Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Strength You Have

‘Pardon me, my Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, “Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?” But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.’ The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’
Judges 6:13‭-‬14

Go in the strength you have.

I had a light bulb moment this morning, hiding in the loo from the children and reading the Bible on my phone. I've been struggling again with not being enough, not feeling good enough to carry out the tasks and mission to which God has called me, wondering whether He has called me at all or whether I'm just flailing around, playing at life, soon to be caught out, the search light resting on my terrified, frozen face. You see, I'm tired. Dog tired. Retreating to horizontal on the sofa as soon as (equally exhausted) The Mister walks through the door - tired. I am a fraud who cannot manage to do it all, whose husband has to step in and do the lion's share in the evenings and weekends, because I cannot stay vertical. I am not enough. Literally. I am absent from my children's lives most evenings. I feel guilty. My children are missing out and The Mister rarely gets a break. I know I'm probably not that lazy, but it feels like I'm just being lazy and I just need to pull my socks up. That is the narrative.

Go in the strength you have. Am I not sending you?

Oh-kaaaay. So God's got this, my meagre attempt at mothering, my children, my poor neglected husband, my physical inability to invest as much as I'd like in relationships with family and friends. The whole thing. Me. He knows. He sees. He loves. He equips. He is the strength. My limited physical strength is no hindrance. I have to go, to step out. If he is sending me on a mission, whatever that mission is, staying put and not stepping out is not an option.

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

I don't know how this will end up working for our family, our children. I can't see the end. But I can trust, and it is very freeing. It's not about me at all, after all. God gave us those 4 precious ones to look after, but He also gave them a mother who wasn't always going to fire on all cylinders. He also gave them a father who would just get on with it, quietly serving faithfully with no fuss.

The power of Christ rests on me and I honestly don't believe that God is in the business of trying to catch people out, to make them look bad. God is not into schadenfreude. My feelings of guilt are misplaced, their root either in my pride - because I want to do it all, to be good enough, to excel on my own - and can't; or it is because I have listened to the Accuser of the Brethren whose narrative is never in my best interests and who wants me to get distracted and wants me to believe all kinds of things about what I should be doing or being.

It's not easy, but it is simple, uncomplicated. Before we go out on whatever our mission is, before we make breakfast and herd a pack of kids to school, being still even for a moment works wonders. Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) "Yes, yes, well it's easy to be still when you're horizontal a lot of the time. You're literally still." Yes you are, physically. There's more to it than that though. Turn off the telly, the radio. Put your phone down! Pick up your Bible. Pray during the racing thoughts. Keep praying until you are still. Be still. Be it. Then, don't empty your mind, fill it. Fill it with Christ, with His Word, the Bible. Know Him. Know that He is God. I speak to myself and for my benefit here too. Hide in the loo if you must. Be still and know that He is God. He loves, He speaks, He is the strength for the mission.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017


Today we had a diagnosis for Big Grin. Autism Spectrum Disorder. If old terminology were used, Asperger's would fit the bill. It's not a shock; it's been a long time coming. Currently in Coventry, the waiting time for assessment is over two years. Right now, as her school is serving her pretty well, it doesn't really change anything. It doesn't change her. It's a relief though, that as parents, our hunch was right and now we have access to other support if needed. It's no surprise to Big Grin either. She's clever; and knowing. Over the next few days we may be privvy to her thoughts and feelings on it, or we may not. We shall see. At any rate, as I said to the diagnosing psychologist MH, with the right support, there's every hope for her future.

That was this afternoon. This morning I embarked on day 7 of our current Bathroom Renovation Morning Routine, which basically means getting everyone up and out a bit earlier than usual so the men can crack on, with a few extra jobs done like the breakfast dishes not only washed, but dried and put away too to spare them from the dust. It's all hands on deck and it's wearing a bit thin. But we are reminding ourselves that it's not forever, we're blessed to be having it done, and even with only having an inside toilet pan and a bucket with which to flush it, we still have more than a lot of women and girls in the world: a safe, inside toilet over night. However, between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30 the basic toilet is removed to make space for the guys to work, which means that the girls and I - including potty training Rizzy - have to stay out all day. It is exhausting. With 3 school runs a day we cannot venture too far, and after a morning at Nursery Biscuit is already quite tired. Sometimes we go to a friend's home, but that requires manners and continuing to be sociable when some quiet down time or even a nap might be preferred. Sometimes we go to the library or to Ikea, but then it is quite a dash to make it to the toilet for Rizzy. Sometimes we go to the park, but that involves the trusty Porta Potty. All of this is done on foot as I don't drive, and for the most part, Biscuit is being brilliant and uncomplaining. Even Rizzy though, who can fall asleep in the buggy, is showing signs of fatigue. And for Big Grin? She's coping as best as she can, but the upheaval is difficult. I'm proud of them all. Little Feet is most definitely bearing the brunt of the extra chores.

This morning after a straightforward school run, Rizzy and I had coffee with 3 lovely friends and their little ones, and I used Sarah's shower (so much nicer than the bucket arrangement at home). We then went back to school to collect Biscuit from Nursery, then walked to another friend's to eat our packed lunch. Having taken the afternoon off, The Mister collected me, we left Biscuit and Rizzy with our friend and went to Big Grin's assessment, via home and a quick word with the builders. After the assessment and diagnosis we collected the little 2, just in time for the Mister to run up the road to school with towels and shower gel, collect the big 2 from after school choir, and deposit them with another friend round the corner for them to have showers! And that's pretty much how we're operating at the moment. It struck me today how blessed I am with so many lovely people who have offered the use of their shower, let me and the girls hang out at their place for hours at a time, or who have minded our girls for us. Like Big Grin, I have struggled in the past with friendships, and it was good to think, actually, she'll be OK.

Then, to round off a full, positive day, The Mister cooked dinner and did all the bedtime routine whilst I first had a nap and then went out to a ladies' event at church. It was packed, and I got a seat at the back, but not before I bumped into the psychologist MH. It was awkward, weird, a bit flabbergasting, but made me realise that God had one of His people in that assessment this afternoon. My heart was singing as we raised the roof with "It is well with my soul" and "Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise." Moreover, we heard in the talk that God has prepared good works for us to do in advance, and that He knows us so well that these works are for our good, and that God wants to draw us out into being the best, the fullest we can be, as He created us to be. The biblical woman used as an example? Esther. So our Esther, our Big Grin, is in God's hands. She has a diagnosis, but that by no means limits God's prognosis for her life.