Why Pain?

Our baby girl has a drain in her chest at the moment as there is a lot of fluid there. But the drain leaks so her dressing needs to be changed a lot. A few days ago I was standing next to her cot while the nurses were changing her dressing. Lydia was crying as it was painful. I don't know how babies think, but if she thought like an adult I could imagine her thinking, "Mummy, are you really there? How can you stand there and watch people hurting me? Why aren't you stopping them? It hurts! Why, Mummy?"
Lydia couldn't understand the reason why. But because of my love for her, I have to let her be hurt when it means that it will help her get better. I only let people hurt her when it has to be done--when it is for her good. It hurts me to see her hurt.
As I watched her and thought about this, I learned a lesson. There are painful things in my life at the moment and I find myself asking God the same questions. "Are you really there? Why is this happening? Why are you allowing this? It hurts! Why?"
I don't understand the reason why. But because of God's love for me, He does allow things that will help change me for the good.
I can trust Him. He is in control. He doesn't like to see me in pain, but He knows what has to be done. He cares for me far more than I care for Lydia. One day I will see the big picture like God does and then I will understand the purpose of every trial.


Trust God

Do you ever struggle to trust God?
Last week it was nearly time to leave hospital. Our baby was recovering well from her heart surgery and we could go home and be reunited with our other children that I hadn't seen for two weeks. And yet fears flooded me--fears of something happening to keep us in hospital, fears of being separated from our children again etc.
I knew I needed to trust God but I also knew that sometimes what I want and what God wants are two different things! So I was finding it difficult to trust God.
Then I read a reading from the Daily Light. One of the verses was  "I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Jeremiah 29:11
This spoke to me.
 I don't understand why hard things happen in my life---I don't know the reasons why. But God knows. He knows the reasons why and His thoughts are of peace and not of evil. He has a good purpose to everything He allows. He sees the big picture. I can trust Him. He is in control and He promises to work everything together for good if I love Him. He will allow hard trials to change me, teach me and make me more like Him but I can trust that He has a wise purpose for each one and He will go through it with me.

You can trust God!


Children and Mess!

This afternoon my baby was sleeping, my three other children were playing happily together outside and my husband was out. So I decided to use the moment to give our bathroom a thorough clean. I cleaned the windows and mirror, vacuumed the floor, scrubbed the shower and sink and was about to mop the floor and clean the toilet when..... in came two of my children who had been happily playing in the wet sandpit! I looked in dismay at the sand sprinkled all over the toilet, and the sand all over the floor and my little boy whose clothes were covered in wet sand! Not to mention my feet now covered in sand. I thought, "This room is now dirtier than before I started cleaning!! I wondered whether I should get out the vacuum cleaner and vacuum all over again. Or should I just try to mop up the sand? Or should I just forget about cleaning altogether??
I'm glad I read a blogpost thismorning about a lady who longs to have children to brighten up her home.
I'm also glad I read a devotion thismorning about being a joyful mum even when our children make a mess!
I'm glad I've gone through lots of hospital experience over the last half year. For one thing it's made me appreciate and enjoy my children more, as being in hospital has meant lots of separation. But its also made me appreciate housework more. Have you ever been cooped up in a little hospital room when you're not sick?? It's enough to make you long to wash dishes, clean bathrooms, vacuum or ANYTHING!
So although I groaned when I saw the sand, I was able to thank God for filling my house with children and that I am at home able to look after them!
There will come a day when I'll be able to have a spotless house (if that's possible anyway!!), and I'm sure I'll then just wish I had delightful little children again! 


Three Ways to Love Your Husband

These are three lessons I am learning that are making me a happier wife!

Focus on the positive.
I heard of a man who kept a little book and wrote his wife's faults and failures in it! Isn't that horrible? And yet, as we are naturally so self-focused, it is so easy to focus on the negative rather than on all the positives.
It's good to write down or at least think of things that you are thankful for about your husband every day. Make it a habit to notice every positive thing about him and thank God for it. It's amazing what a difference it can make to your attitude! You will probably realize you are married to the best man in the world! :)

Listen to him.
Does your husband make comments about what he does or doesn't like? Maybe foods he would like you to buy, or meals he doesn't like, or clothes you or the children wear that he doesn't like. Does he mention things that would like you to do?
Listen and pay attention to his wishes. Do your best to please him, instead of making excuses why you shouldn't. Unless, of course, his wishes are clearly wrong. It's not always possible or realistic to do what he wants, but most of the time it is, although it may call for some unselfishness on your part! But you will be happy, knowing that you are honoring the man God gave you.

Learn to appreciate his way of showing love (love language).
My husband shows his love in different ways to me. Words of affirmation are very important to me, while they don't mean a whole lot to him. Acts of service and gifts are more important to him. So there are many times I have been offended because of what he has or hasn't said to me, and yet he might have spent the afternoon making me dinner or he brought us some treats on his way home.
Its easy to feel unloved when your husband shows love in a different way to you. But it's unnecessary.
As I am learning, you can either spend your life wishing he would become more like you, or you can look for and appreciate the ways that he shows love.
I read this the other day and it made me stop and think. It was written for men and it was about marriage. She won’t always readily translate the oil change to love, though it means that.
Something like an oil change can mean the same as the words "I love you" or a box of chocolate, or a bunch of flowers, or a night out at a restaurant etc!


Lessons from Martha

Whenever I've studied the story of Mary and Martha before, I've usually gotten two lessons out of it.
1)Have your priorities right
     The eternal is more important than the physical.
2) Don't be so busy serving Jesus that you have no time to spend with Him

But this time I've learned new things about Martha and realized that I can relate to Martha very well! These lessons especially apply in our homes, since our husband and children are the ones who are the closest to us.
(But before I begin, Martha wasn't all bad! She loved Jesus. She had faith in Him. She welcomed him into her home--she was very hospitable. I have much to learn from her there.)
3)Martha questioned whether Jesus cared
"Dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" She should have known that He did.
I'm sure there are times when I've started to have those doubts. Does God really care?
"Casting all your cares upon him for he cares for you."

4) Martha became very stressed unnecessarily
Martha didn't need to be that busy. She had too much on her 'to do' list. Sometimes I get very stressed simply because I am trying to do too much or I want things perfect. My priorities aren't quite right. When I start getting super stressed, I need to stop, refocus, simplify and prioritize. I remember one time trying to get to an appointment on time. I was getting very grumpy with my children and just feeling so stressed. Guess what? I was still early and had to sit and wait in the waiting room! All that stress wasn't necessary!

5)When Martha became too busy and bothered, she became cranky.
Because Martha became focused on her work instead of the Lord, she became very grumpy.
When I get my eyes off God and get overly busy, I begin to snap.
6) Martha blamed Mary for her problems
When I get too busy and then cranky, I begin to blame others, usually my husband! But Mary wasn't the problem, Martha herself was the problem!! She was getting worried and flustered unnecessarily. She was too busy.
7) Martha felt sorry for herself
That's me too, sometimes! Self-focused and full of self-pity for poor me who is so overworked and uncared for like Martha!

8) Martha was critical and accusing
She was critical of Mary, accusing her of not helping and accusing Jesus of not caring about her.
When we get too busy, its so easy to be critical and accusing, just like Martha. If not in our words, in our thoughts.

9) Martha put Mary down in order to lift herself up
Martha put Mary down in front of Jesus. I may not always go so far as to do it verbally, but in my mind I can put people down and lift myself up. I can compare people to me, as if I am perfect myself!

10) Martha was irreverent to Jesus
Martha first of all accused Him of not caring, then commanded Him to rebuke Mary. She forgot who she was (a sinner) and who she was talking to (the Creator of the universe!)
When I am feeling like Martha was feeling, my prayers aren't always so reverent either. My prayers can be very selfish.

11) Martha implied that by sitting at Jesus' feet Mary wasn't doing anything.
There are always so many things to be done, that sometimes its hard to see the value of a quiet time with God, reading His Word and praying. The physical things can seem much more important.

12) Martha needed the rebuke not Mary
She must have expected Jesus to rebuke Mary, but instead He rebuked Martha. She was the one who needed it! I wonder how many times I've complained about someone else, when I was the one who needed changing. I remember one time I was very annoyed because my husband had just rung to say he was coming home late from work. Dinner was on the table and we had visitors staying with us, so I was annoyed that he hadn't told me earlier so I could have just planned dinner later. So feeling like Martha, I called the visitors for dinner. One of them asked me why Johan wasn't home. I explained that he had to work late. His comment was, "Wow, he must be tired." Although he hadn't know what I was thinking, it was a rebuke to me. Here my husband was working long hours and would be very tired when he came home. The last thing he needed was a complaining wife to come home to! I got an attitude adjustment real quick!

13)When Jesus spoke, Martha had to listen
Martha was too busy to listen to Jesus, but when He said, Martha, Martha, he got her attention. She had to listen then. And when we get too busy for God, sometimes he has to trip us up somehow to get our attention so that we will listen.


A Means to an End

For two months, my baby was in the Nicu. It was interesting to see how things were done. Everything was very orderly, practical and very clean. Everything was on wheels so they could be moved and the cleaner could clean underneath.

But the point of the Nicu is not to have a clean, organized place. The purpose is to get babies well and home again. All those other things are just a means to an end. They are important, but they are not the purpose in themselves.

When I came home from the hospital I had been away for 2 months. So there was 2 months of stuff to sort through and put away. There were gifts and new things to find a place for, baby and maternity clothes to sort through and then the children came home. And of course, a new baby to care for! At first I was just so happy to be out of hospital and and all together at home again.

I started to write down what needed doing as I usually do.  Then I quickly became very overwhelmed! So many things to do. I started to feel like my purpose each day was to get things ticked off my list. 

I had to stop and think, "I'm home! I'm out of hospital. Take it easy and don't worry about all the things that need to be done. Just enjoy being home and with your children again."

Also the thought came to me, "My house will never be perfect like I would like it to be. If that's my goal each day, I'll always be disappointed. It's just not possible. Keeping my house in order is just a means to an end. My goal is to have a happy home for my husband and children. In order to do that, I do need to keep things clean and tidy. I want my husband to have a nice place to come home to. Also, I can't enjoy doing something with the children when the whole house is upside down. But sometimes in order to have a happy home, I need to let things go a bit. A happy home is more important than a 'perfect' home.”

Keeping your home in order is important. In Titus 2, it says we are to be 'keepers at home.' It's part of our job. But before that on the list it says to love your husband and your children. That is the goal!


...To Love Their Children

"It hurts so much because we loved you so much." A father who lost his little daughter wrote these words on her tombstone. She was killed when a crazy driver crashed into their van.

Giving her a cuddle after the procedure was done.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in a café in the hospital while my baby was having a procedure/surgery done for her heart. A friend texted me asking how I was. I admitted, "I'm afraid to get too close to her because then it hurts more. I know it sounds horrible, but I hope you understand." That friend has a child with health problems and she did understand. But her advice was that I shouldn't try to protect myself like that, even though it seems the easier thing to do. She said it's better to hurt and feel the pain.
I'll add that it had been a stressful morning. Lydia needed to go to another floor on the hospital for the procedure to be done. We walked along as the nurse wheeled her in her cot. Because of a broken lift, we had to go a very long way around. On the way, Lydia's oxygen levels started dropping quite low and she started to turn blue. The nurse got quite stressed. Another nurse passing by stopped to help. When we finally got down to where we would leave her, there was a boy in the bed next to Lydia. He got wheeled through doors that said MRI. The mother followed him through the doors then came back and burst into tears. I got out of there as quickly as I could before my tears started! I thought, "I shouldn't have come. I can't handle it!"
The day before, the doctor and anesthetist had laid out all the possible risks involved until I was starting to wonder if she would even make it out alive!
So maybe you can understand why I didn't want to get too attached to her. But I'm very thankful for the advice that my friend gave me. I decided I would take it.
I also found it hard being separated from my other children for 2 weeks at a time. It was easier for me to just put them out of my mind that it was to Skype with them, because then I missed them more. It might have been the easy way out for me, but what about my children? I realized that it wasn't nice for them for me to disappear completely out of their life.
I read this statement that a mother wrote, after her husband died of leukemia. "Loving someone really well means that you hold on and stay close even when it doesn't feel good---it hurts more than words can say."
Having a baby whose needed so much hospital care has made me afraid to love too much.
But the other night I was thinking about this as I sat up with my baby. She has been having problems with reflux and couldn't go back to sleep until she threw up.
I thought, "It might hurt more to love, but imagine how horrible it would be (if something happened to Lydia) to know that I hadn't loved her like I could have. Surely that would be far worse."
Love is the only thing we can do for our children. We can't stop accidents from happening and we can't keep them alive and healthy, but we can love them!
And that is exactly what God wants us to do.
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, Titus 2:4