It’s A New Season Baby Girl!

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Dear Gracie,
My Mammas’ heart is hurting today. But you know what? I am fine. I will be fine. And I will get through this.
But today my heart aches.

Today is an end of an era for you. I knew it was coming and I had prepared myself as well as I could, but today the tears are just there, waiting for someone to say the wrong thing (or the right thing) and I know they will come spilling out of my eyes at a great rate of knots. In fact, some may be already spilling out. But I will try my hardest not to embarrass you!

Poppet, today is your last day of school……FOREVER!
And it’s a good thing, it would be awkward if you didn’t leave right? You have  done your time (and yes, for a while you did think it was a prison) and now is the season where you spread your wings and see what the big ole world has in store for you.

It honestly feels like yesterday you had your first day at Kindy. You were so excited to finally be an official Kindy Kid. You had spent lots of time there before you were three with Jackson but you were so ready to be there on your own merit.

You spent hour upon hour doing puzzles, to the point where after a couple of weeks after starting, they had to get you out the four-year-old puzzles as you had done all the three-year-old ones! You lived in the family corner, and would often take extra morning tea for some of the kids who came to Kindy without it. Your beautiful heart shone brightly from day dot!

 

And then came school.
Again, you were so ready…me not so much! I remember I had a wee meltdown on your first day. I went shopping and bought all kinds of crazy things like skirts and blouses and high heel shoes! It was as if I thought that because my baby girl was growing up, maybe I should too! And you know what? I don’t think I ever wore the stuff I bought! I know you coped better on that day than I did!

You have been to 3 schools during your schooling career as well as doing a stint at homeschooling.
I know you don’t have the fondest memories of homeschooling, but they really were good times and I will be forever thankful we had that time together. I think we learnt a lot about each other during that time, and how different we are. But I think it also cemented our relationship to become what it is today!

Baby Girl, when you read this, I hope you know how proud I am of you!
You are a beautiful young woman. Not only on the outside but on the inside, and that is what I am really proud of. You are fun and bubbly and bring joy to any room you walk into. You live life to it’s fullest and your heart for people is beyond measure.
I know that whatever path God takes you down, you will shine and do it to your best ability. I am excited to see where He takes you and I know you will leave a beautiful aroma of Him where ever you go.
Remember He knows the desires of your heart, and He has an amazing plan for your life, even if you can’t see it at the moment.

Gracie Grace, as you enter this next season, know that I will always be here whenever you need me. It doesn’t matter how old we get, I am always here for midnight K-Mart & cheeseburger runs! I am always here when you need to watch untold tales of the ER. And you know I will buy you a burger whenever you (we) need it! I am here when you need a shoulder to cry on and I am here to celebrate life with you.

And poppet, don’t you worry about me! Your dear old Mamma will survive this, I may need a few coke zero’s and the odd Big Mac to get me through, but I will be ok!
Go into the world and be all God has called you to be, but most of all, make sure you have some fun along the way, and run into the world with arms wide open because it is an exciting place with unlimited possibilities!

Love
Your Mamma who loves you more than you will ever know.
ps….if you could please tidy your room before you tackle the world, I would really appreciate it!

 

 


Stop Apologising!

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Last week I posted a video on social media.
And the minute I posted it, I started doubting myself:

Oh my goodness what have I done?
People from Church will see it.
The kids’ friends will see it.
Other Pastors and their wives will see it.
Those people who I really want to like me will see it.
Those girls who I so badly want to speak into their lives will see it.
Why on earth did I post it!!!

Those voices of doubt and insecurity started screaming in my ear. Those voices that tell me I am not good enough, that I am not worthy, and that I will never be all I wish I could be. The lies of the enemy started to attack who I am and who God has made me to be!

But then Gods voice spoke louder than those of the soul bullies and said to me “Kathy, this is who you are, and I love you for it. I love every single aspect of you, just you be you.”

And with that, I left the video up and carried on with my day!

You see, the thing is, I am who I am! And whether you meet me at Church, at the supermarket or come to my house, I am who I am. I don’t have different personalities for different situations. I am the same person no matter where I am, and so if people are going to judge me for a silly video, then they can’t know me very well!

It has taken a while, but I am ok with who I am! Sure, there are things I would love to change (wouldn’t we all?) but God has created me this way, and so who am I to doubt his craftsmanship? Who am I to try and change or squish who he has made me to be?

Now I know not everyone is going to like me, and again I am ok with that (well, most days I am ok with that!) but I have to be true to myself and who God has called me to be. And if that means I make an egg of myself, I’m ok with that!

I have stopped apologising for who I am.

And so friends, I want you to do the same. Stop apologising for who God has created you to be! Seriously, just STOP IT!
Be you. Be who God has created you to be. Stop apologising that you’re too short, you’re too serious, too conservative, too silly, too shy, too outgoing. Whatever it is you are apologising for…….STOP IT!

God doesn’t make mistakes and therefore you are not a mistake. You were not meant to be anything you are not. Stop looking at the girl next to you or the one on the internet and wishing you were more like her. Embrace who you are. Laugh at yourself. Have some fun. Stop beating yourself up and start accepting who you are, quirks and all! And if people don’t like the real you, then they don’t deserve to be your friend!

Let’s all start to embrace who we are and live life to the fullest, without apologising for who we are!

And for those of you who missed it, here is the video I put up:

 

 

 

 


You can’t keep me down….

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I have a cold!
Another rotten head cold, and I am feeling miserable!
This is the 3rd cold for me this winter and I am kinda sick of being sick.

Our family is not one that gets sick very often. We have gone for years and years with none of us getting sick. To the point, our Doctor rung us to see if we were still patients of his as he hadn’t seen us for so long!

But since moving to TA, we have had more sickness and injuries than we have had in the previous 5 years. We have had broken bones, damaged tendons, influenza, bronchitis, root canal’s, gastro bugs, headaches, unexplained aches & pains, and cold after cold after cold!!

Now, this may sound like I am complaining. I am not! Honestly, I am not!
But I do look at all the sickness and think to myself, that we are getting attacked. And that kind of excites me, not the sickness part, but the part where the enemy is so scared of what we are doing, that he is trying to attack us any way he can. And it seems he thinks he can stop is through our health!

I think not enemy!
If you think a broken bone or a rotten cold will hold us back, you don’t know us very well!
Team Strong are stronger than that, and to be honest, there is nothing that would stop us doing what God has called us to do! We are on a mission and we know we have been called for a purpose!

So, as I write this, I am grabbing yet another tissue, and blowing my nose. I am counting down till I can take more panadol and I am SO looking forward to my bed at the end of the day.

But I am also praising God! Praising him for all he is doing in my life and all that he has promised to us. I am thanking him for my #blessedlife and I am so grateful I don’t have to go through life without him. As I spend time on the couch, I am thankful that life can slow down a little and I can spend time in prayer and thanksgiving.

Let’s keep it all in perspective friends. Being sick is not fun, I am not trying to pretend that it is. But on the greater scale of things, what we go through now will fade in comparison to the glory and grace that we will eventually see.

So as we say in our family (and it is said with lots of love) “Suck it up princess” and let’s not lose our focus because of a wee cold or a broken bone! You cannot keep me down for long……


Parents of Teenagers….Please Read.

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To say I am disturbed is an understatement.
To say I am lost for words would be another.
To say I am struggling with what I have seen, would be yet another massive understatement.

I have just finished the series on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why” and I have to be honest with you, I am shell shocked.

13 Reasons Why, if you haven’t heard about it, is a series about a fictional character Hannah Baker, who through a series of events, bullying and being raped two of these things, ends up taking her own life. The series is about what led her to this point, and the aftermath that ensued with her family and friends trying to make sense of it all.

It is raw, it is emotional and it is graphic. There is no doubt as to what went on and the episode where she takes her life is disturbing. And when her Mum finds her, well that is truly disturbing.

So why would I watch it you ask?
Well, because it is Netflix’s most-watched series of all time and since it came out has been tweeted over 11 million times. Because all the teenagers I know (including Gracie) are watching and talking about it on social media. And because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. But I don’t think I was quite prepared for what I saw and is not something  I will forget in a long time.

There are lots (and lots) of websites and blogs out there talking about 13 Reasons Why. Blogs that will satisfy your curiosity if you don’t want to watch the whole series. Blogs with helplines, numbers for support networks and reasons why they made the series. There are some great sites for support and I encourage you to go and read them, so I’m not going into all of that here, but I do want to say this:

If you have a teenager, please please, please be aware of what they are watching. Please pay attention to what is going on in their lives, and please have those awkward conversations! As parents, it is never easy, and teenagers are a breed unto themselves. But this stuff goes on in their world and we need to be aware of it. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this kind of thing doesn’t happen because it does. We can’t bury our heads and think it will never happen to our teen because it could. And that is the cold hard reality here…..it could.

Life is so different these days. So many more challenges and pressures facing our teens. And we need to educate ourselves the best we can to help our teens navigate their way through this season of their life. We need to be hands-on, and involved in their lives, no matter how much they complain or think we are awkward!

Now I am not naive enough to think that Gracie shares absolutely everything with me, but she always knows she can come to me if she needs to. She knows she can use her parents as an excuse (Mum and Dad won’t let me….) and she has an amazing network of good, Christian friends speaking into her life. I know this won’t protect her from all life will throw at her, it won’t completely protect her from peer pressure, and as much as I want to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her from the mean ole world, I know I can’t do that either! But what I can do is be aware, be educated, and be involved.

And parents, please don’t forget to pray. Not just if things aren’t going well, but all the time! Cover them in prayer.

So friends, please be aware.
Aware of what your teens are watching.
Aware of who has influence in their life.
Aware of what is going in their world.
Aware of their social media and the anxiety that come with it.
And please, please be aware of the pressures teens face. Not just any teen, but your teen.

 


Are You Having Fun Today?

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Ever have one of those days where you don’t want to be the grown up?
Where you just want someone else to be responsible and you can just do what you want?

Well, to be honest, I have a few of those days…..every week! Somehow I have made to my mid-forties and still don’t want to grow up and be the responsible adult in the house. In saying that, some days I think I take my adult responsibilities too far the other way and I find myself a boring, stick to the rules, mundane person who has lost the ability to have fun.

And so when Gracie asked me to beatbox yesterday and told me she was putting it on facebook, I said ok!

Now if you have seen my beatboxing, you will know that it is not my forte. I may have many hidden talents, but beatboxing is not one of them. So why did I let Gracie film me and put it out there for the world to have a laugh at?

Why not?
When, as adults did we loose the ability to have fun?
When did we become so ‘mature’ that we can’t laugh at ourselves?

And so, Gracie put it on facebook and everyone had a laugh at my expense. And you know what? I wasn’t embarrassed. I wasn’t ‘shamed’ as the kids would say and I wasn’t even a little bad mad that she put it up. In fact, I probably laughed the most out of anyone that watched it.

Yes, I looked silly! No, it was not my proudest moment, and lets face it, I am not holding my breath for a call from Ellen to go on her show!

But to be honest, I am more worried about having fun with my kids, than I am about my reputation, or looking silly of front of people who don’t really know me. It has taken me a few years to get to this point, but I think the older I get, the less worried I become about these kinds of things! Actually, it is quite freeing to just be me, silliness and all!

So, when is the last time you laughed at yourself?
When is the last time you had fun with the kids?
When is the last time you worried less about what people thought of you and lived more in the moment?

When I am lying 6 foot under, I hope my kids, my family and my friends remember me as someone who could have fun. Someone who didn’t worry about what other people though and someone who could laugh with others as well as at myself.

How will your family remember you?

And in case you missed my Grammy award winning performance (ok, maybe not quite worthy of a Grammy!) you can watch it here

a grow

 

 

 

 

 

 


My Girl……

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I remember when I was 15.

I was a screwed up mess of a kid who struggled with who I was and doubted whether I had any worth on this planet. I was insecure, afraid of the world and all I wanted to do was party with my friends or hide away in my room (which was probably a good thing as I was grounded most of the time!). I was sulky, pouty, and definitely not fun to live with. I was far from God and was not living in a way that I was proud of. Basically, I was a self-absorbed teenager with no regard for anyone or anything!

But my girl…….she couldn’t be more different from me if she tried!

I am beyond happy and proud to see the young women she is becoming!

We have had so many changes in the last couple of years and none more than for Gracie. We took her completely out of her comfort zone and took her to Africa and then to build houses in Mexico. She got braces, moved from the only place she remembers as home (and subsequently has no furniture in her temporary room!) and now this week she has started High School for the first time (2.5 years later than all her friends!)

And through all this she has remained her bright bubbly cheery self! Sure we have had days where she is not quite herself but through everything she has shown maturity beyond her years. She has looked for the best in every situation and taken it all in her stride. I think she was more worried about me on Monday than she was for herself starting High School!

She talks to me about her dreams for the future and gets excited about what God has in store for her. She is secure in who she is and isn’t swayed by the world. She is a loyal friend,  has a huge heart for young kids and can hold a conversation with any adult she comes across. She is incredibly talented at art and photography and I know she will move mountains when given half the chance. Yep, pretty much she is the opposite of me at the same age….Praise the Lord!

So Mums, never under-estimate the power of prayer. I have been praying for Gracie since before she was born, that she would be all God has called her to be from any early age. That she wouldn’t get in with the “wrong crowd” but instead she would be an influencer.  That even through her teen years she would hear God’s voice and never walk away from Him.

It’s long days, and often longer nights when they are little, but I can guarantee you, putting in the hard yards when they are tots, sure pays off when they hit those teen years. Spend time with your kids, sometimes not talking but just listening, allowing them to be themselves, and be intentional about how you parent.

So as we celebrate Gracies 15th Birthday this week, I thank God for the amazing gift He has Blessed me with. For an incredible daughter who I am just so proud of and so excited to see where God takes her!

Happy Birthday Gracie

 


When Your Heart Is About To Burst!

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We don’t always get it right as parents!

Sometimes we are too strict, other times too lenient. Some days I have all the patience of a Saint, and other days I snap at the smallest things! Some days I feel like the world’s worst Mum and wonder how much my kids will need to pay in counselling when they are older!

But yesterday, yesterday was one of those days when you think to yourself “Maybe I’m not doing such a bad job!”

Yesterday our Gracie got baptised.

She has been planning it for a while with her youth leader at Church and she felt last night was the right time! Phil and I purposefully have not pressed the kids to get baptised, in fact, we have never brought it up at all! We wanted it to be the kids own decision with no pressure from Mum and Dad (of course I was praying, but they didn’t know that!)

Poor wee poppet was so nervous all day: What if no one prays for me? What if no one has a word for me? What if I stuff up what I want to say?

I think the biggest thrill for me, was that she asked me to baptise her! Not her Dad, not the Pastor, but me! Her old Mum who I’m sure she thinks is funny and old-fashioned and not part of the “Cool Mum Club” When she asked me a couple of months ago, I couldn’t hold back the tears and was completely blown away!

So the million dollar question was “Could I hold back the tears on the day?” And, of course, the answer was No, No I couldn’t! But that’s okay because to be honest it was pretty emotional for the whole of Team Strong!

It was an amazing night with so many of our family and friends coming out to support Grace. She was showered with love, and had some amazing words spoken over her.

We are just so super proud of Gracie taking this next step in her walk with God and we are so excited to see it all unfold! Yep, I am so proud, my heart is about to burst!

So on days when I am feeling a little less than the perfect Mum, I will look back at this blog, remember that you don’t get it right every time, but that’s ok God has her in the palm of His hand!

IMG_0988 IMG_0989 IMG_0992 IMG_0996 IMG_0997 IMG_0999

 

 


It’s December, So You Know What That Means…..

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So I sat down today to write a blog about Christmas today, and thought I would double check what I wrote about last year so I don’t repeat myself. But you know, what I wrote last year still resonates with me, so thought I would share it again with you, in case you missed it, and even if you didn’t, it’s a great reminder!

 

I have to admit…… I am super-duper, pretty jolly well excited!

It’s only 22 more sleeps till Christmas and I am definitely getting more and more excited as the day draws near. Now you are probably wondering why a grown woman would get so excited about Christmas? It’s not like my kids are littlies anymore and wake me at 6 in the morning with a gleam in their eye begging me to get up so they can open their Santa Sacks (knowing they have already been downstairs and rummaged through them!) It’s not like I even have grandkids to spoil (they will come in due course, but not for a few years yet Jackson & Gracie!) So again you may be wondering why all the excitement, and my simple answer would be……… Why not?

Why not celebrate? You know, so often in our society now days, we just don’t celebrate…… Anything! Life has become mundane and people just don’t celebrate milestones or special occasions anymore. But it’s a choice people, and I choose to celebrate!

So often I hear the excuses “Oh, we can’t afford it” “Oh, we don’t want to spoil our kids” “Oh, we don’t want our kids growing up thinking they will have a party for their birthday every year” “Oh, we don’t celebrate Christmas because it has become too commercial”

Sure, I could almost agree with some of those excuses, but come on, when did we all turn into the Grinch?

Now, I’m not saying you have to go and spend hundreds and thousands on every special occasion, in fact, we celebrate most things on a tight budget, and for me that makes it even more challenging and fun! It’s not about the money, it’s about creating memories for our kids, its about creating traditions (I blogged about that here) that will long outlive me, and it’s about what’s in your heart!

So when it comes to Christmas, why wouldn’t I get excited and celebrate? It’s a great excuse to hang with family and friends, indulge in a little too much good food and bubbles, to play my never ending list of Christmas songs and to relax at the end of the year!

But most of all, why would I not get excited about celebrating the birth of the most incredible man ever born, the man who saved me from a life without love, the man who died so I could live! The man who gave His all so we could have this festive season. Why would we not celebrate this man?

I think that’s a pretty good reason to celebrate….. and so I do!

great

 


My Teenage Son is in Love……HELP!

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It was bound to happen sooner or later right?. Ok, so I was hoping for later, but it was inevitable. It happens to all teenagers, yep it even happened to me, so why would my son be any different?

My teenage son has fallen in love!

It’s true! As much as I am in denial about it, it is so plainly obvious, and there is no denying it. We have managed to get him to 16 before it happened so I guess I should be thankful for that. But as his old Mum, I am not ready. I am not ready for teenage emotions and all that entails. I am not ready for sleepless nights worrying about him, and I am not ready to lose him to another female. But really, will I ever be ready?

I have tried over the years to prepare myself. You know, go through different scenarios in my head, about how I would react to such news. I have even practiced my happy face when inside my heart is screaming “NOOOOO, He’s my baby!” I try and be the grown up parent and not react like she really is stealing my baby from right under my nose, but right now I don’t want to be the grown up parent and I don’t want to lose my son! Breathe Kathy, just breathe! This happens to all parents at some stage and if they can cope, so can you! You can do this! Put on your big girl pants and just breathe!!!

But, I have so many questions swirling around in my head:
Will he still love me as much?
Will she take up all his time?
Have we taught him how to treat her right?
Will I be completely forgotten?
Will I ever recover from this?

But in my heart of hearts, I know we have brought him up well and I know we have equipped him as well as we can to cope with the real world. So I need to trust in what we have done, trust in God and trust Jackson! He’s a good kid with a good head on his shoulders so I know (and pray) he will always do the right thing.

It’s that whole thing about letting the baby bird fly from the nest. A Mother bird does all she can and then it’s up to that baby bird to spread their wings and fly. I want Jackson to fly, really I do, but it’s hard letting go of the apron strings, or as in the case of the bird, let him spread his wings and fly on his own. Surely, I could just keep him in the nest for another 10 years…...yep, 26 seems a good age for a baby bird to fly, right? Ok, ok, I know 26 is a little old (I think Phil will have kicked him out well before then!) but 16? What does anyone know at 16?

Ok God, we can do this! I know you have been preparing me for this. Sure, there may be a couple of tears along the way (from me, not Jackson that is!), but I will survive this!

Yes, Jackson is in love.
And I am so thankful the object of his affections (at the moment) is his new car! One step at a time, Kathy, one step at a time….


Dreaming Big!

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IMG_3847This is our Strong Family Dream Board. I shared a picture of it on facebook a couple of weeks ago and I have numerous requests from people to share the idea behind it, so here it is…..

In 2011, Phil and I went to a dreaming with God workshop which was incredible! That’s when God told me that we would be taking the kids to Africa in 2013 (you can read about that here) It was a crazy dream at the time, but I knew without a doubt I had heard from God so had to do all I could to make it happen.

They told us at the workshop that if you write your dreams down, they are more likely to happen than if you don’t write them down at all. So being the visual person that I am, I figured what would work for me was a Dream Board. Now, this is something I wanted the whole family to get on board with so we all thought about things that we would want to go on our Dream Board.

This workshop was just before my birthday, so when Mum asked me what I would like for my birthday, I knew exactly…..a Dream Board! We found the hessian covered board at a gorgeous wee gift shop in town and I knew straight away this was it! The jute was already on there which was perfect for putting the photo’s on with. I already had the “Family” sign and I got a lady online to make the “Strong Family Dream Board” sign that sits above it.

Coming up with dreams was the easy and fun part. We talked to the kids about personal goals they would like to achieve and also some family goals that we could all work together for. Just a wee note here: Don’t limit your dreams! So often, we put God in a box or think we could never achieve some things, but with God all things are possible. So remove those self-imposed limits and dream BIG!

The Dream Board hangs in our kitchen and is a daily reminder of our God dreams. It is also a great talking point when we have friends or guests over.

The photo’s change over time as we reach a dream or goal and it is replaced with another. Some dreams are bigger than others and will take more time, but each dream on there is important.

I love having it as a daily reminder of how big our God is, and when we dream with Him, anything is possible. I hope we are teaching our kids to dream beyond what they can see and believe for greater things!

Remember: These goals are for you and your family. Some people may not agree with believing for a new car or whatever it is that is on your board. But that’s ok! This is your Dream Board and it’s between you and God. Not all our friends and family get what we do or why we do it, but we know God has called us to live this way, and we know He has called us to dream BIG! And so this week we take down 4 photo’s (of dreams reached) and as we add new ones, I am excited at partnering with God and seeing Him do more than we think is ever possible!