The silver lining in every cloud

We are in the second week of our maid-less days. The house is a lot messier, dishes keep piling up in the sink, and the laundry basket seems to have taken on a life of its own.

But…no one has lost her sanity, no husband ate half-burnt pork ribs, and no child went to school on an empty stomach. Yet.

Woohoo. Pop the champagne. Bring on the B&J ice-cream.

Honestly… I look around me and I see the many angels God has sent to help us and encourage us along. I just had to pen this thankful post, and count my blessings.

One, my mum and godma have stepped up to help out more with the kids as well as with cooking nutritious meals. We manage to eat homecooked dinners at least 4 days a week, and this is something I just can’t thank God for enough.

Two, my dear friend and fabulous godma to our kids has been delivering healthy and yummy lunches to our house once a week. It’s a double blessing for us because the kids love the food and having her (and their little godsister) around!

Three, J has adjusted back to the cot. (We moved him back from the mattress to the cot as he’s crawling around now and it’s safer for him to be in a confined space as we’re often worried he’ll knock into the cupboards in our bedroom.) After two nights of letting him practise crying a little when he stirs awake after going down for his night-time sleep, he has learnt how to fall back to sleep on his own. Just a few weeks back, he kept waking and crying for help to be soothed back to sleep. Now he only really cries when he needs a feed. He hasn’t managed to go through the night yet, but at least we are a step closer to peaceful nights.

Four, JJ seems to have crossed into another developmental phase where he would be more open to listening and asking for help nicely instead of whining. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this will last, and that we can focus on enjoying him as a little person in the making.

Five, Vera and JJ can sleep pretty well alone in their room now. JJ used to be wakeful on some nights, but he seems to be less wakeful and a more independent sleeper now.

Six, Vera is starting to get more responsible with chores like folding her and her brothers’ clothes, and packing away her toys before bedtime. She’s happy to help watch her baby brother too, who’s currently into crawling and cruising, and always on the verge of doing something dangerous. (We have a little reward system for her going on, and I hope to share more about that soon.)

Seven, I’m learning to major on the majors and let other things go. For the most part, I’m still keeping a close watch on our diet and health, and learning to let the chores wait a little if there is a sibling fight to mediate, a boo-boo to be kissed, or urgent work to be done.

Because of our limitations, we try to keep our schedule simpler now. Weekends are spent with good friends in a nearby park or shopping mall. Or just letting the kids run around (and expend their energy) in the neighbourhood.

We still have our fair share of crazy days. But I’m starting to see us growing stronger as a family. With everyone learning to chip in, young or old, big or small… And I’m thankful. There is a silver lining in this little cloud.

If you’re going through difficulties too, I hope you keep calm and remember to count your blessings…It may not change the situation, but it’ll certainly change the way you deal with things.

Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

keep calm and count your blessings

Linking up to Grateful Gatherings over at Justina’s.

 

What if trials are blessings in disguise

I’ve been feeling the heat lately. Things at home haven’t being going “as planned.” (Since parenthood arrived, what goes as planned really?)

JJ’s been going through potty regression. He used to be pretty regular, but all of a sudden some months back, he decided he would start pooping in his diaper again. He’s also been in whiny mode and just extremely irritable on some days.

My helper decided to leave us (for personal reasons). Thankfully, my mother was able and willing to come back to help us for a couple of days every week, so I don’t have to go through the process of looking for a suitable helper.

It’s hard not to feel hot, harried and bothered. Some nights, I feel like just letting it all go – and having a good cry while at it.

Then I remembered that sometimes things don’t always go as planned. And many times, they don’t for good reason. The important thing is to learn and grow through it all. And to keep the faith.

I remind myself I need to stay well and strong, for the sake of the kids (and hubby too, so I don’t end up taking it out on him). I choose to take it easy on whatever area of life I can – be it a messier home and living room, or one or two less home-cooked dinners a week. I choose to keep my sanity, by selecting my battles. (And fight them one at a time.)

Staying emotionally well means that I know what to let go of.

It means that I don’t take on too much and I learn to say no.

It means keep first things first – and prioritising too.

It also means I stay connected to people I love and whom I know will support me and will keep us in prayer. (I’m ever grateful for my friends who are “on call” via whatsapp / Facebook.)

What does being emotionally well mean to you?

If you are going through a trying period, I pray for God’s peace to guard your heart, and that you’ll find strong support in the presence of family and friends.

what if trials are mercies in disguise

May this song Blessings bless and encourage you…

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

“Bye, woman.” On wellness and self-care

I told the kids “bye, guys” one morning as they headed off to class. Vera promptly turned and said “bye, woman.”

She thought she was cheeky, and I must admit I laughed. (I only hope I remember this incident years down the road if and when the kids use this reference not so innocently.)

As I spent the last week or so reflecting on my journey and reviewing my goals and plans, I realise that I often forget about my own needs as a woman.

A woman needs love and affection. She is cheered on by words of encouragement and affirmation from the people close to her heart. She loves to be pampered, desires to dream and to realise those dreams, seeks time to rejuvenate herself, time to rest and feed her soul.

She needs to know that she is worth fighting for and protecting, that her thoughts, feelings and ideas are worthy of a listening ear. She dreams big, gives of herself to worthy causes, fights for the things and people she believes in and loves. She nurtures her clan ferociously.

As “mum”, I often neglect the other aspects of womanhood. I don’t dedicate time to care for myself. Exercise and grooming gets relegated to “when I have a minute.”

Many needs vy for my attention, and it can get pretty overwhelming on some days. (Now and then, I feel like locking myself in a quiet room and sitting alone in the stillness for five minutes. And occasionally, I actually do.)

This is where I collect myself; the million pieces of me that have been spread thin like butter on toast.

There, when the sky feels like it’s falling and when my heart is so noisy and worry-filled, I’m able to focus on the promises of God. He often reminds me that He is the one holding it up for us.

I feel lately I’ve been buzzing around without a clear purpose. It’s time to re-focus on the things that matter to me, not just as Mum, but as Woman.

When I became a mum in 2009, I launched into motherhood – mad, glorious motherhood. Now, ironically, being a mum has taught me that I cannot simply mother all day long and neglect my own needs as a woman. This quote says it well:

The quality of a person’s inner being – the body, mind and spirit – affect the quality of his/her outward expressions – the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others, produce quality work, etc. One’s inner wellness is, hence, not an option, but a necessity. Every individual, especially women who tend to sacrifice themselves for their loved ones, must unwind and pamper his/herself to achieve that inner balance and well-being. – Esther Lee

As much as my children mean to me, being a better person for them means stepping away from them, to re-fuel my tank.

Ways to re-fuel

  • Keep fit and healthy (through good food and exercise).
  • Regular me-time (coffee dates work well for me, and the occasional coffee retreat).
  • Catch up with good friends.
  • Invest in personal development, give voice to your dreams.
  • Creative pursuits and fun relaxing activities, like picking up a new hobby or catching a play (not a kiddy one)
  • Nourish your soul by feeding on God’s word daily.
  • Date your spouse. Find new ways to show your love.
  • Create mental white space or thinking space (this should involve stealing away from the noisy world of technology and social media) to reflect on the past, learn lessons, and plan for the future. (This often helps me to gain new energy and perspective. When I take a step back, I often catch a glimpse of the bigger picture.)

In a way, this blog is my way of investing in myself; an expression of my desires to write and create, and to encourage other parents who are going through similar struggles.

It is also a small step towards achieving my dream to be a writer.

Yes, it’s hard to peel away. Yes, it’s hard to find the time. But if it’s something important and close to your heart, you will choose to do it, even if it means saying “no” to other things. This is for you, and for the family too.

Parenthood isn’t an excuse for you to shelf your dreams and needs for personal fulfilment away. Instead, allow parenthood to inspire and motivate you to go beyond what you ever imagined, and to invest in those needs in a different, perhaps more creative, way.

From now on, I’m committing myself to not run on empty, and to re-fuel on love, God’s word, and good company. For the month of July, I’ll be focusing on the theme of self-care. (If you have an idea to share with me, do drop me a note!)

“Hello, woman.”

self-care quote

Do you struggle to meet your own needs and desires too?

How do you find ways to recharge and refuel?

How grace works in a marriage

I read this quote by Paul Zahl:

Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver (the one who loves) in relation to the receiver (the one who is loved) that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…Grace is one-way love.

What does it mean to give grace? Grace is probably one of the hardest things to grasp. Perhaps because it’s so uncommon in our daily lives.

But if you’ve been a recipient of grace, you know how to be a giver too. In marriage (as in daily life), I find it hard to be the one who gives grace. But I do know how to receive it.

I receive grace when I’ve been rude to the husband, or nonchalant in my attitude, and he takes it in his stride.

I receive grace when I forget to put the phone down and ask him about his day. Yet he doesn’t grumble or nag at me.

I receive grace when the kids have made me grouchy and sulky but he rubs my back and says “it’s okay, let’s see how we can make this better.”

I see grace when I’m feeling lousy but he accepts me as I am, weaknesses and all.

I see grace when he lets me vent my frustrations, and doesn’t shut me out.

I see grace when after I’ve lost it and yelled at the kids, he doesn’t put me on a guilt trip, and sits down and troubleshoots with me instead.

And whenever I receive grace, I’m better able to spread some around, even to the kids.

When they rant and rage, I see that all they need is to let it all out, and not punish them for feeling those big emotions but work with them on how to feel better after. (I wish I always manage to stay in control, but unfortunately I’m no saint. But when I do manage to stay calm, I find it makes it easier for them to regulate their emotions and calm down.)

When they are unreasonable and unloving, I can choose to STILL be reasonable and gentle. I need to remember that I always have that option. (And erm…exercise it more.)

But then, what if we take grace for granted? (It’s easy to, isn’t it?) What if they push it further?

I could choose to bully my husband and take advantage when he’s in grace mode. But somehow I don’t. If grace is one-way love, then I must say it usually gets a reciprocal effect. It gives back.  If grace is all about the giver, I feel propelled to want to be a giver too.

Because when I accept the grace that he’s offered with his open hands, I feel unworthy, almost indebted.

Also, I’m reminded that the biggest grace of all, is the one when Christ paid for my sins by dying on the cross. I can’t even begin to repay that debt.

What I can do though is to offer the same grace to others who need it as much as I do.

Grace is like a bunch of summer blooms shoved under your nose when you’re feeling blue. What are the ways you see grace at work in your family? Please share. We all need a touch of grace…

grace is one way love

Pens devotional book for kids {giveaway}

 We recently started on the Pens: God Cares 30-day devotional series with Vera.

I’ve actually been thinking about ways to explore bible verses with her together, so this came at a good time.

The devotional stories are easy to understand, and are suitable for kids above the age of 3.

The characters are lively stationery, ranging from Charlotte Chalk, Denzil the Pencil, to Sharpy the dog and Squiggle and Splodge.

The A5 format book is also filled with colourful pictures to capture little kiddos’ attention. Vera enjoys learning about the various characters and her favourite is Gloria Glitterpen, because (in her own words) “she is so sparkly and lovely”.

What we like most:

  • The stories are short, simple, and reinforces the particular theme being explored, such as “Everything I need” and “A place to be safe.”
  • Each theme is repeated over a few days so it gives Vera time to digest the lesson.
  • The stories portray everyday life experiences such as getting lost and then being found, or throwing a party to cheer a friend up. I find that these make the key verse very accessible and easily grasped by young children.
  • Each devotional story ends with a simple prayer and a practical tip.

~~~ Giveaway ~~~

Thanks to the folks at Little Good Books, I have one copy of the Pens: Friends series to give away to readers. To participate, just follow the instructions via the Rafflecopter app below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  1. Open to Singapore residents only.
  2. Participants must Like Little Good Books’ Facebook Page to be eligible.
  3. Contest closes 13 December, 10.30pm, and winners will be announced on mamawearpapashirt’s Facebook Page.

Sponsored by Little Good Books, a Singapore-based online book store that specialises in books for 0-7 years old. Most of LGB’s picture books comes with an ACE (Artwork, Coacher, Entertainment) review to help parents in their book selection (more details here). Little Good Books is now having a Christmas sale on selected items with free delivery. Stay tuned for their new range of books coming your way soon.

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