Friday, 13 January 2017

When God Reveals Something, How Do We Respond?

I've been reading a book called Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown about  the spiritual journey.   We're all on a journey.     If you're a Christian, then you should be walking with God and moving forward, or at least not going backwards - though that is sometimes very hard to do, right?    Our spiritual life is always changing - growing and bearing fruit, or not growing and gradually dying, even if not obvious at first.  

But, maybe you've been hit hard by some stuff - death, loss, illness, incapacity, rejection, betrayal, toxic relationships, parenting, abuse - the list goes on.    When we're hit hard, we're tempted to retreat within and we often get lost and confused and can't seem to feel or hear God anywhere, in anything we read or hear.  Even interacting with His people can leave us feeling worse, not better.    So, how do we move forward, or just plain old get back up again?  

In Sensible Shoes, the characters are challenged, during a prayer retreat, to connect with God in a deeper, more honest way.    They are all broken and stagnant and stuck and withdrawn in some way, for different reasons, and not sure how to move forward.   One of the key tools presented to them for connecting better and deeper with God is to put themselves in a Bible story or situation or verse and to see what jumps out at them, what annoys them, what hits a nerve, what makes them cry or laugh or get defensive or want to run away.   Those are the places to start again if we're bogged, the places to sit and wait on God, to find out why we're reacting, to be really honest with ourselves and Him, and to then receive from Him.  

We can get so bogged down and negative and depressed and alone in our journey.   But God.   But God is waiting - waiting to speak with us, to give to us, to bless us, to fill us, to heal us, to restore us and so much more.   But, we have to be open to Him.   We have to seek Him and to find Him on that journey, not because He's hiding, but because we are so used to doing it alone and finding our own solutions and trying to clean up our own mess.   

In re-reading through parts of the book, I was inspired to make a word picture, if you like, of what our spiritual journey can be like.    The leader of the retreat takes her participants through a labyrinth, an old-world custom of winding backwards and forwards to a central point, pausing to contemplate and listen to God, to be filled by Him in the centre, and gradually moving on and receiving from Him on the way out.     Partly inspired by that, and partly by a play on words, I wanted to share this word picture with you and hope you can find here a treasure or two to help you on your journey.  

So, as you begin at the starting point, whether you're deliberately waiting on God or whether He interrupts your everyday life in some way, my question is this - 'When God reveals something, how do we respond?'   Let's start there, at the arrow.  


For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.   Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart .....
Jer 29:11-13

Monday, 2 January 2017

NO NEW PLAN, NO RESOLUTIONS, NO 3 STEPS TO A BETTER ME!

Have you been reading the very many memes and ads and thoughts being presented on blogs, social media, the news, TV as to how to step into this new year - 2017?   I think I've seen it all - 3 steps to get fit, 4 ways to improve your health, 5 things to learn this year, 17 great thoughts for the new year, 21 people to emulate, 13 hoops to jump through, 10 new ingredients to cook with, 5 things to quit, and so it goes on.    There's nothing wrong with any of it, really, but it's not where I'm heading this new year, as tempting as they all sound. 

Have any new year thoughts or plans grabbed your attention over the last few days?   Did something ring true with you or inspire you or make you feel guilty enough to listen, to take notice?    Some of the thoughts I've seen have grabbed my attention, so I'll share them with you in no particular order. 

"Actions flow from values. That’s why resolutions usually fail.”   The blog writer suggested assessing what you value by writing down your activities and expenditure for a month and see what you were busy doing and spending money on.  That's a worthwhile task, probably more effective than  making resolutions you won't keep, because unless your values change, you won't see lasting change in your actions.   You can read more of that blog post here. 

Another one was this one-liner:    ‘Don’t go into 2017 with a rolling stop.’  I had to think about that one, but it was basically saying we shouldn't roll through a stop sign, but actually stop and look before we move on.  It's a good thought.   And we shouldn't just roll into another year.   Yes, the first day of the year is just another day, but God marks times and seasons and so should we.    If you have Facebook, you can read more here.

This is a quote I found with a picture of a chick, fairly newly hatched out of its egg.   
'If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends.   If broken by an inside force, life begins.   Great things always begin from the inside'. 
That one resonated with me, because God has been speaking to me about honesty on the inside, and that transformation has to start there - in our inmost being.   We can't be transformed if we keep pretending what's in there isn't really there or isn't as rotten or painful or complicated as it is.    We can't be transformed if we keep 'behaving ourselves' on the outside and ignoring the inner mess and pain.   God sees it, we need to let ourselves see it, and let Him touch, heal and change us. 

And here's another one.   'Christ's example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love.'   This is just a small part of the Queen's Christmas address for 2016, where she talks of being inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.   God has been speaking to me about being more concerned with being Jesus to those in whose lives I am or could be 'big' or very significant, than striving to be big in the opinion of others. 

And here is another one that I am reminded of - 'So that's what I'm going to do. No goals. No timeframes. Just day by day,'    This lady was speaking of just taking one day at a time, one challenge at a time, one victory at a time. 

So, I take all these thoughts with me into the new year, and many more besides.     These thoughts, and more that are not mentioned, have grabbed my attention and I am tempted to write them all down, in different colours, and stick them up somewhere.  

But, Someone keeps grabbing my attention and reminding me of His thoughts for me for this year.     And it isn't about a ten-point plan to do better, be better, do more, try harder, nor is it about making goals.    Instead, He keeps asking me to journey with Him, one day at a time, to listen to His heart's desires, His goals, daily or even hourly, to get really honest with myself and Him, to be transformed from the inside out.  

Something He grabbed my attention with just last night while reading the book, Sensible Shoes, was this verse about Hagar. 

'...where have you come from and where are you going?'  Genesis 16:8  

I thought that was a pretty appropriate question for the first day of the year.   I have been pondering on that one all day.   It will probably take me the whole year and beyond to answer those questions.  

I was listening to a sermon last night that spoke of how Jesus grabbed Peters' attention when the fishing boat became so loaded with fish it was in danger of sinking.  I've heard this story many times, often in the context of not expecting enough of God, not asking for enough, being immensely blessed, reaching more people for Christ, etc.  But last night, I got something else out of it.  

The preacher suggested that Peter and Jesus knew each other before that incident, that they had perhaps grown up in the same town, attended the same synagogue, knew the same people.   Jesus had been preaching to people before this incident, and it was not long after Jesus was baptised and infilled by the Holy Spirit.    So, did something other than Jesus' words and His miracle grab Peters' attention that day?  That day,  why did Peter suddenly understand his own sinfulness and Jesus' Lordship? 
Did He suddenly see Jesus in a new light, suddenly understand something of Jesus' power and His purpose, experience something of His anointing that day?  We don't know, we weren't there, but something changed.   Jesus grabbed Peter's attention to the point that Peter dropped everything to follow Him.


Could that same Someone grab our attention as we head into this new year with our goals, our resolutions, our lists, our plans, our budgets and our burdens?  

Can we stop and look before we roll into another year? 

Can we stop and listen and be overawed, once again, at who Jesus is and just start anew the journey with Him? 

Can we be led by Him, taught by Him, challenged by Him, changed by Him, as Peter surely was those three and a half years and well beyond?   

Can we drop our plans, goals, resolutions, lists right there on the beach like Peter dropped his very full nets?   His nets were full of provision and future and goals and normal, but something about Jesus caused Peter to leave it all behind.

Can we just follow Him into this new year?   

Can we stay close enough to listen, learn, love and absorb who He is this year?  

Luke 5:11  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.











Monday, 19 December 2016

Building Fine Motor Skills for 7yos

Are you trying to help your 7 yo build some fine motor skills?   Me too.     There are so many ideas out there for preschoolers and that's as it should be, but the older kids get easily bored with them. 



So, prompted by a request from a fellow Mum, in response to seeing these necklaces the girls made this week, I've gone searching through our resources here at home, and got Miss 7 re-inspired to try some of them.  



In the photos, you can see some of the ones we have already, all purchased from our local op-shops for very little.     These are the ones I found easily without looking too hard.     There are so many more options, but these are the ones Miss 7 is most likely to use at the moment. 





I also found lots of great ideas online, which I've listed below - we'll definitely be trying some of these in the new year.  

You can also view my board on Pinterest here to see these ideas in picture form.    If you're a visual person, then it's worth a look.  

I also have a pinboard of shape activities, ready for next year when we start concentrating on shapes.    Many of these are fine motor skills activities as well.  

Before you read through the list below, you might want to read this lady's page about why fine motor skills are important for children of various ages to develop. 

So, in no particular order and in a somewhat organised fashion, here are the ideas I found, but there were many more.  

SYMMETRY
This one is about arranging shapes symmetrically within a circle.

Making symmetrical snowflakes

Another symmetrical snowflake activity   

MARBLES
This is a great game involving marbles on golf tees, which requires balance and careful positioning,  plus some strategy.  

Marble runs are also a great way to improve fine motor skills and get those 3-D skills working and developing.   We love ours and they are easy to find at op-shops or online.   

This is another great idea for marbles, which involves some sewing as well.  

PATTERN BLOCKS
We love our pattern blocks and I have found some websites that have great ideas. 

There are some great ideas here for making shapes from shapes, if you're happy to pay for the cards.

This site has lots of free printables for you to try out, from simple to more complex. 

This site has printables for making letters and numbers with the pattern blocks

And this lady has themed pattern block pictures, so it's worth having a look around her site for those and many other resources

Seriously, though, Google 'pattern block pictures' and you'll find a wealth of websites and pictures for all age ranges. 

STRAWS and TOOTHPICKS
We have this resource at home and the girls both really enjoy making all sorts of things with them.   Today, our loungeroom was filled with jellyfish and lionfish, squid and sharks, all made from these straws and connectors.    This is our 4yo in the midst of making her aquatic creations.   



This is a similar concept, making shapes with toothpicks and gumdrops, this time with straight lines.

And this lady prefers to use grapes instead of gumdrops.


SEWING AND WEAVING
Sewing and weaving are great fine-motor exercises for children older than pre-school level.   They can do simple weaving right through to sewing on fabric. 

This is a great, basic weaving idea on a large scale, for little hands and big ones.   Simple enough to achieve with household items and adapt to various sizes.  

This is a simple idea, great for Valentine's Day.

Or you could do different shapes like these. 

We are going to learn about shapes this coming year, so I was really impressed to find this activity. 

This sewing idea incorporates the concept of in and out of the fabric, and the dots on the fabric help the children to create lines and pictures.    I'm sure you could draw basic outlines on dotted fabric, or let them make their own pictures.   

Miss 7 made these earlier in the year to put in the Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes.  



AND MORE MISCELLANEOUS IDEAS
This game looks really fascinating if you'd like to learn how to use chopsticks.  Fairly easy to organise, I would think.

Here's a great idea for some Christmas craft that could appeal to various ages and the kids could make it as simple or as complicated as they like.  

This looks like a great alternative painting activity for older kids that could lend itself to all sorts of creativity.

The lady at the above website is a pediatric occupational therapist and has some great ideas for building those fine motor skills in older children.  

I like the look of this one from her website, using little white balls, pipe cleaners and pieces of pool noodle.   There is no end to what children can create with these.   

So, I hope I've inspired you to find fun and interesting ways to build those fine motor skills in and with your children, using activities that can be adapted to various ages and stages, including your own!      

Have fun!     I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything you've seen or tried. 




Saturday, 10 December 2016

Giving Gifts that Give Back

So, this year, in the silly season, I have set myself a challenge - to buy gifts for people that also give back to the seller in some way, and to avoid the trappings of expensive shops and their expensive, flashy, must-have gifts.   We walked through a large shopping mall last weekend and I felt quite sick seeing how much commercialism has taken over our Christmas season.   I wonder have we lost the point of it all?   It confirmed for me that I had made the right decision, spending the last couple of months in op-shops and online instead.  

I've had opportunity to look in a LOT of op-shops in the last month or so (over 20 different op-shops) and I've found some rather unique gifts.   And I'm happy to report that God has sent some really interesting choices along the way for me to look at.  It's also been good to think about each purchase and its potential recipient, rather than just buying something for the sake of buying a gift.  

Shopping in these places is like being in a treasure trove - it's amazing what you find, in good condition, at reasonable prices.  If your gift recipients are not offended at near-new items, it's a great choice for Christmas shopping.    Sometimes you can find new items as well and children, in particular, do not mind receiving pre-loved treasures.    These op-shops run various charitable services, and they include Lifeline, Vinnies, Red Cross, Lions, Salvos and many other, more localized charities. 

I'm also trying to buy from small businesses, run by one or two people or families.   Many mums at home run small businesses to supplement their family's income and they could do with the support of other mums and families.   

And I've also opted to buy from charities.    Charities can be large or small, well-recognised or just quietly getting on with helping people.   One of my favourite charities is Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, which is the charity arm of Catherine Hamlin's amazing ministry to the women of Ethiopia who have suffered fistula injuries in childbirth.  Their Australian branch can be found here.   Catherine's organisation also trains midwives to prevent fistula injuries.   The gifts in the Hamlin Store are made by the ladies who have come to their hospital and clinics for treatment, and the money goes back to them.  There is also an opportunity to buy  presents for these women and to receive a gift card thanking you for those gifts.   I bought some items from them just this last week and they came within a few days.  

I'm also making a few gifts, as I usually do at this time of the year, and making them specifically to suit the person receiving them.    This year I'm sewing, painting and laminating, cooking, and collecting various items and presenting them in simple plastic containers with a bit of curling ribbon and fabric.  I'll show you some photos in the next blog post, when I have them finished.  

Of course, I can't show you all the gifts that I'm finding and buying and making, because that would spoil the surprise for those receiving them!    Perhaps after Christmas, I will show you many of the treasures I've found.     For now though, I'll give you a peek at what I've found for those who don't read blogs!




So, with all that in mind, can I challenge you to look beyond the big stores and the 'easy' gift ideas, and buy gifts that give back to those selling them, both now and beyond the silly season?    You'll save money, have fun in the treasure troves, and be helping someone other than the big money-making corporations. 

Below, I have outlined some of my choices and bargains for this year.    I will show you more after Christmas, when the blog readers have received their gifts.  

I have also included suggestions from others for buying gifts that give back, beyond this crazy season of buying, buying, buying.  

Wholefood Simply - Bianca has come from a place of chronic illness requiring radical dietary changes and so has come up with new ways of making and enjoying old treats.   She is a wife and mum and she has many recipe books out, filled with great recipes, amazing anecdotes and tips.   Her website is well worth a look.  

It's Not Ok - This is an organisation set up to rescue young girls from sexual slavery in Asia.    Please read about it, and see if their gifts would suit someone in your circle.  Their gifts are hand-made by those that have been rescued and are reasonably priced.   Or you can donate or even sponsor a girl that has been rescued.  

Created to Be Books I've bought a selection of these books for my daughters and my granddaughters.    These are written by a Mum who wants to encourage and instill Godly character traits in her young children, written for both boys and girls.   We have a couple of her books and will be buying more.    They are available by clicking the icon for Australian orders at the link above.   If you follow this link, it will tell you more about the books and why they were written.

Jamberry Nail Products  -   This is a small business run by, Jo,  a friend of mine.   She is selling Jamberry Nail products, for those of you who like to pretty up your nails.  Jo says that her nails are nice and strong with these products and they looked great last time I saw her.  Even her toenails were decorated!     You don't have to join up to anything to buy from her and she has a huge range of nails and nail kits to choose from.   

Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper   Yep, that's right - toilet paper - no worse than socks and undies as a viable gift.    This is toilet paper that is apparently very soft and 50% of their profits are used to help build toilets in the developing world.   Now, there's a worthy cause.    We take toilets for granted, but for 40% of the world's population, toilets are not standard fare.  This group also sell tissues.    You can find out more here about their product, their purpose and their store - just scroll all the way down to find out more.    And you can save 8.37% on your first order!!  

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks -  These look great!  You can watch the video about them here.   I think it could be a future investment for us.    They're not cheap, but they would last for years and span over several seasons of a child's development and last into your grandchildren season.      My girls love wooden blocks, but they do tend to fall apart, whereas these blocks stick together with the aid of strong magnets.   The possibilities are endless.   And they give back by helping people in Nicaragua have meaningful employment.  The manufacturers also give back by replanting more trees than they use.    They are available in Australia from  thenile.com.au

Food Wraps - these look like a great alternative to plastic containers and bags for food storage.    These Gingham and Wax wraps are made with simple materials and ingredients by Nina in the beautiful Blue Mountains.   If you're keen to use something other than plastic to wrap and store food, then please look at these.    

Destiny Rescue Jewellery and Accessories - have a look at these lovely products, including jewellery and aprons, made by girls who have been rescued from sexual slavery.     Please read about their organisation and consider buying something.   We can't imagine our daughters being caught up in this kind of exploitation.   Even one gift can make a difference in their lives. 

These Weighted Blankets look so soft and warm.   And Sam offers to weight your favourite toy as well.  What a great gift for a grandchild!   

These Smart Calendars look like a great, family-friendly way to manage time and activities for all the family.  These are made by Amanda, a busy Mum, who saw a need and has come up with a great idea.     Well worth checking out. 

Breastfeeding Covers and Baby Shower Gifts at Nandewar Nursery    Ebonnie Whan makes breastfeeding covers and Baby shower gifts in our local town.   What a great idea, obviously inspired by her own need and her love of sewing.    Even if you aren't anywhere near Narrabri in north-western NSW, why not look around your local area or on Facebook and see what local crafty people are making that you could give as gifts.  

Point Production and Design, Teacher resources - This lady, Naomi Williamson, has a lot of experience and qualifications in the education field and specialises in writing and developing quality resources to save teachers time.    Well worth checking out.  

And lastly, this is a large directory of small businesses, run by Australian homeschooling/unschooling families, and put together by Beverley Paine from The Educating Parent.   The family businesses start from page 58.   Well worth a look - a huge variety of resources and services here, plus lots of info on homeschooling and unschooling in all states and territories in Australia.   

Okay, so these are just some of the sources that I have used or have been suggested to me by others.  

There are so many more options, including looking locally for your small businesses, going to your local markets, art/craft galleries, Facebook groups, etc.  

Every time we buy something cheap (or even expensive) from a $2 shop or some larger firm, who are we really helping?   And obviously, there's a place for buying things from these places, but we can actually help real people and bless people we love, when we look beyond the easy, crazy gifts, and dig for treasure.  

So, if you haven't finished your Christmas shopping (and most of us haven't) then please look through the options, or dig out others, and think about giving gifts that give back this season.   There is still time to dig a bit deeper than the big stores and find some real treasures.  

"...remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"   Acts 20:35

Saturday, 15 October 2016

When Someone Reads Your Mail

Years ago, when we first started learning about the value of spiritual gifts and receiving words of knowledge, my husband adopted a phrase he heard, probably from John Wimber - 'when someone reads your mail'. 

Mail is pretty private, really, when it comes right down to it, whether it's a personal letter or a bank statement, an invitation or a bill.   We don't really appreciate someone reading our mail, do we?  I don't.   

The contents of our mail can say a lot about us, and I guess that's why police and other investigators use it as evidence in courts of law, and why we can use it to prove our identity or facts about us.

But sometimes, just sometimes, God lets someone read our mail.     And if it is God, and they are listening to Him, and careful to obey Him, those sometimes can be powerful turning points in our lives.  

I like to keep my private stuff mostly private, and pick who I share it with.   Maybe you're the same.  So, I don't always appreciate God telling someone else what is going on in my life.    But on those occasions where He has, and where that person has been brave enough to say so, and mature enough to handle it well, I've been blessed and set free from something. 

You see, hidden stuff is the devil's playground and he loves to mess with the stuff going on in our heads and hearts.    We only get deeper and deeper into our mess when we keep that stuff hidden.   His plan is to mess, destroy, steal, kill and to keep us in his playground.  

And God likes to expose hidden stuff, not to hurt or shame us, but to free us from the devil's playground, to be playing and living somewhere that's light and safe and nourishing, and encouraging others to do the same. 

Which is why words of knowledge and wisdom can be very powerful tools in God's toolbox, and ours, to help people get free of stuff. 

One day, someone 'read my mail' and prayed for me in a way that was much more effective than anything anyone else was trying.  He saw what was going on in my life, its source (judgement from those over me) and how to pray for it.   I went from being able to barely breathe or function, and falling asleep at 11am every morning, to functioning normally, almost instantly.  

Another time a friend 'read my mail' and saw behind the obvious problem to the real issue, led me to a place of repentance, and once again, I was instantly healed.  

These are just two examples of times when God has allowed someone to read my mail and where they have listened and obeyed.  One time, the affliction was from an outer source; the other time, from my own bitterness and angst.   In one case, it was from a friend; in another case, from someone I'd never met.    

And there have been many times in private conversation with a trusted friend where God has done the same thing - insight into the pain behind the obvious, and words from God on how to move forward.

How healing is a timely word. 

He came that we might have life, and live it abundantly, not in the devil's playground, but in a playground built for us.    He came for us to get free and stay free. 




The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Linking up with Five Minute Friday - a writing party happening every Friday where we write for five minutes on a given prompt.  This week's prompt is 'mail'. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Who's Testing Me?



Sometimes, life feels like a giant test - a test that you can't pass, a test that's designed to make you look and feel like a failure, that's designed to keep you down, to make you feel silly, to bring you down and keep you there.  

How much more work can someone pile on your plate before you run out of strength?   How much more pain can you endure before you can't take it any more?  How many more mental games can you navigate before you finally crack?   How many more times can you get it wrong?   How much can you keep giving before there's nothing left to give?    How often can you bounce back up when you're knocked down?    How much testing can one person endure before something is broken? 

Sounds like the enemy's work to me.   He comes to steal, kill and destroy.    His plan is to break us, to break our trust, break our strength, break our hearts.  

But, God is good, and I've learnt that believing anything else is a dangerous place to be when you're in a test of any kind.  Whether it's God-made, man-made, enemy-made, or, as is often the case, a combination of the afore-mentioned, mixed with consequences of my sin and/or someone else's, God is the only sure footing.   Sometimes, a determined belief in and experience of the goodness of God is the only comfort in the test, and should be added to a listening ear, to hear HIS perspective on the test and its source and its purpose. 

One of the hardest parts in the middle of the test is believing and knowing that God isn't out to break us, bring us down, keep us down, belittle us, make us feel or look small.   That's not what His tests are designed to do.    His tests are designed to make us shine!  


This little rose plant is the same as in the picture above!   Only God can make us shine like that! 

The Bible says God tests us and that the testing of our faith is good for us.   
  
Don't know about you, but severe and constant testing doesn't feel 'good' at all to me.  

Something I learned in the first round of homeschooling, that was a revelation to me, because of my schooling and my upbringing, is that tests should NOT be used to shame and belittle, but to help the student to learn something, see a weakness and work towards fixing it, build knowledge, make room for growth.  They also shouldn't be the main part of education - so foreign to how I'd been tested.   And testing to a high standard is good, because otherwise we never pass the test or move on to another one - we're stuck at that level of knowledge, maturity, growth and with it, frustration and apathy. 

I'm so glad that God's testing is always motivated by His mercy, in its many forms, and not by pride, superiority, insecurity, perfectionism or other traits that have been inherent in my human testers.
  
Did you know that the silversmith knows that the silver is at its purest when he can finally see his reflection in it?

And did you know that the gardener is never as close to his roses as when he's pruning them? 

God's testing is up close and personal, not like the tests handed out in big high school auditoriums,  or by an enemy who views us with disdain or someone who is insecure and needs us to be 'down there'.    And with God, we don't have to pull back when the results aren't great - the results don't surprise Him, though they often surprise us.   

So, note to self, once again, trust God's goodness in the test, don't assume it's all Him, and listen to His still, small voice in the storm - it's there.  

Psalm 51: 10- 12    Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.   Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.   Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Linking up at Five Minute Friday, where we write for five minutes on a given prompt.   This week's prompt word is 'test'. 

Photos courtesy of our friend, Suzy.  


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Five Miracles and Five Privileges


Once upon a time, there were three little girls and their sad little Mummy.   Not sad because there were three of them, nor because they were girls, but because they were growing out of being little and there were no more coming behind them.    I always felt we were supposed to have five children, and yet all that was happening was one miscarriage after another, usually in the early stages.   

After yet another miscarriage, this time at ten weeks, just after we moved to the farm, I finally went to the doctor and she suggested some tests.    She ran the tests and called me in to make an appointment.  Out in the waiting room, my ever-growing little girls played in the toy section, and I waited to hear my results.  She started with a strange question.

'Those three little girls out there - they are yours, aren't they?'  

'Yes, they are - you were my doctor for one of them, remember.'

'Well, it's just that these genetic and other tests show that it's physically and genetically impossible for you to stay pregnant long enough to have a healthy baby.   You need to go home and enjoy the ones you do have, though it's beyond me how that happened.  And don't start with the God-stuff - you know where I stand on that!'   

So I went home, sad and grateful.   Sad that there would be no more, and grateful that God had performed three miracles that science couldn't account for.

After a time of grieving any future possibilities, God showed me very clearly that I needed to change my attitude and find contentment in who my girls were at their various ages and stages.  

Contentment is a hard thing to choose when you're pretty sure the status quo isn't going to change.  It's one thing to be content for the time being, with the hope of future possibilities.    But it's quite another thing to choose contentment when this is all there is. 

But I did choose contentment and I found a new appreciation for the girls, and their ages and stages, and a new appreciation for each of them for who they were, and not just part of my mothering dream.    I realised that while I was pining for another baby and then another, I wasn't loving well the ones I  had already been given.   So, I chose contentment and it brought me a great deal of freedom from many things. 

But, I pretty much gave up on my dream of five children.

But, many years later, we were surprised with another miracle and another privilege.   By this time, my older girls were 16, 13 and 11 and they were pretty convinced I was either pregnant or had a brain tumour!!   They were relieved to find out I was 14 weeks pregnant.    We welcomed Raelee Rose the following May, and a few years later, we welcomed Abigail Eloise, 21 years, almost to the day, after her oldest sister was born. 

I had my five, the number I always thought I'd have, with doctors still sprouting their negativity and their disbelief and their worst-case scenarios, 'You need to have an abortion, you're too old, you need to get over yourself and get a life, this will happen and that will happen, ....... blah, blah, blah.' 

Well, here I am, the mother of five miracles and five privileges.     I am still trying to get a current photo of all five girls in the one place at the one time.    One day!   This one was taken when Abi was just a few days old. 


And these are our two youngest miracles now.  


And on the hard days of parenting and sleep-deprivation, I need to remember my story of five - and the privilege that I have been given.   For many of us, conception and pregnancy and birth are not a given - it's not that easy.  

But for all of us, regardless of how 'easy' it is, our children are a privilege and we do well to remember it, on the hard days and the good days.   

Children are not just the fulfilment of our dream - they are a gift from God and a heritage - a huge privilege. 

Psalm 127:3  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Linking up with other writers at Five Minute Friday, a writing party on a given prompt.  Today's prompt word is 'five'.