Be still.

Sunday morning was busier than normal because we had to get to church early with Matthew playing in the band and the children having Sunday School before the service. So we had to leave home at 8.30am. After 20 mins of myself and the children amusing ourselves, it was time for the children to go to Sunday School.

There are not many children or young people in our church. Sunday School was run by one teacher for the beginning of the session, and when we got there my children were the only ones attending. I was expecting to stay and help / watch / let the baby crawl around. But the teacher told me to go out for a walk before church.

I had no idea what to make of that. Sometimes there’s a vibe from mainstream parents that homeschooling parents are too present… my radar detects a little of this but still, it was going to be hard to resist, and equally, there wasn’t much time to do anything good.

I checked Google maps just outside the church. As I thought, there’s nowhere to really head for around there. So I felt as though it had been sprung on me, and I would much rather have been in Sunday School. (Times have changed!). I also had no sunhat for the baby, and the pram didn’t provide a great deal of shade.

I walked quickly, after looking at the map and deciding a plan of a route was pointless. I would walk, turn round, and then walk back.

I got to a sign post for shops. Tempting (but too early!). Then I noticed across the road, a street full of Jacarandas. Eldest son turns 12 soon, and the Jacarandas point to his birthday every year.

I crossed the busy road and began walking down the Jacaranda street. I began to listen to the birdsong, enjoyed the peace, and the beautiful purple blossom. Neither of us spoke. I noticed my pace slow, and I came to a stop under a tree. Unusual for me to experience anything like this, and it was an unexpected peace. I recalled these words:

be still and know that I am God.

For the first time ever I recalled this scripture without instantly singing in my mind one of the many musical settings. I was still. The peace was from God. I’d been to a Bible study in the week, and those words were part of the prayer time but they had been muddied by music I couldn’t get out of my head, and I was frustrated to find no peace there as hoped.

I then noticed on the other side of the road, a street sign with my son’s name on it. Wow! I exclaimed aloud and went across and took a picture. Then realising the time, thought I should walk back to the church. I was feeling satisfied and peaceful. I thought I should pray for my children, for my eldest son in particular, and then I moved on to the others. I prayed other personal things too, all related to the experience. I was aware of the multi sensory experience of this mini retreat. God does not intend our senses to be segregated or our worship and prayer to be disjointed. I felt that nearly all my senses were involved in this silent retreat, this worship time that had just come to me unexpectedly and that I had actually made use of.

I walked into the church building, knowing that however sitting with 6 children, solo, in the pew, with a particularly wriggly and tired baby, turned out to be… I had had my time of refreshment and was ready for serving God and my family.

Even now, a day later, I find that the peace and the retreat have had a lasting effect. Times are challenging in our busy family this week… I am even more blessed from the retreat that took me by surprise than I thought I could ever be.

Maybe a ‘real retreat’ will happen for me one day! But for now, this is God’s provision for me, and the tiny video I took of the trees, the birdsong… is my little reminder and top up whenever I need it.

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Are they all yours?!

I am asked this question just about every time we leave the house. These days it is a reminder to me to just look at my beautiful children, thank God for them, smile, and simply say that they are.

Mostly the comment (it is usually more of a comment than a question) is followed up with compliments… How beautiful they are (yes, really!) and quite often how well behaved too… That one gets me every time.

I am more uncomfortable fielding compliments about my children’s behaviour than I am about their number.

There’s no secret, there’s no trick… There’s no amazing behaviour management program. I am definitely not writing the next best seller either. I usually say thank you and assure them that we keep it together pretty well outside the house and home is the safe place where we can all make mistakes.

The truth is, that we all make more mistakes than we want to remember, and most days I go to bed remembering not my children’s behaviour but mostly my own failures. I try to do better tomorrow.

There is grace in our home. For our children, and for ourselves. I was once encouraged by the words “Grace is for mamas too”.

Grace is also for the person commenting on our family size. How many blogposts and articles I have read, with lists of snarky replies to the equally snarky questions that come with the territory of leaving the house with a large family in tow. Whatever ‘large family’ means. I have only used one of those replies once. It was a good one, and I was not in a place where I was able to field it with grace, and certainly the person in question was in a professional capacity where comments of that nature were not required. It’s not my plan to either belittle another person’s question or to laugh at my own, extravagantly blessed family.

We are called to be different. To have grace for ourselves, our children, and others… When we all least deserve it. We are ambassadors for being even more.

We are Even More.

How the blog became and how it became this is that over time, ideas have grown more and more… even more. The content was always to vary.. could never hold together entirely. Then I realised. These words, Even More… have been in the back of my mind, a sentence… for five years. These words are mine now. I have taken them and re-used them. I think of them almost daily. Always in a good way.

Those words have not always been kind. Even more has not always been my friend. Here is how those words first came to reside in our house. In my mind, subconsicous… accusations…

We had 3 children. We were living in a rented house, had just announced to our families that we would be homeschooling our eldest child for a number of reasons, any one of them valid in itself.. and then we shared the wonderful news that we were expecting another baby. Four seemed like such a friendlier number than three, which to us felt unfinished. This is where the words happened. One person’s was not good. Her words (after the initial disbelief) were that we would be neglecting the other children EVEN MORE. Even more??? Even more than what? Than we were already? We weren’t aware there was any neglecting going on in the first place. Far from it! I had given up work two babies ago to concentrate on our family and look after our children as their primary carer at home… we didn’t watch much television, cooked just about everything from scratch… we did our absolute best and we were just embarking on a journey into educating our children at home. Again from scratch. Junk food school thrown in only occasionally.

So those were the words that came to reside in our house. Even more. Two more babies later… the words were still unwelcome visitors in my head when I think about how our family has grown, and the reactions to that growth each time we have announced our joyous (to us!) news!!

Recently I was telling the story to a friend. I realised… I can take back those words! They are mine now. I have even more experience, even more children, even more to keep me busy and even more to thank the Lord for..I am learning even more about grace. Our family gives us even more joy than we ever thought possible. There is even more encouragement.  Even more to write about…

So here it will be. Life, faith, large family… and even more.