I’ll never forget spring 2010.
Evey year, as a family, we hold a spring celebration on 1 September. The spring of 2010 posed a huge problem, there were no signs of spring anywhere. Not a flower bloomed and not a new shoot showed. How does one celebrate something that does not exist? Well spring of 2010 found us talking to the tree, telling them it wa time to wake up now and we hung to the promise of what was to come. And oh the rejoicing when spring did find its way into our homes. This year has been entirely different in that our garden had been bursting with colour and life since August and so we felt our spring celebration to be a bit late but we still used the time to thank God for the beauty he chose to surround us with.
These two contrasting springs have spoken to me very deeply as a mother, wife and woman. At times life is hard, it’s dry we always seem to be fighting against the stream and we see no beauty in our daily chores or what we spend our days doing. Sometimes money is tight, relationships are strained, children seem impossible or work is all-consuming. At these times we are hardly likely to see spring bursting around us! I have however learned that at these times we need to look into these dry branches of our existence and whisper hope and expectation. Beneath every wintered tree lies a green branch busy storing energy and life so that at the perfect moment it not only gives out a little blush of green, no it burst forth in colour and life. So in these hard times we need to cling to the hope that lies below the surface.
In the same manner other times in our life are so filled with blessing, happiness and wellness tat we are actually at the risk o not noticing or appreciating the spring surrounding us. It’s in these times that we need to ensure we don’t take the “little things” in life for granted, but to instead stop and be thankful.
So on a personal note from our dry winter f 2011 God has provided us with a wonderful new home, my husband has been offered an awesome job 5 minutes from our new house and we have been placed within a new church family. Out of the dry branches has sprung forth life and life abundantly
Today we attended Art in the Park. An event that gathers together the top artists in South Africa and they sell their art work in a park. As it’s autumn it’s the park is covered in leaves and it is a beautiful outing.
I always go home feeling inspired and uplifted. Today however I realised something else. I realised that the pictures that really pull at my heart are not the pictures painted by these wonderful artists. Instead it is the forever pictures painted within my mind. The pictures of my children playing in the leaves, my wonderful hubby reading Bible stories at bed time, my girls putting their dolls to bed and a family picnic at the dam.
So I didn’t come home with any paintings (which would have cost me a few thousand rands) instead I have a my own new personal gallery. It includes a picture of my son playing his violin beneath the autumn leaves and my 3 year olds grinning up at me squinting through their new sunglasses. All of which cost me nothing more than taking the time to notice.
Living out of town has made regular church fellowship a real difficulty in our lives. We just find the stress of trying to get there was ruining rather than building the family. So we decided for this season to have a break from formal meetings. This was great in that it has taken away all the stress that was tearing at few precoius family ours together. However what I didn’t realise was how it would affect the rest of my week! This week – for the first time in ages – I put on some worship music in the house and began to worship whilst doing my chores and aaahh the lightness of spirit and joy that began to return. It was then that I realised that inadvertently – whilst distressing our Sundays, by not attending church I had stopped worshiping!
“Unless the Lord builds the house – its builders labor in vain” says Psalm 127:1. As I’ve tried to mother alone I’ve realised now that it’s only through my Father’s strength and my leaning on Him that I can Mommy effectively and do all I have been called to do – with joy in my heart whilst doing it!
Feeling a bit drained and challenged in my Mommying at present I’ve decided to reread the book that changed my view of parenting forever 8 years ago.
Having been trained as a teacher and brought up in a national school system I was an authoritative, behaviorist Mommy through and through. When our oldest son was about 1 yr old a friend gave me the book The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. This book changed my view of being parenting from one of being the Boss to being Mommy. I realised Mommies had grace, endurance, patience and above all their child’s heart and eternity in mind everyday. My parenting moved from the temporal to the eternal. Above all as Mommy I needed to win my child’s heart. By ordering them around and being the boss I may have cooperative, well-behaved children but that didn’t mean I would have their love or their hearts open to hearing about God’s love for them. So as I reopen this amazing book I am already reminded how Mommy is a child’s natural first post of call and need. As they grew in the womb they were wired to love and bond with Mommy as “Children automatically turn toward their mothers as their first source of protection, love and spiritual, emotional and mental support. This is a part of the design of mother,child and family as unfolded for us in the Bible – a design that from the very beginning, God pronounced as very good” and yet through our busy lives we often sever this bond rather than strengthen it.
It is my prayer today that I will work at being available to fulfil what God said was “very good.” As surely if I walk within His design I won’t only be blessing my family but I too should be able to live life to the full!
Recently a friend of mine gave birth to a baby boy – Benjamin. Ben was born without an artery to carry oxygenated blood around his little body. The result being that they didn’t think he would survive birth and now every day is being considered a miracle. Whether it is possible for him to survive or not, I don’t know all I know is that their situation has thrown a new light onto being Mommy. They know that their time with Ben is probably short and so every single moment is savoured and enjoyed. Yet the rest of us so easily take our parenting with a blasé attitude and don’t also realise that our time with these precious little people living within our homes is short too. All too soon outside influences begin to break through our cosy nest and soon friends are dragging them off to their homes and before we know it, it is time for them to start their own lives out in the big world. Our son turns 9 this month – half way to 18! It feels as if only yesterday I held this precious babe in my arms. The same time again and independence calls his name! As I say the time is short. So above all, as we’ve cried to our heavenly father to spare Ben and comfort his family, I’ve begun to look at my little babes with fresh eyes. I’ve taken the time to sit down and look at them eye to eye, hold them when they cry and actually listen to their adventures, woes, sorrows and anticipations. I’ve taken time to watch them create, build tents and play soccer. Above I’ve taken time to snuggle with them in the mornings. These things are small and may seem insignificant but I feel they are helping me to realign my Mommy-mometer in that I feel more connected and in touch with them all. As unlike my friend I don’t know exactly how long it’ll be before our children grow their wings but all the same the time is short and I want enough memories – of spending time with them, not memories of cleaning the house – to last me a life time.