With Thanksgiving.

I can’t believe it is that time of year again, where many Americans will be gathering around the table to share a meal for Thanksgiving. I guess it doesn’t feel like it for me and will indeed be my first Spring holiday of the kind. I do miss the changing leaves and the hues of orange, brown and red that seem to permeate the environment. However at the same time, I am thankful that summer is on it’s way here in New Zealand.

Recently, I have had to remind myself , especially in moments that are easy to complain in, that there is a lot to be grateful for. Around three months ago, I started a new journal where I write in one thing from each day that I am thankful for. I’m doing this to help keep my eyes open to the good God has given me, as opposed to focusing on what I think is ‘bad’ at the time. At the end of the year, I will certainly aim to write about this journal in my blog. However, for this simple, short post, I wanted to write a few things that I am thankful for and to share some good reminders.

I am thankful for…

1. The provision of physical needs- a roof over my head, running water, food on my plate.

2. My health. I hope that I don’t take any of that for granted and that I am mindful to pray and care for others who are suffering with that.

3. Family and friends both near and a far. Although, I do miss loved ones overseas, I am grateful that God has provided people here that have surrounded me with both love and support.

4. The youth in Oamaru. As well as giving me a reason to move to New Zealand, they have shared their lives with me and encouraged me to know God better too!

5. Coffee and other luxuries that I most often confuse with being a necessity. I hope that I can be more mindful of those who are less off and how I can be a better steward of what God has given me also.

6. That this holiday, I am sharing a lovely meal with other Americans and Kiwis, even though I’m making a salad for it instead of a casserole… 

7. Each of God’s promises, espeically the reminders that He will take care of me, so not to worry- Matthew 6.

8. That God changes us and our hearts, and will produce a harvest if we seek Him and His Kingdom.

9. For the God that He is. Our creator who knows us best and knits our story together with His perfect plan and timing. That His Son lead a perfect life, because I will never be able to do so. Because He provided a way to know Him personally and eternally. That He won’t ever leave us and that He is the provider of all of the above.

Thank you, God!

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9.1

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you 1 Thessalonians 5.8

I will praise the name of God with a song, I will maginify Him with Thanksgiving. Psalm 69.30

  
PS, although not thanksiving material, I’m bringing this salad tonight -watermelon, cherry tomatoes, feta, avocado, lime, chilli and basil. 

Reading Malala.

  
This year, since I have moved to New Zealand, I have started a bookclub with three teen girls. Our first book to start with has been ‘I am Malala’. Since we opened it’s beginning pages, we have journeyed through an insightful time and place with many questions about who is Malala and what can we take from her example.Some of you may have heard her name before. A young girl of twelve years old; who was shot by the Taliban for standing up for the right to education for females in her home country of Pakistan. Malala opens our eyes to how fortunate we are to have such access and freedom to learn in school and hopefully we won’t take this for granted. She also teaches us many other things.

  • Malala teaches us that no matter the age, we should always stand up for what we believe in, despite the opposition. Imagine speaking and living out your belief when threats are verbalised against you and there is a fear for your life and the lives of your loved ones. Would we shy away, never being heard and living in fear? Is what we believe in worth that risk? Is being silent wise or cowardly? Here is a poem that was written during the time of WWII and how our actions though may seem futile can actually change a life or a circumstance.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. -Niemöller

  • Malala displayed great faith in the midst of great trials. We see this as she spent months recoving in a British hospital far from her family and home. She also exemplified what it is to forgive those who harm you and if you happen to watch the documentary on her life, her gracious manner is infectious.
  • Malala teaches us to be content and grateful for what we do have. If only every student could read this before they wake up early and grumbles while getting ready for school. Before every book is opened and every pen touches paper. We live in a part of the world that accomodates and encourages every individual to be educated-female or male. There are millions of females in particular, in many parts of the world, who do not have this privelege and they are paralysed and dependent in their illiteracy. The question arises of what can we do to help? How can we show our young people what this means for us and for others? And then maybe they can be the ones who will also reach out to stand up for such rights or other rights too, for that matter.
  • Malala shows us that words and peaceful actions are effective. One of the teen girls from the group exclaimed that she was “inspired by how she persists with her beliefs despite the threats of an apparently more powerful force, and that she believes that her pen is an even match to their guns.” Malala has spoken all over the world inspiring others with her powerful words. She has won the Nobel peace prize in 2014 and humbly strives to advocate using her voice and story to equip others to do the same.

There are many more things to learn from this young lady so I really recommend that you read the book to find out more for yourself. This afternoon, the bookclub and I met at a friend’s house. This friend has lived in Pakistan and was able to share more about life there. We clothed our heads with colourful scarves and adorned our arms with jingling bangles. We drank sweet chai tea and watched the documentary about Malala’s life. Here are some beautiful and colourful photos from that time, which reflects that beautiful culture and part of the world, that we can’t allow to be tainted by hate or discrimination. Malala celebrates and displays a love for her country despite what has seeped through her hometown. We must be mindful to pray for Pakistan, as well as other countries, who desire not only rights to education but a peace for their surroundings.

   
     

Four kids in one week.

Some of you may know ( and some of you may not know because I didn’t have as much time to share these things) that recently I had the opportunity and responsibility to look after two teenagers and two children for a week. Normally, you have one child at one time and ease your way into it perhaps (if ease is the word to use?). I have to say that although busy, it went breezier than anticipated but here are some thoughts that I have taken away from that time. So for this short post, I want to share just a few things from the week, however, in another post I would like to share the point of view of a woman who does not yet have children. This subject is especially close to my heart right now so might take a little longer to ruminate. And I think it is something that every woman from every stage should take the time to read. But for now…
  

My intial thought before entering the week was: I’m a teacher and I’m use to 30 teens in one room and all of the responsibility, organisation and discipline that goes with that. So I think I will survive with four and like to think that I would have the patience and the adaptability to not become easily perplexed or frustrated in certain situations. However, at the end of the day I have ‘my time’ to relax and wind down. Instead my week with four additions was replaced with making sure all were fed and clean, as well as ticking off the other essentails on the list. Let’s just say it now too, Moms are also a taxi service as well as a juggler of time, places and events. Lack of sleep and perhaps lack of time to yourself or conversing with other adults should never be taken for granted. I guess Moms have to find the moments in between to read a book or have a cup of coffee, as we all need a little r&r.

When you have kids, you simply don’t get to do all the things that you want to do and when you want to do them! I remember my brother once saying that marriage is a great way to show you your selfishness and then children are another way to show you it too! Did I really want to spend three hours of my Saturday morning watching soccer? Saturday mornings usually involve coffees with friends, writing my blog, reading my book, going for walks… Not watching highly energetic kids run after a ball. With a family, you have others to consider more than yourself. I just booked a flight to the north island for a weekend. I looked at my schedule and once I chose a date that was free of youth events, then I went ahead with my plans. I have that freedom now and also have opportunities that might not have been possible in another stage of life. I’ve been able to walk where not many have walked, experience other cultures with endless cups of coffees getting to know new people from those cultures.  And to iterate what I spoke about in my last post, it has made me appreciate the things that I do have now and not what I don’t have.Last week also made me think about being a single parent and how hard or lonely it could be. That the support from outside is vital too and that we should all look to ways to support one another-despite the various stages we are at. 

I can imagine that there can often be overwhelming times when taking care of a family, and it brings a smile to my face when I think of cooking with one of the children one of the nights. I thought it would be fun to have breakfast for dinner so the plan was to make pancakes and bacon. The family owns a thermomix (any chance Amanda gets, she is bound to bring her fifth baby into conversation, thermomix). I thought that this amazing robot could fix all problems in the kitchen, not cause them. Although the thermomix works wonders, it can only do so when it is put together correctly. Luke discovered, after about five seconds, that this wasn’t the case as milk began to escape and send a white waterfall over the counter top. Already covered in flour and as the saying goes “there’s no point crying over spilt milk.”, Luke and myself included felt like giving up. It can be funny (afterwards) how little things can tip us over the edge and it all seems hopeless. But even amongst the overwhelming, parents are to be recognised as leaders in such situations. They might not be void of the stress or emotions, but they lead the others through it, giving reassurance of hope. And that is what happened in the Acheson kitchen that night where we found ourselves soon laughing with the mixure browning in the pan. 

This isn’t a post for describing all the things that inconvenience us in our responsibilities in caring for younger teens or children. As well as hormones and buggers, they each bring laughter and imagination to the home. It’s messy and it can be unpredictable. It’s not as neat or planned as the home of the single or the couple who knows who put what where. We can usully expect that dinner will get on the table whenever we make it happen without interruptions of sorts. Isn’t that a type of adventure too-the unexpected? It shakes people like I, who like routine, and it’s a really good thing! Who wants to remain the same and not be challenged or stretched? It might be the easy way, but it can be boring and lazy to remain in that state. So whatever can challenge you today( doesn’t have to be kids) Go for it! And remember that adventure can either happen in the home or outside the home, again, I am learning more and more about the importance of perspective.

Also, having children and teens around brings creativity and it’s fun to remove the adult jacket, so to speak, for a few moments and make a mess building a fort in the living room-getting lost in a part of your own childhood as well as the activity itself. How awesome is that. I won’t lie, I have buildt more forts as an adult than as a child. Teens and children have an insightful perspective to life too and I love it when I am surprised by the profound statement of a toddler or the kind gesture of a teenager. Little people bring an excitement and sense of wonder -like anything is possible! How encouraging is it to be around that, and to encourage it in them also!

Then comes the hugs at the end of the day, or the end of the week. Wow. I can’t imagine having a child of my own and being embraced in such a way. I’m so thankful for the family I have here, that are not blood related but have embraced me as one of their own. I was priveleged to be a part of this for a week.

And well done to all you hardworking and loving parents out there!

  

This is an older photo of the four. Joshua, Lee, Luke and Hannah. Doesn’t it just spell out trouble? haha..just kidding.. Photo cred goes to Fiona Anderson.

On a side note to some young moms that I know: you have a beautiful role to play and I can appreciate it. But I would like to write in another post about the temptation to be consumed with this role and exclusion to those outside of it. How sometimes the church ,in particular, confuses womanhood with motherhood and how destructive this can become in our view of women in the church and in society. I want to wrap that in as much compassion and understanding as I can for both types of women but also want my voice to be heard, as I (and others like me) have felt ignored or bypassed in conversations with women in Christian circles. So before I end up writing another post here…. stay tuned 🙂