Monday, 21 January 2013

Being a Godly parent...gulp!


I can clearly remember being pregnant with our eldest son. There were so many emotions stirring around with those darn hormones that hit you like a freight train...feelings of excitement, wonder, nerves, expectation, and fear to name but a few!
Aswell as hormones and emotions, there were also many many unasked for opinions, "words of wisdom," from people who had been there, done that and a whole flurry of books all wanting to tell me how to be a mum to our newborn.
I was actually quite relieved that parenting didn't come with a manual and that I had steered clear of parenting books...this allowed me to nurture, befriend and mummy my tiny boy in a way that suited us...that I didn't build up false hope or strive to be like someone else, but instead built up my own confidence as my child thrived, and our routine fell into place.
Fast forward 10 years and that tiny bundle will be 10 this coming Wednesday... and added to the brood are three more boys and a little girl! Yes...I believe I could probably write my own parenting book to add to the shelves when it comes to pregnancy, child birth and raising 0-10 year olds!

But, actually, for me...as my children get older...especially our eldest son...I'm now VERY grateful for the little pearls of wisdom that comes from mums who HAVE been there, done that! My husband and I find ourselves in new territory as parents!
Let me tell you people, parenting REALLY begins once the little cherubs are out of nappies, bored of playing with duplo and are in the big wide world of school!!! It's a whole new journey...especially once they reach Joshua's stage of nearing the end of Junior school and are behaving like a PRE-teen already!

Whilst I still have a strong confidence in my ability to parent, I've really learnt and embraced that actually the best "manual" for parenting advice is my bible- whilst it doesn't have a chapter titled "how to stop your children whining," it is full of words of encouragement, hope and wisdom for me which ultimately help me handle those whining moments. I also know the best voice to gain affirming words from is that of my Father God...who is the ultimate parent over both my children and I - He chose me to be a mummy to these 5 little people and is ready and full of the right guidance and direction for us all.....and lastly that the best reality check is to humble myself and speak with trusted friends and mums who have been through parenting a child of Joshua's age....And beyond! Of course I know every child is different, and mine totally are. Yes, the four boys are typical boys, but each has their own character, interests and behavioural traits. As for little madam princess, well she's pretty similar to most 18months old, but I am learning parenting a girl IS different to parenting boys! Hearing from others who have been where we are is encouraging...and we can chose the advice we follow...the little gems we hold onto and the ones we decide are not for us...simple! It's so much worse keeping schtum and feeling lonely and a failure!

Today, I just want to encourage other parents that we don't have to have all the answers, and we don't have to fit a certain mould as a parent, but what we do need to do is unconditionally love our children just as God unconditionally loves us and to stand by what we believe is right when it comes to being blessed with being parents.
I'm learning the older our children get, that there is an overwhelming worldly pressure to buy them the latest gadgets, a certain brand of trainers, coat, stunt scooter (yes really!) and that whatever bedtime you set, just isn't as late as Percy Pickle from class 5B!
I want to tell you, we don't have to succumb to being told how to parent our children and provide for them by the worlds view...we can be the best example to them by setting our own safe boundaries, playing fair and meeting them in compromise at times when compromise can be agreed on and mainly for those of us who have faith, by living as best as WE can to be the example of a Godly parent to them.
The bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it!"
Being a parent is challenging for anyone...but add the mix of being Christian parent into all those door slamming, stomping up the stairs, "it's not fair" moments and you learn a whole lot more about having the same grace that God shows us! It's testing, it's tiresome...and I know I'm only at the beginning of this part of the journey!!!!

I think the biggest part of the challenge for us as Christian parents is to be able to pass on and share our faith with our children whose priorities could easily become the latest fashions, gadgets, video games and so on. And lets not ignore the fact that peer pressure and media would welcome our children to at a young age experiment with alcohol, drugs and get involved sexually. These things could scare me when I think of my children growing up...but I put my trust in knowing that if my husband and I continue to live out our faith in our own family's lives- by this I mean showing love, compassion, kindness, generosity, sharing Gods word together, praying together, worshipping together, chatting together, and attending church together....our children will (and do) see this and it will become a natural way of life for them too.
The bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."
Simply this means, wherever we are, whatever we are doing...we should be living out our faith for all to see...not compromising what Gods word tells us and always being that example to our children.
Not always easy, this I know...but lets be encouraged and up for the challenge of not losing heart and keeping God in the centre of all we do...around and for our kiddies!
Of course, there are and will continue to be times when our children mess up...make mistakes...give us abit too much back chat, fib about who did actually eat all the biscuits, say a swear word, get in trouble at school for pushing Percy Pickle from class 5B (no doubt during that debate about their bedtimes!) and we as parents find ourselves in the bubble of discipline. Again, this is an area I constantly pray for wisdom in...to discipline fairly, not to lack in the right kind of discipline for each individual child and their different ages, not to overdo the discipline...it's a constant debate amongst parenting experts I'm sure - I've heard many a person say discipline is cruel, harsh, not fair, confusing for a child etc...but I trust again in what my bible tells me... in Proverbs 13:24 to be precise "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves his children is careful to discipline them!" Whilst this may read harshly, I do get the overall meaning of if we don't correct and discipline our children in the right manner (again, this is whatever works for your family) we fail them by not teaching them boundaries, good behaviour, manners and that there are consequences to how we behave. We are very much in the stage of having an 18 month old and 4 year old who get sat on the naughty step if they fail to listen when we ask them to stop something...to having a 5 and 7 year old who get sent to their bedrooms for a set amount of time and the removal of a favourite toy or game for a few days or *gasp* a full week if behaviour isn't as expected...to then having the pre-teen...who also gets things confiscated...gets sent to his room...gets grounded from parties or activities if he's pushed the limits too far...each have a chance to redeem themselves by apologising and moving on from what they were doing...and each has it explained to them by us why we felt the need to punish them.
For us...this works and our children love us, respect us and know the behaviour that is expected from them. and of course, we allow our children to correct us if the need arises. Just the other week I uttered a word at a driver that I shouldn't have who dangerously pulled out on me at a turning. Having forgotten my eldest two boys were in the back, it made me jump to hear a voice say "mummy, you just said a naughty word. That's not good!"
"Oh Grrreat!" I thought to myself, but told my boys "you know, you're so right, that wasn't good of me, and I'm really sorry I said that word. Please forgive me and don't repeat it!!!"
That simple heartfelt sentence allowed my children to know that mummy does make mistakes too, and that by me allowing them to correct me on my behaviour, I'm showing them the respect I want them to show me, and that Gods grace can flow through us all.

I know I don't have a clue what the next 5years....10years....15years....okay, okay...lifetime of parenting holds for me and my children  I do know though that I'm going to allow older, wiser, "been there, done that phase" mums to nurture me, advise me, and teach me out of love how they got through the different many seasons of raising kids...I also know I'm going to not put pressure on my family to be the UK version of the Brady Bunch...but mainly I know I have the most knowledgeable, wise, loving, graceful God on my side who adores my children so much more than me...and as much as He loves them, He loves me too..so I have every confidence if I do mess up, and utter a slightly naughty word in my car again...if my kids get me on the naughty step for half an hour (it is still a minute for every year right!) for not having the correct flavour ice-lolly in the freezer, that actually He is looking down, smiling, well pleased with this little unfolding Omokaro Legacy!

Be Blessed :-)





Saturday, 19 January 2013

Feeling rubbish!





I couldn't really think of a witty, inspiring title for today's post....so I decided to be honest...not sugar coat it and simply label it how it is...and how I'm feeling today.

For a while I was scared to admit to people when I was having a low day, for fear of being labeled as depressed. Just to clarify, I have no prejudice against depression, I dearly love and am alongside a few very close friends who do bravely battle it through it everyday...I think it's more that I know I'm a very capable person who usually just gets on with living life in all its busyness...and to admit when you feel abit overwhelmed by it and disappointed in it is quite scary.
I know I don't have depression but I do get days where I feel abit low...which I believe everyone does....we are mere humans after all...designed to experience every emotion.

I think the lie - because it is a lie - that we have to put on a happy smiley mask all the time, and act like life is just wonderful every moment of the day is a pretty dangerous one. It can stop people from trusting, sharing, be-friending and encouraging others. It can build up feelings of resentment and jealousy when we behave like our lives are constantly easy and better than those around us.

Whilst I know I am blessed with a lovely life...a trusting, loving husband, my beautiful children, our own home, food and drink to hand, clothes, friends, church life, luxuries such as my FitCamp membership, regular pedicures and eyebrow waxes...date nights or family treats...realistically these same blessings can be frustrations at times. They can test us...upset us...make life abit....bleurgh!

And despite the fact that I love to encourage, uplift and make others smile.....today reader, I unashamedly share with you that I feel rubbish. I'm not really sure why to be honest but today I just feel abit weepy, abit lonely, and abit envious of others who situations look so much better than ours...and yes, note that I put "look," as I'm not naive enough that I presume others lives are perfect...I know they are not...but it's still hard sometimes...and I feel sad for my eldest son that the birthday party he was soooo excited about had to be cancelled leaving his little heart hurt...and that situation leads me to add I also am not liking the snow...the reason for the cancellation of his party....which when you state this then leads to many people sharing how beautiful and great and perfect it is...I'm not ashamed to say...I'm not liking it! Whilst it looks nice out my window, it's ruined plans for the last couple of days (yes, I appreciate Gods plans are best...but I'm still frustrated things haven't panned out how we were hoping) and the snow is actually very inconvenient and un-necessary. Sorry! Just being truthful folks...and yes...I have played in it with my kids, and we had a genuinely fun time together....because that's what a good mum does, despite her own feelings about something....she puts them aside in front of her children to brighten their day...but in my writing I don't have to do that!

But....I know after all that in my last paragraph I'm trying my best to not dwell in self pity, because I know there are people who are having much harder testing times right now, this second compared to me. In comparison my struggles are laughable actually...silly...not that important in the grand scheme of life...but today they are trying to rest in my heart...and I know I've entertained them a little too long...I want to chose joy and happiness and peace...I chose to listen to truth, read truth and dwell on truth....

So as an encouragement to us all...be real about where you're at. You (and me...yes Stacey, and you) don't always have to be the encourager...by this I dont mean you or I should ignore others needs...I simply mean you and I are allowed to need encouragement from others (yes, Stacey, you are!)
You are allowed to say "no".... you are allowed to rest and spend time with yourself, you are allowed to say "right now...today...I'm not quite sure why...could be hormones, might not be, things feel abit sad and frustrating!" But lets not entertain these feelings for too long...really we shouldn't atall...but again, I believe that's unrealistic... some days feeling abit low is harder to shrug off than other days... But through every emotion, situation and circumstance, we have a choice...and that choice should be to turn to God...face Him and not our feelings and trust He is good!

To end, a little scripture that fits so nicely which I will rest in as today goes on....
Psalm 42:5
"Why my soul are you downcast? Why disturbed with me?
Put your hope in God, for yet I will praise Him,
My Saviour and my God!"

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Run...Goliath...Run!


1 Samuel 38-49 

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

The above extract is taken from the bible story of David and Goliath. Goliath was a philistine giant who for forty days came out to battle the Israelites and stood mocking them and threatening them about what he could do to them. Saul, the King of Israel and his army were terrified of Goliath and defeating him seemed an impossible task.
Until the day that David, a young boy was sent by his father to check how his older brothers were doing on the battle line. Upon arriving David saw Goliath doing his usual intimidating gestures and questioned who he was and why everyone was so scared of him. David offered himself to fight the giant and after much persuasion Saul allowed him to enter the battleground.
My post starts at the point in the story where Saul is helping David get dressed ready to fight and what occurs during David and Goliath's encounter with one another.

To speak from a personal view for a moment, I really like this story. I have taught it many times through serving in our children's ministry at church and love how it encourages people of all ages, especially youngsters to know God wants to and can use them to achieve great things. David was probably no older than in his mid-late teens when this event happened, and so is a great ambassador for young people.
But, actually David is a great example to those of us over a certain age too! This story is an example of how with Gods help we can fight any battle... giant... Goliath that may rear its ugly head in our worlds.

I want to share three points that stood out to me when reading this story and hope they encourage you as much as they have me!

1. The fact that David chose not to wear the King's armour! 

David chose not to wear full battle clothing because it felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable for him. Despite the fact it would protect him much more than his own attire, he chose to be bold and stick with what he knew, what he felt skilled at using (his slingshot) and what made him feel confident.
For us, I feel this is an encouragement that when we trust in God, He will always use the unique gifts, talents and skills He has placed in us, to help us overcome and battle through whatever we may be facing! We don't need to go with what the world sees as right for us...we need to rest in knowing Gods plans are best!

2. The fact that David's Faith helped him look at Goliath in a different perspective!

Whilst everyone else ran around terrified of what Goliath could do to them, David was able to see Goliath as a mere mortal man defying an all-powerful God.
We can learn much from his attitude and know with deep rooted confidence that when we shift our perspective and see the battle...or giant...from Gods view, we realise it has no true power over us. Yes, situation can be scary, over-whelming, tiresome...this I know well. But I've also learnt from my own experiences that like David, when we rely on God to be our strength, our purpose and our army...solution and victory are near!

3. That when Goliath threatened ... goaded ... and criticised, David didn't falter!

Goliath was good at using his extra large mouth to insult and threaten the army before him. When he saw the size of David, the clothing and weapons he wore...he scoffed at him, no doubt considering himself the "winner" in the dual...how wrong he was!
When others cowered in fear, David ran into the battle. He knew he was right, he knew God was with him, he knew there was a battle needing to be overcome. David did the right thing regardless of Goliath's words.
In life, sadly some people will hurt us! They will dis-courage us, they will try and stop us from doing the right thing through their own fears, jealousies and insecurities. But like David, we need to stand firm in knowing Gods opinion and words are the only ones that should matter to us. 
Godly confidence through the battle is a weapon worth holding in itself!

So....my lovely reader...an encouragement if I may. I may not know what the Goliath is in your life..... you may have read this post and rolled your eyes at my thoughts from what David accomplished. But please know one thing. You have everything you need to fight through the battle.
With God by your side, it's already done! Relish the unique gifts and skills He has planted in YOU, open your eyes to seeing the situation from Gods perspective and delight in believing that truly...only Gods opinions and words matter about you! HE LOVES YOU! He created YOU! And in His eyes you ARE an OVERCOMER!

Be Blessed :-)


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Be the right kind of Game Player!

Over the Christmas and new year period, my family and I have spent alot of time having fun together playing games. ...lots of different games...secret Santa, pictionary, UNO, charades, battle ships, bowling, dance games on the wii, FIFA and formula one style games on the X Box, gator golf, a shopping list style game, guess who and lots more UNO!
Christmas is probably the one time of year where all the games get dragged out the cupboard and everyone gets totally competitive! It's all harmless fun and mixed in with all the other Christmassy goings on, it just adds to our family experience and memories.

Today I have cleared Christmas away for another 11 months and asides from relishing having my little home back to normal (sorry Christmas tree, I loved you....but it had to end!) this also meant a little clear out of the toy cupboard and all the games being stacked neatly up on their shelf.

Not long after I had a peek at a social network site I'm a member of and saw a status that really stood out to me. The author of the status was clearly upset and angry after being hurt by someone close to them. Part of the status read "fed up with the game players...those who cause heartache, find it funny to play with people's lives and always want to win, no matter who they hurt!"
This got me thinking back to all the games I'd packed away earlier and how as humans it's absolutely paramount that we understand the only games we should be playing in life are the board/ electronic/ dance/ card varieties and not allowing our real life everyday situations turn into one these.

By this I mean, it's not fair to treat people as though they are a piece in a game...it's not fair to want to be the one to pass the finish line first without any thought or compassion for what you may be doing to others along the way. It's vital to remind ourselves that life is not a game...there's no roll of the dice to determine your next move...there's no move back one step or miss a turn when life steps it up a gear and things get testing....there most definitely isn't a winner or loser at the end of it all.

I've often heard the phrase "it's the game of life" used to describe our existence...but I disagree. Life is an adventure, a journey..and yes, whilst it seems some have it easier than others, some have much more whilst others have far less, that some don't care, whilst others are full of hurt and compassion...for each of us life is a gift...one to be nurtured, one to be fought against when the battle hardens, one to be cherished with those around us. Comparing your situation to another's, is like playing monopoly and hating the person who gets Park Lane because it pays out more....pointless at the end of the day...my experience of monopoly and life is to build up the little you have and watch as slowly it grows and brings you blessings beyond your wildest beliefs!

How we live our everydays is a testimony to those around us. The words we speak, the actions we show others, the decisions we make...they all have an effect on the people closest to us. Just as that roll of the dice can decide the winner in snakes and ladders, our motives and choices have an effect on who we're doing life with at that moment in time.
BUT remember...whilst snakes and ladders can be packed up and put back on that toy cupboard shelf...people can't. People hurt...people break....people hide away....people need love, tenderness, compassion, grace, friendship. People are not playing pieces...and this includes you...and me!

So, today my friend...I encourage you to consider the game player you want to be....one who lives life forever barging past people, not caring, missing out on the simple delights, always wanting to be the best, the winner, the one who passes GO or the FINISH line first....or one who knows to keep being a game player to those times when the board games come out the cupboard or the wii gets switched on. A person who chooses to live life calling it what it is....LIFE....A GIFT! 
Considering the people you encounter, the opportunities that come your way EVERY second of every day....because they do...they really do.
I know which one I want to continue to strive to be.

Be Blessed :-)