Category Archives: The Wife of Noble Character

Depression Toolkit #20: Blessing others

I am learning to re-introduce this one gently.

I love helping others out, even when it drains me. Maybe it is a deep-grained sense of duty. I like to see things fixed. I want to weep with those who are weeping and laugh with those who are laughing.

So the end of term is providing the opportunity to find a wonderful gift for Lily’s teacher, who has done so well in her first year of teaching. I found just the thing on Notonthehighstreet.com, and will also print out home-made thank you cards with her picture on for her teacher and classroom assistants. I am limiting myself to Lily’s immediate helpers this term for my sanity.

Then there is the exciting prospect of a new nephew or niece soon, and coming up with something to bless my brother and his wife and family with.

My husband and I are attending a wedding soon. And we are visiting friends in Albania, so lots of potential for finding lovely ways to bless people. And there are birthdays, occasions and times to focus on others.

It’s not just gifts. I love the idea of the five love languages, and learning to bless others in different ways, such as:

  • words of affirmation
  • acts of service
  • receiving gifts
  • quality time
  • physical touch

Apart from the planning element of gifts or written words, which I have to pace (early preparation is key here), most of these can be managed in the moment, and are more true for it. So although I am not keeping up with every event or birthday, I am hoping to be more of a blessing to others and to focus more away from myself.

The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace

Psalm 29:11

 

Depression Toolkit #1: Not alone

It is not always easy to blog, or get back to people, or meet people. I am learning to increase what I do gently as my medication allows me to function more and more. I did a Mondaysworth of jobs yesterday and have done more than I thought I could today too, so am metaphorically patting myself on the back.

I decided to begin a list on this blog of tools for fighting depression and anxiety: The Depression Toolkit. I can look at it for reminders when I am forgetful and also look back in the future to recognise how far I’ve come. If any are any use to other readers, so much the better.

I visited a friend yesterday who reminded me that even while getting to church services is too daunting, there are some amazing online resources, such as Liquid Church. One recent talk had reminded her of me, and it appears it might be relevant to so many others in a similar position. It is not hard to fall into negative thinking when you are an educated and aspirational woman with a young family, feeling frustrated with your lot despite being overwhelmed with it. Rebekah Lyons tells her story of freefall – which she has written a book about, and a clip to give you an idea is shown below.

It doesn’t bug me any more when others have had similar experiences. It inspires me, because there are others around, cheering those of us who struggle on. And perhaps God is even doing a new thing in us when we do freefall.

I am blessed with family, but more than that, blessed with people who choose to be in my life and choose to help: they are numerous, generous and marvellous. My husband particularly is a big blessing to me at the moment – an amazing man, quietly cheering me on and enabling me and taking on responsibilities with the children and the guinea pigs when I reach the invisible walls.

So my first tool is to remember that I am not alone – I am not the first person to be here, there are many supporters around in many forms and there is proof of recovery.

“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…” Hebrews 12:1

Not so many words

Months pass me by in a muddle of motherhood. I may be introverted, but I never intend to ignore any of my interests and constantly consider that perhaps I care too much. Or alliterate too literally.

Either way I overthink and undersay.

I have a feeling our family has a maximum quota of words as a unit, and with Lily becoming ever more literate and fluent and Joseph finally buying into this English speaking thing my own words are dripping out of the equation. Having a forgettory helps too. Thankfully at least my husband generally manages without using too many words. That is, unless you get him on a subject he needs to be excited about. And when I get on a topic I care about I use up way too many of my day’s words quickly and then have to retreat and be away from everything and from everyone for as long as I can.

This leads to frequent recharging in my daily and weekly routine. In order to cope with teatime with the children most days I have to have half an hour to myself before their bath and bedtime. In order to cope with running a noisy and busy toddler group once a week I have to set time aside for myself the day before, the afternoon after and if possible as much of the following day as well. To cope with any social activity I have to see it coming, plan around it and pace all other social activity that week. It has only become apparent to me fairly recently that I may actually also be suffering from depression.

But I don’t want to suffer, so I am resisting it the best I can.

Some days I will not have many words.

Some days I will need extra recharging. Unlike Katharine Welby I have found the church to be remarkably accommodating when I have needed space, and in allowing me to continue to run toddlers and have purpose in that.

Some days I want to explain it all. But today I can’t.

Some days I just need to find people like me. Or a little like me. Because then, despite the depression and the activity to hide it and the words outside, I need to find the words inside and others who get it can say it even when I cannot.

 

 

What do you see here?

ImageImage

I never knew Pink Ladies could actually germinate before being opened up. But apparently they can. And several from this pack (from a well known Giraffe-bread-stocking supermarket) had already grown a number of little shoots of this size on being cut open. Wow!

So, like any good parent, I saw fit to give the fruit to the children to eat and duly ‘planted’ the sprouting pips on some damp kitchen roll in a jam jar. Now I have to wait and see whether we are in for an orchard. How exciting. We already have extra growth, some green.

Don’t give up now, Justin

You know that feeling when you take on a new job and you just hope that it starts as it means to go on and that you can get some great early results?

Ah. Smiled too soon.

It may be a tough road ahead, Justin, but I think we all knew that.

In the meantime, don’t fret about us women. We will go on running much of what happens in churches, supporting families and individuals, working out our own faith, crying on each others’ shoulders and finding reasons to look on the bright side. Even – dare I suggest – if we don’t belong to the C of E. Thankfully, God is not restricted to working through Anglican means, and the church in the UK is far larger than that. It is disappointing that tomorrow’s headlines will not do God any favours and may discourage people on the fringes of faith from taking him seriously, and that is my major concern with the outcome today.

But a cursory glance at history tells us that we often need to wait for gains and blessings, even when we feel they are justified immediately. How unfair that Abraham and Sarah should wait so many years for a child. How wrong that Joseph should be enslaved and imprisoned. How frustrating that a generation should die in the desert. How maddening that the promised Messiah should have taken so long to come. How painful that slavery should not have been abolished sooner. How humiliating that major denominations should disagree on what God wants women to do in serving him.

And how we think in such short timescales.

It doesn’t matter which voting system we have an issue with on a given day – presidents, police commissioners, politicians or peak-viewing performers – if we aren’t listening to God a democratic system is only that. Not theocratic, but flawed by human lust for glitz, immediacy, selfishness, narrow-mindedness and confusion. Why on earth are we trusting decisions to Other People?

The God I serve weeps at injustice. But he has also provided a means for the world to rise out from under the shackles of it, in the Church.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.         Micah 6:8

So, let’s walk humbly. Let’s get on our knees and put the voting system back where it belongs. Let’s listen to God’s voice.

And let’s be merciful, listening to one another and loving one another, even when we do not love each other’s actions.

And let’s live a life acting for justice for all, not confining it to naves and altars.

 

 

barefoot

barefoot at home

my toes consider this my space

listening to crumbs in the kitchen

measuring steps between tasks

yearning for safety and warm smooth floors

treading out these harvests – play well on holy ground but don’t burn the toes

barefoot with children

washing, cleansing, splashing,

barefoot at night

answering, holding,

barefoot between tasks

continuing.

yes.

barefoot. resting.

barefoot. loving.

barefoot. purifying.

barefoot. being.

‘Whatever’

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10.

This verse comes to me frequently these days. These days of adjusting to new routines and considering new uses of my time. I am anxious to be busy and to be effective in that. I am keen to do the best for my children and the best for my community.

Perhaps what I do is not as important as how I do it. I am an educated professional, but I work in the home, in the church and around the community; none of these responsibilities pays me. In order not to get bitter about this I can take comfort in doing the best I can with what I have in my hands.

Image

  Didn’t expect that.

Perhaps also, I value and prioritise things differently from the way God does. I just want to get the housework done and then sit down. Maybe – like Mary – I should choose what is better and sit down first, listening and being. Listening is work too.

Perhaps also it is a time to reflect on the importance of change and of moving into paid work again. It could be soon, or it could be gently into a new venture. It might mean re-skilling and being humble in that.

Whatever it is – and whether there is a ‘right’ thing or just a right attitude and a willing heart, I imagine that doing what I find I am doing well and without complaining may be the most satisfying option (Matthew 25:21,23).

But.

I am a mathematician too.

I like to see the big picture and the connections. I like to be efficient as well as effective. I believe in the 80-20 principle. I can get more done if I do the right amount of it, particularly at the right time. It is possible to do an excellent job with amazing quality, but if you also want to deliver in time and on budget something will give. There are always many things demanding my attention and many things that could (and do) give, some of them precious. It is also possible to start where you are at and keep improving, and it is right not to be ashamed of the work-in-progress.

So.

I am going to find a day soon and audit my time, my priorities and my dreams, to see where it may be best to invest my time this year. We have big decisions to make and I feel most comfortable when I’ve assessed things well and accounted for various events. Do I start a business? Do I return to teaching? Do we put Joe into all the government funded hours he could be entitled to and make sure we’ve applied in time? How do we use the time Lily is not in school, to love her and invest in her and her friends the best? And so on, and so on.

But you know what? Even if my auditing day turns out less than 100% satisfactory for results, I can be sure that if I give it my best shot and keep at it, I can at least do what I do with all my might.

Moments

‘Just give me a moment’ is a phrase you may often hear me saying at home to the children/husband/guinea pigs. That is, if you are an obsessed stalker with remarkably good technology and no one more interesting to check on.

‘I don’t think they’ve noticed, Bob’

What is a moment? A moment is all it takes me to do any one of the jobs I may feel the need to do around the home. Preferably two in fact. Time in my eyes runs differently from time as I perceive others to perceive it. You need to change into school clothes? Great. I will help you with that, while also putting away breakfast, cleaning three sets of teeth, ensuring our family additions have adequate vitamin C to stave off death for the coming 6 hours and checking that the world is still functioning without my close attention by reading facebook updates.

I am getting rather good at multi-tasking now that I am a proper mum of a ‘schooler’. Tomorrow is Lily’s first full day at school. She then has one more half day on Monday before the 2470 or so remaining school days kick in. Lovely. She has taken to school well, and already pointed out the square-based pyramids on the way home which I had not noticed. On the road. At the crossing. How does she know what a square-based pyramid is, when she has done fewer than 16 hours at school? I am genuinely impressed. (Unless I find someone has been secretly tutoring her to make me laugh. I have my suspicions. And then there is always my forgettery.)

Lily’s latest obsession is ‘Old Things’ as in ‘when was this built mummy?’ ‘was this music when you were little mummy?’ and ‘I like oldendays things and nowendays things too’. She is good at telling it like it is. ‘I want to move house because I don’t like living in an oldenhouse mummy’. Yesterday, after telling her I loved her sooo much, I got the honest response, ‘I love you too mummy, when you are happy’.

Yes.

When I am happy.

Presumably not when I am busy, (can’t spare a moment, (just want to get this finished,) distracted,) normal mummy. Oh dear.

I could learn to be happier in my tasks. Is this what she means?

Honestly though, I have to admit this is something of a Martha moment for me. A little revelation. Lily is busy being herself, making me smile, growing and learning. I am busy being busy, and not attending to those fleeting and beautiful moments enough to cherish her and be happy with her. I am constantly needing a moment. And then we looked at Martha and Mary in our home group this morning. Yep. Guilt with a serving of guilt. All prepared lovingly by me, without much help.

Yes. That delicate balance of parenting and being. Of not attempting to fit in extra tasks when I should be revelling in the moment. Of choosing what is better. Of stopping trying to be a Human Doing. Of actually slowing down sometimes.

Not here.

This may be a lesson I really need to absorb right now. Mathematically, I am confident in the proportion of time we have already spent with each of our children living at home before they get packed off to University and/or Real Life as an Adult. I can tackle being a mum mostly without emotion: just getting on with it all. The merry backlog of jobs to do in the home will not unhide itself like a one-child den made out of a bath-towel.

Are all my moments already taken? Is time so profoundly unimportant to me?

I guess it depends on what matters. It matters that Lily qualifies her love and appears to not be impressed by her distracted mummy. That what she craves (her love language, in fact), is Time. That I am spending her moments on anything but her. It is also how she perceives this, importantly. So now we begin the phase of carefully planned Quality Time. Not as a reward, or as something jammed in amongst all the other moments in my day, but because I love her when she is having a good moment, a funny moment, a thoughtful moment or even a really bad dream moment. And I am grateful that I have this time, utterly grateful for the gifts of Lily and of Joe, and grateful that you cannot count the moments. You can just make sure the moments actually count.

One generation shall praise Your works to another – Part III

So this is the third of the three parts.

Another 100 today.

Not this one:

Although they timed that very conveniently for me. At ease lads.

No, something far more fascinating, if you are at all interested in Adolphus A. Cox. I was not aware of the existence of Adolphus A. Cox until last week, when my attention was politely drawn to a document found by a bookseller a few miles from here. They knew where to write, as the document happens to be the Particulars and Conditions of Sale of our house (a ‘Pleasantly Situate Small Residence’). What was rather strange was to find that it was

To be Sold by Auction,

On THURSDAY, 18th APRIL, 1912,

At 7 o’clock p.m. precisely.

So although I cannot tell you much more about Adolphus A. Cox, tenant at £18 per Annum, payable Quarterly, I can tell you that precisely 100 years ago today he was probably wondering who his new landlord was going to be, and the dimensions of the house he lived in at the time, in feet and inches. And that, in my opinion, is far more exciting. I wonder who Adolphus was, and whether he appreciated his iron palisade fence (alas, no longer), SCULLERY, with copper, sink, and Water Supply (now our shower room) and Electric Light and Gas laid on. I hope so. There’s not much we share in common really. He doesn’t appear on the 1901 census record I have, and old pieces of newspaper found under wallpaper in the cellar don’t relate to his time. I wonder if he fought in the Great War, and whether he survived to have his own family. I wonder what he would have made of the school down the road which Lily will start in September, which wasn’t even built until 1914? Or the Jubilee celebrations planned for the street behind ours for the King’s grand-daughter this summer? Or the idea of having not only Electric Light, but also an Entertainment Box in the BACK SITTING ROOM and other boxes in the house run on Electricity which replace the Range, which heat the house without using the fireplaces and which allow Instant Communication Worldwide. Who knows?

I wonder if he had Wisdom, and Knowledge, to influence the generations after him?

I wonder if he had fine Character?

I don’t know whether he had Conviction and Values to live by, but I suspect I may be doing further research to find out more.

 

Meanwhile, the house needs cleaning, the dinner needs preparing, the children need raising, the shopping needs planning and I am distinctly short of a Domestic Help. Time I got on with my convictions.

In 1912 the Olympics were held in Stockholm. In 2012 the countdown for the London Olympics reaches the final 100 days. And the games motto, released today?

Inspire a Generation

Oh yes.

 

Video

Muthahood

With Mothering Sunday coming up this weekend in the UK, here’s one Christian mum mom’s take on motherhood.