Sunday, July 24, 2011

Water... and Life.

Water. I thought a lot about it on our recent holiday. And God. Him too.

You see, He was there at the start.

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1:2).

He's everywhere. Are you seeing Him?

The light mist that only hinted at the waterfall you couldn't see. But you could not ignore the roaring in the distance. It reminded me of God's power, whether we 'feel' it, or acknowledge it. He's still there. He cannot be contained. Nor ignored.

The torrential wall of water you were unable to escape as you ascended towards an awesome waterfall. The stunning rainbows you could glimpse through the wall of water surrounding you. Maybe two if you really look. The times I have been 'drowning'... I knew the beauty of God was there regardless of circumstances. His love available if only I would recognise it.

The way we stood at the top. After a long, long climb. Exhausted. Freezing cold. Watching the water plummet with such might below us. Some of our six invigorated. In awe. Thankful for the experience. Others crying. Saying they didn't want to go back down. Asking why we had to go through this at all.

Just like us. Which one are you?

The vibrancy of the wild flowers beside the rushing rapids. The dichotomy. Beauty there. Danger beside. What do you focus on?

The river which looked peaceful in parts, but surely would have the most incredible current based on the rapids all around. Deceptively still. Like life sometimes. Keeping the calm fa├žade in place, whilst a torrent is raging beneath. Me sometimes.

The lake. Still. Serene. Majestic rock cliffs perfectly reflected. Looking at everything upside down. Is this the perspective we can gain? Looking back at challenging times and seeing some beauty in it? Even glad because of what we learnt? How we've changed? Or is frustration and anger left in the wake?

The waterfall we stood under. Laughing. In awe of the moment. Knowing God was there too. Filled with great joy. Then being reminded He is always there. We just forget to acknowledge it.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2

He's everywhere.

Look for him today.

Giving thanks:

- That He's always been there. 
- That He's here now.
- Power that cannot be contained.
- Rainbows in the mist.
- An unforgettable walk. 
- Astounding beauty.
- The fact that I will never look at a waterfall without those memories.
- That I shared those moments with my boys.
- The stillness of the lake. 
- Desire to know the same peace when chaos abounds.
- Wildflowers. Just because God put them there.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Different to before

Traveling with four kids is different to traveling as a couple.

You're surprised aren't you? I can tell.

Tony & I travelled just before falling pregnant with Caleb. Nearly 12 years ago. It was incredible. A couple of months in Europe. So much romance. Seeing sides of one another we hadn't known. Keeping our sense of humor when things went wrong. Loving the sense or adventure about it all. and talking - about everything! Creating shared experiences we will have until we are old and grey.

Then four boys arrived over five and a half years. We did manage an incredible six days together when I was 20 weeks pregnant with our 'terkecil' (little one) in Phuket (Alli & Paul - we will be forever thankful for that gift!). The same Romance. Fun. Adventure. Conversations. Shared Memories.

But I have always loved our holidays with our boys. They are good travelers. Amazing in a car over long distances. Great walkers. Fun to be with. And they humor their mother when she expresses for the 20th time how beautiful the sunset is tonight.

This trip was ambitious though. Four boys, aged 5 - 10. Eight locations over three weeks, on both coasts of America. Planes, trains, buses and automobiles. Early starts. Late finishes. Many kilometers walked. Amazing places seen. It was wonderful.

But also hard work! Planning for two is different to the madness of six. Lots of little people to get ready and shove out of the door each morning. And they had to enjoy it,  because each child reduced our bank balance by about $5000...

So I decided on some family ‘rules’;

Rule # 1: You will be filled with joy at all times, because this is a wonderful privilege. Our luggage costs more than our Pembantu's monthly wage.

Rule # 2:  Packed lunches mean more money for museums. I remember looking enviously at those who bought their lunch when I was young, while we ate the vegemite sandwiches my Mum had made (she did buy a coffee so we could sit in the cafe!). I see the same look in my boys' eyes. Now I understand Mum!

Rule # 3: Notice that we are creating life long memories. Binding us closer as a family. Bind strong.

Rule # 4: Mountain lions and bears are good. They encouraged our boys to walk with us (rather than lagging or running ahead) in Yosemite. Ideally I could bring these creatures home on the plane, as I would like to carry a couple with me at all times when we walk as a family.

Rule # 5:  I love you. If it is possible, I love you even more, when at the age of five, after 18.5 hours of flying (starting at 1:20am), when you ask how many minutes until we get there, and the reply is one hour, you just nod.

Rule # 6: You should be able to walk down a crowded street without kicking or punching one of your brothers. Even in fun. Really you should.

Rule # 7: When one of the boys asks to do something spontaneous, often something simple, do it. It will probably be the highlight of the day.

Rule # 8: It's okay that your mother is too controlling about when you can read, play iPod, draw or sleep. Its because she loves you. And knows our body clocks can be messed up quickly. And that pens get lost in hire cars. And that if she gives you that book, you'll finish that book, and won't have anything for the next day which involves longer travel. Really - she's thought about it!

Rule # 9: If you are in a foreign city, and it is raining, it is fun. There's nothing like the breathless laughter when we have run fast through a storm together.

Rule # 10: Six tired people means some level of irritability. Lets try to be kind, and patient, and understanding. That one is mostly for your mother.

Rule # 11: The only person allowed to deviate from the plan is the person who came up with the plan. Because otherwise we end up running to the boarding gate. That one I know from experience.

Rule # 12: Your mum is going to take way too many photos.

So how does it compare? Less romance. Much more planning. More pressure to get it right - because it could be inconvenient (& expensive!) if we get it wrong. More doing. Less talking. Sleeping with little bodies because we need two (or three!) hotel rooms. More tiring. Okay, exhausting! Is it worth all of the effort?

Yes. It's still adventurous. And fun. And filled with joy because of the privilege, the blessing. Certainly memories that will stay with us until we are old and grey. But this time with our six. Bound together through that.

I'm already planning the next trip.


161: The privilege of travel.
162: The example of my Mum, though I resented it at the time, of saving money so we could enjoy more together.
163: Shared memories.
164: Mountain lions. Bears. Walking together!
165: Good travellers. Patience.
166: Boys - and their inability to be still!
167: Spontaneous fun.
168: Boys who love to read.
169: Running through the storm, breathless with laughter.
170: Learning to be more patient. Every day.
171: Plans.
172: Photos. So we can remember together.

I owe this one to my Ashton Charlie

When my man had his birthday this year I blogged about him. Because he's pretty fabulous. And birthdays are a great time to acknowledge that and be thankful for special people in your life. I decided then that I should blog for each of my five boys' birthdays. But my little one had celebrated his a couple of weeks prior (and two more are looming), so this one is a catch up...

Where to start about this boy? This sunny boy.

Perhaps with the decision that led us to him? My husband desperate to have another babe. Me: "Are you sure you don't just want a girl, because we WILL have a boy!"

Or maybe his birth? Dramatic. A little acrobatic boy - head next to his foot (try it now?) - cord wedged between said head and foot. My first, my surprising, ceasar.

Perhaps the fact that we changed his middle name when he was two (or was that three?)! That one should probably be left for another blog...

The way I completely 'drowned' after his arrival. Four little boys at home - none at school yet! Those who were able - calling my name, wanting me to read books and get up off the couch where a baby was attached most of the day. All of them producing hideous amounts of washing. Needing to be fed. Nappies sufficient to produce an environmental crisis. Dishes everywhere. I cried. A lot.

My 'perfect', planned, controlled, world crumbled. Fast. Like it had never stood upright. I didn't like it.

Yet this boy, five years later, is pure delight. He gives the best cuddles I know. He talks constantly. He was happy enough to give up anything he should be playing with over the past few years (Thomas? Bob? Wiggles?) if it meant he could do what his three big brothers were doing. At the age of three, when I said "Mmmmm" in response to something he said, he would say "Not 'Mmmmm' Mummy, talking!" None of my other boys had ever noticed I wasn't listening when I did that. The way he sought out adults in the school yard to have a chat. His warmth next to me when we read together. The way he grooves. The night he was laying in bed and said, "I wonder what Beth will wear tomorrow. I think a skirt!" When I kissed him goodnight before heading out, he said "Wow, Mum, you look beautiful! What shoes are you going to wear?"

I love this boy. Ashton Charlie. A gift.


151: The gift of five years.
152: That he was a boy. Perfect for our family
153: Midwives.
154: The courage to change his name. Late. 
155: For hard times. And what I learnt.
156: For dear friends, who supported me in the years I was 'drowning'.
157: For the opportunity of staying at home with my boys. Five full years with Ash.
158: Realising it is the Lord who is in control. Not me. Quite a shock really.
159: Squeazy cuddles.
160: An insightful boy.