This is Hard! But I wouldn’t go back….

mud-70783_1280I think God doesn’t let us know the future – because if he did we would most likely stay in bed all day! This would save us from many a difficult task but we’d also loose out on the deep richness of truly living. If we knew about the messes and fusses of little people – before we experienced the wonder of birth… we’d choose to pass on this amazing privilege. If we could know the deep ache of a friends passing we’d never choose to love and so loose out on the beauty of friendship.

Our first few days of our 3 month trip have taken us into the homes of many beautiful friends that we had not seen in many years. We have been so blessed by their hospitality, amazing food, friendship and generosity. We’ve also gleaned amazing truths and that will impact us for years to come…. Yet this trip is teaching us, as a family to dig deep – deeper than we’d ever have had to dig had we stayed home.

Eight people squished into a car (with only a trailer load of belongings – these including our bedding, a tent, and loads of food) squishing into other’s homes and lives. Suddenly we are all in each other’s space all day everyday. As we have always home schooled this is part of our reality – to a point. Yet now we are even sharing beds and the biggest shift is the ever fluctuating routine. Living in out of the trailer, travelling for many hours at a time and eating at strange hours of the day has led to us having no routine what so ever…. all accumulating the older children have stayed up until they have decided they need to go to bed – which has left little time for this mamma to have her usually evening quiet head space. The little guys naps are either far too long or far too short resulting in some interesting tempers and behaviour we are not accustomed to. Sorting through and taking out clothes just for the day, digging snacks out of the trailer when the food store in the car is depleted…  Then there is the potty training, washing, and eating normality one tries to play out in a well controlled, orderly fashion in another person’s home. I’m learning try as I may these normal life moments cannot (at least not in our family) be beautified. I’m learning that try as I may that with 6 children someone will spill their food, or wee on the floor, someone will loose their shoes or run in the rain with their pajamas on. As we are learning to adjust to this new on – the – road life style we are finding so many joys along the way.

UK roadworks sign. In other European countries...As we battled through ten hours of stop-go road works we read and listened to amazing stories, as children romped around till 9pm they were able to share in moments stolen back from days before we had children, as they miss the potty or dirty extra clothes or won’t share the few toys or books we have…. we are all learning about the true meaning of love and grace. We are learning to not sweat the small stuff, we are working hard on quickly forgiving and working together as a team. We are learning to love and tolerate on levels we never thought were possible.

So yes this is so very hard and if we had known we would probably have never left home but already we are seeing the first glimpses of beauty as so this trip truly becomes apart of our story and our song.

Love is a Verb

Parenting and education is not all about “doing the right thing” and “getting our discipline just right,” often it’s simply about enjoying each other’s company and creating forever memories. We can tell our children we love them. We can demonstrate that we love them. But nothing speaks as loud as simply living out love with them and this often occurs by simply having fun together.

With Valentine’s Day popping its head around the corner we are presented with so many creative and exciting ways to celebrate real love with our children. Over the generations Valentine’s Day has become an exclusively romantic celebration, when in fact it provides the ideal opportunity for us to celebrate real love and demonstrate that love to our children.

Spend some time thinking through your day on 14 February and what little moments you can snatch up to woo and love your children. Some suggestions may be to decorate the breakfast table with hearts and flowers the night before and then get up that little bit earlier and pop some scones in the oven for breakfast (or buy some yummy muffins.) Candles go really far to create a special ambiance that even our children will appreciate. Have little paper hearts upon the table with each person’s name on them. During the day every family member needs to write something they love about that person on their heart so that they can be distributed at dinner time. With younger children you may want to build up to the day so that Valentine’s Day provides us with no only opportunities to love our own family but to let our children demonstrate love for others.

Children often feel that the world is all about them. Yes, they are aware of others and that they need to care for them but it’s seldom that we provide opportunities for them to do this and grow in their love for others. Valentine’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. You may not be able to do anything on Valentine’s Day owing to work and school commitments but there is always the weekend. A few ideas would be to make cards to drop off at an old age home, take a cake to an orphanage, make cupcakes and cards and drop them off with librarians, police officers or firemen. A child could make special cards for their teachers and friends. they know what it is all about. You can make crowns for them to wear with hearts upon them and laminate place mats onto which they have stuck hearts or drawn a picture of the family having a fun time together.  If the morning is a rush there is still the evening in which to do something special together. You may want to have a special meal or as a family choose someone that you feel needs to “be loved” to share dinner with you. Simply spend some time doing something fun and different together. Have a picnic supper in the garden, play a family game together,  go for a walk, pop secret notes into each other’s lunch boxes or place beside each of your children’s beds a single rose with a handwritten love note. The ideas are endless. Yes, they do all take time but that’s part of loving one another – the fact that we take time to do it.

By simply taking a few moments out of our busy schedules to make a day special or different for our families we are speaking volumes. We often forget that concepts such as “love” are actually verbs and that our children can only truly learn about them by seeing them in action.

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