Thursday, 24 July 2014

Are You My Mother? - {Being Your Own Best Friend - The Self Care Series}

Nurturing myself. Being my own mother. I made this placemat to remind myself who I am, and what my gifts are.

Mothers are amazing. I know my mother was the best mother she could be, with all 6 of my siblings and I. I love being a mother. And sometimes I think with sadness that one day my sons will grow up and not need me any more. Being a mother means we nurture our children, but at the same time, move them towards independence and maturity. We must slowly release them from our homes, with the hope that they will stand on there on two feet, no longer needing us. I expect when my boys are teenagers (which is not that far away), they will try out their wings in small ways in preparation for adulthood. My teenage years were spent at boarding school, away from my parents in another country. I only came home for school holidays, In ways, this stunted my maturity. I longed to be nurtured by my own mother during my teenage years as I tried out my wings, but distance prevented that from being a reality. 

When I became an adult, I continued to look for others to be my mother, and nurture me. I was like the bird in P.D. Eastman's book, "Are You My Mother?"

In church I would ask, "Are you mother?"
In likes and comments on social media, I would ask, "Are you my mother?"
In every friendship I would ask, "Are you my mother?"

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Honouring my body ~ {Being Your Own Best Friend - The Self Care Series}

For years after I had given birth to my boys, I would look at myself with my post-baby body, and I hated what I saw. It wasn't just that I was now heavier than I was pre-babies, and that my body had changed shape. On some level, I was angry with my body for letting me down. After a miscarriage, I carried my first son to full term. After a long labour, my body was exhausted, and the doctor suggested I have a caesarean section. I consented. My body couldn't even give birth naturally like a "normal' woman's body. I went on to have 2 more caesareans with my other two sons.

Monday, 14 July 2014

How I became my own best friend ~ {Being Your Own Best Friend - the self care series}

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I'll come running to see you again. Winter, Spring, Summer or fall. All you got to do is call, and I'll be there. Yes, I will. You got a friend.
- Writer(s): Peter Callander, Mitch Murray

All during my childhood, I sang the song "You've got a friend" out loud. I loved hearing Carole King sing it on the radio. I would daydream about that special best friend that would feel this way about me. It was a longing deep down within me. I would be jealous of other people that had a best friend, and wanted that for myself.This longing continued all during my adulthood. I never did find that elusive 'Bestie' or 'Best Friend' that I craved, until recently.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Finding my spiritual gifts without a questionnaire

When I was attending church in a designated building on a Sunday for 20 years, I learned about spiritual gifts. I learned that those with certain spiritual gifts were placed high up on a pedestal. If you had the gift of healing or prophecy, you would have a ministry travelling the country, or maybe the world. If you were gifted in teaching, people would pay to hear you speak and become almost groupie like in their behaviour, and revere you as a superstar of the Christian world. I fell into this trap and way of looking at spiritual gifts. The result was, I would look at my 'small' sprinkling of spiritual gifts that I had, and think that what I had was not very much. And because of this, the others with "more important" gifts seemed to be well, more important than me.

I filled out many spiritual gift questionnaires over the years, that were supposed to tell me what my gifts were. I always came away confused by the results. For years, I wandered trying to find my elusive spiritual gifts. But it was never clear to me. Or, if I thought  I had discovered my gifts,  I had to take a course to learn how to use them within the church. There was a ladder to climb, a game to play, to be able to have your gifts recognised, and to be able to use them.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

I love someone with autism - my son's diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome

My son has always been quirky. In fact, one of the reasons I seriously considered homeschooling, is because I could tell that Courageous Boy Warrior wouldn't fit in to the traditional school system.Little did I know then, that it was because he was on the Autism Spectrum. 

It wasn't until he was 7 that I started to suspect that he had autism. He had always been a clingy baby, happy to play alone, and shy around others. He had such a unique way of viewing the world and was oh so smart!  I didn't really think much of it until he was approaching his 8th birthday. Some of the immature behaviour he displayed, he hadn't yet grown out of. Then one day, I realised that he didn't understand sarcasm the way other kids his age did. Another time, we were in the car while listening to Alicia Keys, "Girl on Fire" on the radio. He asked me, "Is the girl really on fire? And if she is, how come she is not getting burned up?" It took me a while to explain that it was a metaphor, and what a metaphor was. It was then that I realised that he took things literally.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Don't let them know.....well now they know

I'm sure you are all thoroughly sick and tired of the song, "Let it Go" sung by Elsa (and kids EVERYWHERE), in the movie' Frozen'. I know I am! I love this image I found of 'Burn" as I connect with fire, so much more than I do with ice. I connect with the lyrics of "Let it Go", and see many parallels in my own life  since leaving the traditional church. I call myself a free-range Christian - a term coined by a FB group with the same name.Which fits well with our homeschooling lifestyle and my free-range kids.

We have moved more into a natural learning, child directed lifestyle in our homeschooling. Which basically means, whatever the child is interested in, I let them pursue that. With the exception of learning to read, write and basic maths skills, the boys are free to pursue their interests at their leisure. There is no set curriculum. No teacher up the front teaching them. Sometimes I get nervous that I am doing the wrong thing and want to run back to safe. I want to buy and follow the set curriculum. Not because it's better, but because it is safe. 

It is no coincidence that this moving towards natural learning (or unschooling as some people call it), happened at the same time I left the traditional church setting. For my own spirituality, there is nothing I "should" be doing or have to do. There is no pastor up the front delivering a message. It's just me and God, being led by Holy Spirit. I meet with other Christians from time to time as peers for prayer and bible discussion, and just to hang out. I have become more attuned to listening to that still small voice inside. So many times I have wanted to run back to the traditional; Sunday church because it is safe. But I don't believe God designed human beings to be safe. He designed us to be wild. We are made in His image. He dwells in the mystery and uncertainty. Maybe this is what living by the Spirit is?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Brand New Kind of Me....A Brand New Kind of Free

Late last year, my husband and I attended the Alicia Keys concert supported by John Legend in Brisbane. It was an amazing night with two phenomenal artists performing. I wasn't familiar with all of Alicia's songs from her latest album. During the concert she started to sing her song, 'Brand New Me' and I was awe struck. As I listened to the lyrics, it was as if she was seeing in to my very soul and sang about me. I closed my eyes and let  the words flow over me. So moved by the music and lyrics, I lifted my hand. Not in worship to God, but as if to say, "Yes!" to every word. It was a beautiful moment. And I determined in my heart that I would be brave, and embrace this brand new kind of me, and brand new kind of free. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

He calls me out into the water, the great unknown

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ― Mary Oliver
The past 12 months turned my world upside down. Having found myself suffering from depression again, I can honestly look back and see that it was a gift. As I leaned into the darkness, instead of fighting it, a lot of things came clear. Two things in particular, became clear to me in the darkness:
1. I felt closer to God away from church
2. Going to church was bad for my mental health
And having been to church most Sundays for the past 20 years, these 2 things caught me by surprise! I know a lot of people that thrive in church, and I am in no shape or form saying that church is bad. I am just saying that for me, on my journey, it was doing more harm then good. Religion was killing my spirituality. 

As I started to step away from traditional church, I realised that I was entangled by religion. Each stroke I made into the new uncharted water was daunting, but at the same time liberating. It felt very much like going out into oceans deep, the great unknown, where feet may fail. I was trusting Holy Spirit to guide me. It is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. Sometimes fear overtakes me and I feel like I might drown. Other times I swim freely, free from any entanglement of nets of religion to hold me back. It has taken a lot of courage to swim out into the unknown. Some days the old feeling of guilt, and "I should be doing this" thoughts consume me. I try to swim back to shore where it is safe. But I can't go back. Not now that I have had this taste of freedom. Is this what it is like to live life abundantly? To live daily listening to His whispers and promptings. To see God in everything, if only I would just open my eyes? Is this living in the unforced rhythms of grace?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

You've opened my ears so I can listen

I wrote this on my 'About Blog' page a few years ago:
 "I got to a point in my life where I was so sick of playing church and craved an intimate relationship with Him.
I am learning the unforced rhythms of grace and am now recovering my life. By keeping company with my King, I am learning to live freely and lightly. I have learned that my King is not interested in religion or what I can do for Him. He just wants me to be me - and that is so liberating."
Fast forward to now, and after stepping off the religious merry-go-round I found myself on again, I spent most of 2013 with my head spinning, wobbly, and not knowing what direction to take.

I was given the book The 10 Second Rule by Clare De Graaf, as a gift for being a long time customer of Sonlight, sometime last year. It sat on my shelf for months as I couldn't bring myself to read another Christian book at the time. I picked the book up a few weeks ago and have been working my way through it. I really enjoyed it and realised, that the 10 second rule (“Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.”(and do it immediately before you change your mind!)), was what I was doing as a new Believer.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

A mustard seed of faith, a boy and a bearded dragon.

"Mum, how do we know that Jesus is the right way and not some other religion?" The question hung in the air for a moment and I think I may have stopped breathing. I was prepared for my sons to question my faith when they became teenagers, but I was not prepared for it at the age of 10. And yet, here I was, with my 10 year old son, with a question I wasn't quite sure how to answer.

When I finally took a breath, I said to him, "You know it's OK to question whether or not Jesus is real. I have asked the same question myself. God is big enough to handle our questions. I don't know what to tell you son, except that I know Jesus is real, because so many times over the years He has shown Himself real to me in a very personal way. Why don't you ask God to show you Himself?" I want my boys to feel safe as they wrestle with the things of God. I want them know that it is OK to question things. I want to create a safe place for them to find their own faith.