLY to your children. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

The "I can't find it" syndrome {whole-hearted searching}

I am a bit of a mean mother.

I have a pet peeve, which I come down on like a ton of bricks, because it winds me up so much.

When I send a child to look for something, it drives me demented when I KNOW I have sent them to the right place to look for it, and they come back and say "I can't find it....."

"Have you looked PROPERLY?", I ask?

And, if I have to go and find it for them, punishment ensues.  Simply because I KNOW they have not bothered to look properly, and have been lazy.

Can you empathise??

It's a bit like a man looking for something, but that's another topic.... *whistles*

I was reading in Jeremiah this morning.  I am loving the little gems of verses that crop up in the prophets, and one came up this morning.

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

It made me think of sending a child to look for something.  If they say they have looked, and I know they haven't done a good job, sometimes I will tell them that they have done it "half-heartedly".  Often, it's a school book they are looking for, which may be why they are not putting in as much effort! When we say "half-heartedly", we are saying they have not put their all into doing whatever task is in hand.

It got me thinking about my own life - spiritually speaking.

There are times when I can be faltering - struggling - failing.

I feel that the Lord is far from me, and circumstances are getting right on top of me, instead.

Just like a child, I can get in a stress, and declare "But, I can't find the Lord in all of this".

The thing is, I *THINK* that I am searching for the Lord, but it's not a whole-hearted search.

If I am still clinging to my circumstances, then my whole heart is not searching for God.  The Bible tells us to cast ALL our care on Him. When we search for God in the circumstances, and see His loving hand in all we experience, THEN we are searching with our whole heart.

If I am trying to make excuses for my own behaviour, then my whole heart is not searching for God.  When, instead, we see our sinful responses for what they are - our selfishness, our stubborn wills, our anger, our in-submission to God's commands, or our discontent - and turn from them, in repentance, THEN we are searching with our whole heart.

If I am allowing circumstances to dictate how I respond to trials, and I focus on how I FEEL, instead of how God expects me to behave, then my whole heart is not searching for God.  If we remember that all things work together for good, and have a calm and peaceful mind and heart that depends on God and not our emotions, THEN we are searching with our whole heart.

You see what it says?  We WILL find Him, if we search with our whole heart.  Amidst the circumstances we are in, we will see God, we will find God , we will depend upon God.  But, we need to search with our WHOLE heart.  Put in ALL our effort and not to stubbornly depend upon ourselves. Cast self aside, and rely fully on God.

The next time I bemoan my children not looking for something properly, I will have a quick check of my own heart, and make sure I have no neglect in my search for God's ways in my life.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Nesting {finally getting organised!}

I think that this pregnancy has to be my most disorganised, in terms of being prepared for the birth. Usually, I get everything ready by about 36 weeks, "just in case".  In reality, it is HIGHLY unlikely I will need any of what I have prepared any time before nearer 41 weeks, but it's good to be prepared, right?

So, this week has been the week.

Monday, I went out and got newborn baby nappies. Don't you just LOVE those little, bitty things??  I *AM* hoping to go back to using cloth nappies this time. I used them with Elijah, but because we had just moved, and the utility room was not sorted, I didn't use them for Simeon. Now that I have a beautifully sorted utility room (yes, post WILL follow on that subject....), I have no reason NOT to go back to cloth.  Well, other than the fact that I only have cloth nappies for an older baby.  So, I am currently researching the best way to go for a little baby, and will buy some in due course. As I have very little this new baby will need, I may get to spend any money gifts on lovely "fluff" (the term used by cloth nappy users, for cloth nappies... for those who don't know...)  There are some really lovely nappy covers available these days, so once we know what the gender is, we can get some specific to the baby!

I think that I am veering towards using this type...

The Tots Bots bamboozle.  One of the bonuses is that it is made in Scotland.  Aye, aye....  This particular nappy is called "thistle".  That just makes me want to buy it, all on its own!

On my shopping trip, I also got all the other random bits and pieces one needs.  Like, those GINORMOUS sanitary towels. Gotta love 'em, right??? Various other bits and pieces, like those energy tablets, and waterproof mats "just in case" my waters break in bed.....

I have my bag packed, with all I need for myself and baby.  Well, nearly all - I am sure there are a few things that I can't do until a bit closer to the time. I need to find a baby coat, to add to the bag.  I think I put some of my newborn, white things, in the "boys 0-3 months" box, since that's the last gender who used such things. Unfortunately, that box is harder to get to than the "newborn" one was, so I shall have to wait until my manly man can help, rather than my very willing, but not quite able, boys.

I do always make sure that I have a gender specific item for a boy and for a girl, to make a white outfit look "right", once the baby is born.  So, I have a little blue cardigan and a stripy hat, for a boy, and a purple cardigan and hat, for a girl.

I got the linen on the swinging crib, so the baby's bed is all ready! I do tend to have the baby sleep on me, particularly the first night or so, for the sake of me getting some sleep, as well as to allow the baby to feel close to me!

Then, I have the newborn clothes all laundered.  All those little, white sleepsuits, and vests. They just look SO diddy! You forget, so quickly, just how small a newborn is.  The youngest child's clothes stay in a drawer under my bed, so Simeon's need to be moved elsewhere, so I can get the new baby ones in.  Again, once we know the gender, the correct clothes can come out of the garage to be laundered, and inject some colour into the drawer!

I took the opportunity to tidy my room, particularly because I needed to empty some drawers to move Simeon's clothes into, at least temporarily. So, old clothes into the recycling, and old toiletries into the bin. Summer shoes put away in a box (yup, I had to face that since it was October, summer *IS* past...)  It was quite therapeutic to get it done, but there is still more I can do another day.

Here's a piccie, since we are talking about my bedroom, of my "pregnancy" bedside table...

Because, Gaviscon, emergency chocolate, a Sudoku book, and something to read, are all important. Not to mention my Ina May Gaskin book, to refresh my memory on information about the best way to labour?....

Oh, and I got another bump picture taken!   This is me at 36+4, so almost 37 weeks.  I am sure I am not as huge as last time, at this stage.  Here, let's compare...


Hmmmm, a bit hard to tell, as it's from a different angle. But, take my word for it, I don't feel as big!!! Maybe it's just that Heidi is so slim, that it makes me look enormous??....

I have also been busily tidying and organising in various other parts of the house.  Yes, including that utility room, which as I said.... (yep, you got it....a post will come... )

There we have it.  Me, nesting.  Me, getting organised.  Me, getting bigger.  Me, getting closer to B-day!!! YAY!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My crochet creation {...a rainbow baby blanket}

I just wanted to share with you about my creation.

I learnt how to crochet in the last couple of years, but had not done anything very amazing.  I had made a couple of hats, and come little flowers and hearts.  Nothing major.

So, when I saw some coloured yarn on a market stall, in every colour of the rainbow, it shouted "MAKE ME INTO SOMETHING WONDERFUL".  I picked out each colour of the rainbow, for a bargain price, and took it home with me.

I decided it needed to be a baby blanket, in rainbow Granny Squares.  Granny squares are SO easy to make.  In fact, crochet, on the whole, is a pretty simple needle craft to pick up and learn.

One of my favourite sites is Attic24.  She is the one who inspired me to make something with rainbow colours, as her creations are so vibrant and colourful.

To start with, I decided I wanted to make something that was square.  Something that is a square, can be folded into a triangle, which I think is nice for going around a baby. Some squares I decided to do red out to pink, the others from pink out to red.  So rainbow, and reverse rainbow!!

This is a red out to pink...

And, these are both, when I joined them together.

I did 9 squares in the centre of the blanket, and they are quite big - that top picture is one sitting on my lap, to give you an idea. I could measure it, but that would require me getting up and finding a tape measure....

I decided that it wasn't as big as I wanted it to be, but thought that if I went out another square of that size, it would have needed another SIXTEEN of those squares.  that would have been enormous, plus, I would have run out of yarn! PLUS, by the time I had finished, the intended baby would be a toddler...

So, I decided just to make little squares, only 3 colours in each one. I merrily began making them, until I realised that 3 doesn't go into 7 (doh....) and they would not look QUITE right along the edge.  But, 3 does go into 21, so at least they would fit along each side, with one on each corner.  I did them in the more "boyish" colours I was using, as it was going to be for a boy.

Here is the edging attached...

This is the back of the work.  You can tell, because of the green that you can see, attaching together the middle squares. 

Then, I did 2 rows of edging, before doing a scalloped detail right on the border, the pattern which I got from Attic24.

The next job was tedious.

I really need to learn/remember to tie in the ends as I stitch, rather than leaving it as a big job at the end.

Here is the mammoth task that I needed to do...

And this was only one corner!!!!

See all those loose threads??


But, it was so worth it, because once that was done, then it was finished.


I should really have taken one that gave a better idea of the size, but it will certainly be plenty big enough for a baby!

I hope little Joash, my lovely friends' baby, will have many a snugggle underneath it.

Problem is, I now fancy making one for our new baby, and the children all fancy a big one for their beds!!!  Now, THERE'S a project!!

It was really simple to make, and I am no crochet genius.  If you feel inspired, I would really recommend Attic24, as she has loads of great tutorials, with clear pictures and instructions. 

I must update you on my utility room, next.  I am SOOOOO excited about that!!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A "bed" end to the day {not forgetting....}

I had a big lesson with regards to the "do it now" principle, last night.

We had a Patch the Pirate song we sang, growing up, and I still sing to the children now.

"Do it now, don't delay, don't put it off 'til another day,
Go ahead begin it, right this very minute - you'd better do it now!"

Except, yesterday, I didn't "do it now".

I stripped our master bed, to change the bedlinen. However, I was so keen on getting it all into the wash, that I didn't make the bed ready to sleep in again.  I thought "Oh, I will remember to do it later, I won't forget".


Cue pregnant woman.

I got to my bed last night, after staying up a little later than normal, working on finishing a crochet project.  I was SO ready for bed. I was tired, and I needed to just lie down.

Yup.  Of course.  I hadn't made the bed.

Nothing quite like walking into a room, and seeing a "blank" bed.


Actually, I gave a very high pitched squeaky, kind of scream.

My bed is not even a quick, easy one to make.  It's big, and I can only find flat sheets that will fit on my rather deep mattress.  So, I spend half the time walking waddling around the bed, making sure that the sheet is evenly spread over the bed, before doing my "hospital corners".  Then there are the 4 erm, 6 pillow cases (2 extras for pregnancy purposes), and the massive duvet cover, which is invariably a battle to fit the duvet in.

All at 11.30pm

Great fun.

I have to say, I was even MORE glad to sink into my bed, after that palaver.

Mental note to self.

"Do not forget to make bed STRAIGHT away, after stripping it."

Well worth remembering, methinks.

As I was mulling this over, and making my bed, my nmind sprang to one of my favourite passages in the Psalms.  (I specially love to sing it in Metrical Psalm form, to the tune Strachathro... but that it another topic)

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"
Psalm 103:2

It's funny, but you would think that the Psalmist would not need prompting to REMEMBER God's benefits. You would think WE would not need prompting to remember such a thing.

But, if you are anything like me, you can forget to say thank-you, and acknowledge the many benefits we have, as children of God. 

The Palm carries on and names a few...

"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; 
who healeth all thy diseases; 
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; 
who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."

SO many things that we benefit from, under God's care and keeping.

SO many things that we SHOULD remember to be thankful for, and we all too often forget.

We receive things, on a daily basis, that we can almost complacently accept, and never quite remember to utter those words "thank-you" to our gracious, heavenly Father.  It seems to be all too easy to just accept these daily mercies and forget to acknowledge the giver of "every good and perfect gift".

We spend a lot of time (or we SHOULD...) labouring to remind our children to say "thank-you" when they are given something, but we take our gifts for granted, and like the 9 lepers, never go back and say "thank-you" for all that we have.

As each gift comes my way, throughout the day, my heart need to be, like the hymn-writer says 

"Come, thou fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace".

Our hearts need to be tuned into thankful mode.  Acknowledging, and being thankful for, all the MANY blessings we receive every day.

Our minds need to be dwelling upon those blessings, and not be bogged down with the negatives.   There is so much to thankful for, if we just keep our hearts lifted to the fount of blessing.  Being burdened by struggles and trials, I believe, is one the biggest distractions from remembering God's benefits to us.  If we are dwelling on how miserable/ill/discouraged/frustrated (you get the picture...) that we feel, then we are not remembering the blessings. 

I am thankful, today, for my bed.  Thankful that God provided the money to buy such a lovely, comfortable, bed - to have the money to buy more than one set of bedlinen,  so that I didn't have to go all the way downstairs last night, to get the set I had taken off, washed and dried (in the the washer and dryer that God provided, through generous family...), that morning.  Thankful that I am blessed with sleep every night, even though I am heavily pregnant.  Thankful for the snoring, duvet-pinching husband, who sleeps there beside me every night.  Thankful that, when I am feeling nauseous and tired every afternoon this week, heralding the near end of my pregnancy, that I know I can jump into bed, and waken refreshed every morning - with God's mercies new with it.

I am thankful, more than all else, for my Saviour - that He loves me, forgave my sins, and forgives my forgetfulness.  

Who is so gracious to me, in spite of my forgetfulness.