Growing pains and grace gains.


So it’s been a while. I have missed you.

We are now five, havIMG_1103e been since the end of last year, and are getting more and more used to life as an expanded family. Our Daughter (O) is growing fast and we are discovering more of her personality daily – she is funny, determined, sweet, loud and vocal (rather like her mother and older sister (G)) and a delight to have around. She adores her siblings, especially G, and the two of them are so excited to see one another each morning that it lifts my heart.
Her and her brother (I) seem to have the same taste in noisy toys, which can be a challenge, however on the whole and despite his two and a half years, he is immensely patient with her. He also seems to enjoy watching her, and I often catch him smiling at her antics. Three kids in just under three years certainly gives us lots to work with.

We have moved, and now live in the next town along, in a smaller yet spacious cottage with two rooms fewer and no garden of our own.
God has once again provided generously, and we are happy, blessed with amazing neighbours who have young children and who let us use their garden space freely. We are walking distance to town, the local park, ballet lessons, the library and a huge parkland, not to mention on the same road as a pub and several takeaway establishmens – all highly convenient.
We are also in an old fashioned yard, which gives the feeling of having travelled back sixty years or so, to a time where community was more obvious and open. We have in just three months, already shared several evening beers, numerous conversations and one ‘yard bbq’, and our children all enjoy the interraction with one another.
It sounds idyllic, and in truth it is lovely.

That said, it has once again been quite a hard and hectic year.
There was more tragic death in the family, tough work challenges, and the simple feat of trying to stay afloat above a sea of sleepless nights, breastfeeding, no evenings to ourselves (as O doesn’t usually go down until 9:30-10pm) has left us with the feeling of exhaustedly treading water. However, we are slowly beginning to dream again and as O is getting bigger, things are becoming more manageable – either that or we are just more adept at handling it all – probably a mix of both.

I have a tendency towards melancholy, which thankfully stops short of full on depression, and is particularly likely to rear it’s head when I have unable to get out of the house all day. This can leave me in a bit of a funk when P (my husband) is away, or I am just too exhausted to make a decision about even the simplest things.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

It is here, in the maelstrom of emotions, breast-feeding/post-baby hormones, a dirty IMG_1078bathroom, piles of clean washing and used dishes, three gorgeous children who all want a piece of me, simultaneously, no time to myself to pee (all mums have been here!) let alone do something creative and/or beautiful, that I have had to ask for help.
Which can be hard.
Or let P ask for me.Which can be even harder.

I don’t want to be an inconvenience to people where they may already be overloaded, so we have asked people who we can trust to say no if they are unable or in that instance, disinclined.
I also want to know that someone won’t look at the big ball of crazy (our home  sometimes), or the even bigger ball of crazy (me), and (directly or indirectly) either judge it or tell us to suck it up because we chose to let God determine the size and spacing of our family. So we have asked people who love us, and who take us as we are.

But in this, I have had to let God work on the pride in my heart, letting me better discern whether I just need to vent my frustrations, or if I am just being too stubborn to allow anyone to see me be at my most vulnerable, wishing instead to wallow and hide.
It means that I have also accepted help from anyone who has been kind enough to offer it. Learning to trust that God approves of me irrespective of anyone else’s opinion, and that HIS audience and HIS acceptance is enough.
That HIS grace can supply everything.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:19

We have been richly blessed with kind and generous friends who have gone out of their way to lovingly support us: as an extra pair of hands at dinner and bath time; shopping for us; entertaining our children whilst we attended to vital jobs; babysat; funded some of our necessary moving expenses; helped us move all of our stuff to our new home; cleaned and gardened in our old home; supported us faithfully in prayer and kept me company when I just needed someone to be with me so that I wouldn’t lose the plot.

Some of these people have been close friends, but many were from our extended church family, a few I had never even met before, and they gave their time and energy in an expression of love and community.

And I have once again discovered what it means to be strong, to be capable.

It means to utilise your gifts to the best of your ability.
To know your limits and not be ashamed of them, but to ask for help.

It means not choosing to pretend that you have it all together, or can do everything, but to actually lean on others who are willing to take your weight. Really let them feel the weight and give it to them. A little like actually sitting on someones lap when you are not self concious of how heavy you are, receiving help means not holding yourself in tension trying to stand yet pretending to sit.

To be strong means to admit your weaknesses, and to know that you are no less for them.
And it means to offer yourself wholeheartedly when you are able to take some of the strain for another.

It doesn’t matter how anyone else ran, or is running their race… it is your race that counts.
And knowing that you are loved and accepted, regardless of your performance makes it all the sweeter.

But IMG_1069he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10