Spring Celebration

As a new mom I remember reading Sally Clarkson’s book Mission of Motherhood. One of the family aspects that stood out for me was her thoughts on celebrations. We not talking about Christmas or Easter here but rather everyday celebrations.

Since then we have selected a handful of special days and created our own personal celebrations around it. When our children look back on their childhood it’s my hope that they will say, “Our family was special because we always celebrated…..”

One of our favourite celebrations is Spring. This has evolved over the years depending on where we have lived and how old the children have been but this is how it looks today. Mom gets up really early to start making scones for breakfast. Once everyone is up we trek out into the garden with baskets to collect flowers and leaves to decorate the table with. Then while the children decorate and set the table we finish getting the scones, fruit, yogurt and fruits raw oats ready to eat. We then all sit down to breakfast with soft music playing, sweet flower scents drifting from the table and candles burning. Breakfast begins with a prayer thanking God for spring, hope, life and all things beautiful.

This year we focused on the Bible verse Song of Songs 2: 11- 13 , “See! The winter is past;    the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth;   the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves  is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit;  the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

So after breakfast the older children wrote out and illustrated the verse while the younger ones illustrated theirs (we cut out some butterfly wrapping paper too – just to add to the effect.) As we had moms group that morning we spent the time making flower arrangements with our friends. W aim to have a lovely supper too at the end of the day during which we all either recite or read a poem that speaks of spring, hope, or new life. The evening is ended by Daddy praying for us.

It is always a beautiful, happy day that has become a focal point in our home


Finding Spring

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

Winter 2011

The last three months have been probably some of the most difficult months we’ve lived through. (Hence the reason for the lack of blogs.) Winter not only invaded our garden but our hearts and minds too.

During this time we felt a certainty that it was time for us to move from our out-of-town country home to a small suburb our closest city. So in May we began packing. By June we’d found a home and on 1 July we were booked for the big move! At this time I was overwhelmed with kids birthdays, boxes, meals and general chaos. In our 11 and a half years of marriage this would be our 10th move so I thought I had it all pretty taped. Granted we hadn’t moved in the last 5 years and we had gone from 1 to 5 children in this time – but still I thought it would be a breeze.

On the day of the move besides the fact that we still had boxes to pack and children to sort out my husband was called in by his office and retrenched!

Let’s back track here. Reason 1 for our move: to save petrol on travelling to his work – which he now doesn’t have! Reason 2 for our move: We’ve calculated that on his salary we can just afford to cover the cost of the new house and the old one till it is sold or rented out – he now has no salary! At this point we had truly stepped into the winter of not only 2011 but the winter of our lives.

How we got through July? I can only say it was by God’s grace. I must however digress here to share with you an amazing story of God’s grace and provision. The day after my hubby was retrenched he went online to pay his accounts and noticed that there was too much money in his account. On investigation he noticed that Oxford – for whom he’d written a text-book 5 years previously, had just paid him the equivalent of half a month’s salary! Hmmm, why now, five years later? Was God keeping that money for the exact day and time we would really need it? Wow this retrenchment was maybe not an accident, maybe God had something to do with it. So funny we humans are, just like the Israelites who were taken out of Egypt we forget so soon that God is involved – even if we don’t like it, want it or care. Even so the month of July was an emotionally, spiritually and physically a very challenging time.

Why am I writing this in my Mommymemo blog? Well just because we were walking through a desolate winter didn’t mean that I was no longer Mommy, no indeed I still had to meet the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of my children and husband. Parenting is often painted in this rosy glow – well this had nothing rosy about it. We are all humans and this was a season of quick tempers, little patience, rushed Bible stories and toast for almost every meal. It was also a season of quick forgiveness, many prayers and tears and lots of quick hugs and cuddles. You see our children need to know that we are real people – no, it is wrong to lash out and become angry with each other but sometimes we do and then it’s not about what we shouldn’t have done but rather what are we going to do about it. Do we forgive, stand together as a family and hold one another up?

Just like winter has stripped summer of all its glory so we were stripped to our cores but so too does winter hold the odd beauty of a sunrise or special touch such as snow we saw beauty in God’s faithfulness and provision and protection in such a desperate time of need.

If we stop and take a look at what being Mommy is really all about and what financial payment we receive we should conclude that it’s totally ludicrous for us to keep this post.

However day in and day out we keep Mommying. Why when everything gets too tough, we haven’t slept in weeks, the demands keep getting higher and there is no sign of a break do we not just throw in the towel or just leaves? What is it that makes us stay and not throw in the towel as we would with any other job?

I’ve given this a great deal of thought and no I don’t have the perfect answer but I have a few thoughts.

The one being the idea of running as a hobby. I tried it once it and although I can never truly understand why people keep doing it – the feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment of finishing well at the race end does make it all worth while. So I believe it is with being Mommy – we know deep down that if we just keep at it we’ll eventually finish well.

I daily watch my own little girls play baby with their toy rabbits and dolls as well as how they naturally nurture each other and any one slightly younger than them. This is not something they have only learned but rather something they were born with. Just as every human is born with a God shaped hole that only Christ can fill so girls are born with a Mommying hole. Society sometimes talks girls out of this role or maybe some are naturally more nurturing than others but as them to look deep inside and they will admit they too desire to be apart of a relationship committed to marriage and raising the next generation.

So even though the going can get tough we seem supremely programmed to love and nurture these little bundles.

Finally I’ve also found that I can never do this alone but need to rely on my heavenly father and his wisdom to deal with all that Mommying requires of me. As I daily lean on him and his guidance I know that he would never throw the towel in with me and walk away. He daily puts up with my humanness and still loves me – for no payment what so ever. Knowing this – even though it is often really hard – how could I ever give my children any less than my all?

Everyday Mommying

When I was growing up and I spoke or thought about the future for some reason I assumed I’d have children but never thought of myself as a Mommy. For that reason I never gave much thought to what being a Mommy would entail. Many times being Mommy involves cuddling, reading books or discovering another natural beauty with our children.

On other days however  – or should I say on most days – it’s actually about food, clothes, cuts, tears, lost items, irritated siblings and stuff (everything from old toast to ballet tutus to my handbag contents) strewn from one end of the house to another. You feed the tribe, tidy the kitchen only to hear a little voice say, “Mom, what can I eat?” Once the kitchen is finally sorted you find that the teeth cleaning turned into washing the bath – and walls – with the toilet brush. An art activity results in the dining room table having glitter glued to it – on purpose or the paint brushes have all the bristles eaten off before they get to even start painting. Need I continue?

Today was one of these “normal” Mommy days. It was hard and I’m not proud to say that when the kitchen floor was flooded, everyone had wet their last dry tracksuit pants in the rain, I had tripped over yet another dress up item, someone asked for food and then I was faced with a toilet incident I wasn’t a very nice Mommy. BUT thank you God for the TV and especially for the creation of the movie Heffalump! Needless to say it was watched twice! 

I realised that as long as I had this cozy picture of what the day could have been: sitting snuggling with books in front of the fire everything went from bad to worse. I hate using the TV to babysit but today that was good Mommying. I had to take stock of my capacity, where the day was heading and what I was becoming. Yes I did contemplate trying to sit down and read to everyone but they were all irritating each other and I knew it would just agitate. So I stopped trying to strive toward the fantastical and managed to eventually literally live minute by minute.

So even though I gave little thought to being Mommy when I was growing up – the pictures I had conjured didn’t look anything like today did but I got through it and at bedtime my almost 9yr old boy called me back 3 times saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong but I just need to hug you some more.” Hmmm – maybe he too had a hard day but I was too busy with the clutter to notice?

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!

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