Faithful Fridays – being interesting…

Today, we’re looking at the “I” in Faithful.

Faithful is an acronym for:

Faithful

Accepting

Interesting

Trustworthy

Happy and Holy

Fearless

Understanding

Loving and Loyal.

I remember a very difficult conversation my husband and I had while Baby Girl was little.  He told me I had become obsessed – that Baby Girl had consumed my entire world, my focus, my everything and that no matter how much he adored her (and he did…), he didn’t want to hear about how many times she pooped.  Every.  Single.  Day…

And he was right.

He missed his wife who used to engage him about religion, and politics and what was happening in the news.  He missed his wife who used to engage him about us, as a couple, a husband and wife, as parents.  He missed his wife who used to engage him about him, our dreams, our goals, our plans for the future.

It was so hard to hear.

I wanted to scream and tell him, “But don’t you see?  I’ve had a child.  I’m a mother – surely that is more important than anything else?”  And it is – except for your marriage.  I wasn’t the first woman in the world to have a baby.  And I certainly won’t be the last.  But one day Baby Girl will leave her nest and explore her own world.  What would be left of “us” then?  I want to be very clear, though.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in Baby Girl – he was.  He just didn’t want our entire worlds to so be consumed by her that there was nothing left of us – as a couple and individually.

So, I have learnt to keep myself interesting: and once I understood what was required, it actually became quite simple:

Be who God created me to be.

Yes, God gifted me with motherhood, but He also created me to someone who enjoys reading, learning to run, reading the paper, debating religion, politics and pretty much anything else…  He created me slender, and kind, soft-spoken, quiet, reserved and shy.  Becoming a mother doesn’t negate the rest of who I am; it’s meant to enhance it – give depth to it, color it beautiful.

And this is the “I” in Faithful – keep myself interesting.

It’s a good thing, too!  Already Baby Girl is very independent and doesn’t need me as much (except at 02:00 in the morning and she’s woken up and is scared of the dark), and where would I be now if she had consumed my entire world?  I would be lost and lonely and missing her terribly.  And I think that when she does eventually leave home, I will still feel lost and lonely and miss her terribly – but the difference is now that my husband and I are on a good footing with each other; we will be there to support each other – instead of being alienated from one other.

My husband deserves to have the woman he married, the woman he fell in love with, the woman he used to love debating with, talking to, living life with – and while becoming a parent does definitely change things, it doesn’t change the essence of who you are.  And it most certainly should not replace your marriage… your priorities will shift, of course – but your marriage becomes now even more important when you have children.  They are relying on you to keep your marriage together – for their sake and for your own.

My husband didn’t marry our daughter – he married me!  And I need to remember who I am in my entirety, and not just one aspect of my life.

Keep on keeping on!

The Baby Mama

Seeing the Beauty in Everything

Wednesdays are Love Letters to my Husband days…

To my love,

The other day I saw some old photos of myself at my Dad’s house and I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth you chose me.  Those photos were terrible, I was such a nerd, and I was so terribly shy and fearful of everything.

And yet…

You saw something in me that made you decide I was the one.

And that is exactly what you do…

You always see the good in everyone, you look for the best, you always give people the benefit of the doubt – you treat people as people, with dignity and respect, not for the things that they’ve done or didn’t do.  And that, my love, says more about you than about them.  Whatever situation you find yourself in; you always see the beauty…

And I love that about you.

I love that you have taught me to see the beauty in me, in life, in different circumstance.  I almost feel like I have grown into the beauty you thought I was back then.  And it is only because of your love.

I thank you for being who you are, for living life effortlessly, and for seeing the beauty in everything (especially me… 😉

The Baby Mama

Faithful Fridays – Embracing your life

Step into the sun and break down the wall.  In Jesus, you are safe, loved and accepted.  Embrace your husband and your life as gifts from God.  Embrace God who loves you completely.  Trust in who God created you to be.  Trust God will always guide you saying, “Here is the path.”  Trust God has created you fearfully and wonderfully.  Do NOT give up.  You will reap the harvest of blessing if you do NOT give up.

The above is a daily mantra that I say to myself.  I truly believe in changing your circumstances and your life by changing your thoughts and how you react to life.  The week before last we chatted about how important it is to accept your husband for who he is – and I still quoted:

To be honest, I have never understood how women can claim to fall in love with a man, marry him, and then spend the rest of her life trying to change him.  What’s the point?  Because if you succeed in changing him, he then ceases to be the man you fell in love with in the first place.  And you’ll never be able to change him anyway – he will always be who he is and just trying to change him will create such chaos and discord in your marriage, it won’t be worth the attempt.

Then last week, we chatted about accepting ourselves – it’s in accepting the grace that God has extended to us that we can extend grace to our spouses.  It’s in knowing that we have been fully and completely accepted, loved and forgiven by God that we can completely accept, love and forgive our spouses.  Sometimes, though, I think it is easier to accept our spouses than it is to accept ourselves.  I know that I find it very difficult to accept grace from my spouse – I’m always guarded, but here’s the thing: God’s grace and His love comes through human hands.  What do I mean – I mean that God operates His blessings through us, through people, through our spouses.  So, my husband loving me and looking after me is in essence God’s picture of His love in my life.  My loving and honouring my husband could give my husband a glimpse of God’s love for him – God works through people.

But, today, still focusing on the “A” of “Faithful”, I want to look at embracing our lives.

Whether we want to admit it or not, where we are now is exactly where we should be – with the culmination of our thoughts, our choices, and a little bit of life happening to you along the way.

Let me give you an example:

A couple of years ago, before Baby Girl was born, my husband lost his job.  He really did try find other work, but he is white in a country that is predominated by Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) practices and he could not find work.  Now, we could have relocated to Cape Town, or Johannesburg, where there are more job opportunities available, but we chose to stay here, in Port Elizabeth.  It was a choice we made and we have truly battled financially, but we have to at least own that choice.  No – the choice for losing his job wasn’t ours.  But how we handled that situation most certainly was our choice.  Then, about six months after Baby Girl was born – I lost my job.  It was such a stressful, trying time – and I cannot tell you the enormous amount of pressure to give a child what they need in terms of food, clothes, schooling, etc. and knowing that the one salary you can rely on is your husband’s and he is still busy building his business.  Once again, though, we decided to stay here – so, we have to own that.  And we decided that he would continue to build his own business, as stressful and tenuous though that may be.

We also decided to have children quite late in life, leaving us with the opportunity to only have one.  Don’t get me wrong – I feel incredibly blessed and honoured to have Baby Girl in our lives, but there was no time for another…  It’s a choice we made – whether consciously or unconsciously – and we need to own that.

Things are stabilising for us now and we are in a good place – better than what we’ve been for a long time.  I am so grateful and honoured to have God work in my heart and mind and in my thoughts that has led to tremendous growth in me – making me every day to be more like His son.  I am completely humbled that God would even notice me, never mind still perfecting His will in me.  But, the one thing that I have learnt is that even though God can work His good purposes in my life and in my heart, I still need to own my decisions, and then work from there.

In other words – I need to accept my life.

Or, to put it more spiritually – I need to surrender to my life.  And I most certainly do not mean surrender as in give up; we’re called to constantly grow to become like Christ and to run the race until the end.

Hebrews 12:1 New International Version (NIV):  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

But there is a surrendering to God and an embracing of our lives that gives control of our lives to God.  I am where I am now because of past decisions, thoughts and actions – but my future and my life can be redeemed by God’s grace and I can’t do that if I am fighting my life all the way there.  Sometimes, I just need to accept and embrace what is in order to be able to move forward – giving control over to God.  That is what I mean by surrendering – embracing your life, and God’s guidance, to move forward toward God’s plan for your life.  God’s plan doesn’t have to be something grandiose – it could be where you are right now.  Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom wrestling with the idea that this is all you’re ever going to do in life.  But, instead of battling against that – embrace it.  Being a mom who truly loves her children may be the most important job you ever do.  Or maybe, like me, I have to embrace the fact that I need to work and NOT be a stay-at-home mom given our financial situation, and instead of wrestling with that, embrace it.  Don’t get me wrong – I would love to be a stay-at-home mom with Baby Girl.  While I can certainly present my requests to God and hope and pray that it is His will for me to spend some time at home while Baby Girl is at school, I need to embrace where I am right now.

Philippians 4:6 New International Version (NIV):  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But that is not where we’re at right now – and I could either fight it; or embrace it.

Life is so much more pleasant when we surrender to it, than when we’re fighting against it all the time.

The Baby Mama

Living Life with Kindness…

Wednesdays are Love Letters to my Husband days…

To my darling,

Last week, I told you about how I love the fact that you live life effortlessly – nothing is ever to much of a hassle for you.  You just get on with life and do whatever it is you need to do.  It’s not so much about what you’re doing or not doing; it’s a heart attitude…

Today, I want to thank you for your kindness.  I see your heart – I see how much you go out of your way to make people feel at home whenever we have visitors, I see how you try to do whatever you can to give Baby Girl what she wants, I see how you reach out to me to give me what I need in life… how you plan and organise that we can live a comfortable life and do things together as a family.

I see your kindness.

I see your heart – I see how important other people’s happiness is to you.

I see how you make sure that all meals you cook at home will be something that Baby Girl and I would enjoy.

“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth

I see how you constantly reach out to your family in grace and kindness – even when that is not always reciprocated – but you reach out to them, you always treat them with respect, and kindness and grace.

I know that you will often help a fellow cyclist or athlete.  You will lend out cycling equipment in order to help your friends – you treat people with grace and dignity.

I see how it is your concern how people are feeling and what you can do to make them feel better or more comfortable – I see how you invite people in.  Just today I read on Facebook, that kindness is the one trait that makes you beautiful, no matter how you look on the outside.

And if that is true, my love, then you are gorgeous.

Me?  What do I do?  I keep a track record of every wrong against me; I don’t worry about people’s feelings and justify it by saying that they don’t worry about mine; I make sure that if I loan something out I get it back and I keep track of it until I do; I curl myself up in my little world – I do NOT have the heart of kindness.

So, more importantly that seeing your kindness – is teaching me how to be kind.  I have realised it’s not an act, it’s not what you do or the actual physical act of doing something – it’s a heart attitude, from which flows acts of kindness.  You have that heart attitude.  Thank you for showing me where I lack and giving me the opportunity on working on having a right attitude – a kind attitude.  Thank you for never giving up on me.

I love you.

The Baby Mama

Faithful Fridays – Accepting yourself – warts, flaws and all…

Last week, we started chatting about the “A” in Faithful (my word for 2017), which is Acceptance.  We chatted about how important it is to accept our spouses for who they are – everyone just wants to be loved and accepted.  I believe it is the driving force for most of our fears, anxieties and issues… this fear that we may not be accepted, or good enough, or that we fall short.  But, I am learning a very important lesson at the moment.

You cannot love and accept anyone until you love and accept yourself.  You cannot extend grace to anyone else until you, yourself, have first received grace.

Last week, we discussed the vital importance of accepting your husband – anyone, in fact – everyone, just wants to be loved and accepted.  And if they’re not getting that at home – their one safe place in this world – where are they going to get it?  It is not our job to change our husbands; it our job to love them and to accept them for who they are.

And that is key – in fact, it is key to understanding the gospel message.  There are many areas in my life and my personality that I don’t like, that I wage war against, that I don’t like and don’t accept.  Oh, it’s not overt, and I don’t really discuss it with anyone else, but I know if I had complete control over my personality and life, there are many areas I loathe and would change.  And if I’m that edgy within my own self, how can I fully accept someone else?  Well, I can’t – not until I fully accept myself and understand how grace applies to my own life.

And it’s not even just about my personality – it’s about the things I do, and say, and don’t do, and mean to say, its about fears and anxieties, bad attitudes and negative thinking.  God’s grace abounds to me in all circumstances, in all thoughts, in all attitudes, in all words – how can I not pay-it-forward with grace undeserved to others?

And it is a bit of a double-edged sword, isn’t it?

You have to learn to love and completely accept yourself before you can grow and change… It is seeing yourself as worthy and loving yourself that is a catalyst towards growth and change.

It is the understanding of my need of God’s grace in my depravity and His love and acceptance of me that gives me the grace to love and accept myself – while at the same time being fully aware of my own depravity.  Sounds complicated?  It’s not really – it simply means that God loves me so much that He saved me, and then grows me into becoming more like Christ.

I fully believe that a big part of becoming more like Christ is becoming and growing into the person God created you to be.  It’s the renewing of your mind into Christ likeness and realising that we are actually – all of us – created in God’s image.

So, accepting yourself and growing in grace is growing into more of you – of who God created you to be.

Now, while we need to extend that same love and grace to our spouses, it is never our job to grow them to become more like Christ.  That is God’s job – He will work in their hearts according to His will and purpose, in His time and in His way.  Our job, quite simply, is to love and accept them and to extend to them the same grace that has been given to us through Christ.

But, loving and accepting ourselves and seeing our need for God’s grace isn’t always the easiest thing.  However, one of the tried and tested ways of renewing your mind and thinking about yourself differently and accepting God’s grace and His understanding of who you are, is by applying Scripture to your life:

  • Carrying around guilt and shame about your past – well, if you are born again and live in Christ remember: there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
  • Feeling inadequate, shy or insecure about who you are – well, remember that God created you fearfully and wonderfully.
  • Feeling unloved, cast aside, alone: Remember that God loved you so much that he sent his son as the atoning sacrifice to save you.
  • Feel like you can’t accomplish anything or lose weight or get over an addition: Remember that you can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives you strength.
  • Feeling fearful and insecure: Remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

To truly love your spouse, to accept them and to extend grace towards them, you need to understand the gospel message:

That’s it—the gospel in a nutshell: Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again on the third day.  That is the cornerstone, the foundation of our faith.  Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-gospel-in-a-nutshell-11070/#5eAbIUmbV12EP4Iu.99

However, this quote leaves out one important aspect: the reason.  The reason that God sent his son to die for us, to atone for our depravity is love.  Because God is love.  Not only does He love us, but He delights in us.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

So, if your marriage is important to you – as mine is to me, firstly read Gary Thomas’s book called Cherish.  In fact, read any of his books on marriage – it will change your view on marriage and just how important good, wholesome marriages are.  But, Gary dedicates a whole chapter to truly understanding the gospel message – something I’ve realised I don’t do.

I don’t fully understand just how much God loves me; how much He delights in me; how much He wants to bless me:  I am always on guard, keeping the walls up, fearful, anxious.  What God wants me to do is to graciously accept His love, His delight in me, to grow me to be like Christ – and then to love my husband, to delight in my husband, to accept who my husband is and in so doing have a marriage that truly reflects God’s heart to the world.

So, in accepting your husband – start by accepting grace from God first.  He is the power that sustains us to love and to delight and to truly live…

The Baby Mama

Living Life Effortlessly

Wednesdays are Love Letters to my Husband days…

To my darling, Snoopy

I’ve been watching you recently, observing you and I’ve realised that one of the things I truly love about you is how effortless everything is.  If you need to stop at the shop on your way home for work, you just do.  It isn’t an effort – for me, it’s this big detour out of my trip home and its an effort.  Everything and anything for me can be such an effort.  For you, it’s just effortless.  I love that I can rely on you for so many things, just because you get it done – effortlessly.

Last night we had a braai at home, and you got charcoal, braai’d the meat and we had a delicious meal.  Effortlessly.  And I think that with me, I want to get home, crawl into my little safety net and just stay there until I have to venture forth again to go to work or take Baby Girl to school.  

With you, you want to experience life – you conceptualise all these ideas and make them happen because that is what life is about: the sum total of all the experiences we have in a day.  Whether good or bad.  And you don’t mind that – you want that – you want to live life.

And I love that about you.

I love how you want to live life to the full and you plan and conceptualise and just do it.  Effortlessly.

Thank you for making living with you so easy, so effortlessly, so beautiful. 

Thank you for teaching me about how to life live effortlessly, to just get it done, because that is what makes up life.

But, more importantly, I am grateful that our Baby Girl takes after you in that regard – she wants to live life, grab it by the horns, and make the most of it.  

I have learnt so much from you and so much about how to live life and how to just be, and enjoy, and then do and get it done.  Effortlessly.  Nothing ever seems to be a hassle for you.  Thank you for teaching me, showing me and I do hope to become more like you in this regard.

I love you.  Effortlessly.  Because you make it so easy!

The Baby Mama

Faithful Fridays – Accepting him – warts, flaws and all…

At the beginning of the year, we started looking at my word for this year.  So far, we’ve looked at the definition of faithful and how it refers to marriage, but we also looked at faithful as being so much more as just the absence of those deeds that would constitute a breach in one’s marriage vows, but it is an attitude of the heart, mind and soul.  Being faithful means being true, respectful and loving in what I think, do and say about my husband.

Faithful is an acronym for:

Faithful

Accepting

Interesting

Trustworthy

Happy and Holy

Fearless

Understanding

Loving and Loyal.

Today, we’re looking at acceptance.  As a woman, I may not understand my husband’s need for respect or his desire for acceptance – while he may not understand my need for love or late night chats.  God made us different – and it is in those differences that we get to celebrate.  But, the one thing that we all need is acceptance.  It IS because God has made us all so very different that I think we all have this fear of not being accepted for who we are!  Isn’t that the crux of most of life’s crises?  We don’t feel understood or loved or accepted, so what do we do?  We drink, we party, we go off the rails…  We try run from this fear that we’ll never actually be accepted for who we are; that somehow we’re a fraud and we’ll get caught out or that we’ll be made fools of and the very essence of who we are will become a laughing matter to those around us…

And here’s the thing – we’ll never ever biologically, emotionally or spiritually be just like another person.  We will be unique, and different, from anyone else on this earth.  That is the beauty of God’s design and His absolute brilliance – no matter how different we are from each other, we all reflect God’s image.

Including our husbands…

I am quite sure that there are aspects of your husband’s personality that drives you completely bonkers.  It’s normal.  I’m also quite sure that there are aspects of your personality that drive your husband bonkers, too.  Also, quite normal.  But herein lies the choice:  We can either make our spouses feel bad for occasionally driving us bonkers, or we can make them feel loved and accepted.

The choice is ours.

And now, I’m not talking about sin: gambling, porn, addiction are different issues entirely and need intervention and pastoral care.

I’m just talking about the fact that your husband loves to watch TV late at night or makes arriving 10 minutes early for any and every function a priority, while you couldn’t really be bothered.  It’s that understanding that this is who he is, and you’re going to love him and accept him just for that!  His quirky sense of humour, the fact that he loves to exercise and keep fit, or that he can be quite pedantic about being on time or making good food properly.  Those are all who he is…

To be honest, I have never understood how women can claim to fall in love with a man, marry him, and then spend the rest of her life trying to change him.  What’s the point?  Because if you succeed in changing him, he then ceases to be the man you fell in love with in the first place.  And you’ll never be able to change him anyway – he will always be who he is and just trying to change him will create such chaos and discord in your marriage, it won’t be worth the attempt.

The only ones we’ll be able to control, are ourselves.

So, acceptance: accepting him for who he is… because God created him for a reason, and its not our job to change him; its our job to honour God.