An Innocent Question ….

Should we be asking this question,  it’s a question, we ask quite naively and innocently, it’s a question we don’t mean to cause harm with, it’s a question that can stir up so much emotion in the person it is asked of, it’s just a question …. often one we ask this question in a woman to woman situation as we seek to find a point of connection and grow deeper in friendship.   So what is this innocent question …. “How many children do you have?”  When we ask this question, it is to appear interested and show our desire to know someone more. How ever, you answer this question you can feel judged, you may perceive the other party to be wondering why you had just one, or the supposedly ‘perfect two’ or five. Depending of course on the age of the youngest, the question is often followed by a subsequent question “will you have anymore?”. Whatever, you answer to these questions there seems to be questions that follow, sometimes unspoken questions, sometimes these revolve around why that number of children, why the age gap etc.

Last week, an exceptionally precious friend of mine posted on Facebook her battle with this question.  You see she lost her second child in an incredibly tragic accident some five years ago now.  Whenever she meets someone new and they ask how many children she has, she always weighs her answer, can she cope today with the sympathy that immediately arises when she mentions she lost one at age two, or does she simply respond that she has three (the living ones). She really struggles with this one because it’s denying her lost son ever existed. It’s a daily battle in her life and grief process. The unspoken question, she sometimes feels compelled to answer is how did her darling son die?  and further subsequent questions.

My personal story is somewhat different to my dear friends story.  I had two bouncing bundles of joy with an almost minimal age gap. Often I get asked why I stopped at two, I love to fill my home with extras, I always welcome my children’s friends into my home. We may look like the picture perfect family, Mum, Dad and the “perfect’ boy then girl family, however, we would have loved to fill our hearts and home with more children of our own.  Life had other plans and my body performed two unexplainable miracles … I have had major physical health battles and pregnancy issues which meant, after my treasured daughter arrived, it was strongly recommended we do not have anymore. While I outwardly give the impression I am content with just the two, and feel I have come to terms with the situation, there are days when I really struggle with this still, particularly when certain friends who have children of a similar age to mine have produced babies number three and four.  My youngest may be 11 and I may have moved on in my head, but every now and again my heart drags my head back to my dream of having at least three.

Meanwhile, another friend who has not met her life partner and now advanced in years grieves for the fact she will never know the joy of motherhood.  Because of her age, she is sometimes asked if she has any children, she doesn’t but she’s an amazing aunt to two darling little later in life blessings to her brother and sister-in-law. For this precious friend there is the grief of life not panning out the way she dreamed it to be during her younger years, a dream that included a fabulous husband who happily allowed her to be the stay at home mother she dreamt of being to three gorgeous wee children. We have had many conversations about being content with what we have, acknowledging that God’s life plan for us is not our life plan.

For all three of us, the question is a minefield, depending on our circumstances we answer accordingly.  It’s always honest, but the depth of honesty depends on where we are at on the day, where the conversation is headed and whether we believe it to be a one off meeting or the beginning of something deeper.

I firmly believe we should be asking the question, but we need to be sensitive in how we ask it.  We need to be prepared to listen because for many women the number of children they have is firmly rooted in their life story. We also need to be prepared to understand we may not get the full story first time or that it might just all come flooding out.

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My heart breaks

I firmly believe in Proverbs 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. This does not mean to say children will not deviate from what you teach, in reaching their own conclusions. At the moment, it seems in every direction I look, friends who are parenting teens are struggling.  I praise God, for those who are parenting in Faith, seeking His will and direction and I am praying for them.  I am also praying for my precious friends who do not know Jesus and have teens who are struggling with life.  My heart breaks to see dear friends hearts broken by and for children hurtling towards adulthood and who are seeking to find their own way in this crazy world.

My oldest is 11 and I’m not there yet! I see what’s going on in my friendship circles and I pray for my children.  I pray they come to love the Lord as their personal Lord and Saviour.  I pray we will not have the same bumpy road. I’m watching closely how my friends handle situations and take mental notes.

An amazing friend called this afternoon to ask if she could come for a coffee. My front door is always open to friends, I love to sit, drink coffee, and hear the stories of what is going on in friends lives. It’s important to listen, sometimes people just need to talk. I knew this friend had been struggling this year to “control” her 16 year old son, when I say control, I do not mean live his life for him, just steer him in the direction she and her husband would rather see him go.  He’s got himself embroiled in an interesting crowd, and it is all about keeping up with the joneses, doing as his mates will do, experimenting with all those things young people often like to experiment with and certainly, not questioning every move with “What would Jesus do?”. My heart breaks for this family, as they do battle with the enemy. An enemy who seems to be prowling like a roaring lion, a thief in the night and robbing them of life. This precious friend has only been in my life a short time, but what a deep impact she has made in my life, her honesty and straight upness speak volumes, my heart broke for her.

As we sat, enjoying the glorious sunshine, she started the conversation by saying she had something to tell me and no, she’s no pregnant. That’s her special sense of humour, she then went on and  spilt her heart out, her heartbreak, her hopes and dreams for her eldest, currently dashed, as her darling first born is fumbling and making poor choices in life. As a result of this and much soul searching, seeking God and wise counsel, they have decided that just like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep, they must go after him and consequently move church. The rest of the family is struggling with the decision, but they know, that the one matters to God.

My heart is heavy to see this family move on, but as we so often say, God seems to ask us to send the best away.  While our church is sizeable, this dear child does not seem to have made friends and connected with those who know Christ.  They’re off in search of a peer group of young men, who will encourage their son in his walk, intentionally encourage him to build in his relationship with God. My friend feels this indeed is their last opportunity to follow through on the instruction from Proverbs 22:6, in guiding his path as they would desire to see him go.

You matter to God, he sent his Son to die so that each and every one of us can have Eternal life.  No one needs to be good enough for Him, we need simply to acknowledge we are sinners and invite Christ into our life.

John 14:6 says

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Ephesians 2:8 says

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

 

Enjoying the School Holidays

We have had the most enjoyable school holidays since school holidays have mattered again in my adult life.  As a general rule, I seem to spend the holidays counting down the days until the start of school again. Instead, Mr 10 informed me at some stage today that it was 94 hours until the school year started. I have been having so much fun with my kids, I almost don’t want the holidays to end.

As we went into these holidays, I was quite nervous about having such a long time at home.  We normally head away for at least three weeks, however, we have only been away for one week.  So, we have had to fill in significantly more time than usual.  I had originally planned to get the school pool key, but I completely forgot on the day they were handing them out – I’m kind of relieved because the weather hasn’t really been swimming weather anyway.

Is it the age of my children? Is it that we found plenty to do? has something changed within me?  I’m not really sure of the answer, but I can tell you, I have genuinely enjoyed hanging with my kids these school holidays.

So, I guess you are wondering what we have been up to, here’s a wee pictorial of a few the things we have done:

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We took the kids to Wellington Birdman competition, however, it was a cold, grey day and as you can see, we didn’t get close enough to really see what was happening.  We did however, enjoy a lovely lunch at Macs Brewery Bar followed by a gelato in the car sheltering from the rain.  Hmm, I thought it was supposed to be Summer!!!

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We visited Staglands.  I had never taken my children there, and if I add the years together since I last went, I must have been in standard 3.  See I’m refusing to acknowledge the number of years!  These bunnies caused great delight, as did the baby Kune Kune that were running round and the many other animals.  The children also enjoyed exploring the old “village”.

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The children decided this peacock was trying to impress the duck!

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This cheeky young goat seemed to pose for photos.

Our trip out to Staglands seemed to be a success, even if I did have to wash the interior of the car when we arrived home, thanks to a child who forgot to mention they were feeling a little unwell.

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We took a trip up the coast to the wonderful Marine Gardens at Raumati.  Right beside the beach, an easy walk to a great coffee and this fantastic water park kept the kids entertained for hours, they had an absolute ball…just a shame we left the Bacon and Egg pie for our picnic sitting on the freezer in the garage.

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Today, turned out to be one of those spectacular – You can’t beat wellington on a good day kind of days, so we headed round to the fabulous Sorching Bay and enjoyed some time playing on the beach as well as lunch at the ever wonderful Sorch-O-Rama. Not to mention, a stop at Te Papa on the way home.

I love that we have filled our holidays with visiting our region, exploring the free and not so free activities and places to visit. I love how my children have enjoyed each of the activities I have suggested. I love that the weather although not always what we wanted for the summer hasn’t been a barrier to us having an enjoyable holiday. I love that we haven’t spent hours at the shopping mall. I love that we have been able to take friends along to several of these activities. I love Wellington and the wider Wellington region….so much to see and do!

Summer, Sun and Santa

Wellington turned on the sun (and a little bit of wind) today for the Santa Parade. We went to town to do some shopping pre-parade and be out of there before the parade madness started, but miss 9 thought she would like to watch.  They are only little once and I decided we needed to savour the moment and indulge her desire, after all the parade is free entertainment. We enjoyed:

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Marching bands

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Runaway Gingerbread-men

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Pipe bands – check out the wee girl in the front row!

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My favourite – Love the latin American vibe of the Battacuda!

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Star wars

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Storm troopers

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High fives

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Minature ponies

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Chinese dragons

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Angelina Ballerina

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The Sallies – Gotta love a real Christmas Carol!

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The big man himself! or is he?

I have to ask, who is the big man of the day for you? Is it Santa or is it Jesus? For us, Christmas, is all about  celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah. What an incredible gift we were given when God sent his Son, so that anyone who believes in him shall have Eternal Life.