The writing on the wall…

The writing on the wall…

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Yesterday morning I woke up to the writing on the wall. Literally. I walked into the bathroom, and in the bleary-eyed fog of early morning, I noticed the number 17 on the wall by the toilet. Hmm. Odd. Frustrating, but oh well. Then as I washed my hands, I saw the numbers 6,7,8 on the counter top by the sink. I began to heat up a bit and wonder if there were more to be found. Sure enough. Dryer, doorway, light switch, wall. One of my mathematicians began at 1 and worked his way to 17. All. Over. The. Bathroom. Within two minutes I was over-heating. A small number 17 infraction had now turned into a math worksheet and a tumbling of thoughts and feelings on the matter. Gratefully, neither of the two possible vandalisers were up yet and I had time to work through my thoughts and action plan. I was fairly calm when I delivered the lecture and the consequence, but in my head that infraction touched on some pressure points regarding my parenting.

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I am a fairly black-and-white person who tends to see things in categories of right and wrong. There are instances in my life where that has served me well, but relationships is not generally one of them. And since becoming a mother, that point of view has led me to the brink on more than one occasion.

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The reality is, with kids, the ‘rule-book’ gets stomped on, trampled on and dragged through the mud until the pages are indecipherable. And for someone like me, who is not only black-and-white but also stubborn, I find I keep trying to pick it up, clean it off and keep going. And to some extent I think that is reasonable. Except for when the pressure of ‘living by the book’ becomes unbearable.
Part of being a stay-at-home mom means that my ‘job’ is always in front of me. I don’t get in the car or on the train at the end of the day and leave it behind. So sometimes I get caught up in the swirl of over-thinking, over-planning, over-teaching, over-managing and over-everything until it’s over-whelming. I can feel myself taking on everyone’s perceived expectations and my own expectations until I am no longer able to shut them out. And without the ability to walk away from my job for the evening or the weekend, I’ve got to find a way to sort through it all in the midst of it all.

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This is where you find me today. I am s.l.o.w.l.y. coming to terms with the fact that my boys are not like me. That should be obvious for many reasons. I’m 36 and female. They are currently 10 months, 4, 7, 9 and very male. I like order and my spaces to be tidy and pretty. They like as much noise, chaos and mess as is possible to create. I like to be presentable when I go out. They think holes in socks, undies, pants, shoes and anything is a fashion statement worth making. I care about what goes into my body, most of the time. They could eat pizza, hot dogs and pancakes every blessed day of their lives. I like time to myself. They see that as a personal invitiaion to come closer.  My point is, we are so different in our view of things. And obviously, as the parent, it is my responsibility to teach and train and instruct them. But the reality is they may never be like me. And rather than seeing that and realising it is a good thing, I have been overcompensating for what I perceive as their shortfall, which only leads to a tired and weary mamma.

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So, the questions swirling today are: how do I hold fast to truths and principles and character values that I want to instill in my boys without losing my mind or causing them to lose theirs? How do I break free from seeing only black-and-white and move into the glorious colours that they bring? How do I let go of Drill Sargent mom and become a more enjoyable mom without the fear that the house will fall down around us?

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What has been unconvered in the writing on the wall is that the problem lies more with me than with them. I need to let go more. My frantically trying to do everything right is not going to bring about the life I desire for me or for them. So today I am hoping to let more colour in. I have decided to attempt ‘rainbow parenting’. So please extend gracious thoughts when you see me or our home looking a bit frayed around the edges. Or when my boys rock up with holey socks and messy hair. See it as colour.  Hopefully it will represent a little more life and joy.

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Tuesday Talk…

Tuesday Talk…

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Sure enough, Tuesday has arrived as faithfully as it does week in and week out. There’s nothing inherently difficult or wrong about a Tuesday. It’s typically just as normal as any other day of the week. But what I usually find is that the all the goodness that was acquired on the weekend has generally seeped its way out on my Monday leaving not much to go around on Tuesday.

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And despite all my good effort at setting the alarm to get up before the kids this morning, they were determined to not be left behind. And despite my attempt to get one of the middle ones to ‘hurry’ in his breakfast eating, it still took a frustratingly 40 minutes to eat two pieces of bread. And as we gathered around the table for our time of ‘devotions’, there was inevitably the question or comment made that had nothing to do with what we were reading and led to me feeling like I was just ploughing through our reading rather than ‘eloquently delivering nuggets of truth’ to hungry souls.

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And the downward spiral led me to contemplate the day’s ‘to do’ list with a set of lenses that left me feeling more frustrated than inspired.

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It’s time to change lenses. Sure all my weekend goodness may have already been spent on my Monday, but there’s nothing to keep me from filling up today. My morning may have felt like the carpet was pulled out from underneath me, but I have a moment now to pause, press reset, and go again. And so that’s where I’m at. I’m ready to face the day anew. Let’s see how it goes!

Anyone else out there feel the same way about Tuesdays? Or have you had a magical start to your day?

All the colours…and the Gospel…

All the colours…and the Gospel…

Well, as happens frequently around here, the rumbles and tumbles of life have overtaken my commitment to sit and write and creatively process. Let’s face it, the bottles and nappies and months on end of teething (C’mon, 16 teeth in ten months! That’s just cruel!) and soccer boots and practices and homework and chores and birthdays and preaching and relationships and commitments, somehow the creative juices stop flowing and I succumb to busyness around me.

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But today the sun and the temperature and the colours beckoned me out of the house. And so Mr. Teeth and I went for a walk. And the more we moved and the faster we went, I could feel the cobwebs clearing. It’s just what was needed to press through the mundaneness of the everyday into something more that was on offer.

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And I was stunned by All. The. Colours.

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Today it’s hard to imagine that in just weeks everything will be barren and brown and dead. I mean, what is it about so much beauty right before death? Why so glorious in their fading away?

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I can’t help but think the trees are screaming the Gospel to the world.

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It’s like the trees know this secret, that in a few months (well, let’s be honest, we’re in Norway now…in quite a few months) they’ll be singing a new song….I was dead and behold I am alive again. It catches in my heart and reminds me of Him. It reminds me of Resurrection and Life. Year in and year out they proclaim truth. In Him there is New Life. And there is coming a day when all sorrow and sighing and death and tears will fade away. Forever.

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“Death where is your sting?” Forever the sting of death has been taken away for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are glorious in our surrender to Him because we are constantly being given over to Life.

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Last night I sat around a table of women who are committed to sharing life together. And I was marvelling at the stories of redemption and forgiveness and freedom that we all represent. And even though we bear scars of pain and sorrow and seasons of difficulty and struggle, our collective story is that we are going from strength to strength. Grabbing hold of the Gospel and not letting go. New Life. That is the offer that we now possess.

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So on this glorious day, let us marvel in the Gospel and that His death has brought us Life.

 

The Gardener…

The Gardener…

It’s safe to say that I am not, nor do I think I will ever be, a gardener. I gave up at some point during summer when I realized that I had mistakenly pulled up most of my plants in my attempt to keep the weeds at bay. So currently I have an overgrown, successful weed patch. The only thing that is standing tall and proud is the one thing that I didn’t even plant. I have no idea where it came from. But that beautiful blooming sunflower was determined to survive my neglect and lack of proper gardening skills. 
 It reminded me a bit of things in my own heart. Sometimes it feels that the things I am most aware of that I need to work on or improve, are the areas that I most mess up with my effort. And at times it seems the harder I try the worse it gets. But then out of nowhere, I stumble upon an area that I have mistakenly neglected, and that turns out the be the place where there has been the most noticeable growth. My own strivings don’t generally produce much in the way of fruit, but God’s faithful work in my heart is where the fruit of the Spirit comes forth. There’s that old saying that I learned along the way, ‘let go and let God’. But somehow that has been replaced with a version of Christianity of my very own making that says that my effort is what matters. There’s always a need to work harder, give more, be better; a self-martyrdom that has more to do with me than with Him. And I end up a tangled mess of weeds when I thought what I was producing was fruit. So maybe it’s time to ‘let go and let God’. He is the faithful Gardener that actually knows how to produce fruit. The soil I bring is a willing heart. He plants and waters and causes the Son to shine. I just need to respond. 

  

b.a.c.k.t.o.s.c.h.o.o.l…

b.a.c.k.t.o.s.c.h.o.o.l…

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And we’re off.  School officially began on Tuesday this week.  Unfortunately, I don’t have much to show for it.  No cute color-coordinated photos with the boys all decked out in new school gear(just a leftover one from summer), no pictures of a newly cleaned house because the equation of less boys never quite equals more productivity, and there certainly has not been any projects undertaken this week.  But take my word for it, school has begun in earnest.  There has been forms filled out, rsvps sent out and gifts bought for birthday parties, books covered, lunches made, football(soccer) games and practices attended to, friends invited over, and four days where we have successfully navigated the ‘hour-of-mad-chaos-where-every-day-we-are-not-quite-sure-if-we’re-going-to-be-ready-on-time’.  We are on a four-day roll!

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And after a night where the baby was waking hourly either due to teething, hunger, snuffly nose or all three, I am still feeling ok about the return to structure and schedules and increased activity.  Because in and amongst it all, I am grateful that I have dotted hours throughout my week where I fluctuate between 1, 2 and 4 kids.  There are moments of inhale, space, quiet.  And I need that, because sure enough, that school bell will go off all too soon (two years later I’m still slightly shocked by the short school days!), and I’ll hear the energetic-ball-of-boisterous-boy-noise rolling down the driveway ready for me to be fully present in the next portion of the day.

A little holiday…

A little holiday…

They say change is as good as a holiday. They also say that a holiday with children is less about ‘holiday’ and more about ‘making memories’. So after nearly eight weeks of ‘making memories’, I’m ready for a real holiday. But seeing as that won’t happen for another fifteen years or so, change it is.

The urge hit yesterday to rearrange the office space. And for those who know me well, I am a chronic rearranger. Wether its fuelled by boredom, a desire to utilise spaces differently, or an ongoing need for a holiday, I tend to change the rooms in our house around, a lot. And it’s probably after eight weeks of having little people on top of me, I felt the need to organise and prettify a space that I want to call my own. To call any space ‘my own’ when I’ve got four kids is a bit laughable. The kids have a need to be exactly where I am precisely all of the time. However, I have worked hard to carve out much craved for space in my own home. I singlehandedly installed a lock on our bathroom door, and I have drilled it into everyone’s heads that “the grey chair in the office is MINE!”. I think it’s working. It’s now time to take it a step further. I WANT THE WHOLE OFFICE!

So far the office has held my corner with my sacred grey chair, my lamp and my small side table. The other side of the room has had the desk up against a wall with all our officey files and my creative bits and pieces. And it worked. Except not enough for me. The desk became a dumping ground for all the papers and no one was managing or using the space well enough to keep it nice and tidy. And really, who wants to sit and look at a wall when there are exactly six windows that you could be looking out of? Step in me and my desire for a holiday change. I have singlehandedly (while Dave was at work) decided that this is exactly what I need to keep on top of the approaching school year and all the papers. Because everyone knows that it’s not a proper school day unless there are at least 25 papers sent home for this activity or that notification or information about an upcoming busy bee (the infamous ‘dugnad’ for Norwegians) or birthday invites, etc. So now the desk is MINE TOO! (Insert evil laugh…ha ha ha.) (And for those of you who are starting to be concerned for me (and my husband), I know I have to share. It’s just, I want people to know who they have to ask before they use it!)

And so I leave you with some pictures of my rejuvenated space taken on a cold, rainy day. And yes, I know that you are wondering why it’s cold and rainy when it should still be summertime, and my answer for you is: that’s Norway. It’s something that I’m going to have to come to terms with. Either that or keep ‘holidaying’.

(And if the green carpet doesn’t bother you, you’re a better person than I.)

What changes have you made lately that felt like a holiday?

 

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These crazy boys of mine…

These crazy boys of mine…

I still catch myself, in the middle of a normal weekend, turning to Dave and saying, “I can’t believe we have four boys. Isn’t that crazy?” Because seven months on from number four, it still takes time to sink in. The dial of life has been turned up several notches and there are times when I feel like I’m waiting to catch my breath. Somehow it stills seems surreal to me that I have been entrusted with the lives of these four boys.

And I know the phase we are in now is the intense total-hands-on stage. Intense. Total. Hands. On. My name gets called 550,000 times a day. There are multitudes of “He’s looking at me!”, ” He touched me!”, “My hot dog fell out of my bun!”, “Josiah spewed again!”, “I can’t find my other shoe!”, “I can’t sleep!”, “I am NOT changing my socks!”, “Josiah’s crying again!”, “I’m not going to ______”, and on and on. It takes a total of one hour and fifteen minutes to get out the door to go anywhere. And by the time we get out the door with tempers frayed we are wondering if wherever we are going is even worth it. We’re in the tag-team period where it’s either Dave OR me going out, sleeping in, having quiet space, but rarely both.

And yet it’s also the stage of lots of laughter, lots of cuddles, lots of crayon drawings given as gifts day in and day out. It’s the stage where our hearts swell with love as we spy on kids who are having moments of tenderness towards one another. It’s the phase of life where everything is loud, chaotic, demanding, and yet, somehow there’s this part of you that is aware of the fact that no matter how bothered you are by it now, you will miss it when it’s gone.

So as we enter into the last two weeks of summer holidays, I want to intentionally remind myself of who it is I have the privilege of mothering every day.

There’s my first-born Gabriel. Eight going on fourteen nine. He’s like a spring day where you can expect storms and sunshine all in the same 24 hours. Friends are super important to him and he is gaining freedoms as well as responsibilities. With a flair for the dramatic, he struggles to sit still when telling a good story. He is also highly relational and loves to have a chat with anyone who will listen.

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Coming in a close second, we have Elijah. Seven. Life is mostly good for his guy most of the time. He is a curious soul with a fair dose of ants in his pants. He is kind, sensitive and mischievous all rolled in to one handsome package. Often when you talk to him, he has that faraway look in his eye and is most likely planning his next kingdom on Minecraft.

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Dear, sweet little Benjamin. Three going on four. This guy is our little lovebug. He is the one who is most likely to be credited for softening his parents rough edges. Always ready with a cuddle and an “I love you so much” right when it is needed, he pays close attention to relational dynamics of the family. His sweetness and generosity has won many hearts over.

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And our lucky, little last, Josiah. 7 1/2 months. He is the final piece of this family puzzle and has captured every one of our hearts in his short time with us. He is proving so far that he wants to keep up with his brothers:  off the size charts for his age, eight teeth in seven months with more on the way, picking up finger food, and moving all over the floor. He is vocal, playful, focused and cheeky. We are smitten!

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