brain farts, Life in youth ministry, Uncategorized

Incomplete

incomplete

Does the word ‘incomplete‘ stress anybody else out? Leaving tasks or jobs or assignments only half-done, or slightly attempted? This is something that really irks me – really pushes my limits. Even if it’s just the laundry – bringing in the dry stuff, but not going the next step and actually folding and putting it away. Bringing it in is only half the job. It’s incomplete. Blegh.

The last few weeks have been filled with assignments, readings, power-points and even some oral presentations as I squelch my way through an intensive Certificate IV. I worked my rear end off in the first 2 weeks to stay up to speed with everyone in my class who was able to attend face-to-face sessions whilst I was not. I submitted stuff, I worked into the wee hours and I bailed on things like vacuuming and doing the dishes.

This meant my house felt incomplete. It meant my weeks felt unfinished because I hadn’t done what I usually do.

Then I got – by the grace of God – to the final sections of this course (which has been a struggle at the best of times) and realised there’s a possibility I may not complete it due to some of the final requirements. So my house is back to being completed on a weekly basis, but now my assignments and my course may go incomplete.

Anyone else feeling that tension? Urgh. The very thought that I worked so hard for something that might now actually not eventuate brings on the tears and the panic and the guilt. The ‘incompletness’ of it makes me feel like I was never going to be good enough to finish it in the fist place, so why did I try? Why did I try something new?

During my latest episode of stress induced guilt and tears (or was it guilt induced tears and stress…?) over it all, this memory flashed into my mind:

image1 (8)

A lovely friend had this made up for my birthday. It’s one-of-a-kind. Hand-made. Unique to me and created for who she knows I am. And you know what? I got a little perspective. I am not this course – complete or incomplete. I am not the vacuuming – done or not done. I am not the washing or the folding or the dishes or the gardening…I’m actually none of the things that I put such incredible pressure on myself to have complete.

I’m the sort of person who gets lost, pretty quick, in the concept that my feelings or my actions or even my thoughts or what someone says about me is what I am.

God’s Word says the opposite though – there’s so much more to who I am in Christ than what I can complete. I am actually enough already, regardless of whether the washing gets done today or not.

And I am enough already regardless of whether I get a full course completion or not. Who am I performing in the course for anyway…? God? Me? The facilitator? My boss? At the end of the day, the skills and knowledge that I learned along the way aren’t forgotten because I may or may not get a piece of paper at the end. The people I met and the conversations I had during that time aren’t nothing. Every experience I have is worth it because I learnt something and it was were I was meant to be at that time…so complete or not, I guess what I’m learning now is that the outcome doesn’t define my worth or competence.

Completing the course doesn’t define my abilities and role as a student or an employee and completing the dishes or the laundry doesn’t define my abilities and role as a mother and wife either…I. Am. Enough.

baby J

Motherhood…

motherhood

In light of the recent celebrations surrounding Mother’s Day, I felt like I wanted to read through a handful of blogs and articles and posts from other mamas about things they’re learning or have experienced while on their own motherhood journey. While I was reading these, I was touched and inspired; I laughed and I related to their stories. Then I thought, what’s my story…in this moment, in this space, in this month of 2017?

It’s this –

There are myriad of things that I could write about to express what I’ve discovered about motherhood, myself, my relationships and my life since I became a parent…but what about this?

What about the fact that I have learnt to fully love The Wiggles? Like – I mean l o v e them! I would put that CD on all day if I could! “Do the propeller, do the propeller…!”

What about the fact that kid clothes shopping is quite literally a trap and I have to consciously tell myself that my daughter does not need anything more! But it’s all so cute! Waaahh! Why doesn’t that little jacket come in adult sizes?!

What about the fact that I can actually live off half-eaten pieces of cheese and pretzels, some leftover grapes and room temp coffee for lunch? Sometimes I get the tail end of a boiled egg too – talk about spoilt!

What about the fact that I now pay a ridiculously close amount of attention to trucks, motorbikes, busses and trains so that I can participate in the excitement that Little E shows when we come across any one of them? It’s the highlight of any outing!

What about the fact that my love of stationary is showing up in my daughter and we now spend quite some time immersed in notebooks, pencil cases, crayon boxes and sticker sheets and I sort of feel like I’m in heaven! *sigh* YES!

What about the fact that, for someone who will almost never bust a move in a public setting, I now end up (quite happily too I might add) dancing around the house to various tunes and copying the steps of a 1-and-a-bit year old…not a day goes by where I’m not being told to get up and dance!

What about the fact that I love seeing our Little E getting know each of her Titas and Titos in different ways? Music, song, games, food…the connections that I get to witness are pretty special and it’s interesting to see a part of yourself experiencing things afresh through this mini person.

So I guess what I’m saying is that while I’ve learnt some serious, important, self-discovery things on this short parenthood path, I have also learnt some fun, random stuff that just makes each day bright with giggles and memories!

brain farts, Uncategorized

Dear me…

dear-me-pic

Dear Me,
I’m future you! Fancy that. I want to tell you a few things that these years have shown me and taught me…they won’t change you in the past, but they can help you as the years roll on.

You are beautiful. You already are. You actually always were and it bums me out that you never accepted that. Your clothing size – doesn’t matter. Your university qualifications – not where you find your worth. Your job – not what makes you who you are. Having said all that, I want you to know that being a mother also doesn’t define you…you will love your new role as Little E’s mum and you will learn crazy-amounts about yourself, your husband, your family and your friendships…but it doesn’t make you who you are.

Dear past-me…enjoy life where you are because this version of you and the things you’re doing won’t exist soon. God is shaping and changing you with each new experience. Learn to love the you that you are today and lean in to the changes and the challenges. Don’t try so hard to cling to the past, to the things that you used to know…they served you well and were important for a time, but God is leading you down paths that you can’t even imagine! Adventures await, and if you hold on too tightly, you’ll miss them.

Don’t get so caught up in people-pleasing, following the crowd, doing things you think people expect you to do and trying to fit in…future you knows that those things don’t matter! Future you knows that your time and heart will be too full of better things to worry about the trivial. Stand out! Stand out and stand up – be an example to the daughter who is watching you so intently.

Don’t compare your journey with those around you…there isn’t another you and there isn’t a story the same – so why bother? Focus on where God is taking you, your family, your world and go there! Look up, look forward…

Read more.
Watch less.
Cook more.
Walk more.
Try new things.
Say ‘I love you’ all the time.
Hug more.
High five more.
Laugh more and be silly more…what do you have to lose?

That saying ‘dance like no one is watching’…? Yeh, actually do that, would you? Dance with Little E because one day, she’ll probably ask you to drop her off a block from her friend’s house and give you a nod while her headphones are glued to her ears instead.

Past-me, I liked you. But future-you will be even better because of Who created you. Who you are comes from Someone greater, so you know it’s good! Past-me, I hope you know I appreciate what you did for future-me…you’ve helped me as the years have rolled on.

(image courtesy of pinterest)

baby J

Tiny Hearts

tiny hearts

First Aid.
Two little words can bring such an uncofmortable sense of fear to a person’s mind, am I right? The very thought of having someone near me need First Aid is terrifying, let alone it be MY responsibility to administer it! *instert the emoji with his hands on his cheeks*

I’ve always done the minimum requirement for First Aid training for my jobs – you know the one where you turn up for a slog of a day, wrap a couple of bandages in a way you’ll never ever remember, practice CPR on a creepy dummy (while consistently screwing up how many breathes to pumps and which beat you’re meant to be doing it too) and try to distinguish between the different techniques for treating different kinds of bites. Pass me a coffee. I’m tired already.

So when my Little E started to get her move on – swinging from light fixtures and hanging off the backs of chairs – (ok, not quite that drastic, but she was definitely not a sweet pile of baby just plonked on the carpet anymore!) I decided that I should know a little more about how to help her should she get herself into strife. I was at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s expo this year and wandered past the Tiny Hearts First Aid stand and its nurses dressed in pink and I was instantly a fan. They were cute. They were sweet. They were friendly. They were professional. They were knowledgeable. I was in. I signed up for a course in July and last Sunday, I did it.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, other than First Aid that was specific to children and babies…but man I wasn’t ready to be engaged as well! Ha! Imagine, learning how to potentially save a life and actually enjoying it! Shiverrrrssss……

Anyway, massive props to Rachel (who happened to be one of the founders of Tiny Hearts) who delivered our course – she was so knowledgeable about First Aid I wondered whether she just lived, breathed and ate her job! She was also friendly, well-paced and answered any question – no matter how silly it might have felt to ask it – from us parents and parents-to-be and grandparents. What a gem! I could not recommend the course enough afterwards either! I felt truly equipped to jump in and help my Little E should the need ever arise (hopefully not!). They also have the only nationally recognised paediatric First Aid kit available which is on my list to keep at home.

first aid kit

If you have kids anywhere in your life, I would so so encourage you to jump into a Tiny Hearts First Aid sesh and skill yourself up…you could save a life.

#proactiveparents
#tinyheartsfirstaid

save a life

(images courtesy of the Tiny Hearts Facebook page – hit it up!)

baby J

You ARE…

  

The pressure we face as mothers is undeniably huge…there are thousands upon thousands of blogs, magazines, shows, gurus and books dedicated solely to navigating the extremely deep waters mothers find themselves swimming about in, placed there by society and themselves.
Trust me – I’ve looked. 
To be not only mother, but to be wife is a big job in itself. Add on top of that those mothers who work full time or part time; mothers who do the family finances; cook and clean and show up to every music class and swimming lesson and playgroup there is. Mothers who serve in church communities; mothers of multiples; mothers who care for elderly family members and mothers who are doing it solo. 
The pressure to BE something screams like a banshee in a megaphone…BE more on time. BE available to your friends. BE showered and dressed. BE your before-baby weight. BE present at events even if you’ve had 2 hours sleep and your kids nose is running like the Nile. BE a beautiful homemaker and don’t forget to post it on social media while you’re at it. BE BE BE. 
So stop for a moment, coz I’d like to call out all us mothers who are drowning in the sea of Trying To Be. I’m calling you out and saying YOU ALREADY ARE. Mama, you already ARE on time. Your kid eats and sleeps – you’re already on time for them. You already ARE available to friends, but the ones who know that availability might be via a text, are the ones who deserve it. You already ARE dressed – trackies and a jumper are just as much clothing as Kim Kardashian’s skin coloured bandage dress…possibly more so. You already ARE the right weight for where you are in life. There’s nothing wrong with working towards a goal weight post-baby, but never forget the insanely incredible feat your body was intricately designed to do in carrying a human out into the world. You already ARE present. Present where it counts – at the edge of the cot when bub wakes, at the counter cutting up fruit and at the playground pushing your kid as high as they want to go. You already ARE a homemaker because your family unit – whatever that looks like – IS a home.
Mama, I’m talking to you. I’m talking to myself. I’m talking to all the mothers who feel like they’re drowning in the sea of pressure to constantly BE something to so many … STOP! Stop and look at your baby, your 2 year old, your pre-schooler, your teenager and really LOOK. Are they judging you? Are they determining your value and worth? Are they deciding whether you’re enough of a woman to be their mother? No. Because you ARE their mother. You. Already. ARE.
“Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” <Matt 11:28-30>

brain farts

Dream on

It’s been a while since I tapped out a blog…it’s been a while since I read a blog too! Actually, if I think about it, it’s been a while since I’ve read ANYTHING…that’s not good. I love reading – always have. As a kid, I was so into books and stories and reading that I’d take a book just about anywhere! Every school holidays, I’d have a sleepover at my grandparents and my Grandma would take me to op-shops and second hand bookstores and we’d hunt for the authors and stories that I loved…they are some of my fondest memories!

My affinity for the written word carried well on into my teens and young adulthood. I took a creative writing class in University and have several – make that many – unfinished pieces on my laptop and iPad. I’ve been to meet-the-author evenings; I’ve had email conversations with several authors and have even had the odd short peice published here and there, just locally. I am now a qualified English teacher – specialising in teaching English to speakers of other languages – because I love words and how they fit together to create conversation, story, ideas and convey dreams…

Dreams…

This brings me to why I felt the need to write something tonight…and not just a blog. Today, while my Little E was having her afternoon nap, I found a quiet moment to brew a coffee, sit on the carpet and open a magazine I was given a while ago but never really had the chance to properly devour. Article after article I read spoke about dreams. Passions. Loves. Desires. All things that God has weaved into the fabric of His children…the dreams we have and the passions we’re sparked with are God-given and when we act on those, we bring glory to His name.

So it struck me when so many of the articles I was reading were entrenched with the writer’s passions and dreams…they spoke of following these and seeing them realised in the here and now which is so exciting! They spoke of seeing fruition come from pushing through the fear and the unknowns surrounding these dreams and seeing God’s hand on the outcome…and it made me wonder…what’s my dream? REALLY, what’s my honest-to-goodness dream?

It didn’t take long for an answer to come…I want to write a book and I want it to be published. Always, always have I had this in the very back, dusty corners of my mind…just whittling away the time until I would reach back and embrace it, ready to run!

Now, I have no idea where to start with this…because ‘start’ is a bit of a dark thunder cloud for me. I have started SO MANY different pieces before – different styles, different genres, different lengths, different points of view and even for different purposes in the end – and each has finished the same way…incomplete and saved to a folder I probably won’t open until I need to clear space and delete them. So if this truly is my dream why can’t I see it properly? Why is it so exhausting thinking about it? Is it because of all the failed attempts? Am I simply tired and afraid that it will just be another piece in those unfinished folders, waiting for the trash can click? Quite possibly. I get totally inspired reading articles like those from today, but then I go to put ‘pen to paper’ as it were for myself and I already have writer’s block! *grumble grumble*

There’s a quote that’s fitting here isn’t there? Edison I think – “I have not failed. I have just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.” Fitting. So fitting in fact, it’s like Kim Kardashian in one of those bandaid-tight dresses…so I guess I should listen, right? I mean, I’m hardly at 10 000 written pieces yet so I’ve got a ways to go 😉 blogging is a start, getting the juices going…what’s next? I guess I’ll just have to type and see!

What’s your dream…?

baby J

Not a size 10 anymore

(Courtesy of Pinterest)
(Courtesy of Pinterest)

Type ‘post baby body’ into just about any search engine and you’ll get a ridiculous number of images, articles, blogs and opinions. Typing it into Google alone brings up 220,000,000 results in 0.4 seconds..! Type the same 3 words into Pinterest and you get all kinds of goodies – everything from ‘Diary of a Fit Mommy’ with an image of a giant belly next to an image of a 6 pack to ‘Best Foods for Weightloss While Breastfeeding’ to ‘Stay-At-Home SKinny’. There are so many voices telling mums – mums like me – that the ‘post baby body’ needs to be extensively worked on to get back to the before baby body that we once had.

First of all, my ‘before baby body’ wasn’t a 6 pack – so I can skip over that blog with ease (buh-bye!) and my ‘before baby body’ wasn’t due to a vegan non-GMO diet either, so what does that mean for me? How do I ‘deal with’ this post baby body? Like this:

(Courtesy of Pinterest)
(Courtesy of Pinterest)

Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t have a perfect, healthy, well-rounded view of my body – I never have. I used to hardly ever eat when I was in school. I’d throw lunches away, suck in my non-existent stomach and claim I was full from my tiny muesli bar at recess time. In Uni, I would make salad and tuna lunches almost every day and wouldn’t snack if people were around. I never thought I was ‘fat’ per se, but I definitely wanted to control what I looked like.

When I was pregnant, everything swelled – and I mean everything! Not only did my stomach grow due to the tiny human being created inside, my ankles doubled, my fingers doubled, my face puffed up and my thighs touched like they’d been separated at birth and missed each other terribly…and for most of those loooong months, I was ok with that. There was a small, new life being formed and that was why my body was looking the way it was. By the end I was over not being ale to wear anything but one pair of maternity leggings and one flowy dress with flip-flops, but over all – I’d been ok with how the person in the mirror had changed.

Now, it’s been 11 weeks since my Little E joined our team and I’ve been asked twice when my baby is due. Can I get a face palm here please? Little E, swimming in excess amniotic fluid, came into this world via a c-section, so not only does my body have months and months of settling down to do, it had recovery from major surgery to deal with too. So yes – I’m still wearing those maternity leggings and those maternity jeans and those flowy tops. So yes – my stomach sticks out and I do look 5 months pregnant still. So yes – my thighs are still loving on each other and my engagement ring still doesn’t fit back on my left hand…BUT one look at my Little E and all that disappears because she’s gurgling and smiling and grabbing her toys and that little body was housed in mine! My body was used to bring that little one into this world and of course I won’t have my ‘before baby body’!

In fact I’ve recently been thinking about it this way – I’ll never be 18 years old again. I’ll never be a high school student again. I’ll never be 21 again, I’ll never have my first driving lesson again, I’ll never travel on a plane for the first time again…so why should I get so hung up on the fact that I’ll never be like I used to be again? My life is forever different – my Little E has changed that without a doubt – so the desire for a before baby body for me (and granted, this isn’t for everyone, I get that) isn’t high on my prioroties list. I want to be healthy, I want to enjoy where we are in life and set good examples and rhythms for this little life that doesn’t care what I look like or that I don’t fit a size 10 anymore. To her, I’m just her Mama – her ‘Ima’ – and that’s enough for her, so I’m learning that it will be enough for me too. For me there has to be no ‘before’ or ‘post’ when it comes to my body, it has to just be the next stage, the next journey…just me.