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Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Usually it was fish and chips that they offered to bring. Crispy battered haddock and thick-cut fries doused with vinegar and a sprinkling of salt, picked up from the Chippy on their way over.

I’d start to tidy, but would remind myself not to worry too much. Just a quick wipe of the bathrooms, and a fresh hand towel (one of my personal hospitality must-do’s) would suffice.

There wasn’t much point in frantically scooping Lego into toy bins or straightening out the sofa cushions. Our friends did, after all, have three little boys who’d be joining our two (at that time), and I knew I could expect the five of them to make quick work of emptying the wicker toy basket and turning the sofa into a pirate ship.

After the ketchup-soaked fish and chip papers had been cleared away and the children were in the other room hard at play, the adults would gather round the dining room table, within ear shot of the littles in case someone got a bump, or there was a lesson on sharing that needed to be learned.

There’d be coffee then, or tea, and some little nibbles, and the stresses of life would dissipate as we talked and shared, the fire crackling at our backs. They’d stay past bedtime, but we didn’t mind.

They were our last-minute friends. The spontaneous ones. And we loved it.

We loved it, and it went both ways.

I remember phoning once, on our way home from a day of picnicking and wading in the rock pools of St Andrews. And we were invited to “tea” (the evening meal in many parts of Scotland).

There were probably toys everywhere. Crumbs on the floor.  Some sprinkles on the toilet seat. But I don’t remember.

I remember the lamb chops smothered in curry paste, the homemade sweet potato chips sprinkled with salt and hot pepper seeds. I remember Mary’s smile. I remember there was cake.

Later on, Mary and I nursed cups of milky tea beside the patio doors while the men took the children into the cool autumn air to play on the trampoline. Two tired mamas, we talked, we laughed, we shared our hearts so that the other knew how to pray. We felt stronger. We knew love.

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You see, a mama doesn’t mind it. Not one little bit.

Doesn’t mind balancing her cup of tea as she picks her way over the minefield of toys to make her way to your couch.

Doesn’t mind grabbing a wad of toilet roll to wipe sprinkles from your toilet seat.

Has selective vision when it comes to the pile of dishes in your sink.

She didn’t come to inspect your house. She didn’t come to give you extra work.

She came for the friendship. The laughter.

She came to see you.

Friendship and laughter bring sanity. Clarity. Helps us see that most of the chaos is normal, and we’re not the only ones going through it all.

God made us that way. To bear one another’s burdens. To celebrate together.

And I have to remind myself of this often–

that my desire is to bless, not impress. 

That laughter is made brighter, tears are made lighter when there’s cake.

Cake, and of course, a hot cup of tea.

And so even if you are a tired mama, don’t let this stop you from letting others into your house, especially if they are a tired mama, too.

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She came one night with a raw chicken. I knew she’d be staying a while. And I welcomed her into the quiet of our little stone house.

John was away in London. Or Edinburgh, perhaps. And even with the woods and the beaches to walk, the days and nights grew long, just Baby and me.

Soon the oven warmed the kitchen, and the smells spread through the house. And she sat with me while I fed and changed him. Spoke with me, listened, like she’d nowhere else to go.

And when Baby was down, and our bellies were full, she sat a bit longer just to chat.

A few months on and we were headed south, leaving Inverness for the hills of Perthshire,

and she came back.

She and another friend, as if it were nothing.

They came with boxes, newspapers, and bags, and within a few days the house was wrapped and packed, and it was nothing I could have done on my own, not me and Baby, who climbed in and out of boxes, unpacking what I’d packed.

And I was grateful, oh so grateful, for their help.

But it was more than the job, of course, more than helping me move house.

It was also their time, their laughter, their there-ness

that spoke volumes to my tired mama heart. 

Saying that, I loved the help.

Acts of service is a love language I so appreciate and understand. 

But not every mama loves someone showing up with a dust rag and a mop.

An offer to help clean her house can make her feel inadequate. Like she’s failed as a homemaker and it’s clear to all the world that she’s drowning in laundry and dust.  

So if you know a tired mama and you really want to love her, 

first find out what kind of love* speaks to her tired mama heart. 

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If it’s Acts of Service, an offer to fold her laundry, wipe down the high chair, or wash her dishes will have her heart skip a happy little beat. And if you sit and chat with her while you do it, while she feeds the baby, she’ll appreciate it even more. Have a bit more time? Offer to sit with the children while she grocery shops solo. The sacrifice of your time and hard work will make her feel cared for more than anything else.

If it’s Quality Time, bring some muffins, just spend time with her, chaos and all. Or if you can, whisk her out for coffee and a chat. Or offer to join her on a trip to the park with the children. What this mama craves is your active presence. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, she just wants to see you and to build your friendship, whatever you do together.

If it’s Words of Affirmation, this mama needs encouragement, truth, and peace spoken into her life. Compliment her on her strengths, and what she’s doing right as a mother and wife. Tell her how you value her friendship. Remind her of God’s love for her, His child. If you can’t tell her in person, call or send a card.

If it’s Gifts, this mama would love you to turn up with a pot of soup and a loaf of bread. A bag of clothes that your little one has outgrown. A new diaper bag to replace hers, which is so worn out. Anything to let her know you were thinking of her. She probably wouldn’t turn down a gift certificate to her favourite restaurant or spa, but the price is not the issue. She’ll just be delighted to know you were thinking of her, whatever gift you bring.

If it’s Phyisical Touch, what this mama might need more anything else is a hug.

Being the mama (or daddy!) of little ones is not an easy task. Not a nine-to-five kind of job. It begins from the time we open our eyelids to the time we lay down our weary heads (and often continues through the night as well). We long to raise our children to be rich in faith, love, and good works, but such important work can seem overwhelming when running on such a little bit of sleep. So if there’s a tired mama in your life, find a way to help her be the faithful wife and mama she so longs to be by showing her love in a way that will strengthen her and help her run strong.

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 *Love Languages taken from The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman

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 I sit and hold him,

cradled warm and snug against my chest.

Trace with my eyes the curve of his ear.

Run my finger along the plump softness of his cheek.

My son. My baby. My last.

A smile tugs at his lips.

“He’s dreaming of angels,” they say here in Scotland,

of fluttery newborn smiles.

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In the background the voices of the boys choir of Kings College Cambridge

pour out The Holly and the Ivy,

one of my favourites, though I never knew it till I came here.

And I thought I’d have girls. Lots of them, born in the summer.

And yet this is the third Christmas I’ve sat with a newborn, a son,

(the Professor came in the spring)

wondering at this new life given to my care,

as I also wonder about the other baby,

whose birth we celebrate this time of year.

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What brings more wonder than a baby,

a new life?

Nothing.

Nothing at all, I would say,

except the life of that baby,

the one born in a stable,

who lived not only his life,

but because of his God and man-ness

is able to know intimately the minute details of the lives of each one of us.

A baby. A man. But also God.

A God who sees.

A God who knows.

A God who cares.

Cares enough to live among his creation,

and here face death

to give each of us the chance

to live again.

Imagine!

A new world, a new life,

through him.

Imagine.

Your life,

mine,

made new through him.

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I’ll have plenty of time to drink it all in tomorrow.

The carols, the mince pies, the sweetness of my newborn’s breath,

and the wonder of the birth of my Saviour.

But you’ve been kept waiting,

and so let me introduce him to you,

my newest wee manie.

We’ve called him Charles.

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Wishing a merry,

the VERY merriest,

of Christmases to you.

And enjoy this gift of music from The Piano Guys.

If you haven’t ever heard them then you really, truly must.

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A little cry breaks the breath,

the sound of the furnace as it warms the chill of these rooms,

makes the red living room curtains dance.

I rush to feed him, lay him back down, hoping for bit more time with my thoughts.

Any moment, another will call out.

And with the words, “Me ‘wake” our day will begin.

Breakfast, with toast crumbs, and sticky honey, and spilled milk (always there is spilled milk).

And sometimes giggles, and little voices lifted to sing our morning prayer.

Other times fights over who gets the blue bowl.

Or someone falling off his chair (twice) followed by hysterical tears.

And I try not to sigh. I try to remember.

The song I am writing

with this, my life.

The song they’ll be singing when they go.

What will they remember, when they go from me?

What are the notes that will dance, involuntarily, through their heads?

Notes of discord, notes of complaint?

A tune of sighs and “why”s?

Or those of grace?

Of overlooking others’ faults.

Sometimes with “I forgive you.”

Other times with silence. Ignoring that burning desire to point it out.

Lyrics of love?

Of my love, and God’s love, for them.

With myself I play it. I play my life’s song.

With my words and my hands and my feet.

With the way I do what needs to be done

(and there is a lot that needs to be done).

With the way I smile as I sweep it, wipe it, clean it up.

Put it back where it belongs. Again.

With the song of thanksgiving that I speak with my tongue

and in my heart

for all we have.

For these little ones, for their daddy.

Singing their own song that I help to write.

I can hear them now. Stirring. Scampering.

The day begins.

The song begins.

My life goes on, the song is endless.

And no part, no day, can be redone.

But each day, each moment, is new.

Each day, the song

it must be written.

And with all I have

all I’ve been given.

How can I keep

how can I keep from singing?

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The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.

~Psalm 42:8

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If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be  a merrier world.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

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May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You

~ Casting Crowns

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My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

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You might also be inspired by Castle Stone, Cottage Moss https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/09/20/if-youre-scared-to-go-or-you-cant-bear-to-stay/

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I had nothing to show for the day.

Nothing but a pail of wet nappies and some autumnal paintings drying on the porch.

Oh, and the fridge was emptier, and that basket of clothes that needed folding,

well, it sort of overflowed.

Outside the rain fell warm,

but we hadn’t seen a drop of sun all day,

and even the yellow trees, and the red, and the orange,

they all looked

just grey.

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And it felt a cold place, a lonely place, to be doing battle.

And I’ve told myself a thousand times that it shouldn’t be so hard.

It should be nothing at all to

wash sticky hands and faces,

change nappies,

sweep floors.

Couldn’t anyone do it? Anyone at all?

But there’s a little more to it, always a little more.

Because they howl when you do it. When you wipe their hands and face.

And they howl when you change them, and they try to crawl away.

And the crumbs are never nice, dry crumbs that skid across the floor.

No, no.

They stick. Mashed peas and bread crusts. Cereal welded to the wood.

And you’d have to use a crowbar, or at least your nail, to pry them free.

And it wouldn’t be so bad if it were only once.

Not three times.

Every day.

Or if your baby had actually taken his nap,

or your toddler hadn’t been ill and bit hysterical at every little thing you asked him to do.

And there isn’t a room in the house (not one room) where they don’t come after you

with their quarrels and their tears and their demands for more food.

And so yes, it is a battle. And it’s hard.

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And sometimes, it can leave you wondering what you’re worth.

Because you can’t help but feel that there are grander things you should be accomplishing.

And your husband, yes, he has to hear about it all, and you can’t help but feel that this is all

just a little bit his fault.

And part of the battle is taking it all—all the busyness, and the fights, and the tears

and turning it into something good.

Finding reason for us all to give thanks.

And there’s always a reason.

Or instead of shouting,

kneeling down to look your child in the eye

to find the cause for his tears.

Or forgetting about all the good things your spouse should be doing for you,

and finding something good to do for them.

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Because souls, they live in people.

In your children. In your spouse.

And people are more important than things,

and being kind is more important than being right.

And when it all seems a bit of a mess, that’s what you’ve got to remember.

And as many times as you can remember in a day, you’ve got to tell it to your children

Tell them how very much they’re loved.

By God.

By you.

And when there’s no one there to tell it to you, you need to read it.

Read it till it sinks in deep.

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“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17b-19

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You might also be inspired by A Walk with C.S. Lewis — https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/10/18/a-walk-with-c-s-lewis/

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