Sunday, 19 November 2017

Finding Laughter

This week I read something that made me feel sad.

Children laugh, on average, 150 times a day. Adults laugh, on average, only six times a day.

Wow - I think I miss out being an adult!

Only the day before I read the quote, I was listening to the children laughing and stopped to think what a beautiful sound it was. One because, if I can be honest, it made a change from bickering and two because it sounded so free.

It seems crazy to think that as my life has progressed my ability to laugh has reduced. It does not seem quite right that for every one time I laugh, my children are capable of laughing 25 times. A statistic I would like to be different - I would like to be more like a child.

That is something Jesus also suggests, to be more childlike. Children are curious, they explore - often with their eyes wide open, searching and usually finding something to satisfy their curiosity. Children love without expectation. Often they are very forgiving and generous. Children are able to give of themselves, simply because that is what they wish to do.

Maybe, because children are so willing to receive, they freely find joy and happiness which leads to lots and lots of laughter.

Maybe my laughter is less as I am much more complicated and far less free. I over think, I come with expectations, I am wary of being curious or exploring something new. I struggle to give of myself as I am unsure of what I might receive in return.

I do not want to be average! Instead I choose to find laughter. I wonder if it may not be an easy choice as it will mean letting go. Finding real laughter and the freedom that it brings means letting go of expectations and overthinking. Curiosity will have to take the place of planning how things will turn out. As I take each new step, I will have to be free rather than bound to what has been.

I very much imagine this will involve one step forward and then a few steps back - I will not be hitting the 150 mark straight away!

It will be worth the effort and I will persevere because laughter is beautiful, it is contagious, it is uplifting and freeing. Average is simply no comparison.

Monday, 6 November 2017

I Choose To Notice...

If I am honest, it does not take much to make me cry. I can well up at the smallest thing! Someone shows kindness - not necessarily to me - and tears appear. Words spoken or sung can, on occasion, have a similar effect. Watching a DVD and my eldest will turn to me and ask, "Are you crying mum?!"

However, the other week, I was not expecting that a journey in a lift would cause me to cry. Usually I take the stairs, although as I was short on time, I went in the lift. It was one of those lifts where there are doors on both sides. So I entered the lift, was ready to ride up when a lady got into the lift from the other doors. We exchanged pleasantries - not that I can really remember what was said - and when we reached the next floor, the lady went to leave the lift. As she walked out she turned to me and said, "I hope you have a great day." This was when the tears came!

So how was a lady I had never met before able to make me cry? Simply because she noticed me. She took the time to see me and gave a small part of herself in order to make a difference to somebody else. The lady showed kindness that took little effort yet was so significant. 

This simple kindness made me stop and think. How often do I rush through the moment, the day or the week, so preoccupied with all that I need to do, that I fail to notice the many opportunities that there are to show kindness?

My encounter with the lady in the lift challenged me to consider all the many people who cross my path each day. Do I really notice the people I see or even talk to as I go about my day? 
The lady who I see as I walk home from the school run, the shop assistant, the people who I work with, the mums who come to toddlers, the teachers, the person waiting to cross over the road, the lady at the post office, my children, my friends and family?
Do I notice them or am I too busy rushing from one thing to the next that I persuade myself that it is OK not to notice?

What if I did choose to notice? To give a small part of me to make a difference to somebody else. To share a smile or even take time to share conversation. To give a helping hand even though it might mean a slight change to my plans. To encourage somebody with a kind, thoughtful word or maybe even two, or three or four!

Choosing to notice might mean I have to go out of my way and maybe my plans might have to change, well hey, why shouldn't my plans be interrupted? If I spend my day looking out for me and all I feel I need, the only person that gains from that is me. However if I am willing to let kindness get in the way of my day, well hey, then that would be great! It also has a wonderful knock on effect...the lady in the lift was kind to me, therefore I wanted to pass that kindness on. 

So tomorrow, as the new day comes, I choose to notice and I hope by making that choice my day will be interrupted by opportunities to bring something brighter to those who might need it. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Something Brighter

This was the view as I turned a corner this morning and then, as I continued on, turning another corner, I noticed that my view had become a grey sky.

For one moment the sky looked beautiful and bright and then, in the next, it was grey and dull.

It reminded me that life can be a bit like that. I might be standing in a moment that is bright and good, then as I take the next step the view changes, the brightness fades and it all looks very different.

This morning those two contrasting views were almost in the same space and this gives me hope. I take courage from the truth that no matter where I am standing, there is always a view to be found which will brighten my situation.

The view may be one of many things - a remembered word, a beautiful child, an encouraging friend, a recollected truth, a hope breathed in, a kindness shared, a moment given - whatever form it might take, it will be there. If I am not able to see it straight away, then I have to keep looking. It is up to me to keep searching until I am able to clearly see that better view.

Being able to find the brightness in the grey, dull moments is a treasure that I should hold on to. It means that when those grey moments come into view, they really are only moments. Instead of seeing everything as dull, I can choose to search until I find that brighter perspective which breaks through.

With every sun comes a new day to journey through and as I do this I know that when the view becomes dull, there will be something brighter just moments away.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

I Hope You Dance

'And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance...I hope you dance'

I like to dance! I'm not fantastic at it, although I'm not terrible at it either! Recently I had a wonderful time dancing at a friend's wedding and it was great to discover that my youngest has a real passion for disco dancing! Whether it's dancing at a wedding, a birthday party, at Peppermint Park or Ritzy's or in my kitchen, for me, there is a feeling of joy and of freedom. I cannot remember ever dancing and feeling grumpy and weighed down.

There are moments in life when there is the choice to either sit it out or dance. 
Right here and now, I choose to dance. 

The easy option would be to sit it out and refuse to dance. I could be the one sat at the edge of the dance floor, with my arms folded, shaking my head, rejecting the offer of a dance. 
Today, I choose to dance. 

As I dance, I can let go of all that weighs me down. When there has been the occasion to dance, I have not planned a routine in my head, I simply dance the steps...however the music might lead! I realise that there is freedom in allowing someone else to take the lead. For me, that is allowing God to guide my steps. 

I know that, at times, my choice has been to sit it out. Refusing to see the joy there is in dancing and instead focusing on the hurt and the pain. Maybe I was hoping for the perfect dance partner to come along. 
However, I now see that I have always had the perfect dance partner. 
So today, I choose to dance. 
I am able to do this for I know, as I dance, I am loved. My steps will not be ridiculed and when I mess up those steps, I will gently be given the opportunity to try again. 

My dance will be new, it will be unique! Sometimes it will be a bit crazy and maybe messy, yet it will be all that it is meant to be. It will be my dance.

I no longer wish to sit it out as that will take me nowhere. I step out, in faith and hope and love and in knowing that this dance, my dance, is going to be good.  


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Being Mum

I love to read, although I most definitely do not have time to read as I used to! Once upon a time I would stay up to the early hours of the morning to finish a book. Nowadays, I find myself re-reading the first few chapters as I am unable to remember what I have previously read - either because I have left it too long to pick up the book again or I fall asleep as I read! 

However, I read what I can and because there is not so much time to read, I try to read what is helpful and useful. Sometimes I find that I am not really reading the words in front of me as my mind has wondered off to another place or is distracted by something else that I feel I need to do. There are times, though, when the words I read almost jump off the page as they have really hit home. These words stay with me all day and are words that I really hope to hold on to. 

Today was one of those times. I was reading an email from Proverbs 31 Ministries which had the title, 'When You Feel Like a Bad Mum'. I took a lot of encouragement from what was written, yet what really stood out was that I am meant to be mum to my 3 children. Within me there is the ability to raise my children. Within me there is everything I need to be mum in the way that my children need me to be their mum. 

Being mum is the biggest responsibility that I will ever be given. I mess up, I say and do the wrong thing, the choices that I make are not always great and patience and kindness are not always part of my parenting.  Yet when I read those words this morning, I felt so encouraged as I am able to find within me, all that I need to take on my role of being mum with boldness and a new determination. 

Often, being mum can be a huge challenge and I feel as if I have run out of words, skills, and strategies. However, if I am able to pause and remind myself that 'I can do this and I have all that I need to do this'; if I am able to take courage knowing that I was purposed to be mum to my 3, then challenges and difficulties can be met, head on, with positivity. 

With every sun comes a new day and the choice to speak this encouragement over who I am as a mum. I can choose to stand strong in the knowledge that I am where I should be, I have been created in just the right way to raise my lovely children in the ways that they need. 

As I write these words, I feel a bit big headed! However I am just saying that, who I am and all that I will be, simply goes together, rather wonderfully, with all my children are and all that they will be. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Be Kind

I found myself in a situation where I was really struggling to know what advice to give my beautiful daughter. And in the first instance I don't think I did the best job!! However in the middle of the night it shouted out to me. The answer was simply to 'be kind'. 

Whatever situation I'm in... I can be kind. Regardless of how others treat me...I can be kind. Wherever I find myself...I can be kind. 

Another lovely lady, who I have the privilege to know, also reminded me recently that it doesn't cost anything to be kind. 

Kindness costs nothing, however it brings great rewards. Showing kindness is a strength and a quality that I am capable of when I decide to put the needs of others before my own.

In choosing kindness, I believe we create a ripple effect that touches the lives of others, especially if, that kindness is unexpected or unusual.

If I choose kindness then hopefully this will bring positivity into the lives of those around me. Maybe I might even be bold enough to seek those opportunities where I can show unexpected, unusual or extraordinary kindness. By making the effort to respond with kindness, even when this is not the easiest or natural choice, I hope to be able to make a difference. If I am saying and showing I choose kindness, in spite of the situation I find myself in, then this may encourage my daughter to find the strength to also choose to be kind.

If I am to live what I believe then kindness should be part of who I am. To be honest, though, kindness is not always easy. Yet, I should persevere and find the strength to pause and respond with kindness rather than in kind, and repeat this response. Hopefully the impact of such actions will be positive and possibly even transforming.

So as I reflect on being kind regardless of others, I can see it will take time and effort to make that choice. It will take practise. I do not believe it will be my natural reaction and I may have a battle with my will. However, as I choose to be kind, my daughter may also see this is a good choice. It's a choice that has a positive knock on effect. Choosing kindness may bring change, there is always the hope that all things can be made new.  

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Life Is What You Make It

Today, when I turned over my calendar this is what I read, "Life is what you make it, always has been, always will be." As I read the quote, I smiled to myself as it was exactly the reminder I needed.

My life may not be where I would have liked it to be, however it is where it is! So instead of dwelling on the why and the what if's, I choose to learn how to embrace this season I find myself in.

How exciting could each day be, if I live knowing that my day will be what I make it?!

It is not possible to go back and make alterations to what has already been. However, I can make a difference today. Instead of looking to others to make a day good, bad or somewhere in between, I should be looking to myself to make something of each new day.

That something could be seeing new opportunities in the day ahead - committing to speaking kindness, love and encouragement over the people in my life, committing to putting someone else's needs before my own. Seeking to make the most and the best out of all this new day brings. Opening my eyes to living life differently and choosing to have hope in this brand new day.

Choosing to accept that 'life is what I make it', let's go of expectation. No-one, other than me, can knock my day down when I accept that I am the one who is making my life what it is. When the knock downs come, I can take a deep breath, let it all go and remind myself that I am 'making' this new day.

For me, the best part is that I do not have to do all this on my own. Each day brings along moments which are new and bright, I believe that I just need to open my eyes wider to see and to not believe that I already know it all.
The One who encourages me to see each day as new, is One who is trustworthy and good - my God who walks right beside me as I discover more and more that, "life is what you make it, always has been, always will be."